You’re looking good, feeling great, found your favorite ways to exercise, and are starting to eat healthy like a champ. Nothing can stop you now. Except that’s not true. Everything can stop you: time constraints, car troubles, obligations, empty fruit baskets, lack of motivation. Excuses are one of the easiest things for the human mind to create. You used to come up with five different excuses not to do it before you could come up with the first sentence of your school essay. Many days, you think of several different excuses of why you should leave work early. And almost every day you go to the gym or start making a healthy meal, you will come up with excuses not to.
Why do we always come up with excuses? Because having excuses are way easier than doing the things you are trying to excuse yourself from. Let’s be honest, working out and eating healthy is not an easy thing. That is why so many people struggle with it. Some days you will feel like going to exercise is the last thing you want to do. But you aren’t the type of person that always takes the easy road. You pride yourself in doing whatever it takes because you are worth it.
You are on the road to a healthier life, and don’t even think about stepping off of it! Here are the best ways to keep up your good effort and to continue getting healthier.
Set your plan.
You know what exercises you like to do, so now make a schedule. If you are just starting to exercise, set your goal at three or four days a week. You can increase the number of exercise days once you are more used to your new schedule. Maybe you want to do yoga one day and cardio and weightlifting the other two. Maybe you want to swim one day, run another, go to a Pilates class the next, and then a kick boxing class the next. That is all great. Write it down in your schedule, and make it a plan.
You also need to plan your meals. If you get home after an evening gym session and have nothing in your kitchen except for microwaveable meals, then I have a pretty good guess of what you will be eating that night, and your body is not going to be too happy about it. Make a list of your healthy meals for the week, and make sure you have done all your grocery shopping before you get cooking. Make sure you are getting enough protein, good carbohydrates, good fats, and vitamins in your meals. That can be done easily by planning ahead.
Don’t think of it as a choice.
When it comes to getting healthy, after you have set your exercising and eating plans, you are stripped of all your agency. You no longer have any choice in the matter. You live by what your schedule displays, or you risk not living your healthy life at all.
Monday comes and your schedule says to go to your spin class. You had a long day at work, and your shoulder feels a little sore. You get into your sweats, rub your shoulder, and consider whether you should head over to class or not. After the class start time has passed, you wander into the kitchen and look at your dinner schedule. Grilling chicken and veggies sounds like more work than you really feel like doing. You could just order a pizza and wait on the couch until it comes to you. Yep, that sounds a lot easier.
See what having a choice does to you? Just don’t do it! Because, let’s be honest, no matter how much you will it to happen, you will never be ecstatically thrilled to exercise every day. I would say I am only excited to go to the gym maybe 5% of the time. You don’t go because it is the highlight of your day. Go because you will love yourself for it and you owe it to yourself.
Get in your gym clothes once you get home from work, get in your car, and get to class. Don’t listen to what the lazy devil on your shoulder has to say. He is really chatty and not much of a people-person, anyway. Put yourself on autopilot until you get to the start of your workout. Put your cooking on autopilot until dinner is ready. There is no room for choices or excuses, here. It is on your schedule, so you will do absolutely nothing but follow it.
Give yourself ONE free day.
Even though you have begun to eat healthy, that does not mean that you can never have your favorite type of pizza or go to your favorite restaurant ever again. Remember that one of the steps of eating healthy is to NEVER forbid yourself of something. That only leads to cravings.
The incredible thing about healthy eating is that it is actually good for you to give yourself a freebee day. That means you can eat whatever you want for one whole day every week. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s a gift to you from the heavens for being such a trooper! Just like your muscles do well with exercising variety, your digestive system also needs the variety to keep performing admirably. Your digestive system will kick start from the extra food you consume on your free day, and it will continue to work faster the rest of the week even though you will be eating properly again.
Only give your body this one free day every week. Anymore and you will start to fall into unhealthy eating habits. If you start to crave your favorite bag of chips, just remember that you only have X number of days until the end of the week when you can have all you want.
Switch up your exercising schedule, and start to add amount of days or length to your exercises after you start to feel even slightly comfortable. If you make an identical schedule for every week in the entire year then you will stop seeing results and hit a plateau. Your body needs variety and a challenge in order to change.
After a few weeks or months, your body will get used to your Zumba and Pilates classes and will leave you feeling like you have just had much less of a workout than you used to feel. Start going to the more difficult classes. Try a different type of class. Just make sure you are not doing the same exact exercises week after week. If you are looking to lose weight or gain muscle, you will need to up your intensity and workout lengths.
Once you are an experienced exerciser, you might be exercising an hour or more for five or six days a week. There is a limit. Do not work out more than six days a week, regardless of how much of a hot shot you are. Usually five days a week is enough. Your body needs a break. If you don’t give it a rest then your muscles will just break down rather than build. Being healthy goes both ways. Know when you are getting enough and when you have had enough.
Get a support team.
I don’t mean going to support groups or having your neighbors stand on the street and applaud you as you drive to the gym. I mean, that could help, but let’s be realistic. Get yourself a gym buddy. Having someone go to the gym with you will make it easier to have the motivation to go. Having someone lift weights with you will help you push yourself harder. Having someone in an exercise class with you will keep you moving until the end. Your buddy will not just support what you are doing, you will push each other.
When choosing a gym buddy, make sure you pick someone that is as serious and motivated as you. Sometimes gym buddies can pull each other down and convince the other to not exercise when one isn’t. My husband is my gym buddy, and once he gets home from work we don’t ask each other, “should we lift today?” Instead we ask, “what do you want to lift today?” Now, we are nothing close to exemplary, but we are just as motivated as the other and push each other to go rather than help with excuses not to.
If you don’t have or don’t want a gym buddy, that is just fine! Many people enjoy exercising as a solo activity, so make your will-power your support team. I want you to have a crowd cheering you on inside your head.
Make your new healthy life a habit and keep it as one. If you have already decided that a healthier life is for you, then it is no longer a choice anymore. Get planning and stick to it.