Updated: Jul 19
Do you find yourself struggling to maintain healthy habits?
Do you feel like you're stuck in a rut of stop, start, stop, and start?
But maybe you have really good "reasons" you can't make it happen...
"The weather is bad"
"I am too tired"
"I don't have time"
"It's too late" (or too early)
"I'm too stressed"
"It's too hard"
"I don't want to miss ____"
"It's just not the right time"
Listen, I get it. The struggle is real.
Over the years I have discovered and curated some simple yet powerful tricks to maintaining motivation, in my own healthy habits, and as a coach for busy men and women. Here are four of my top tips, so simple and effective you will find you ARE able to make it happen, even on your worst days!
4 Tips To Maintaining A Health & Fitness Routine:
Tip 1: Schedule it.
You schedule meetings, appointments, and time with friends and family, so why not schedule time for your health and fitness? Whether it's your daily workout, time to for meal prep, or mindful practice, putting it on your calendar gives it priority and empowers you to stay consistent. Take it one step further and add an alert to your scheduled event that serves as a motivational reminder, such as "healthy, strong and able," "commit to fit ," or "my ME time!"
Some of my clients take it a step further and check in to the gym, yoga studio, or small group class on Facebook to reinforce they are honoring their commitment. Not on Facebook? Many smart devices (like your phone or watch) will track your workouts for you, or you can choose an activity tracker app, such as MapMyRun, Runtastic, or MyFitnessPal.
Tip 2: Eliminate Distractions.
Due to modern advances in technology, we are more accessible than ever. Most of us experience a daily flood of emails, text messages, phone calls, and social media alerts throughout the day, many of which are not urgent and serve as negative distractions and interruptions that steer us away from our priorities. Have you ever been getting ready to head to the gym, lacing up to take the dog out for a walk, or see a healthy habit reminder pop up for your smartphone when you are interrupted by a text message or incoming email alert? Establishing healthy boundaries is a good thing, especially when it comes to maintaining healthy habits. If you make your commitments negotiable, you are sending the message they aren't that important to you or your mind, body and spirit wellness, making them easier to push aside or bail on all together.
It starts with scheduling. Just like you scheduled your workouts, meal prep, and mindful practice, you can schedule time each day for emails, texts, and to return messages. For example, perhaps you will spend 30 minutes on email when you first arrive at work, then 30 minutes after lunch, and 30 minutes one hour before the work day ends. Anything outside of that, rolls into the next time slot available.
Find it easy to go down the online rabbit hole? Social media, online shopping, and other distractions tend to suck up more free time than we often realize. Try making a contract with yourself that you will only scroll social media after your healthy habit commitment is done, for example, "I can surf Facebook after my workout," or "I can jump on Amazon after meal prep." Then it becomes an earned reward rather than a distraction that routinely trumps your healthy habit commitment. And here's the best part, when you carve out and honor the time you have set for specific tasks, including your healthy habits, you will actually find you have more free time (woohoo!)
Tip 3: Change Your Perspective.
Do you find yourself consistently throwing out the, "I don't have time," card for not following through on a healthy habit commitment? Here's the deal. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, so it's not about having time, it's about making time count. Stop and assess where your time is actually being spent and you just might be surprised at where those hours are going. A few minutes here, a few minutes there, they add up quick! Do you choose to take a 10 minute walk on your lunch break or scroll social media? Do you do engage in yoga after work or sit down and turn on the television? Do you hit the grocery store for healthy food options, or do you hit the drive thru? Do you get up in time to pack your lunch or do you hit snooze?
Sometimes you may have to fall short of a healthy habit commitment, such as when you're sick, recovering from serious injury, are severely sleep deprived, or managing an emergency. I am not talking about those times. It is the chronic, "I can't" default you turn to that is so detrimental both in the short and long term. When you use those excuses to regularly avoid healthy habits, it creates a real problem, mentally and physically. Studies have shown that when you create a pattern of healthy habits that are fulfilling (eating healthy, moving more, stressing less), that you are more likely to stick with them. However, the same is also true when it comes to unhealthy habits. How can you break the cycle? Start by committing to things that pay you back - mind, body and spirit. Like taking a walk with the dog outside, exercising with friends, cooking a healthy meal with a loved one, swapping healthy recipes with a co-worker, or journaling at the end of a long day. It only takes one small step at a time to build a staircase of healthy habits!
Tip 4: Plan For It.
Creating a plan is one of the best ways you can support your healthy living goals, today and tomorrow. When you establish a plan for your goals you will need to answer the who, what, where, and when to determine the how. In other words, a plan of action will provide you with a clear set of steps that need to be taken in order to get from point A to B (and beyond). When you know what it will take to achieve your goals, it's much easier to make them happen, stay on track to make them happen.
Example: You want to exercise.
What physical activity will you do?
Where will the activity occur?
Who will provide accountability?
When will the activity happen?
A plan can answer these questions, such as:
Walk and strength train
Walk for 15 minutes on my lunch break, strength train at the gym or at home
Walk with a co-worker or track walks on an app, attend a strength training class or do workout dvd at home
Walk 15 min. Monday, Wednesday, Friday; strength train 30 min. Tuesday and Thursday
Example: You want to eat healthier.
What foods do you need to have in your home for healthy meals and snacks?
Where can you make healthy food swaps?
What/Who will help you?
When will you meal prep?
A plan can answer these questions, such as:
Fresh fruits, vegetables, canned goods, unsalted nuts, low fat cheese, chicken breast, quinoa, etc. This is where you make your grocery list based on the snacks/meals you will create.
Carrots and hummus in place of crackers and chips; fresh fruit in place of ice cream or candy; whole wheat bread in place of white bread, etc. Choose one or two things you can commit to, then as you feel successful, gradually add on from there.
A spouse, child, or a food delivery service such as Amazon Fresh? You can also look for opportunities to lighten the load by determining where you can make some healthy shortcuts - such as purchasing pre washed and cut fruits and veggies, or frozen fruits and veggies, searching for crockpot or insta pot meals or batch cooking meats and grains.
Grocery shop on Saturday morning, meal prep on Sunday evening. Choose the days and times that work best for you and your schedule.
Bottom line: set yourself up for healthy habit success by scheduling, minimizing interruptions and time suckers, and planning for success. It may feel like a bit of extra work at first, but over time it will become routine and one that saves you time, energy, money, and most importantly your health! Each small step you take helps to create your healthy foundation. So don't worry about getting it all just right, just keep moving forward.
Are you a busy man or woman who's ready to feel strong, live healthy, and get fit? Discover how to take small steps to get healthy & fit without cutting out the foods you love or spending countless hours on cardio. Come join me inside my online Facebook Community - The Healthy Habits Club. It's where busy folks go for tips, tools and support they need to eat healthy, move daily, and feel good for life!