Whenever I comeback to running after taking some time off, it becomes painfully obvious to me whether or not I stayed fit during the off season. More often than not, running less mileage also means shorter workouts and less hours spent sweating each week. By the time a new training plan is about to begin, my mind and body are both anxious to get back to a fitness routine.
This year, as I begin a training plan for a 25k race in May, I am hoping to improve my health along with it. While increasing my mileage after a break from running naturally leads to an increase in fitness, this time I am planning to reinforce some healthy habits to stay fit year round. Conveniently for me, the start of this training plan coincides with the beginning of my 40 day absence from sugar. With the lack of desserts in my life as I increase my mileage, I am hoping to finally solidify some healthy habits I’ve been aiming for for many years.
In order to stay fit during the off season, I first need to find a way to become fit during the training season. I truly believe that staying fit is a result of healthy habits formed little by little – and even the smallest changes make a difference.
Here are 10 healthy habits I plan to stick to during this training plan, as well as once it’s over, to stay fit throughout the year.
10 Healthy Habits to Stay Fit Year Round
1. Drink more water!
I am a huge believer in the benefits of water. Ever since college, I have made a point of carrying water with me wherever I go. Each day I aim to consume 80 ounces of water by using this strategy. I notice a huge difference in how I feel when I am slacking on my water intake. My body feels more sluggish, I am hungry all the time, and getting motivated is extra tough. You don’t need to drink crazy amounts of water to notice a difference either – adding an extra 8 ounces (one glass) to your day will greatly impact your body. Drinking water consistently is what I believe to be the most important healthy habit you can create.
2. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier.
Easier said than done! 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal for most people, but everyone is different. No matter what your sleep schedule currently is, try and push your bed time up by just 15 minutes. Shut down screens and get ready for bed before it’s time to turn the lights off to give your body time to wind down. Even just 15 extra minutes of sleep will help you feel better mentally in the morning, and relieve some of that extra stress. Sleep is our number one tool for recovery, and in order for your body to be at it’s best for your next workout, you need to prioritize sleep.
3. Take the stairs.
Taking the stairs whenever possible is a great healthy habit to begin. We have the option to take the stairs at many points throughout our day, and often don’t think twice when we hop in the elevator to go up one or two floors. If you don’t need to travel far to get to and from your desk, get up periodically throughout the day and walk up and down the stairs a few times. Those extra steps helps get our blood flowing when we are trapped in a chair all day, and keep our muscles from tensing up.
4. Meditate for 5 minutes.
I was so skeptical of the meditation “fad” until I finally made myself try it after reading about it in this book: 10% Happier by Dan Harris. Everyone should be able to find five minutes for themselves in a day, and if you can’t, you may need to rethink your priorities. These five minutes spent in meditation always help me rid tension and clear my mind of worries. My favorite time to meditate is right after getting cleaned up from a workout, when I am often the most anxious to dive back into my to do list.
5. Incorporate protein into your breakfast.
Starting your day off with protein is like automatically putting your stomach in a good mood. I’ve noticed that whenever I start my day with protein I feel less cranky in the morning and less hungry all day. Even just 1/2 a cup of cottage cheese or yogurt has really made a difference for me! Changing little bits at a time may not seem like a lot, but these small changes have a huge effect on your overall health. Protein is essential to build muscle and replenish after hard workouts, so incorporating this into a regular meal is a great healthy habit to begin if you’re hoping to stay fit.
Stretching is definitely one of the hardest activities for me to motivate myself to complete, but it makes the biggest difference when I do. Stretching allows our muscles some time to cool down after a tough workout, or relieves tension that has built up throughout the day. Just a few minutes of stretching improves blood flow and will leave you fresh for your next workout. Since I’ve started stretching again regularly, I swear I can almost feel the blood flowing to my muscles each time. This is one healthy habit that I am focusing on during this training season.
You can find my favorite stretches here.
7. Put down the snacks an hour before bed.
This used to be my biggest weakness, as my obsessive ice cream consumption always took place while watching television before bed. Since I am giving up sugar for Lent, this is the perfect time for me to begin incorporating this simple healthy habit into my day. Making sure that you do not eat in the hour or two before you head to bed will improve your digestion and help you feel hungry and ready for breakfast in the morning.
8. Drink tea.
Tea has really helped my body, this past year especially. I started drinking it more often as I began getting colds more regularly, and it always helps me relax and feel more grounded. This past year I created a habit of drinking 16 ounces of tea each morning before I start the day, which has also helped increase my water intake. Who knows if it’s the placebo effect or actually happening, but it also seems to help clear away congestion and headaches.
9. Eat dinner at the table.
We have gotten into some bad habits over here. As my husband and I get busier, we become lazier and find ourselves eating in front of the television more often than not. Whenever we make a point of eating at the table I feel less anxious and more connected. This time away from screens really helps me connect with my husband and feel less hurried during dinner. Eating dinner at the table forces you to eat slower, allowing your meal to become more of a mindful and relaxing experience.
10. Get moving for 15 minutes.
I saved the best for last. Whether it’s a planned workout or just a walk around the block, 15 minutes during the day can make a huge difference in our health.
Maybe your 15 minutes is just walking up and down the stairs in your house, or circling the couch before sitting down for the night. Incorporating movement throughout the day is what I believe to be the most important healthy habit to stay fit.
Want some ideas to get moving? Here are all my favorite 15 minute workouts.