Fitness and healthy living sometimes seem to get a bad rep. Social media tends to make us believe that living a fitness lifestyle involves lots of kale smoothies, protein powder, sweat and heavy lifting.
And while all of those things can be perfectly healthy, they are not needed in order to live up to our full, healthy potential.
Diet fads will always come and go, and just because one diet is working for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you.
A crucial part of implementing a healthy, fitness lifestyle means that you introduce healthy habits that are sustainable for you. If you desperately want to cut out sugar but have failed time and time again, you may need to experiment with other strategies to achieve your goal.
On my journey to make running with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis as easy as possible, I’ve experimented with many different diets (hello sugar detoxes and Paleo diets). While I definitely experienced some benefits from each of these methods, sustaining these eating habits with my lifestyle ultimately proved to be unrealistic.
My point here is that a healthy, fitness lifestyle is not a one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter way of life. It’s possible to live a healthy lifestyle that involves running and carb loading before long runs, while your friend’s way of life involves the Paleo diet and plenty of yoga.
Luckily, this means that living and maintaining a fitness lifestyle is often easier than we think.
It can feel incredibly discouraging to try and fail to change our health, time and time again. We find ourselves feeling temporarily motivated and determined, only to give up just a few weeks down the road.
However, more often than not, these failures arise because we have dedicated all of our time and energy to something that is not sustainable or enjoyable.
Healthy living involves so much more than just one strict diet or exercising 6 days a week.
Living a fitness lifestyle means that you have discovered a balance of healthy fuel, de-stressing methods, and fitness habits that lead to success.
And isn’t that what we all want?
Here are a few simple tips to help you achieve the fitness lifestyle.
6 Tips for Living the Fitness Lifestyle
Find a balance.
You’ll never be able to live up to your full potential if you go all out with one thing and forget about all the other areas of your life. While you may find success with your efforts, the other aspects of your life will slowly begin to fade.
Finding a balance is key to living healthily. Making fitness part of your lifestyle is a great first step, but if you pair that up with drinking, binge eating and very little sleep, your efforts will be for nothing.
Balance also means cutting yourself some slack and allowing yourself a few rest days or cheat days from your diet. Understand that one day here and there will not throw you completely off course. In fact, a few rest days and cheat days will help increase your motivation and give you a reward for all of your hard work.
Related: 5 Ways to Overcome Low Motivation
Incorporate small, healthy habits first.
Finding the motivation to make a huge lifestyle change is awesome. But if you don’t have the time and energy to completely overhaul your life, making small, healthy changes can still make a huge difference.
Decide what your definition of a healthy, fitness lifestyle is. For example, does it mean maintaining your goal weight, exercising regularly, cutting out junk foods, or becoming more active? Once you’ve created a vision for the lifestyle you are hoping for, you can begin to make little changes each day to get you one step closer.
Try going for a walk after dinner, swapping your diet coke for a water, or going to bed earlier. Implementing small changes will start to have a big impact on how you feel – and once those feelings become more positive you will discover more and more motivation to continue.
Planning to drastically change your lifestyle and then stressing about it constantly will do you no good. As you begin to make changes and strive to incorporate fitness into your lifestyle, understand that it will not be a perfect journey.
There will be failures, set-backs, and unpredictable hurdles along the way.
Acknowledging the fact that you will not be perfect will help you take obstacles in stride throughout the journey. Part of living a healthy lifestyle includes getting rid of excess stress – so if you find that the changes you are making are creating stress rather than relieving it, it might be time to rethink your strategy.
Find things you enjoy.
Creating a lifestyle means developing a way of living that you will be able to sustain for the rest of your life. And there’s nothing worse than living a life filled with activities you despise, right?
As you create a fitness lifestyle, experiment with different activities until you find something you truly enjoy. While you may be able to force yourself to go workout on the elliptical now, it will be much more challenging to continue 6 months down the road.
Don’t waste your time trying to force yourself to enjoy a type of exercise that you hate. Move on. Try plenty of activities – group fitness, sports, yoga, weight lifting, cardio – and don’t stop until you find an activity that you love.
Related: 15 Amazing Reasons to Run
Share with others.
Embarking on a lifelong journey will be no fun if you force yourself to do it alone. Share your new goals and plans with others. Tell them about the changes you are making and why you are doing it.
Creating a support system for yourself is the key to success in those moments of doubt and fear. Knowing that you have others around to help you pull through and motivate you to keep going will help make these changes sustainable.
Plan for success.
Finding the passion and motivation to create a healthy, fitness lifestyle is a great first step – but without a plan, it will certainly be hard to achieve. Once you’ve decided what a healthy lifestyle will look like for you, create a plan for how you will get there.
A great first step is to decide what those small first changes will be. If your overall goal is to exercise 5 days a week, set up a training plan so you know what days you will exercise, what time of day, and what type of workout you will complete.
If your goal is to eat healthy while being more active, create meal plans that coincide with your activity level each day. Plan to consume lots of healthy fuel on your active days, and lighter recovery meals on rest days.
Living a fitness lifestyle will boost your confidence, reduce your stress, and help you feel happier each and every day. Creating a life we love pays off in so many ways, and a great way to get there is to make sure we treat our bodies right.
Don’t get stuck in the comparison trap by focusing on what others are doing. As long as you are doing what’s best for your body, you are well on your way.