Much of what you know now to be staple practices for exercise and nutrition are actually based on training programs for competitive athletes, physique models, and body builders. They are intense and often lead to quick results for building muscle and losing fat. However, in most case, these results don’t last. The reason: most of us aren’t competitive athletes and our lives don’ revolve around fitness. What we need to do is stop following protocol that wasn’t made for us and start building a routine of habits that will last. So today I’m sharing my top 3 health and fitness habits to stop doing in 2021.
1) Measuring Everything You Eat
One habit that’s woven into almost every diet is maintaining proper portions. Because of this, calorie tracking and macro counting websites and apps are wildly popular for use, especially for people who want to lose weight. The truth is that there is no single app or equation that can tell you exactly how much YOUR body needs to be at it’s healthiest weight. It simply gives you a number based on your desired goal, which may or may not be reasonable or suitable. In fact, these numbers may actually leave you feeling depleted of energy and constantly hungry.
Most importantly, relying on the numbers alone to guide you removes you from your internal experience of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction. You can stay within your points/calories/macros and feel stuffed at the end of a meal or use ALL of them before the day is over and feel like it’s not enough.
What to Do Instead
The best advice I can give for creating a healthy diet is to give your body the nutrients it needs to feel GOOD and learn to get in touch with what your body is telling you. You can get you GREAT results by doing the following:
- Eat fruit and veggies daily. Aim to have one of them at every single meal or snack. Make to sure to have a mixture of water-rich veggies, such as leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, and other colorful options.
- Eat slowly. Learning to savor your food to see if you really enjoy it or you’re just eating to eat something. Listen to the cues that tell you you’re hungry or full. Eat before you get to the point of belly ache hunger, which may cause you to eat more than your body can digest, and stop when you’re body is starting to tell you it’s had enough.
- Don’t rule out the “carbs.” You don’t need to completely cut out carbs or any other food to achieve your fitness goals. In fact, you can have them every day and still make progress.
2) Working Out to Burn Calories
Working out has many benefits that range from INCREASED muscle mass, strength, bone density, energy, immunity, and longevity to DECREASED blood pressure, anxiety, flexibility, chance of injury, and so much more! Different types of workouts (i.e. yoga, resistance training, cardio, etc.) serve different purposes. Somehow, many of us have gotten fixated on this idea that we need to “feel the burn,” “sweat it out,” or “run up the numbers” to call our workouts successful.
An intense routine like this is not sustainable for most of us and can actually BURN you out (see what I did there?). So instead of aiming for the biggest burn possible, don’t sweat the numbers. Rather, aim to build a habit of movement that challenges you more and more over time.
What Does That Look Like?
The right program for YOU will depend specifically on your goals. However, most people can benefit from building up to a routine that looks something like this.
- 1-2 days of foam rolling and active mobility (stretching or yoga) alone
- moderate strength training 2-3 days a week, for 15-45 minutes
- a fun cardio activity at least 1x a week
A great place to start if you’re new is with foam rolling and stretching. Complete that 2-3x a week to start, then slowly add the strength and cardio activities in. I have a ton of quick strength routines on my YouTube channel. Click here to check them out!
You can’t talk about fitness and wellness without talking about the “hustle.” There’s this idea in the world of fitness and self help that if we only build the DISCIPLINE required or muster up the WILLPOWER to get up early, go to the gym before work, work out to failure every time we exercise, practice a habit for 30/66/90 days in a row without a break, etc. etc…. we will achieve our goals. This is called the hustle mentality.
Think of the hustle mentality as the “fad diet” of self development. It promises to get you results quickly, as long as you put ALL of your energy into this ONE thing, follow the rules as outlined, and never stray from the course. The problem is that the strategies are not built for everyone, and they often undermine foundational habits that are crucial to your mental and physical health.
Honor Your Body’s Needs
There’s no perfect morning or evening routine that will work for every person. But what CAN work, for your happiness as well as your health, is looking at the advice you’ve been following and questioning it.
- Sleep as much as you need to. Have you been arbitrarily waking up early after getting only 4-6 hours of sleep per night? Most of us need at least 8 hours for proper recovery. So sleep in whenever you can. It may be even more important than working out.
- Work out when it makes the most sense. Do you drive by the gym on your way to or from work? Consider making it a part of your daily commute. If you work from home, perhaps you can exercise while dinner is in the oven OR while watching your favorite streaming show on Netflix (I like to lift while watching YouTube).
- Give yourself permission to SLOW DOWN. Stress is rampant in this day and age. Most of us are busy ALL THE TIME. Even when we’re trying to chill, so many of us are still thinking about our to-do lists and responsibilities subconsciously entertaining the thought that, if I could only complete this last task, I can finally relax. But that never happens. The truth is that there will ALWAYS be something to do. The only way to release the stress and anxiety is to release the need to be busy and practice slowing down.
Design Your Healthy Lifestyle
It’s time to stop defaulting to fitness advice that was created for body builders and athletes. Instead, build a lifestyle of exercise and healthy eating habits that you can stick with because you actually enjoy it! It may take some trial and error, but as I’ve witnessed working with nutrition and lifestyle clients, when we’re willing to shed the old ideas about what it takes to achieve our goals, we’re more open to learning new methods that are better suited to our bodies and our unique lives.
I hope this blog will provide you with a good starting point. Good luck!
Love & Light,
PS – If you’re interested in 1:1 guidance to achieve your 2021 fitness goals, I have space for 5 new nutrition and lifestyle clients. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “My 2021 Goals” to find out more.