We skip the quick fixes and share strategies for sustainable fitness and health.
Creating sustainable habits starts with letting go of the all-or-nothing mentality, says Brad Awalt, manager of Vanderbilt’s Health Plus wellness program. “With our busy lifestyles, things can come in and mess up our plans in a heartbeat,” he says. Don’t let missing a day at the gym or eating off-plan derail you. Read on for more ways to set yourself up for success.
Set attainable, specific goals.
Ditch thinking about “more” (workouts) or “less” (dessert). Instead, decide on measurable, realistic goals. “If it’s very clear, you can say ‘I met that’ or ‘I didn’t meet that (goal),’ ”Awalt says.
Awalt sets of a goal of five structured workouts per week, but a busy workday or other plans can sometimes derail him. On those days, he makes a point to instead accumulate at least 10,000 steps. “You don’t have to get your exercise in doing a CrossFit workout or going for a run,” he says. “Just being active in a day, taking the stairs, that can definitely help out.”
Create a system of accountability.
Find a workout buddy to get you out of bed at 5 a.m. You’ll be less inclined to hit snooze and sleep through your gym time if you know someone is waiting for you, Awalt says. Fitness apps or trackers (think a Fitbit or Nike FuelBand) that put your activity into perspective can also give you an extra push.
Make fitness an appointment.
At the beginning of the week, sit down and schedule your workouts. If you can, mark out a specific time on the calendar, treating exercise like an appointment you can’t break.
Do something you enjoy.
Find an activity that resonates with you, and you’re much more likely to stick to it, Awalt says. Love the outdoors? Start your day with a trail run or hike. Are you a cycling addict? Sign up for classes with your favorite spin instructor.
Your waistline isn’t the only thing that could benefit from some added exercise. Learn more about the easy things you can do today (yes, now!) to pump up your heart health.