I have been reflecting back on our health and fitness journey a lot lately. I feel proud that we jumped into a healthy lifestyle and stuck with it for so long. There are a lot of things we do to stay healthy but the daily habits are the most important. Here is a list of 10 habits that have kept us on track over the years. Read the list and let us know what habits have kept you motivated long term!
P.S I noticed they all have consistency and having a positive attitude in common...
These are in no particular order.
1. We have a positive relationship with exercise
Having a healthy and positive relationship with exercise means never using it as punishment. You'll never hear us say something like, "we ate pizza so now we have to go to the gym." Exercise should be fun and it should never be a chore or something you have to do because you had a treat. We have made exercise fun by falling in love with hobbies that keep us active. Hiking, golfing, clam digging, riding bikes, gardening, etc. We spend the majority of our free time outside LIVING life.
I get bored easily when it comes to exercise. I know some people can create a work out routine and simple meal plan and stick with it for years. I learned pretty quickly that I am not one of those people. I can't eat chicken, sweet potatoes, and spinach 7 days in a row and I can't follow a weight training routine for 12 weeks either. I need to switch things up often to stay interested! My favorite way to keep exercise fun is to try new things. What that means for me is taking a lot of classes and exploring different ways to exercise. Some weeks I'll take a Barre3 class every other day and some weeks I'm all about StarCycle. Zumba, yoga, barre method, spin, pole, boxing, rock climbing... There are so many unique ways to be active! You do not (and should not) be confined to a gym!
"Work out because you love your body, not because you hate it"
2. We limit treats with a balanced approach
We all know sugar is pretty awful and should definitely be limited. I have never eliminated sweets from our diets completely because I know I would want it more. We have the mentality that sweets shouldn't be avoided, but are limited to special occasions. I think it's easy not to overdo it when you set a realistic goal for how much and how often you will indulge. Cravings are the one thing we don't give into. If we are craving something sweet, we will eat a healthy alternative and I would say we are always satisfied with our "healthy treats." For example, if we want dessert at home we would make something like chocolate covered fruit with REAL chocolate or flour-less peanut butter cookies. On the other hand, we will definitely eat a piece of cake if we are at a wedding, birthday party, or other celebratory event.
3. We don't eliminate foods (booo dieting! *gestures thumbs down*)
I knew from the very beginning that I would never eliminate anything from my diet even if it serves no purpose in my body and offers no nutritional value. We don't eat things like bread, cereal, pizza, ice cream, or pasta every week, but every now and then we indulge. It's unrealistic to say you'll never eat pizza again. We enjoy it when we have it and feel absolutely no guilt. If you're eating real food the majority of the time you shouldn't feel guilty about enjoy pasta or pizza.
4. H 2 O!
I never knew this was something I needed to mention until I became a personal trainer. I was honestly shocked to learn how many people do not drink enough water. I have had clients tell me they accidentally went a day without drinking any water at all. You should be drinking half your body weight in ounces every day plus more depending on the weather, your workout routine, the foods you eat, and so on. For example, a 200 lb person should be drinking 100 ounces of water to start. I use an app on my phone (iDrated) to track my water consumption. Every. Single. Day. I know this seems like a silly habit to include on this list, but it is more important than most people realize.
5. We have a consistent sleep cycle
Having a consistent sleep cycle (7-7.5 hours is recommenced) can positively improve your health. Going to bed around the same time each night and waking up around the same time each morning improves memory, lowers stress, and reduces inflammation that could lead to heart disease, cancer, and other serious conditions. A consistent sleep cycle was nearly impossible when we had newborn babies, but aside from that we have always made quality sleep a priority.
6. We always meal prep/create a weekly menu plan
This is probably the most important habit. This felt like a chore in the beginning because it seemed like a lot of work, but I quickly learned how much time and money I saved. Having healthy food available is essential for staying on track and can honestly make or break your health and fitness goals.
"If you fail to plan, plan to fail."
7. We don't compare our journey to others and we avoid negative self talk
Everyone is going to have a different story. What you see posted on social media is just one page out of an entire book. Most people only post their best version of themselves online and you can't compare your real life to their best moments. Comparison leads to negative self talk and negative self talk will discourage you and sabotage your progress. I feel extremely fortunate that I have never fallen into the trap of comparison and negative self talk. I have confidence in who I am and what I have to offer the world. I can only hope this trickles down to my daughter and she can feel secure in herself as she becomes a woman.
8. We get our motivation from things deeper than physical appearance
Your primary motivation for following a healthy lifestyle should be health-related not superficial. From the very beginning our motivation has been to live a life that allows us to enjoy our children and to lower our risk of specific diseases that run in our family. Any physical benefit is a bonus.
9. We never use the scale as a predictor of good health
I feel like this should be on the list TWICE. We don't own a scale and we don't weigh ourselves often (probably only at doctor appointments). Numbers should not define you or be the reason you make certain decisions. It's about feeling healthy and confident, not the number on the scale. Stepping on the scale rarely makes me feel good and it doesn't offer any sort of information about my health. Similar to counting calories (which we also don't do), it cannot give you anything of value... It's just a number! A better way to track progress is body measurements or logging your exercises. It's a much happier feeling when you can see how much weight you're lifting at week 6 compared to what you could lift on your first day. Or, seeing that you can run 3 miles after 4 weeks of a run-building routine compared to barely finishing a mile when you first started. You'll have a healthy relationship with exercise and your body when you judge your health based on your accomplishments and how you feel.
10. We associate with like-minded people... Positive vibes only!
We keep friends who build us up and avoid toxic relationships. if you surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed, you will thrive because you'll have a strong support system. Having friends who enjoy our same active hobbies has been a key factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for so many years. They encourage us to do better and make living an active lifestyle fun.