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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Check out the other fabulous lifestyle linkups I’m joining this week – My Linkups!
Great post, thanks so much for linking up to Fitness Friday on Drops of Learning. Can’t wait to see what you share today!
“fit people are more often made than born.” Agreed. ~Paula R 🙂
Excellent advice on the most effective nutritional and exercise habits. I was just researching this online. To keep blood sugar levels stable snacks should include protein, healthy fats and fiber – a great example is a fruit smoothie with whey protein, almond butter and berries.
Thanks Kristi…yes, I am a major almond fan to get in my healthy fats and fiber. They really help to keep hunger at bay. I appreciate you stopping by.
Thank you Shellie, these tips are wonderful! Two of the things I need to remember are pack a snack, and to scale down my dessert size. And also a huge thank you for supporting JDRF! It is much appreciated! Have a fabulous week!
JDRF is a very worthy cause. Yes, the dessert can really be a deal breaker!
Hi Shellie, this post was in the TOP SIX most clicked on Fridays Blog Booster Party #25. It will be FEATURED on Friday. Well done.
Great, thanks Kath!
These are some great tips, Shellie! Thanks for sharing at #FoodandFitnessFriday!
Thanks for hosting, Jebbica!
You know what the most frustrating thing is? When I was young, I was one of those people that you would throw the pillow at. Sadly, with age, the pounds have crept on. These are all great points Shellie! Thank you for linking your post to my linky #MidLifeLuv.
Thanks Elena, now I can just throw pillows because you are so good at your post writing 😉
Excellent tips, Shellie! I’m a chocoholic, so dessert is a must, or I am deprived! I buy those little Smart Ones by Weight Watchers. Only 120 calories. My reward for hard work 🙂
I’m with ya on the chocolate, girlfriend!
For me – it’s getting up early and getting the work out done, FIRST THING!!! Puts pep in my step for the rest of the day!
Haha, you and I are definitely not the same! But, success comes to those who know themselves and develop routines and habits to capitalize on that. Glad you stopped by!
What great practical tips for making a life style change not dieting. And that is what I’m after at my age. I’ve spent years dieting and always had to be “watching” the calories but I’m trying now to make a life style change. Thanks for the encouraging tips !!
Diets are just short-term fixes for weight, which is a long-term life situation. It’s definitely best to find changes that work for you and your lifestyle.
So true! I love your sense of humor too. I need to try to switch over to that “three bite” dessert thing myself…
Hi Sarah, the important thing is to find your trigger issues with food and then think through steps to address them. Thanks for stopping by!
Hi Shellie I love these tips because they are so practical. Fitness just doesn’t happen without effort. I like your idea about Dessert. I’m a believer in 80/20 rule. You can still indulge in treats as long as you monitor how much. I also agree planning when to exercise that way it becomes part of your life. I’ll be checking out more of your posts! #foodandfitnessfriday
Hey Sue, the dessert habit has really helped me realign my thinking about foods for fuel and foods for entertainment.
I love these ideas. I’m getting back in the exercise habit right now and it definitely helps for me to have a scheduled, non-negotiable time when I do it. I really like the idea of waiting for dessert also. I rarely have dessert as well, but had it on Sunday night as a special treat and was dismayed to find out that I felt yucky and bloated afterwards. Maybe if I’d waited a couple of hours, I could have had a few bites and felt happy and satisfed and had it been a positive experience. The good news, of course, is that I’ll remember this for a while and not want dessert for a good long while.
Hey Katy, congratulations on your new resolve!! It is funny how bad it can feel to overload on sugar; especially when you can remember a time when you used to eat a lot more and seem fine with it.
Thanks for these tips Shellie. I love your thoughts on dessert. Having them away from the main part of the meal is a great idea.
Fridays Blog Booster Party #25
Yes, because we have to have our dessert!
I love the new blog layout, Shellie!
Planning helps a lot if you want to be successful with your shape.
I am so excited you noticed! Yes, we both know that it doesn’t just happen.
HI Shellie, I love your health posts they are packed with such good ideas, I have pinned on my Health and Wellness board and this will make a great post for the coming ww.
Thank you for Co-Hosting this month with me, I appreciate you!
Have a great week, Karren
Thanks for pinning and thanks for the encouragement, Karren!!
I’ve actually learned to do kindler/gentler workout as I’ve aged. A walk around the neighborhood is great for the mind and body. And getting things ready ahead of time works for my food too. I fix lunches (the same thing) for the entire week, so I don’t have to think about it! And when we go out to eat we ALWAYS bring home at least half (or else we split a dinner). It’s really helped us! jodie
Thanks for your tips! I do a version of all of those myself.