As much as we like to talk about habits and strategies to help you get healthy and fit for life, sometimes it’s the habits that you ditch that make the biggest difference in the long run.
Ditching unhelpful habits gives you space for new, more helpful ones. It may be tough to give them up at first, but the more you work at it, the more you’ll realize how most of these habits are holding you back from your goals—rather than helping you get there.
Here are 9 health and fitness habits that everyone striving to be healthy and fit should try to eliminate:
Stop Making Excuses.
You’re too busy to work out. You’re too tired to cook something healthy. You’re traveling and can’t go to a gym.
The list of excuses you can make to avoid working out and fueling your body right is endless, but excuses won’t help you reach your goals.
So stop making excuses and start taking some accountability. Yes, you’re busy/tired/etc.—but so is everyone else.
Here are some of the most common excuses people use to keep from being healthy and fit and how to avoid them.
Not only do they make you feel deprived, hungry, bitter, and basically make you hate your life, they’re just not sustainable.
Because while going on a no sugar/low carb/low calorie diet may help you lose weight in the short-term, it doesn’t allow you to live your life in the long-term. Plus, most diets will negatively impact your workouts, making you feel weaker, low energy, and definitely not ready to crush your workout.
Instead, try your best to take a healthy, long-term approach to food. This is where the 80/20 rule works magic—it allows you to eat healthy most of the time but still give yourself enough wiggle room to enjoy some not-quite-as-perfect foods here and there.
Stop Saying You Can’t do ‘X’ Because of Your Genes (or Because You’re Female).
Most of my family is fairly athletic, and I used to think the exercise gene “skipped” me.
I also used to think I couldn’t do a pull up because I was a girl (and The New York Times said the same thing).
But these thoughts just limited me and held me back from my true potential as an athlete and person.
Yes, certain goals may be harder for you if you weren’t born with perfect athletic genes—but they’re not impossible.
Work hard and you can do (almost) anything you put your mind to.
Stop Working Out Just for Looks.
When I used to only work out just to try and lose weight or work off last night’s pizza, my only focus was on my appearance and how I looked in a pair of jeans.
But as I got more into HIIT and bodyweight training, something began to shift. I began to work out not just to feel confident in my own body, but to get better at different skills I was excited about. I became less concerned with the scale and more about how my workout would make me a stronger, better athlete.
Working towards fitness or athletic goals is so much more motivating than working out just for your appearance. As a bonus, when you start to focus less on your looks, and more on your performance, looks will naturally follow.
Stop Trying to Deny Yourself All Treats.
You may feel like you’re being “good” by cutting out all chocolate, sugar, fried foods, anything-remotely-unhealthy, etc., but this also isn’t a good long-term strategy.
Why? Because sooner or later, you’re going to hate your life with this approach. You’re going to feel deprived during the holidays when you deny yourself a slice of your grandma’s homemade pie. And you’re most likely going to resort to binging when your willpower is at it’s lowest.
Instead, be picky about what treats you allow yourself, but do allow yourself some here and there. Again, the 80/20 rule is a strategy that works really well for most people.
Stop Thinking That Time Spent Working Out is What Matters.
So many people go to the gym and focus only on how much time they spend there.
That’s why you see people on the elliptical machine for an hour or more. It doesn’t occur to them that reading a book and going very slowly on the machine might not be the best strategy for their goals—all they think about is the time they’re spending.
But efficiency, rather than time, is what really matters.
That’s why HIIT training is so awesome—it’s the most efficient way to get in a workout in the least amount possible. Yes, you have to work hard, but you’ll be done before you know it, and as a bonus end up stronger and fitter than you would if you just did slow cardio for hours.
Stop Thinking All Healthy Food as Boring.
There are lots of ways to make healthy food taste good, you just have to get a little creative.
Adding various spices, flavorful cheeses, peppers, and healthy fats like nuts, avocado, and coconut oil can really change up a dish and make it taste more interesting, while still keeping it healthy.
Even a burger can be made relatively healthy if you use grass-fed beef (or a veggie burger), whole wheat buns, add some veggies, etc.
Plus, once you start eating healthy regularly, you’ll crave how energized and awesome it makes you feel!
Stop Treating Food as the Enemy.
Back in my binging days, I used to think all food was bad. I would reward myself when I ate very little or nothing at all, and be mad at myself anytime I ate what I considered to be too much food.
But if you want to be healthy, fit, and strong for life, it’s so important to treat food as fuel.
Food is what fuels your body for your workouts, so that you can kick ass and rock those burpees, push ups, and plyometrics.
Food is what fuels your brain and gives you energy to be creative and go after your dreams.
Food is fuel. Don’t demonize it.
Stop Saying it’s Too Late.
No matter what your age or your background, it’s never too late to go after your goals.
I didn’t start working out consistently until I was in my early twenties, and didn’t start doing any sort of bodyweight training or calisthenics (including handstands) until years after that.
I didn’t grow up doing gymnastics, but today I take classes regularly and love every moment. If I’d let the fact that I didn’t do gymnastics from 5+ hold me back from trying something new I would be missing out on something that gives me so much joy and has changed my life for the better.
What other things would you add to the list?