If you were asked, right now, what is the biggest contributor to your current health and fitness situation, doesn’t matter whether it is good or bad, what would you say? Chances are high that it would be really hard to pinpoint one thing. That’s because there is NOT just ONE thing that has determined where you are at in this very moment. It is a culmination of months and years of small decisions repeated, just like everything in our lives.
That brings us to the answer to the above question, consistency. Consistency is what decides where we are at in any point of lives with our health and fitness, so if you’re happy with where you are at, then keep on keeping on. However, if you’re not, this could be a great read for you.
If you want to make some positive changes to your health and fitness for the long term, then there are some things you need to keep in mind.
- You didn’t get to where you are overnight, and it won’t change overnight.
- The changes you make need to be changes you can maintain, making massive changes in several areas is often unsustainable, which in turn creates a lack of consistency leading to no change. As the saying goes, “slow is fast, fast is slow”.
With that in mind, let’s get practical. Sustainable changes need to be thought through and decided on so that they are realistic and manageable. For example, if you’re inactive at the moment, jumping into a 6-day training plan is going to be quite the shock to the system. There is nothing wrong with starting with 3 days of exercise, in this case, it’s still 3 days more than what is happening now! And once you have done that for a few months (yes, months!) then look at increasing from there. The same goes for changes to your food choices. If your staple breakfast at the moment is a double shot extra-large cappuccino and 2 slices of banana bread, then halving it to a regular coffee and one slice is a start. Or changing from banana bread to an actual banana with your normal coffee is another improvement. Remember the key is to avoid overhauling your day. So, what are the changes you can make, take a minute to really think about them, even write them down.
Now that you have decided what bite size changes are a good place to start with and have your new plan in place comes the hard bit, sticking to it. There are some things you can do to help you along, like habit stacking (we have an article on that too, you should check it out). Basically, you tie your new habits onto existing good ones. Like when you get home if you put your keys in a specific spot then put your banana from the above example next to them straight away so the next morning you can grab it with your keys. However, in other cases it is going to take some good old fashioned will power and the ability to say no. My top tip in this case, especially around creating consistency, if there are foods in your house that you find hard to say no too (we all have them so be honest) just do not buy them. If there are not there, they cannot be eaten.
Another one from an exercise perspective is invite your friends to do it with you. If you’re going to start walking a few times per week, get your closest friend or friends to do it with you. That way you have in built accountability to be there. If one of your friends is already a keen exerciser, ask them if you can join them, they will be more thrilled than you think! In any case though you will need to stick with whatever changes you make even on days you don’t feel like doing them, in fact it’s those days that truly build your consistency and create changes that will serve you in all areas of life.
Remember that when it comes to our lifestyles, they didn’t become “unhealthy” through one meal or missing one workout and they won’t become “healthy” by changing things for one day. If you want real results and real change then it is something you just need to take day by day.
Something that helps me on hard days is this: “An addict or alcoholic doesn’t stay sober by promising they will be sober forever. They stay sober by not giving up for just one more day.” I hope this helps.