I know some of my readers are going to call me a biatch for the tone of this article. BUT, rookies and veterans alike can always benefit from some fundamental fitness habits.
I will also be littering this article with fluffy cliché sayings and warm and fuzzy quotes – because motivation has no language. I’ve outlined 10 simple fitness habits that anyone, regardless of fitness level, knowledge, or age, can start implementing immediately. I know I’m just some young punk preaching health and fitness – but I can imagine there’s no worse feeling than a life filled with regret and what if’s. Trust me, a proactive approach to health and fitness will enrich your life in so many more ways than a reactive approach. Let’s get started.
Simple fitness habit #1
Move, daily – Just do it man. Go for a walk, play in a rec league, workout in whatever genre of movement you want. What scares the hell out of me is waking up one day and ‘wishing’ I took better care of my body when I was younger. Don’t be that depressed soul that’s living in the past because you’ve let your body deteriorate: Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
Simple fitness habit #2
Lose your breath, frequently – I couldn’t write an article without dropping a plug for HIIT or SIT (read previous articles to make the connection). So, it’s time to start kicking your own ass. Push yourself past your comfort level, sweat a little bit (preferably a lot), gasp for air, feel your lungs burn. Because, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Haha I know, that’s probably the worst one I could have used. Seriously, get into this anaerobic zone and you’ll be doing wonders for every aspect of your health.
Simple fitness habit #3
Stop dieting, forever – Know what the best diet is? Adherence. Know why it’s the best? Because when eating becomes habit it’s no longer a diet. Stop worrying about People’s Magazine’s latest diet trends, some celebrities new supplement line, or Dr. Oz’s new herbal remedy found in the lost city of Atlantis. Let’s start by changing one thing at a time, making it a habit, and then progressing forward. If you need a little more specific guidance, find yourself someone (a mentor) you trust and respect in the health and fitness industry. Or, maybe this article is a perfect building block to get you going in the right direction.
Simple fitness habit #4
Plan for the future, today – Awwww baby, definitely one of my many achilles heels: if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards. Being goalless is the beginning of the end. Honestly, the only wrong way to set goals is if you’re not setting any. Whether you make micro/macro goals, 1-5-10 year goals, daily/weekly goals, they’re all essential – not just in fitness but in life (yes, I am a life coach, because that’s what personal trainers are). You need to know what you’re working towards: fat loss, an event or marathon, body composition, eating more veggies, correcting faulty movements, even something as simple as being active. Whatever it may be – write it down, refer back to it regularly, and adjust it accordingly.
Simple fitness habit #5
You are what you eat the majority of the time – Being healthy, both nutritionally and physically, isn’t a part-time job. It takes one big ass cup of commitment. But, let’s not get carried away. Anyone close to me knows I’m a flat out sucker for a few things: ribs, chicken wings, theatre popcorn, coke, and candy binge sessions while gaming (among others). These are things I enjoy so I’m gonna eat em! Simple as that. The thing is, I’m able to eat them because for the majority of the time I’m fueling my body with what it needs: whole nutritious food. When I say the majority of the time, I don’t mean 51 (healthy) / 49 (junk) – although, if that ratio is better than your current ratio then that’s totally acceptable. All I want you to think about is pushing the envelope a little more each week: 60/40, 65/35, 70/30 etc… For fast body composition changes, the best ratio seems to be the 90/10 rule.
Simple fitness habit #6
Stay hydrated 24/7 – Water’s the essence of life dude! Think you’re drinking enough water? Well you’re stupid. Drink some more. Easily one of the most crucial elements to optimal functioning (on every level), yet ignored most often. BUT, here’s the good news… out of every habit on this list, this is by far the easiest to implement. Buy a water bottle, carry it around, drink regularly. You’ll quickly realize the more water you drink, the more you crave it.
Simple fitness habit #7
Get experimental – I’ve tried high carb, low carb, high fat, intermittent fasting, gluten-free, high calorie, low calorie, peri-workout nutrition, water and salt manipulation and many other types of nutrition strategies (I will admit, I have never PURPOSELY tried low protein). I’ve tried CrossFit, traditional bodybuilding, sprinting (of course), semi long distance running (like 5K, I know – weak right?!) circuit training, tabata, olympic lifting, bodyweight training, gymnastic training, yoga, acroyoga, power yoga, pilates and a shit ton of sports. I wrote those lists because I think they look sweet and I wanted to brag… and for the tiny secondary reason of trying to prove another point – try new things, keep it fresh. I don’t think anyone has the right to belittle a certain medium of fitness unless you’ve tried it. I will admit, I have and most likely never will run a marathon. BUT, I have no problem with people who run marathons because they love it. My problem is with people who run marathons and expect to transform their body into some sort of muscle popping Michelangelo sculpture. So back to my point, the more tools you have in your toolbox, the better house you can build.
Simple fitness habit #8
Fit-minded folk, find them – start surrounding yourself with people who share the same values; or if this whole lifestyle is new to you, surround yourself with people whose values are similar to the ones you want to adopt. It’ll be a helluva lot easier to live the way you want if the people around you are doing the same. Manifestation and all that stuff man.
Simple fitness habit #9
Eliminate guilt – So you had a cheat meal, oooooooohhhh no! Cry me a firkin river bro. If you’re going to live and die by one meal you have to get some new hobbies (bodybuilding competitors, obviously this is not meant for you). There is absolutely no chance in hell that your fitness/health gains are ruined by a few slices of pizza on Friday night. No, they’re sabotaged by the two Budlight you have every night or domino effect of binges you have every weekend. Whether you call it a cheat meal, a re-feed, a reward, or just eating because you wanted to, do it and move on. Don’t feel guilty, indulge in some super shitty food now and then. If you adopt the 90/10 rule, it actually does more benefit than harm. Just be mindful that you’re doing it and get back on track.
Simple fitness habit #10
Start, today – There’s no such thing as the perfect time to start. If we have no excuse, we make one up. We’re so conditioned to fearing failure that we just accept things the way they are, out of our control. We live in this tiny little ball of comfort, suffocating our creativity, imagination, and dreams. There’s no sadder time than when a man turns 25 and dies from the neck up. Time is the most valuable thing we are given, don’t waste it.
So let’s bring this one home before you all get lost in the confusion of this soft tone I’ve undertaken. Every simple fitness habit listed above can easily be incorporated into your life. Here’s your challenge: Over the next 10 weeks, add one of these habits every week. Do not add another habit until you’ve had at least 90% adherence (or whatever % you deem reasonable) to the previous one. I’m making these habits subjective to each individual so with something like habit #6: drink more water, what does that really mean for you? That could mean increasing your water intake by 500 mL/day (2 cups) or 1 litre/day, it’s up to you. What are you supposed to do with something like habit #3 that tells you to stop dieting forever? Well, first you’re going to need to find something that’s sustainable for more than 3 months of the year. Maybe that means a balanced diet or a paleo diet. I know you’re probably thinking, “Ethan, stop being an asshole, just tell me what to eat.” Well that would defeat this whole purpose, and quite frankly, that’s getting you no closer to becoming self-sustainable than before I told you what to eat. I can definitely help you find what is right for you, if you want my guidance you can find my contact info on my blog.
Feel free to comment and tell me what you’re having the most difficulty with and how your progress is going. And to set you on your way, here’s our last reminder: Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.