by Jari Love
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t easy. It’s not something you figure out once and forget about it. It requires an immense amount of discipline, adaptability, and patience, spread over years and years of everyday life.
As you get older, maintaining your level of health and fitness gets trickier. There are injuries — or simple wear and tear — to take into account. As your body chemistry changes, you’ll need to adapt your diet to get the vital vitamins and minerals you need. You’ll even need to adjust your schedule to get enough sleep, which becomes hard if kids are in the picture.
Simply put, maintaining a level of fitness, over the course of a lifetime, is a monumental task. But you can tackle it — with a set of established habits and routines, as well as resolute willpower.
To help get you there, we’ve compiled a list of six things you can do today to help you get fit, stay fit, and take your fitness seriously. Things will change with time, so be ready to adapt. But these habits will give you a baseline, and hopefully keep you fit forever.
- A solid sleeping schedule
It’s really hard to understate the importance of sleep. Sleep is when our body recovers — whether it is from exercise, stress, or something else entirely. Getting a solid amount of sleep every night has been linked to higher productivity, increased ability in the gym, and higher levels of mental activity. In short, sleep is important.
Do your best to establish a solid sleep schedule. You’ll ideally need between six and eight hours per night, which can be more difficult as family obligations mount, or if you’re spending more time at work or school. But get in the habit of making sleep a priority. Your body will thank you.
An easy morning routine
The morning — or whenever you wake up — may be the most important part of your day. That’s why you need to develop a routine, keep it, and use it as a springboard to set you off for another round of victories.
A morning routine can be simple — shave, shower, eat a healthy breakfast, make your bed, and you’re off. Maybe mix in some meditation. The point is, develop a healthy routine that works for you, and stick to it. It may be the only constant in your life during stressful times, so let it be a comfortable, therapeutic process.
Drop the sugar
Sugar is linked to all kinds of negative outcomes. So, your best bet is to kick your sugar habit now, and never look back. Start drinking your coffee black, your tea without any sweetener, and opt for a piece of fruit instead of having a bowl of ice cream or reaching for a Snickers.
Sugar is addictive; but if you can crush the habit in your early years, you won’t even crave it after a while. And if you can save yourself years of sugar intake by kicking sugar now, you’ll live a longer, healthier life.
Concentrate your diet
Many of us struggle to control our diet, but one easy way to do so is to concentrate the things we eat. That is, centralize your diet around a select group of foods, and only occasionally stray from your plan. By all counts, you’ll want to construct a diet that is vegetable-based — not necessarily vegetarian or vegan, but heavy on the greens — and not so dependent on meats, breads, and fats.
Pick some foods, such as eggs, fish, and vegetables, and build a diet around them. These will be your dietary staples, although you can obviously add some variety to the mix, and adapt as time goes on. By concentrating your diet, you’ll be healthier and more knowledgeable about the caloric and nutritional content you’re consuming.
You’re going to need to find a way to decompress, or blow off some steam. Some guys like to go to the shooting range or play pickup basketball or soccer. A great habit to get into is weight lifting or running to relieve stress. Other fantastic, stress-relieving habit to pick up are meditation and yoga.
Whatever gives you peace of mind for a brief amount of time, you’ll want to adopt it as a ritual. Everyone needs some solace from time to time, so find a way to let your daily frustrations go. Again, this is something that changes with time, so don’t be afraid to strike out of your comfort zone.
Learn to love exercise
Finally, you’ll need to exercise. And learn to love it. You may be a runner, lifter, swimmer, or hiker. Regardless, it’s important to develop a love for physical activity, and to make it a mainstay in your life in some form or another.
Some people make gym trips a centerpiece of their day — no matter what, they make sure they get their workouts in. For some people, it’s a daily run, a weekend hike, or a camping trip. No matter what it is, you’ll want to get “addicted” to some kind of physical activity.
In the long-run, you’ll set yourself up for success. Just teach yourself to view exercise and the rest of these habits as simple parts of your day; something you enjoy rather than a chore to be completed.
Jari Love – original creator of Get RIPPED! DVD series and group exercise classes. The hot-selling and critically acclaimed Get RIPPED! series enables individuals of any fitness level to burn up to three times more calories than the traditional weight-training program, and has received rave reviews from fitness critics throughout North America since the first title debuted in late 2005.