I have a confession to make – despite being a dietitian and a promoter of self care… I struggle on a daily basis with keeping fit and eating well. These are two things that are essential to my own self care but they just don’t come naturally to me – especially the fitness aspect. Over the years, I’ve gathered some tricks that seem to work and I thought I would share them with you!
These are general tips that have helped me and I hope that you can find something that works for you too!
1. Keep Track
Do this obvious trick with a twist. Make a LARGE blank calendar and put it somewhere visible as a daily reminder to work out. Fill it in with the workouts you have completed – not the workouts you plan to do – actual activities that made you sweat. Time tends to escape us but when you can visualize that it has been one week since the last gym session, you will be more likely to push yourself to go to another one. There are apps that keep track, but an in-the-flesh calendar does a better job – you can close an app, but you can’t avoid your bedroom wall.
2. Take ‘Before’ and ‘During’ Pictures
It can be hard to look in the mirror every day and feel like nothing has changed. If you’re set on reducing love handles or getting stronger legs, then a snapshot is your best bet for motivation. Take a ‘before’ photo as motivation as well as to keep track of your hard work. Your body will be constantly changing which means you won’t notice the subtle changes until you compare photos and realize that all that hard work has paid off. Your biceps are actually bulking! Taking new photos every 1-2 months is a nice way to keep track of changes. You don’t need to show anyone the pictures – keep them in a secret folder if you want. These are just for you.
3. Sign Up for an Event!
If you’re a goal-oriented person, then having an event might give you the push you need. It can be anything: a charity walk, a half-marathon, a triathlon, a charity spin-a-thon, etc. Keep your goals realistic but also within an ideal time frame. If you’re already running 4 miles, don’t sign up for a 6-mile race in 5 months. It won’t be motivating enough because the goal is too attainable. Similarly, if you run 4 miles, don’t sign up for a marathon in 2 months. The goal is too intense and you might give up when you realize it is not feasible. Find something you can participate in while leaving yourself enough time to achieve it, but not enough time to put it off or danger yourself with over-training.
4. Get A Workout Buddy – But Not for the Gym
Having a friend to motivate you is a great idea. What is not great is when your workout schedule relies on the availability of a friend. Whether it is for a lift to the gym, the guilt of them going without you or the comfort of not going alone – there are so many moments that can go wrong. Unless your schedules are identical, their midterms or vacation schedule might clash with yours and you’ll find a perfect excuse not to workout. Instead, find a workout buddy who you don’t go to the gym with. Text them motivational messages or send a Snapchat of a post-workout selfie. It keeps you accountable for working out, without having to depend on someone else, or annoy your Instagram friends with all your #fitspo.
5. Leave Little Love Notes (to You!)
You’re working out and getting in better shape for you, no one else. Some days are going to be tougher than others – some days will be dedicated to the couch and ice cream. That is okay, but throughout the process you have to remember that you’re doing this for YOU. Remember to be kind to yourself, always. Leave a little post-it on you bathroom mirror that remind you to take care of yourself. Leave it right next to the post-it that says “FLOSS, Damn it!”
6. Walk Down the Stairs
Walking up staircases is not always practical. If you’re wearing business casual with cute flats, the last thing you need is to show up on the eighth floor covered in sweat. You know what keeps you active but less stinky? Walking down the stairs. It works a whole different set of muscles while having a smaller cardio impact – smaller than walking up the stairs but larger than taking an elevator. If you were on your way home to change after a long day, then do walk up the stairs or at the very least walking up the subway escalators.
7. Schedule What Works for You
Find a workout time that works for you. If you hit snooze ten times every morning, then chances are you’re going to skip a morning workout. If you feel bloated after dinner or have the inability to change out of pajamas once you’re in them – chances are you’re going to pick the couch over the gym at night. If you’re better right after work, then bring your gym bag (and snack for fuel) to work with you. Whatever you pick needs to be an easy addition to your day, not a constant struggle. If you’re a night owl, don’t let your early-bird friends convince you that running during sunrise is the best for you. Do what works for you!
8. Don’t Keep Junk Food In Your House
Staying on track with fitness also includes minding what you eat. You don’t have to count calories nor do you have to restrict everything. The first step for food is always the toughest – if you overdo it, then you might fall off the bandwagon, but if you don’t change anything, you won’t get the results you’re looking for. Even if you aren’t trying to lose weight, we can all make positive changes in our diet to keep our insides healthy.
One of the more manageable changes is to not have any junk food in your house. You can go out for frozen yogurt with your friends, you can order that sweetened iced coffee to cool you down and you can eat the birthday cake. However, when you come home it should be a junk-free zone. Whether you’re studying or watching TV or cozying up to your dog, it is easy to grab junk food if it is available. The solution is to make it not available. Replace junk food with healthy snacks at home and still enjoy the pleasures of food when you’re out socializing. It might seem like a small step, but it will make big changes – healthier choices will become the habit.
Everyone has their own tricks for staying fit – but these eight might help get you started in the right direction. The important thing is to find something that works for you and stick to it. Good luck!
Feel free to send me an email or comment below with questions or comments or your own tips and tricks!