How To Make Fitness A Part Of Your Lifestyle, Long Term
Hands up who can relate: you’ve bought your new activewear, signed up to a new gym, you’re feeling pumped. Then a few weeks in, your gym sessions have dropped from five per week to one, those new tights aren’t so exciting to put on anymore, and you’re wondering if you’re actually cut out for this whole ‘healthy lifestyle thing’.
This is not uncommon… trust me. My fitness journey has been exactly that, a journey. But where the difference lies, is being able to pull yourself out of this short-term funk, and get back on track and stay there. If you don’t want fitness to be just another phase (like all those awkward fashion choices you made in high school), you need to make it stick.
So how do you make fitness a permanent fixture in your life? Glad you asked…
5 Ways to make fitness a part of your lifestyle
There are five ways to make fitness part of your lifestyle, and you may be surprised to see motivation is not one of them (a little more on that shortly).
1. Let’s talk habit-forming
Repeat a behaviour enough and it will become a habit. It’s literally as simple as that — science says so. There is so much psychology literature out there to support this theory. Healthy habits can often feel harder to form than we’d like, so the key here is to do everything in your power to etch them into your neural pathways.
The brain likes repetition and it likes reward, so start there. It’s the formula for habit formation — cue, repetition, reward. Maybe it’s setting your alarm for 5am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (cue) to hit the gym for as many weeks as it takes for it to become automatic (repetition), and taking note of how good you feel after every session (reward). Find what works for you.
There is no exact formula as to how long it will take before your behaviour becomes a habit, but trust me when I say, do it enough, and pretty soon it will feel like an integral part of your everyday. Hang in there.
2. Discipline is key
You may not get far with your habit-forming quest if you don’t have discipline. This truly is the key to maintaining good habits. Something I have learnt about discipline is that no one else is going to do it for you.
Sure, your trainer or partner might encourage you, but it’s ultimately up to you to get dressed, get your butt to the gym and work hard over and over again. Hold yourself accountable and remember, if you slip into that ‘I’ll go tomorrow instead’ mindset, you may struggle to pull yourself back out again. So stay strong, stay hungry and you’ll get there!
3. The importance of goal-setting
You don’t start a road trip without a destination (unless you’re mega spontaneous in which case, go you), so why would you start a fitness journey with no goal in sight?
Not only do goals give us something to feel amazing about when we reach them (which will make you want to do it again), but they make getting out of bed that much easier because we have a purpose.
Write down your goals — long term and short term — and hold yourself accountable. Don’t forget to constantly review them, too. Goals are not ‘set and forget’ things.
4. Fight procrastination
Procrastination is part of being human. The ability to fight it is what makes you a warrior. If you’re prone to snoozing your alarm or cleaning your kitchen for half an hour too long just to avoid working out, then it’s time to start beating yourself to the excuses.
I am not a morning person, so when it comes to waking up, I can be the queen of procrastination. That’s why, most nights, I wear my gym clothes to bed and lay out everything I need before I go to sleep. That means I don’t have an option to slowly get ready in the morning.
Find what’s letting you down and make your excuses redundant.
5. Prioritise your health
We’re all so busy with work, family and our social lives, that putting health and fitness first can seem impossible. So don’t put it first. But give it a spot in your top three.
If it means making sure you leave work on time two days a week to get to that gym class, then put it in your calendar and make it happen. If it means squeezing in a walk around the block while your baby sleeps in the pram, then make it happen.
Finding time for your health and fitness can be tough, but if you tell yourself it’s non-negotiable, you’ll begin to realise it does fit into your lifestyle, you just have to make it work. Don’t try to aim for perfection or you’ll go insane, just do the best you can.
Why motivation doesn’t cut it
How many times have I felt unmotivated to work out? Countless. But do I let it stop me? No way. If we relied on motivation to get us into the gym each day, then we’d really get nowhere.
Motivation can be crazily unpredictable. Some days it turns up on your doorstep raring to go, and other days it’s like trying to find that rogue sock in your laundry pile — non-existent. Sure it can help get you into the right mindset, but relying on it is risky business.
What will get you to the gym are discipline, forming healthy habits, setting goals, fighting procrastination, and prioritisation.
My top tips for fitting in fitness
Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips to making fitness part of your everyday.
- Sleep in your gym clothes if you’re hitting an early gym session and are prone to procrastination.
- Do meal prep on the weekend — even if it’s just chopping vegetables — to make mealtimes more efficient, freeing up some time to work out.
- Instead of meeting a friend for coffee, meet for a walk and a coffee afterwards to get some outdoor activity time without sacrificing the caffeine and catch-up.
- Put your favourite gym classes or sessions into your calendar as regular appointments, and commit to them.
- If your current workouts are boring you, change them! Give my FIERCE program a go — I can guarantee you will not be bored!
Tell me your tips and tricks
If you’re trying to make fitness a seamless part of your everyday, it will take time. But you can do it! Give my top tips above a try, and find what works best for you - I promise you won’t regret it.
I’d love to hear your tips and experiences. Share in the comment section below!
* Results from FIERCE may vary. Strict adherence to the program is required for best results.