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I have been talking about the importance of developing habits in my last few posts because I honestly feel that habit formation is essential for reaching fitness goals. Why? Because it’s not the things that you do on a good day when all the planets are aligned and you have a few extra hours to spare that determine your fitness level.
I used to hate it when I would watch a television interview and hear a fit person say, “I eat whatever I want.” or “I enjoy working out.” in reply to the question, “How do you keep in such good shape?” If you’re like me, you have probably been tempted to throw a pillow at the screen or, at the very least, you’ve explained to the oblivious television that not everyone is as charmed as they are.
But here’s the thing, fit people don’t have to think about making the right choices and they make the same choices over and over again regardless of how chaotic their routine becomes. They prioritize their fitness goals to the point they become habitual. Then, their habits don’t have to be considered. They just do what they have trained themselves to do. That’s why you hear fit people say things like, “I eat whatever I want.” or “I enjoy working out.”
Some Of My Most Effective Fitness Habits
I thought I would share a few of my most effective fitness habits. Now, these work great for me and they address some of my key areas of concern…sugar consumption and time management. Yours could be totally different or mine may fit your situation as well.
Schedule Set Workout Times And Days
No one will be as motivated for your fitness as you are. If you do not prioritize your exercise times then there will always be something more pressing, more urgent or seemingly more important to do with your time. As I have said before, fitness is one of the few activities that you do completely for yourself, so it’s easy to see why others’ needs can often swamp your exercise routine.
I preset specific days and times for exercise. Then, I do my best to schedule other activities around these times. Of course we all know that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule. So, for those times when conflicts are unavoidable I already have a plan for make-up activities.
Choose Filling Snacks
Snacking is important for keeping the metabolism burning and for maintaining consistent blood sugar levels. For me, this is especially relevant for the 5 to 6 hour span between lunch and dinner.
In the past, I would often go for chips or a sweet to satisfy my mid-afternoon hunger. However, because those snacks are essentially empty calories, I would find myself hungry again in a very short time. Then what? Typically, I would go find something else to eat or I would grit it out until time to prepare dinner, then I would eat my first meal standing in the kitchen before the “meal” actually hit the table.
I have learned to make my snacks count. I eat something that will actually stick around for a while. Some of my favorite snacks are nuts, half of a peanut butter sandwich and bananas.
Pre-pack Your Exercise Bag
Have you ever arrived at the gym only to realize you left your tennis shoes at home? The best time to prepare your exercise bag is the night before you plan to workout. You don’t want to worry with it as you are rushing out the door in the morning.
I have a dedicated athletic bag for exercise. As soon as the towels are clean, they go straight back into the bag. I also have a second set of toiletries and even a small make-up kit in there, so I am ready for any eventuality. This really cuts down on my stress.
Always Eat Breakfast
When I was younger I hated to take the time for breakfast. I would choose sleep over food any day. But I have read enough to realize how essential breakfast is for jump-starting my metabolism.
Now, I always eat breakfast. Muffins work the best for me and my schedule because they can be made ahead and frozen. That way, I only have to take one out and microwave it for my morning meal.
Pre-plan When To Eat Dessert
I never eat dessert directly after a meal, unless I am celebrating a special occasion. Sugar has no nutritional value; therefore, I try to remove it from meal time altogether.
Instead, I allow myself a one to two hour break before eating any dessert. That way I can fully concentrate on it, which helps me to be satisfied with less. This brings me to my last habit.
Cut Down The Size Expectation For Dessert
I have always been a major sweet lover and carb junkie. So naturally, a piece of pie was always one-eighth of a pie…I mean, that’s a serving, right? Now I realize that a good bit of the extra weight I carried in previous years was comprised of sugar calories. I just couldn’t get enough of desserts.
Today, I still eat dessert and I eat it several times a week, but my size expectation for dessert has decreased dramatically. I often employ the three-bite rule for dessert or, in the case of pie, I eat one-sixteenth. I still get to enjoy sweets, I just don’t expect to eat as much as I used to.
It is a hard truth, fit people are more often made than born. Typically, they exercise self-control and discipline to achieve their fitness goals. Most of them are not genetic anomalies, though we would like to convince ourselves that they are somehow born with an extra fitness gene.
I am convinced that a level of fitness is accessible to anyone who is willing to develop a workable routine and stick with it. I always enjoy hearing from you…drop me a comment and share what routines work for you!
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