It’s depressing to me how much bad advice there is out there; no wonder people are confused about what to do and how to accomplish their fitness goals! Here, I’ve compiled some real tips for success to set you on the right path for your fitness journey. Everything on this list I have done personally and seen results. I hope you’ll find success in them as much as I have!
1. What gets measured gets accomplished. Invest in a fitness tracker to monitor progress, set goals and track caloric burn. Good ones adjust goals as you get stronger to keep you challenged.
2. … but don’t take your tracker as the Bible. Meaning – don’t help yourself to another serving if you really only want it because your tracker told you that you burned extra calories. While still intelligent machines – and far more accurate than what your treadmill is telling you – most overestimate. Listen to your body and make a note of which devices are more accurate than others:
(Those to the left of the vertical line underestimate caloric burn while those to the right overestimate by the caloric amount detailed at the bottom, on average, per day). I intentionally purchased the Garmin Watch after reading this for myself so that I wouldn’t run into the “why not have an extra brownie? I earned it!” problem.
Read more here: Accuracy of Fitness Trackers
3. Surround yourself with a supportive environment. Friends or loved ones who intentionally distract you from being the best version of yourself are going to slow your progress. (e.g. That co-worker who won’t let you turn a piece of office-purchased birthday cake away). Those who act as your fitness cheerleader will support you on your journey and encourage healthy eating goals even when it’s ‘inconvenient’ for them.
4. Mix it up. Doing the same thing over and over will only get you so far. To finally say “sayonara” the last 5-10 lbs you will likely have to alter your workouts, your eating habits, or both.
Ex: instead of running the same 4 mile route, 4 times a week, mix up those 4 workouts with:
- Hill ladders
- Fartlet run
- Time ladders
- Long run
You will get faster and stronger, while also reducing boredom. More here on these and other running variation workouts.
5. Make a plan. It’s hard to get to a new destination when you haven’t mapped out how to get there. Meeting your personal goals is no different. Firm up your workout schedule with those you live with, just like you would any other appointment or priority. You’ll be more likely to make it to your group class after work if you know your spouse already made plans to take the kids out for pizza and you’re free from normal weekday obligations for a few hours.
6. Do more with less. We’re all busy, and in today’s world, combining activities is a necessary component to accomplishing everything on the to-do list. Being efficient in your exercise routine allows you to maximize every minute. Find exercise classes that combine strength and cardio elements to reap the rewards of both types of exercise, and burn calories for hours after your sweat session. My favorite? Orange Theory Fitness – literally transformed my thoughts on what ‘being in shape’ actually means.
7. Do more with less – Part 2. Again – you’re busy! Combine activities, but this time, as a social component. Changing up your weekly wine night to weekly spin-class night is a healthier alternative that still maintains your social life. As an added bonus, you are more likely to stick to your fitness plan with a friend. Reward yourself once a month with a glass of wine post-exercise. Mental, physical and emotional balance? Check!
8. The 10 minute commitment. There are plenty of days that I don’t feel like exercising, and it’s typically something I enjoy doing. But we’re human – it doesn’t always sound fun. On days that its hard to get motivated, make a commitment to yourself to work out for 10 minutes. Chances are, you’ll keep going after you’ve made it that long… I’ve had this conversation with myself numerous times, and never opted to stop and go home. You’re already doing it – you may as well continue!
9. Reward yourself with something other than food. One of the painful realities of living a healthy lifestyle is that food is about 70% of the equation… and when we reward ourselves with food, we often negate all the positive benefits we just gave our bodies through exercise. (I learned my own lesson overdosing on granola while training for marathons). Rather than resorting to the “I can eat as much as I want because I ran today” mentality, reward yourself with something equally satisfying, but not food related – like a new pair of shoes, massage, or a subscription to a clothing delivery service like fabletics so you can enjoy that new bod in some new digs.
10. Take advantage of a good deal. Still looking for an exercise that you LOVE? Take advantage of Groupon deals in your area. Most of the fitness/exercise class deals involve at least 3-4 classes for several weeks at a highly discounted cost. This gives you time to try several instructors, or a different activity to see if you really do like hot yoga, crossfit, barre3, etc. As an added bonus, changing up your exercise routine every 6 weeks keeps your body challenged and burning more calories even when you aren’t moving. Bonus!
11. Plan for spontaneity. (Only a type-A person would write that). But seriously, leave a workout bag packed in your car with a seasonally appropriate outfit and multipurpose shoes at all times. You never know when you suddenly find yourself with an extra hour you hadn’t planned on. Having something ready for a hike/walk/run is a great way to enjoy these ‘free’ moments.
What other fitness hacks have worked for you? Please share and comment!