Being fit and healthy doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to working out for hours a day and eating nothing but chicken and steamed broccoli for every meal. In fact, there are several more effective (and less painful!) habits you can adopt today that will not only help you get in shape in the short-term, but will help you stay that way for the long run as well.
These seven habits are easy to implement into your everyday lifestyle, and will help get you healthy and fit for life:
1. Stop making excuses
I know, you’re too busy to go to the gym. It takes too much time to pack a healthy lunch and too hard to find something healthy to eat out. You would work out at home, but you don’t know how.
All of these excuses are valid in their own way, and yes, we’ve all been there. But if you really want to get — and stay — fit and healthy, you have to learn to give up your excuses and start making your health and fitness a top priority today.
2. Walk more.
Even if you go to the gym six days a week, the real key to lifelong fitness is to simply be more active and walk more in your day-to-day life. Try making a conscious effort to walk whenever and wherever you can: to the grocery store, to get your afternoon coffee or go on a post-dinner stroll with your family. Try and aim for at least 10,000 steps a day.
3. Don’t always deprive yourself
Although it may seem counterintuitive, striving to always be “perfect” with your nutrition is actually not a good long-term strategy to get or stay in shape. Depriving yourself of dessert and all the foods you love will only result in a binge of those very same foods when your willpower is at a moment of weakness.
Instead, try following the 80/20 strategy: eat healthy around 80% of the time, then let yourself have some treats here and there. Just make sure they’re really good ones!
4. Find activities that get you moving.
Instead of always going to the movies or sitting around for long meals, try finding some activities you and friends or loved ones enjoy doing together. Go for a bike ride, take a scenic hike, set up a game of bocce ball for the whole family to enjoy — the list is endless! Not only will you get moving, you’re bound to have more fun as well.
5. Shorten your workouts.
When you have to plan an hour or more for a workout, of course it’s not always possible to go to the gym. But when you pack your entire workout into an efficient, 10-20 minute HIIT workout that works your entire body and leaves you soaked in sweat, you’ll no longer have the same excuse to skip your workout as often as you normally would. Just remember to work hard!
6. Make sleep a priority
Many of us underestimate the importance of a good night’s rest, but it’s crucial for long-term health that you give your body a proper amount of sleep each night. And if thinking long-term isn’t enough of an incentive, remember this: too little sleep can also impair weight loss efforts due to raised cortisol levels. Try and get around seven to eight hours a night on a regular basis.
7. Find ways to actually enjoy your veggies.
I get it, not everyone loves the taste of vegetables. Although I now crave veggies like broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale on a daily basis, there were definitely times in my life when I ate nothing but mac and cheese for days (college, anyone?).
But vegetables are packed with important nutrients that keep your body healthy, and their fiber content also helps fill you up. So if you don’t love a plain salad, find ways to make your veggies interesting: roast them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, toss them in a flavorful stir fry or blend them into a juice so you don’t even know they’re there. If you don’t despise them, you’re much more likely to eat vegetables on a regular basis.