Starting off an exercise routine can be slow going. Many of us get a gym membership and then never use it. Or we plan to jog every morning, but quickly (very quickly) lose interest. This struggle seems to be the norm, and it's why so many anti-exercises have wondered what the secret is to getting fit.
Because there is a secret, right? There's gotta be something that separates those of us who stick to a fitness plan, and those of us who don't. Whether it's committing to walking every day at lunchtime, or signing up for a boot camp (for real this time), some people just seem to have endless amounts of motivation.
And it is true that many fit people have many go-getter traits in common. But there are also a lot of things us dawdlers have in common, too. "I see three main reasons certain individuals have difficulty getting fit," says Cindy Present, fitness and activities director at Lake Austin Spa Resort, via email. She tells me they usually don't have a big enough reason to change their ways; they are not organized or detailed enough to make it happen; and they don't have any accountability (read: no support system).
If that sounds familiar, then read on for some things fit people do right. And feel free to adopt their healthy, healthy ways.
1. They Don't Call It A Diet
The word "diet" kind of sucks. It brings to mind thoughts of deprivation and horrible (but short-term) changes. That's why fit people don't use it. Instead, they think of their new routine as a life-long lifestyle change, which really makes the changes stick.
2. They Find A Workout Routine They Really Like
Yes, some people enjoy pumping iron at the gym. But the rest of us want to do something a bit more fun, lest we give up or lose interest. And, as you may have guessed, fit people are the best at this. "Fitness is not one-size-fits-all — and the fittest people understand that and dedicate the time to finding an exercise routine they actually enjoy," noted to the Huffington Post. Having fun makes all the difference in the world.
3. They Are Super Organized
It's so easy to "forget" to work out, especially if it isn't in your calendar. So make like the fit people and create a schedule. "If you write in your daily calendar that you will be in the gym 4 to 5 p.m. daily, then that calendar is your personal manager," Present says. "Learn to be a planner — practice it, make it a habit, and you can turn your life around."
4. They Work Out With Friends
It's tough to find motivation to go for a jog before work, or to hit the gym when you're exhausted after a long day. That's why having a workout buddy is such a necessity. "Case in point: in a University of Southern California study, people said they had more fun and enjoyed working out more when they did it with a friend," said health writer Jessica Migala on Health. Plus, if someone is waiting on you to show up in your workout gear, it's much harder to bail.
5. They Keep Going After Setbacks
When trying to get in shape, it's so so common for people to give up after hitting a bump in the road. That's why being ready for such setbacks can totally help. "Studies show that people who have wiggle room in their mindset are more likely to maintain a regular exercise routine," exercise physiologist Shavise Glascoe told Migala. "Prepare yourself for potential barriers and come up with a backup plan."
6. They Want To Know More
Learning how to take good care of yourself can be quite the learning curve. And that's why fit people are always lookin' for that info. "Enjoy the pursuit of information," Present says. "[Be] a student to the journey of health."
7. They Don't View Exercise As "All Or Nothing"
OK, so you planned to spend an hour at the gym but ran out of time. Do you either a) not go, or b) go for 15 minutes? If you said B, then you're on the same page as all the fit people of the world. "A short gym routine is better than nothing if you're really strapped for time or just plain exhausted," said lifestyle editor Amy Odell on Cosmopolitan. Don't let a "lack of time" be your undoing.
8. They Track Their Steps
Do you have a Fitbit, or any other health apps on your phone? If not, you should probs consider getting them. "In order to achieve optimal health ... experts recommend taking at least 10,000 steps per day," said Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, on Health.USNews.com. "Start tracking your steps each day with a pedometer or other devices that increase your awareness of your activity." And you'll be fitter in no time.
9. They Focus On The Positives
When it comes to getting fit, there are people who focus on the positives and those who focus on the negatives. If you are the type to focus on the negatives — you're tired, you're sore, you aren't having fun — then you'll be more likely to give up. Fit people focus on the positives, like that great endorphin high, according to Odell. This mindset also helps keep them motivated.
10. They Never Skip A Meal
In an effort to get fit, you might think that skipping out on food will help things along. But oh how wrong you would be. "According to a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University, short-term food deprivation can lead people to make unhealthy food choices and increase the attraction of high calorie foods," said Kirkpatrick. While there's nothing wrong with pizza or donuts, eating lots of healthy foods will keep you fuller and help you reach your fitness goals.
11. They Set Goals
You can't just say, "I want to get fit," even though that's what you want to do. You have to set goals, Present tells me, as well as time frames to accomplish them in. So start figuring out what you want to work on, write it down, stick it on your mirror, and get to it.
12. They Get That Sleep
If you're absolutely exhausted, then you can't really expect yourself to have the energy to work out. This is why sleep is a super important habit of all fit people. "Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night for optimal health," Kirkpatrick said. If you do, you'll be bounding out of bed with the best of them.
13. They Don't Wait For The "Right" Moment
This one is my favorite, because I can so relate. I mean, how often have you waited around for the perfect moment to get in shape? Whether it's before a wedding, or the weeks leading up to a big vacation, it's so common to look for a reason to workout. But, as Odell said, "Fitness is a lifestyle, not an exercise in vanity." In other words, don't let fitting into an outfit be your one and only motivator. You health is so much more important.
So start changing up your habits by copying all the traits and habits of fit, healthy people. And you'll be feeling great in no time.
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