Being fit and healthy doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to working out for hours a day and eating nothing but chicken and steamed broccoli for every meal. In fact, there are several more effective (and less painful!) habits you can adopt today that will not only help you get in shape in the short-term, but will help you stay that way for the long run as well.
The following is a list of 14 habits of women who always manage to stay fit, no matter the time of the year. They are easy to implement into your everyday lifestyle, and will help get you healthy and fit for life. Let’s get going.
1. Exercise even if you only have 15 minutes to do it.
A short gym routine is better than nothing if you’re really strapped for time or just plain exhausted. If you don’t have time to get to your gym but have 15 minutes before you have to shower to go meet your friends for dinner, do jumping jacks or burpees or something. You’ll feel better, especially if you spent your day sitting at a computer and thinking about how you should really leave work in time to get to the gym. (But then, well, didn’t.)
2. Mix up your workout routine.
Do yoga one day, interval training the next, and a light jog the following day. If your fitness routine doesn’t bore you, you’re more likely to stick to it.
3. Instead of skipping a workout, focus on how great you’ll feel after.
Working out isn’t always fun while you’re doing it, but the endorphin high you get after — or the myriad other benefits, like a sound night of sleep — are.
4. Don’t wait for an occasion to get in shape.
If you only rush to the gym six weeks before you have a tight dress to wear to a party (or your wedding or somebody else’s wedding) you’ll kill yourself trying to meet unrealistic goals and feel miserable and down on yourself and be no fun at all. Then when it’s all over, of course you won’t want to go back to working out! Fitness is a lifestyle, not an exercise in vanity.
5. Eat. Real food.
Don’t swear off alcohol or sweets or bread. Especially don’t swear off chocolate — that’s too cruel. You’ll be miserable and binge and feel bad, and then swear off all that food again and the cycle will repeat and you’ll feel worse every time! Don’t do it. Everything in moderation!
6. Keep weeknight drinking to a minimum.
Weekdays are exhausting enough without alcohol. If you get smashed on Tuesday, you’re less likely to get up in time for your 7:30 barre class on Wednesday or even Thursday — studies suggest a night of drinking can make women sleepy in the days following. So drinking on a weeknight can really sap your energy level for the rest of the week, especially if you don’t have time to make up for lost sleep.
7. Work out at home if you can’t get to a gym.
If you have cable, it probably comes with a whole slew of secret workout classes you can do on-demand. This is a great option for when you want to be active but don’t want to leave your house. Get a bright pink workout mat and have fun.
8. Use a foam roller.
A little device that, when used for less than a minute before exercise, can increase your range of motion during exercise. Used after, it can greatly reduce soreness.
9. Exercise when you’re sore.
Don’t do intense weightlifting by any means, but a light jog or brisk walk as part of an “active recovery” can help alleviate sore muscles more quickly than sitting on your duff doing nothing.
10. Focus on how you want to feel rather than how you want to look.
Working out leads to increased energy and good vibrations all around. Why do you think Richard Simmons is so peppy and cheerful all the time? Focus on feeling good rather than looking good and you’ll “see” results quickly.
11. Remember that the main goal isn’t to run 10 miles a day, it’s just to do something physical.
If you feel like you just can’t bear to go to the gym, just plan to do five minutes of exercise once you get there. Chances are once you start, you’ll go for longer.
12. Do some green exercise.
When you’re outside, you are more likely to exercise. And what’s better is that you’re more likely to enjoy your workout when you’re surrounded by greenery. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it. Walk along the beach, take a bike ride, or play a game of Frisbee.
13. Enjoy some sunshine (with safe sunscreen).
While you’re out in nature, you’ll also benefit from getting one of the sun’s healing remedies — Vitamin D. Do this safely and cover up so you don’t expose your skin to harmful ultraviolet rays for more than 15 minutes. Make sure to wear sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen that doesn’t have added chemicals in it.
14. Get sleep.
The more you work out, the more you’ll want to get a good night’s sleep, so it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. But if you’re crashing at midnight and trying to get to a 7 a.m. yoga class, you’re not exactly setting yourself up for making it there.