Too many people see working out and eating well as just some things they have to do in order to be healthy and fit.
It’s sad because living a healthy life and exercising can–and should be–much more than that. It really should be fun and enjoyable!
For someone fairly new to a healthier lifestyle, being active and eating better food on a regular basis may sound like a terrible punishment. When you’re first starting out, it may seem like there’s no way it could ever be something you actually enjoy.
And it’s actually not hard to see where people with this point of view are coming from. Here are a few misconceptions that make us think that healthy living is so difficult:
Thinking that Working out Has to Hurt
No pain, no gain, right?
Not necessarily. Sore muscles and extreme fatigue are not enjoyable, and they’re not indicators of a good workout. However, you can see many fitness fans and workout enthusiasts telling you how you should be in constant pain in order to get fit.
Sore today, strong tomorrow.
If it doesn’t hurt it doesn’t count.
No pain, no gain.
I don’t know about you, but to me, these thoughts make it sound like we’re in a war.
And don’t get us wrong, we absolutely agree that you need to work hard to get your goals. But giving people the idea that they’re wasting their time if their workouts don’t always leave them unable to walk the next day is simply wrong and can push people away from even starting to be more active and fit.
Thinking that Working Out and Extreme Dieting Go Hand in Hand
Another thing that is keeping people from starting or sticking with a healthier lifestyle is that they think they immediately have to go on an extreme diet to accompany their workouts.
Yet committing to a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to happen in an extreme way by forcing yourself to give up all your favorite foods, quitting sugar cold turkey, and never having a drink anymore because you’re thinking of the calories. There’s no need to do everything at once, and there’s definitely no need to restrict all the foods you like.
Unfortunately, many people see this approach as the only way to get fit from countless TV shows, where overweight people are put on super low calorie diet so they lose weight quickly. But we rarely see follow-ups on how those people do later…
Thinking that Working Out Has to Take over Your Life
Assuming that you have to spend a lot of time working out is another impression that we may get from social media or TV shows. We see and hear about people who work out two hours a day, at the gym, every single day. And they swear that that’s the only way to get any results from your workouts.
If it works for some people (and they enjoy it), props to them. But to tell someone just starting out that they have to spend hours at the gym to get—or stay—fit is simply lying. You don’t have to do that, and most fit people these days don’t (most don’t have the time even if they wanted to). If they do, they’re probably professional or elite athletes, and that’s their job or their extreme passion.
Luckily we know that there’s a better way. You really only need just around 12 minutes a day for a workout to get and stay fit.
So Why Is it So Important to Make Your Healthy Lifestyle Enjoyable?
There’s a very simple answer to this question:
Enjoying the way you eat, work out, and live is the only way you’re going to stick with it.
Sticking with it matters because health is not a short-term project that you can check off from your to do list once it’s done. We can’t work out like crazy for one month and then do nothing for the rest of the year and expect to stay fit. The goal is to move and eat well continuously, the majority of the time, in a way that doesn’t stress us out or take over our lives.
Heath and fitness should add value to our lives, not create more stress!
How to Make Healthy Living More Enjoyable
Luckily, it is possible to live a healthy life and actually enjoy it too. Here are some tips to help make it happen:
Find a Workout Style You Like
We really believe at 12 Minute Athlete that when it comes to exercising, there’s something enjoyable for everyone.
Don’t like to run? Try HIIT instead.
Don’t enjoy spending a lot of time doing mindless cardio? Try a new sport and tire yourself while having fun.
Bored of the machines at the gym? Challenge yourself with bodyweight exercises and push your body to its limits.
And of course, at home workouts are the simplest way to start.
Start Out Slowly
Also, there’s no need to start with 6-7 HIIT workouts a week, just because some people do them. Those people have probably worked out hard for years! If you start out too fast, you get sore and may get injured, none of which is going to help you keep up and enjoy the healthy lifestyle.
Celebrate Your Progress
Small wins are what keep us going, and they’re worth celebrating. Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re not making progress fast enough.
We shouldn’t expect to lose that fat we want to lose in a month (which is also why we don’t recommend quick fix diets).
It’s a good idea to write down your goals and take a look at them every once in a while. That way you can see that you actually have made a huge amount of progress compared to where you started. Remember to pat yourself on the back for those things.
Learn to Cook
Healthy foods are often thought about as tasteless, bland and dry, but we promise it doesn’t have to be that way. There are so many ways to make also healthy foods taste awesome. Cooking really isn’t that hard, and by making most of your foods in your own kitchen, you’ll make living your healthy life much simpler.
Make the Best Choices at Grocery Store
Choose as natural foods as possible most of the time. The reason is that more natural foods simply make us feel better. It doesn’t mean that you have to eat only organic, only GMO-free, and grass-fed 100% of the time. If you can, that’s awesome!
But more important than that is actually eating your veggies and fruits, even if they’re not from the most expensive grocery store that sells only uber clean produce.
You can always buy what’s in season and keep an eye out for discounts.
Leave processed foods in the store, pile up on veggies, fruit and other natural foods and cook your own meals.
Try the 80/20 Rule
There’s no need to go on a super strict diet. Doing so actually makes your life way less enjoyable, because who wants to follow a plan 100% perfectly for the rest of their life?
It’s not fun and most likely not sustainable. Eating mostly healthy and leaving some room for not-so-healthy meals is really the key to like the way you eat while staying healthy.
It takes some experimenting, but once you figure out a few things you actually enjoy doing and enjoy eating, healthy living is really not that difficult.
It may seem like it for those people who are completely new to it, but there’s no need to change or fix everything at once.
Start out by finding the way of working out you like, do it consistently, and start moderately.
Then, try and eat mostly natural foods, learn to cook, and see how much fun making food can be. At the same time, leave some room for treats, so you don’t feel deprived and like you’re constantly on a diet.
Kersten Kimura is a NASM PT, kettlebell enthusiast and a fan of HIIT workouts. After relocating from chilly Estonia to California, she has taken full advantage of the area and works out outdoors whenever possible. You can find her throwing around her sandbag or swinging kettlebells at local parks, or sprinting along the gorgeous Bay Trail.
Find out more about Kersten here and sign up for her newsletter to get her one week equipment free workout plan and seven simple dinner recipes.