Sometimes it’s all too easy to put health and fitness into the ‘goals to be achieved’ bucket and revisit at a time in your life when it feels like more of a priority.
In my experience as a Personal Trainer, many people have come to me wanting to ‘get ripped’ in two months, lose 12kg for their wedding day, or look great in their holiday photos.
While it’s a great idea to set some goals that will motivate you through the process, one of the toughest things you can do to your body is to go too hard for a few months then back off, stop training and let your healthy eating habits wane.
Think of it this way – we don’t brush our teeth five times a day when we want them to be cleaner than normal. What is normal is to have a balance – it’s the key factor to reach success and happiness in all aspects of your life.
By adopting a healthy lifestyle to look and feel your best all the time, these more advanced goals (such as dropping body fat, or training for a marathon) won’t seem so unattainable because you’re not having to start from scratch.
Everyone lives a different life so there’s no one-fits-all formula, but there are a few simple steps you can follow to introduce balance.
1. MAKE EXERCISE FUN
Whatever your physical activity of choice, make sure it’s enjoyable. Try lots of different activities until you find the things you love most. If you don’t enjoy your exercise you increase your probability to eventually quite. Associating fun with exercise helps to release endorphins whilst you are doing it.
2. SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING
If your weekends get a little busy and you’re finding it difficult to get to the gym, try and commit to ‘something’ that will help you stay on track, like power walking around the block.
3. INTRODUCE CLEAN EATING DAYS
This is a great little trick to keep your healthy habits in check. Aim to eat clean – meaning avoid processed foods as much as you can – for at least 4 of the 7 days in the week. This will help detox your body through the week, boost energy and improve your metabolism and overall body function.
But be mindful not to go too crazy on the remaining three days! It’s more about balanced eating and less about the freedom to binge on sugar, alcohol or fried food etc.
4. KEEP IT CONSISTENT
Don’t forget that you are a human being and you deserve to live well. There will be occasions that you will go on holidays, birthdays or out to dinner. You don’t need to be the person brining food in a Tupperware container, you just need to balance your meals throughout the week. For example, if you ate a lot on a Thursday and Friday, then treat Saturday and Sunday as clean eating days.
5. REWARD YOURSELF
Exploring the sensation of reward is a great motivator. After every training session, it’s important to feel good and say to yourself “I am fitter now than I was before”.
If you were to put rewards on hold until achieving your overall goal, the journey will feel even longer and less attainable. So treat every extra step or extra bit of sweat that you managed to give to your session as a reason to celebrate. For example, every 2kgs you lose, reward yourself with a night out at your favourite restaurant.
6. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Finally but not least, never compare your body or your fitness levels with others. A better comparison is your own before and after. Remember, other people have different lifestyles, careers, commitments, body types and mindsets so it will always be an unfair comparison.
Be happy, be fit, eat, enjoy and remember – balance is everything.