Written by Guest Blogger: Kathleen Trotter, MSc, is a fitness expert, media personality, personal trainer, writer, and author of Finding Your Fit.
Fitness is made not found.
No one is born fit or constantly motivated. Life is busy and too often stressful and relentless. We all must negotiate competing priorities and the vicissitudes of life. (Pandemic anyone?)
The key is to know that you will not always be motivated, to anticipate future setbacks, and to problem solve in advance.
We need to create habits that nudge us towards our goals — to create habits by “design” vs by “default.” You must intentionally design a life that serves your goals. The key is to make fitness “goals” vs fitness “wishes.”
I KNOW you can create your fittest future you. I KNOW you can find your fit. Here is how!
1. Schedule in your workouts.
Preparation. Preparation. Preparation
If it is not in the schedule, it is not going to happen. Life is busy. Don’t leave your workouts up to fate. Your workouts should not be “catch as catch can.”
You can’t just wish your way fit; you must make it happen!!
If you don’t consciously create a plan of action and schedule in your workouts, chances are, you will take the path of least resistance — a path likely filled with Netflix and wine!
2. “WWWH” your workouts
Be intentional. Decide — in advance — the “WWWH” of your workouts:
- What will you do?
- When will you do it?
- Where will you do it?
- How will you make it happen?
Will you run? Try an online yoga class? Will you do the workout before work? At lunch? After work? Will you train at home? In your office with the door closed? At a gym? In a park? How will you make it happen? Do you have to schedule a babysitter and/or negotiate the timing with your spouse? Maybe they get the kids before work so you can train and you promise to take the after-dinner shift? The key is to be intentionally design the life (i.e., the habits) you want!
3. Create an environment that serves your goals
Prime your environment so that it “nudges” you to move!! Layout workout clothing before bed. Don’t have unhealthy food in the house. Put a mantra on the fridge that will motivate you to move. Print out your workout program so that it reminds you to work out. It is way too easy to “forget” to move!! Create a home gym. Invest in a few interesting pieces of equipment so you don’t get bored. The equipment doesn’t need to be expensive, just varied enough to ward off boredom.
Most of us overestimate our healthy choices and drastically underestimate our unhealthy ones — the foods we mindlessly eat, the workouts we skip, the degree to which we rely on coffee, or the time we fritter away. The problem is, you can’t create new healthier habits until you are aware of your current habits. You can’t decide to stop mindlessly eating a full dinner while cooking or swiping 500 calories of almonds off a co-worker’s desk until you know you are a “nibbler” or a “swiper.” You can’t intentionally choose to spend your time in more productive ways until you know how you currently spend your time.
As the famous business adage goes, “What gets measured, gets managed.” You can’t possibly manage your time, food consumption, etc. if you don’t know where your time goes and what you are putting in your mouth. Awareness brings choice.
The solution? Build your awareness muscle. For at least two weeks, journal the way you spend your time, your food and exercise, and your mood before and after exercise. Think of journaling as “biceps curls” for your brain.
Once you are aware of your current choices and habits, use the “data” from the journal to create realistic goals and a tailored action plan.
5. Create your “entourage.” Create your network of support!
Health — like life — takes a village. You will not always be motivated to stay on your fitness horse. You are a human not a robot; no one is constantly motivated. So, anticipate future roadblocks and create a network of support. Find a gym or fitness buddy, an accountability buddy, or a nutrition buddy.
Gym buddies meet and work out together. You are less likely to skip your workout if you have someone waiting for you. Plus, a gym buddy can make working out more fun.
If working out with someone doesn’t appeal to you or isn’t always realistic, an alternative is to find an accountability buddy. An accountability buddy does exactly what the name suggests: he or she makes you accountable to someone other than yourself. Email or call each other regularly to discuss anything and everything health related. Good topics of conversation include your weekly exercise plan, your fitness goals, meal plans, possible roadblocks for success, and ideas for how to overcome the roadblocks.
A nutrition buddy can materialize in different ways. For example, once a month, make a date with your nutrition buddy to cook together and make six or eight healthy meals. There are tons of healthy soups and stews you can make in advance. Split the proceeds and store the meals in your freezer.
Or, if you don’t want to cook together, make food individually, then share the spoils. Try meeting your buddy once a week at the market. Get lots of fresh local produce and catch up at the same time. Or simply use your friend as a sounding board. Discuss healthy recipes and healthy eating strategies.
You can’t order new healthier habits on Amazon Prime.
Real change takes time! Evolving takes … evolution. Evolution is inherently a process. Thus, no matter how hard you wish otherwise, the process will take patience and practice.
My challenge to you is this: the next time you want to self-sabotage and tap out of your new habit, make yourself pause and remind yourself that you are like an ice cube — you need to give yourself time to “see yourself melt.” Even when the room temperature is 25° C, an ice cube is frozen solid. The cube continues to look frozen until the room heats to 32° C , and then suddenly, noticeable melting occurs. That final degree shift was the cube hitting its plateau of latent potential — that is, the final degree made the melting visible, but that 1° would not have made the difference without the previous increase in temperature. You have to persist with any new habit long enough to cross the plateau of latent potential — the moment when the ice cube noticeably melts.
Keeping going. Persevere. Working is winning.
Kathleen Trotter, MSc, is a fitness expert, media personality, personal trainer, writer, and author of Finding Your Fit. A Compassionate Trainer’s Guide to Making Fitness a Lifelong Habit and Your Fittest Future Self. Making Choices Today for a Happier, Healthier, Fitter Future You. Kathleen has been a personal trainer and fitness expert for almost twenty years.
P.S. Catch Kathleen’s interview in this week’s episode of The Hormone P.U.Z.Z.L.E Podcast. You can also find the episode on this podcast page as well as Spotify, and Stitcher. Don’t forget to subscribe, follow, and write us a review on Apple Podcast (if you LOVE it).