This post is about how to make physical activity a habit in your life whether you are already an active person, were an athlete in high school who let your fitness slide in college, or you are trying to get active and fit for the first time.
I see three main steps in getting truly fit: 1) find what you like to do to stay active 2) eat clean, and 3) make both of those into habits.
Finding what you like to do:
Hiking, yoga, weight training, spinning, running, dancing, etc.- find out how to do it right, and make it a part of your life! I happen to like almost every sport I try, and triathlon has become my main sport, but not everyone likes running, biking and swimming or any combination thereof. It might take some trial and error to find an activity or sport that you like to do. Do you fondly remember the Karate Kid or 3 Ninjas or even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from your youth? You might want to Google a martial arts studio nearby and try out a class! Does the scaffolding scene in Casino Royale give you an adrenaline rush just watching? Learn the basics of Parkour and see the world as your playground (or the playground as your world, whichever works for you!) I have a friend who just had a fun and challenging workout trying out a pole dancing class the other day. Some gyms are offering Hunger Games workout classes, so seriously, you can find your fitness niche if you look hard enough!
The other part of finding what you like to do, is learning how to do it right. There is a lot of terrible information on the internet so this can be difficult and remember not to take everything you read at face value. Greatist is actually a great place to start for overall health and fitness information because the site only uses scientifically sound studies, I trust Matt at No Meat Athlete and Jason at Strength Running for running advice. (If qualifying for the Boston Marathon is a goal of yours then you’ll be happy to know that these guys have teamed up for a program called Run Your BQ.) If you want to email me or leave a comment with you fitness goals I can try to help you filter through the bad advice on the internet to people who actually know their stuff.
I’ll get into eating clean in a later post so for now I’ll move on to…
Making fitness into a habit:
A routine is merely a series of habits, a fitness routine is easy to form once you form healthy habits. Several fantastic posts have been written lately about habit forming and creating change through habits that I advise readers to go check out- Matt Frazier wrote about becoming Limitless one habit at a time on No Meat Athlete, and Steve Kamb over at Nerd Fitness wrote about Habit Forming for Newbies.
The main advice I have on the subject is to start small and consistent. Start with 10-15 minutes a day or walking or running (check out the morning mile challenge!) Then next week you can increase it by 5 minutes a day and before you know it you’ll be putting in a few hours a week of being active – you’ve created a habit! If you start too big you’re liable to burn out, which is why very few people actually keep their New Years Resolutions. Start small and focus on being consistent, make it a priority. The reason choosing something that you like to do is so important is because if you like doing an activity then you’ll want to make it a priority! Once fitness is a priority then there is no limit to what goals you can set and achieve!
My current fitness routine:
I am lucky enough to have friends in the fitness and personal training world who will create a workout routine for me when I tell them that I want to get leaner in the off season (I realize not everyone has that luxury!) For now I am in the gym lifting weights three days on, one day off and taking advantage of what is left of autumn to go hiking and bike riding off of the Blue Ridge Parkway when I have the chance on weekends. Before I know it, I’ll be increasing my running to start training for the Asheville Marathon and then the Raleigh Half-Ironman.