Fitness 4 Life

yoga practice with signWe all have different motivations for fitting in our weekly workouts, right? Some of us want to have leaner and meaner bodies. Others want to run faster and jump higher. And still others want to have bulging muscles and ripped abs. No matter our reasons, we always seem to have some ultimate end goal when we exercise.

Here’s a radical thought: What if you committed to the practice of fitness rather than the end result? Rather than exercising to shed extra pounds, gain muscle, or tighten your core for your high school reunion, what if you embraced the entire process of the workout—including each squat, push-up, and burpee?

Before you start thinking I’m crazy, I have to point out that I’m not the first person to have this idea. I ran across an article on Greatist about how adjusting our mindset to the practice of fitness can keep us motivated and healthy for the long haul—and I mean your entire life! The article’s author cited yoga as a great example of how enthusiasts do it less for the end results than for the practice itself. By embracing the entire process, those participating in it see empowering and transformative effects that can last a lifetime.

You need to understand that fitness is a journey, not a destination.

Am I piquing your interest yet?

To become a fitness practitioner, you need to change your mindset. Forget that number on the scale, say good-bye to your marathon-running obsession, and erase your hunger for trying the latest workout trend in town—at least for a moment. To make fitness a practice, you need to develop and tweak your skills and abilities constantly. Here’s how you do it.

The Four Habits of Successful Fitness Practitioners

Here are my observations of what makes people fitness practitioners:

  1. They have goals. Fitness practitioners set short-term and long-term goals and review them on a regular basis, keeping in mind that they should be consistent and challenging. Short-term goals should be for six to eight weeks (or less). Long-term goals should span six to 12 months. These goals need to be reviewed and changed depending on their results. Goals should be consistent and chipped away at every day, not just once a week for three hours at a time. They should be challenging, too. Fitness practitioners don’t let a workout go stale. They work toward perfect form, heavier weights, or the next variation of an exercise.
  2. They make plans. There is nothing halfhearted about successful fitness practitioners. They keep a mental calendar (or write one out), planning all aspects of their workouts—including frequency, duration, number, and type. These plans keep workouts varied and exciting as well as push to achieve those short-term and long-term goals.
  3. They make a Plan B. We all have the best intentions when it comes to working out, but successful fitness practitioners prepare for life that can get in the way. That nor’easter coming through that shuts down boot camp for a few days. A cancelled train that adds an extra night to a business trip. A sick kid who needs a parent at every moment. When these moments strike, successful fitness practitioners cue up YouTube for a WOW, take an extra long and brisk walk with the dog, hit the hotel stairs (walking up and down them five times for every hour of sitting), or close their office door and start some incline one-arm push-ups on the desk.
  4. They forgive themselves and move on. Fitness practitioners don’t beat themselves up for missed workouts; they realize that this is the ebb and flow of life. Sometimes they’ll hit that five-workout-a-week goal and other weeks they’ll be lucky to get to 15 minutes of push-up practice. They don’t let a bad week or month derail them from their ultimate goal of staying fit for the long haul. And—no surprise here—their bodies and health really show off their dedication to the practice of fitness.

elderly couple runningI know these habits are possible to grasp. You’re smart, after all. Practicing fitness means thinking about your body and pushing it when you can, but also accepting that real life can interfere with our best-laid plans.

Enjoy that sweaty body and increased heart rate that comes from an intense workout. Embrace the hunger to strengthen and improve your physique. Your body and mind will thank you in the long run.