Getting into a consistent workout routine is a great way to kickstart your healthy habits, but it's not the only component of getting fit. Being healthy is a lifestyle, and there are a number of habits that can actually work against your fitness goals, even if they seem innocent enough. Knowing what little tweaks to make to your daily habits can help improve your overall health and help you truly reach those fitness goals once and for all.
These changes won't happen overnight, but if you are aware of what is sabotaging your efforts, you can take the proper steps to get to where you need to be. "Make small, minor changes in your lifestyle and take your time to really master those habits," says strength and conditioning coach, functional medicine practitioner, and sports nutritionist Brandon Mentore over email. "Do it slowly and convert yourself into a lifestyle of fitness. The more gradual you are, the more achievable, maintainable, and sustainable your fitness goals will be."
A good place to begin is to look at your overall lifestyle and ditch those harmful activities. If you want to kick your health and wellness up a notch, consider ditching these nine habits that can actually work against your fitness goals.
1. Not Eating Enough
If you're working out harder, you're going to need to eat more as well. "Seriously increasing your fitness intensity and/or duration is going to require a rebalancing of your calorie intake," says health coach Liza Baker over email. "Eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. These foods are full of micronutrients, water, and fiber, all of which keep your body functioning at an optimal level."
2. Overdoing It
"If you decide to get in shape and work out intensely for an hour after never working out, you will run the risk of injury or be so sore the next day that it will be impossible to be consistent," says Baker. "Not taking an occasional break can be just as damaging — our bodies need rest! That said, you should always be trying to gradually increase the number of times you work out a week, how long you work out, and with what intensity you work out."
3. Not Getting Enough Sleep
"Getting by on 4 to 5 hours of sleep is incredibly damaging to your body even when you're not working out," says Baker. Not only will you feel tired and fatigued, which could discourage you from working out, but not sleeping enough can also increase your cravings for junk food, according to research from St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University.
4. Drinking A Lot
We all love a good happy hour, but drinking in excess can hamper your fitness goals. It can lead to muscle cramping, poorer sleep, and excess hunger and craving for junk foods, according to Shape.
5. Doing What's Trendy
A juice cleanse might be the latest craze, but it doesn't mean it's actually going to benefit you. "What's good for everyone else isn't always good for you," says Mentore. "There's a point at which following the crowd and doing what they do to reach their fitness goals can actually be detrimental." Figure out what works best for your body, and don't just follow blindly what people do on Instagram.
6. Having A Bad Mindset
"It's OK to be skeptical and even pessimistic if you haven't been able to reach your goals in the past," says Mentore. "However, if you're going to make a go at it, you have to have a positive mindset or at least an appropriate commitment to your goal or it will never work."
7. Doing The Same Thing Constantly
"Our bodies tend to 'memorize' workouts — after a few weeks of the same routine, we don't have to work as hard to do it," says Baker. "In my experience, this is why it is important not only to 'mix it up' and not do the same workout every day." Same goes for eating the same foods and not incorporating different nutrients.
8. Not Drinking Enough Water
If you're not drinking enough water, your energy levels aren't going to be where they need to be. Even just mild dehydration can cause fatigue, according to a study from the Journal of Nutrition, and you could also mistake feelings of thirst for feelings of hunger, which may have you turning to extra food when you actually just need water.
9. Focusing On The Scale
"The scale is probably the number one complication that works against your goals," says Mentore. "Bodyweight in and of itself is a metric of low priority that people place an undeserving high premium on." Your weight will fluctuate, but how you feel about yourself is what should stay consistent. "Instead of focusing on the scale go for feeling fit," he says. "That's a much better metric than being number focused."
Fitness is about more than just working out, so make sure the rest of your life reflects the healthy lifestyle you desire.
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