Wanting to get an inside look at the healthy habits of fit people? Check out these diet, exercise, and overall fitness goal tips to form better habits.
On those depressing days when it feels like our fitness goals are still a long way off, and the bathroom scales refuse to provide any good news, it’s tempting to look enviously at the fittest people we know. Is there some magic combination of workouts and dieting that gave them such an admirable physique? Did they buy a game-changing piece of equipment? Maybe they paid big bucks for a one-to-one physical trainer? Tony Horton teaches his clients to understand that the habits of a fit person aren’t the results of magic, and that it’s best to honestly analyze your habits and decide which ones are holding you back:
“If you have an activity, habit, or ritual that’s no longer serving you, why on Earth would you keep at it?” – Tony Horton1
Starting And Maintaining Healthy Habits
Change is hard, especially if you’re working to overcome long-standing habits surrounding food, movement, sleep, play, and social life. In this century, more than ever, our brains have become wired to anticipate instant gratification, but, as you’ll notice, the habits of healthy people only yield their results slowly. This connects with the main reasons people fall short when trying to build healthy habits:
- They try to change too many things at once. (e.g., “I want to lose 10 pounds, run two 9-minute miles in a row, sleep better and quit smoking.”) Without a supportive background in weight management, fitness, and personal discipline, it’s hard to imagine good results.
- They get impatient when results aren’t visible. (e.g., “I look the exact same in front of the mirror! Why did I bother with 2 weeks of cardio?”)
- When life gets busy, they make excuses, forget workouts, ignore reminders…
- And then they’re back to square one.2
The answer to this is the first of our 7 habits of healthy people.
Healthy Daily Habits Of Fit People: Try These Healthy Lifestyle Tips To Up Your Fitness Game
1. Enact Structured Discipline
This is the habit of creating good habits. It’s a method of planning and organizing behaviors based around building long-term, sustainable systems for success in habit-forming. The structure comes from changing your environment to best reflect your aims:
- Put healthy foods within reach, and make unhealthy foods inaccessible.
- Remove barriers to good behaviors:
- Find comfortable fitness clothes and shoes.
- Choose a gym schedule that doesn’t conflict with other responsibilities.
- Select exercises you’re likely to enjoy; delay trying more difficult or challenging activities until you’re in better shape.
- Reward yourself (reasonably) for positive behaviors which shape new habits.
- Use your calendar to commit to a specific time for workouts, yoga, meditation, etc.
2. Work Out Frequently, Variously, And Vigorously (except 1-2 rest days a week)
The most common reason given for falling short is time, but another habit of highly fit people is to get up an hour earlier than usual and invest that time in stretching, yoga, or fitness. Other good tips include:
- Pick the gym days that work for you (even weekends).3
- Make sure to do a dynamic warm-up.4
- Bring exercise equipment with you to work: a resistance band, small dumbbell, etc.5
- Include plenty of variety in your physical activity by trying crossfit, swimming, cycling, hiking, or a new sport.
- Hitting the gym is useful but might not be essential; having the right equipment at home could be just as important, as can having other people around who are making the same journey.
- Try a yoga class to boost flexibility and mindfulness.
- Pair together routine activities (brushing your teeth) with a small fitness activity (standing on one leg).6
3. Get 8 Hours Of Good-Quality Sleep Every Night
Take an honest look at your sleeping situation and see if you can reduce noise, light, and disturbance in the 2 hours before bedtime. This might include:
- Turning off electronics (TV, laptop, phone, game console)
- Lowering the lights
- Moving away from stressful topics, arguments, the news, etc.
- Writing a list of tomorrow’s responsibilities, so your brain can set them aside
- Journaling, repeating a gratitude mantra, meditating, and deep breathing are all good methods for reducing stress and preparing for sleep.7
4. Plan Your Meals
Use your shopping list as a meal planner. Taking control of your food choices in advance is the best way to avoid the urge to select something unhealthy:
- Eat a healthy breakfast every day.8 Consuming proteins and fats in the morning helps satiety (the sensation of fullness) which can help cut down on snacking later in the day.9 Time your breakfast so you’re fueled up before your morning workout.10
- Limit your exposure to temptations such as junk food. Keep good sources of food close by, especially healthy snacks (try homemade granola or trail mix, nut butter, a piece of fruit, vegetable sticks (carrot, celery), cottage cheese on crackers, etc).11,12
- Limiting treats to 200 calories (or perhaps 400 after a major workout) can help prevent weight gain.13
- Bear in mind the 80/20 concept: Provided that 80% of your calorie intake comes from lean protein and plant-based foods, you can make more flexible choices with the other 20%.14 This makes a healthy eating habit easier to begin.
5. Take Food Seriously
Learning to cook, and helping bring cooking skills to your family, are beneficial across the board – it’s fun, saves money, enhances creativity, and encourages a sense of togetherness and shared accomplishment.15,16,17 Other tips include:
- Stay away from soda.18
- Practice mindful eating:19
- Pause between forkfuls to appreciate every single bite.
- Imagine that this meal was made specifically for you by a world-renowned chef using the best possible ingredients; savor it slowly and with gratitude.
- Try using chopsticks to slow yourself down.
- Don’t eat in front of a screen or when standing up.20
- When snacking, be mindful of amounts. A healthy nut butter snack consists of 2 tbsp, but no more.21
- Eat the rainbow. By ensuring a variety of colors, you broaden the range of nutrients.22
- Eat plenty of dietary fiber. Women should aim for 25g a day, and men 38g.23
- The author Michael Pollan put it best: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”24
Depending on how it’s defined, studies are showing that many Americans are suffering from long-term dehydration, and a large chunk of the population drinks less water than is healthy.25,26,27 Working out increases your body’s need for water, leaving you at risk of fatigue, memory fog, irritability, and kidney stones.28
7. Take Care Of Your Mental Health
The explosion of interest in mindfulness and meditation during the early 21st century is neither an accident nor a coincidence. Try some of these tips:
- Set reasonable, achievable fitness goals that don’t set you up for failure. Don’t ask too much of yourself, especially at the outset.
- Vary your goals throughout the program. These could include intentions regarding weight loss, flexibility, strength, endurance, balance, and coordination.29
- Create a supportive group of friends.
- Try to establish a daily meditation practice.30
- Try also to practice daily gratitude, perhaps by journaling near bedtime.
- Reading is an outstanding activity for mental health. It helps lower stress, builds knowledge, and helps create new brain connections.31,32
- Assess and take control of your screen/phone time.
- Take a daily multivitamin.33
Ultimately, forming a habit is building a kind of wisdom: the ability to make choices which further our well-being.34 Habits are hard to create, but the process becomes easier with some planning, a little support and encouragement, an honest assessment of your current habits, and a desire to make slow, incremental change.
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