So you hear it all the time. “It is not a diet, it is a lifestyle” or “there are no shortcuts” or “lifestyle habits are what count” or whatever else people say to infer the importance of a sustainable way of living healthily.
Now, of course, these sorts of statements are completely true!
Avoiding magic pills, diet fads and quick fixes is most definitely the way to go. Sensible healthy eating, daily movement, hydration and good sleep are the golden tickets to sustainable long term success!
However, in today's culture where everyone is always raving about a brand new diet or weight loss 'hack,' it is harder than ever to develop healthy lifestyle habits that you can stick at over weeks, months and years.
It's time to fix that!
In this article I am going to give you three habits that will make eating healthy and training hard a lifestyle and not just something you do for about 1 month before calling it a quits!
Remember, consistency is the key to being both lean and healthy! I can give you the most personal and perfect workout program and meal plan, but if you choose not to follow either of them for longer than a few weeks, you will never get the results you want!
So here we go! Here are three ways to turn your short term 'diet' into a lifestyle that you can maintain.
1. Do Activity You Actually Enjoy!
So this is where I think a lot of people go wrong. They spend way too much time on exercise that they think they SHOULD be doing... and not enough on the stuff they actually enjoy!
The truth is, I could write you exactly every set, every rep, every interval, every rest period of every exercise that will be the most efficient way to get you the results you want. But realistically, if you hate the workouts, you wont stick to them long enough to get those results!
And I can sit here and tell you that you have to do these workouts and if you don’t want to, push yourself to! These workouts are the only way! But that mentality really isn’t for everyone nor is it fair.
I’ve worked with enough people to know that if you aren’t doing workouts you enjoy, you’re going nowhere. So instead, focus on a training programme that you actually look forward to doing so you can stick with it for more than a few weeks!
For example, if you want to build strength and muscle, you have to do some sort of resistance training. I mean, there is no way around that. However, if you absolutely hate doing a specific exercise, let’s say bench press for example, we are not going to do the bench press. We are going to do maybe an incline press, maybe dips or maybe different push up progressions, but we do not have to do benches.
Likewise, if you hate weight training all together, but love more bodyweight exercises and calisthenics, then we are going to do exactly that; bodyweight movements progressing in difficulty!
Or if you want to improve your cardiovascular endurance but hate running, we will swim or cycle or row instead!
So, what do you like? What sort of activity/exercises make you excited to get moving and get it done?
Conversely, what do you absolutely hate? What makes you despise getting active? Whatever it is, do not do it! You don’t have to!
Doing activit, you enjoy is the key to consistently being active and developing lifelong habits. And if you don't know what you enjoy, take up classes and try new things until you find something that works for you!
2. Make Healthy Food Actually Taste Good!
Here's something that still blows people's minds... healthy food tastes delicious!!
I mean it! There is nothing better than a ripe peach bursting with juice in the height of summer, or some comforting roasted yams as the night's turn colder.
Anyone who tells you that healthy food doesn't taste amazing is lying to you! The key is to give your food the love and care it needs to make every meal a treat for the senses.
For example, I love adding different spices and herbs to my food to make it taste absolutely as savoury or sweet as I want. As an Italian, I love a good bruschetta! (Or, a tomato salad for my non-Italian friends!) Though tomatoes chopped up in a bowl by themselves is not really that appetizing unless you are a die-hard tomato fan; adding basil, oregano, pepper and chopped onions reaaalllllyyyyy spices up the taste!
Another example is plain toast. Almost anyone would agree that is pretty boring. But try adding peanut butter, banana, cinnamon and potentially coconut flakes and now it is sweeeeeetttt party!
My point is, do not just settle for plain food. Adding different herbs, spices and ingredients together can really make things taste awesome!
If you think that youre going to stick to healthy food for the long-term but hate it because it “has no flavour” or “is boring” than you are in for a not so polite awakening. It won’t work. Therefore, don’t keep it boring. Have fun, experiment and find recipes that are both healthy and absolutely delicious!
3. Don’t Desert the Desserts
Woah wait what? Dan? You are saying have desserts? Are you sure??
Easy there my friend. Put the cookie down and let’s clarify. When I say have desserts, I am not saying go to your nearest grocery store and buy ice cream, oreos and brownies...
I am saying to make your own desserts! Make your own versions of your favourite desserts, and make them with healthy, real food ingredients!
So, for example, I made an absolutely delicious apple crumble recently. It was made with fruit, oats, almonds, cinnamon, and a few other spices... and that's it!
And oh my to the gosh….it was absolutely incredible! I had seconds and thirds and I felt amazing the next day!
Yes, this will involve just a smidgeon of work on your part researching healthy recipes, but I know you can do it!
Basically, you’re going to want to find things with no added sugars (natural sweeteners like stevia are fine), no to added msg, no to processed white flours, and no to anything you cannot pronounce!
If you are someone like myself who has a sweet tooth, abstaining from desserts for the rest of your life would never work. In fact, it would be an absolute travesty. But when you learn to create sweet treats that you can enjoy just as much without derailing your progres... then the magic REALLY happens!
In conclusion, making it a lifestyle is not hard, you just have to do the right things to get there! Do workouts you actually enjoy, make healthy food taste good, and don’t refrain from dessert and the food you love!
Take small steps, don't beat yourself up if you make a mistake, and you WILL get there. Good luck!