At the start of each new year, many people make some kind of fitness resolution. It’s understandable and easy to want to be healthier. Unfortunately, not many stick with their resolutions past the first month. That’s because when you actually start making changes, you come up against challenges and it’s tough to persevere.
However, working out and eating healthier should be enjoyable activities you can do all year. The biggest and longest-lasting results come from establishing new habits, not implementing a short-term diet or workout plan. This is why it’s worth considering how and why you want to get fit, then start developing routines around those goals.
Here’s a look at some top tips for creating healthy habits. When you want to become a person who does cardio and strength training while also eating good-for-you foods, these practical strategies can help.
- Start with your motivation. When push comes to shove and you’re tempted to quit, what you need more than anything else is a clear understanding of why you’re taking on the new habit in the first place. Why are you working out? To lose weight and lower some medical risks? To have more energy to play with your kids? Because you thought it sounded like a good idea? The more meaningful your incentive, the more power it will have to keep you engaged and moving toward your goal. Keep that inspiration front and center in your mind to ensure you stay on the path you desire.
- Set small goals. Rather than deciding to run five miles each morning when, at present, you never even jog, try to set smaller, more approachable goals. You might walk five minutes each morning for a week, for example, then move up to 10 minutes the following week. Or, instead of making all your meals at home when right now you don’t cook, start by preparing one dinner per week in your kitchen. Specific, doable goals can make it easier for you to follow through with them.
- Plan ahead. Say your goal is to eat healthier by cutting out junk food and increasing your fresh produce intake. In lieu of waiting until 5 p.m. each day to figure out what you’re going to eat and then running to the store to buy groceries, plan ahead. Don’t keep any junk food in the house. Plan meals and purchase supplies for the coming week. Then, when it’s time to implement the new habit you’re developing, you’re set up for success.
- Identify triggers. Pinpoint the bad pattern you want to change, whether it’s lethargic TV watching each night or a high-sugar diet you want to kick. If you find yourself drawn to that behavior throughout your new health regimen, ask yourself why. What triggers you? Is it stress? A long day at work? A fight with a family member? Spotting these catalysts can help in overcoming them, keeping you focused and on track.
- Ask for help. Developing a new routine becomes much more achievable when you do it with someone else. If you can run with a group of friends, great! If you have a buddy who wants to be your workout partner, try it! You’ll also be amazed at the benefits a personal trainer can offer, setting up exercise plans and holding you accountable. Sometimes, working with a professional can be just the boost you need to maintain the habits that help you see results.
- Have backup plans in place. You know there will be days when you want to throw in the towel and quit your new routine. Decide now to set up contingency plans. Maybe you have reminders posted around your home. Perhaps you have a friend you call every time you want to grab takeout instead of going home and making a salad. Whatever will help you stay on track, position yourself now to be ready for expected challenges with a practical, feasible strategy.
No new behavior becomes a habit overnight, but with enough time, discipline, and consistency, what once felt hard can start to feel natural. If you want a healthier lifestyle this year, keep the six tips above in mind. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to a fitter, freer life!
Author bio: Whitney Finch is a personal trainer at Elite Training Tulsa, a locally owned and operated company that provides personal training services through a team of highly specialized fitness professionals. Finch has 13 years of experience in the industry and focuses on helping clients achieve their fitness goals.