I’m not too deep a thinker when it comes to why I exercise. Having started gymnastics at six years old, fitness was an integral part of my childhood and a practice I instinctively carried into adulthood. But not all of us are exposed to fitness as kids, and may grow up without an understanding of how exercise promotes health, discipline and self-esteem.
So after some reflection, here’s my list of 10 distinct habits that fit, healthy people practice. I invite you to nurture these behaviors on your journey to becoming the best you can be:
1. Fit, healthy people believe movement is mandatory.
Fit, healthy people understand that movement is essential when it comes to vibrancy and strength. Exercise can be tough, so if you see it as a "take it or leave it" thing, you'll always leave it. Be certain that a hard workout's short-term discomfort yields exponential long-term results, and remember how important it is to get yourself moving on a regular basis. No matter how busy you are, there's always a way to get a quick "workout" in.
2. Fit, healthy people schedule their workouts.
Fit, healthy people leave nothing to chance. They schedule their workouts just like any other important appointment. If they miss one, they carve out time to make it up. Life is unpredictable, but your workout regimen shouldn't be. Planning is key to sticking to your fitness routine, and once something feels routine it'll be easier for you to participate without even thinking.
3. Fit, healthy people have grit.
Fit, healthy people take pride in discipline. They see the long view, understanding that results don't come overnight, but occur along a continuum of commitment and consistency. Grit is working hard right now even though the reward is on the distant horizon, and those who appreciate the power of fitness possess it.
4. Fit, healthy people aren't fickle.
The fickle among us never commit to an exercise for much longer than it takes to complete the intro package. (And they wonder why they don't earn results!) True fitness practitioners see a new workout through to the end, even if they're not good at it initially. Lose the ego and dedicate yourself to learning a new method. Change your routine only when you feel you've hit a plateau or are phoning it in during your workout. Then switch it up.
5. Fit, healthy people don't need to brag.
Fit, healthy people don't desire awards or accolades. They don't boast about how much weight they've lost or how many burpees they can do. They don't preach to their friends about being like them. Supreme health, radiant skin, a beautiful physique and a palpable joie de vivre are reward enough for the hard work they've put in.
6. Fit, healthy people exercise from their minds.
The mind-body connection is strong when the fit work out. Like an Olympic athlete, they analyze their movements and aim to improve each rep, each run, each lift — nothing is arbitrary. Those sinewy bodies you admire at the gym? They look like that because they exercise from their mind more than their muscles.
7. Fit, healthy people rise with the sun.
Fit people work out in the morning, which gets it out of the way early so they can focus on other objectives, creates clarity so they excel in their daily tasks and boosts their calorie-burning engine for hours. Rising with the sun connects you to the birth of a new day so you can seize new opportunities with energy and inspiration!
8. Fit, healthy people love food.
Healthy people never "diet." They eat unprocessed, organic, whole food for nourishment ... not entertainment. They avoid foods that harm their bodies. They use exercise, not food, to reduce stress and get through emotional difficulties. Healthy people find reverence in the joy of eating, understanding that food is a precious gift for their body and soul.
9. Fit, healthy people sleep.
Lack of sleep wreaks havoc on your metabolism, your mood and your ability to think. Because fit people exercise, they burn off the stress that can keep us up at night. If they've had a rough day, they practice self-care and take a bath or go to a yoga class to decompress. They understand that rest is just as important as movement and use effective strategies to promote deep sleep.
10. Fit, healthy people treat themselves.
Fit, healthy people can drink too much at a party and overeat on Thanksgiving. Life isn't fun without a little excess! But instead of using food as a reward, healthy people reward themselves with experiences. How about a 90-minute massage or a weekend getaway to thank yourself for all the hard work that got you where you are today? Next time you reach a milestone, treat yourself to a mani-pedi instead of a hot-fudge sundae. Populate your reward system with experiences that enhance your radiant new life of strength, health and self-confidence!