It's that time of year again. The time of year we tell ourselves it will be different from the last. We will do better, live healthier, actually go after what we want or... maybe not. Maybe you're just ready to go after your goals and it has nothing to do with a resolution. Whatever is pushing you to get started, let's talk about setting up your fitness journey for long-term success. That all starts with mastering consistency and making this a lifestyle not another new year's promise.
Whatever your goal is, the actions you take to get there need to be sustainable. Your actions need to be involved in the lifestyle that you live, If they aren’t, how do you expect to maintain progress?
On the flip side, unsustainable methods or cheat ways typically do not provide us with the level of results we want nor do they last long-term. Fads and gimmicks are just that. Fads and gimmicks. If you want to know the true way to succeed in your fitness journey, hear this:
There is no shortcut.
What you put in you will get out.
You can't expect to see years of progress in weeks or even months.
Patience is a requirement for the process.
You must trust the process and find joy in it.
Think routines over results.
Your progress is a byproduct of the life you live.
No lifestyle changes=no long lasting results.
The key to making lifestyle changes is to add in the things you enjoy. This applies to movement, and nutrition. If you hate it, you're not likely to be consistent with it, making it unsustainable for you.
I think the biggest thing that holds people back from making lifestyle changes is they are scared to take away everything they love. It's true that you need to make adjustments. It's true you will need to move more, be hydrated, sleep better, and eat nutritious foods. But it doesn't mean that you need to cut out what you like completely. It doesn't mean you can't eat the cake at your kid's birthday party. It's about learning to live in moderation, not a constant state of overindulging. It's moving in ways you enjoy and eating nutritious foods you enjoy.
Progress Takes Time
Progress takes time. It's the most frustrating reality but it needs to be understood very well. Let's talk about why this is.
Let's say you're starting your fitness journey and your goal is to change your body composition to having more muscle and less fat.
Reaching this goal involves consistency with both movement and nutrition at the very least. It takes time to be consistent with both. Being consistent involves much more than just following your nutrition and workout program. Consistency needs to be programmed into your lifestyle through your choices and habits. This will take time to adapt to, it's not an overnight change. Being consistent for more than a few weeks with everything required for that goal is going to be a challenge itself aside from doing the workouts and following your nutrition protocol.
Life happens, and because of that we constantly need to adapt to our situation. Sometimes we miss workouts, or get busy and skip meals. Learning how to adapt and plan for these situations is important otherwise our plan goes out the window.
To master consistency, we need to understand what can derail it.
If you are not getting enough sleep, you can't recover optimally which means you can't make as much progress from your workouts.
If you're tired, your body will crave more carbs and fats which makes it hard to get enough protein or workout effectively.
If you're dehydrated, you will feel lethargic and your muscles can't perform as well. This can lead to less effective workouts and poor recovery & adaptation.
If you have a busy day and your nutrition or workouts get neglected, do you have any habits that will continue to support your goals?
If you missed your workouts, are you still moving enough during the day? Are you still active with activities you enjoy? Are you still focusing on eating nutritious foods?
Consistency itself involves:
1) Knowing the reason you’re doing this & working on your mindset
2) Getting enough sleep
3) Drinking enough water
4) Consuming nutritious foods that support your goals
5) Moving daily
6) Adapting & planning
Each of these aspects alone are challenges. It's hard to be consistent with even one or a few of those things on a daily basis but when we incorporate those things into our lifestyle, it's much easier.
Aside from the basics, the foundation of consistency requires a strong mindset and a good reason to go after this goal in the first place because it will be tough. Your reason needs to be more than just the surface level of ex. losing fat. Why do you want to lose fat? Is it health related, confidence related, then why does that matter? You need to dig deep. Typically asking yourself this question 5x will help you dig deep enough.
Since nutrition is the part most people are afraid to adjust the most, let's dive in. Don't start the year off by cutting out all the foods you love. That's a ticket to feeling like a failure a couple weeks later. Start by adding in the fruits and veggies you like. Maybe this involves learning how to cook them differently, play around with seasonings and try different recipes. Find what you like, add it to your rotation.
Sometimes swaps are a good idea, sometimes it's not necessary. For example instead of having fruit gummies or a fruit bar as a snack, have a real piece of fruit you like. If you want something sweet, maybe go for yogurt instead of a chocolate bar. Instead of only eating a plate of pasta, have pasta but add in a good serving of protein and veggies.
The more you add in nutrient dense foods, the less calories dense foods you will consume over time. We always tell kids, you can have your dessert once you eat your veggies. Same thing needs to apply to us. We can still have those foods but only after our bodies have what they need from nutrient dense foods.
I often recommend the 80/20 rule. It's simple to follow. It means 80% of the foods you eat in a day are from nutrient dense sources and the other 20% can come from treats. If you don't allow yourself to have those foods you like, you can only maintain that way of eating for so long. It's not sustainable or enjoyable.
Don't cut out or restrict, add in.
A good rule to follow is trying to move everyday. This might sound crazy to some people but hear me out, this doesn't mean do an intense workout each day.
Sometimes you move by weight lifting, sometimes you go for walks, some days you focus on mobility, some days you do cardio, some days you get activity doing fun recreational activities or sports. Maybe you don't know what you like and you need to explore different ways to move to find what you like. Don't knock it till you try it. Whatever way you like to move, MOVE.
Our bodies are designed to move. We are flesh covered hinges in the simplest of explanations. Our bodies will have more problems when we don't move. Sometimes these problems are communicated to us through health problems, pain, lack of mobility, more aches etc. For optimal health and function, movement is non-negotiable. If you want your body to function well, you must treat it well.
Putting It All Together
What nutritious foods do you like? Write it down.
What forms of activity do you like? Write down.
What days of the week are you planning to do these activities? What time? Plan it out.
Winging it doesn't work. If you are committed to change, plan for it.
This is the part most people fail at. When I first started, this was also my downfall. I tried to change everything at once. I failed to see the bigger picture and I wanted it all now. I understand that feeling. We are now a society that demands things fast. We are used to instant gratification and all want it now. You can't make long lasting changes overnight. You need to be ok with that.
When it comes to activity, how much are you getting now? Are you doing any at all? If not, start with 1-2 activities for a few weeks. 2-3 the next few, 3-4 for the next few. This is not all gym days. Aim to be 1% better each day. It's a small increase but it does make a difference.
Add in nutrient dense foods you like, don't take out/restrict yourself from the foods you love. Make swaps when you can. Eat the food you want while adding in more nutrient dense options. It's important you make small changes and be ok that this takes time to implement.
Overall, focus on 2-3 things at a time, then slowly increase your effort as time goes on. Consistency is key to change. Mastering consistency requires planning, adapting, patience and time. Don't make this another new year's promise. Make this a lifestyle.
Not sure where to start? Looking for a coach or program? Don't hesitate to reach out.
My method rests on the 5 pillars of: Mindset, Movement, Habits, Nurture, Nutrition.
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