Most people trying to get fit and healthy think that being in good shape means making a lot of sacrifices, and those sacrifices often include adapting habits that aren't a lot of fun.
But what if some of the habits you thought were good for you are actually doing more harm than good?
Despite what most fitness magazines will have you believe, not all fitness habits work for everyone. Sometimes you've just got to know when to ditch the ones that aren't working for you.
Here are four common health and fitness habits you should consider giving up if you want to succeed in getting — and staying — fit:
1. Forcing yourself to go for a run
A lot of people think running is the only way to get fit, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
While there certainly are people who really are natural runners and actually do experience a "runner's high," there are a lot of us who dread running more than just about anything else. Yet somehow we got duped into thinking it was the only way to get in shape (hint: it's not).
If, like me, you'd rather do pretty much anything else than go for a run, try to find something else active you actually enjoy doing, whether it's dance, yoga, a sport like boxing or mountain climbing, or even high intensity interval training. Not only will you stop completely dreading your workouts (and actually enjoy them while you're doing them!), you'll be more likely to stick with healthy fitness habits long-term.
2. Separating your weights and cardio
Somewhere along the line, gym-goers got the idea that in order to call a workout successful, you had to do a weight session and then a cardio session (or vice versa). Even us personal trainers do that sometimes and often tell our clients to do the same.
But if you really want to maximize your workout, you should ditch the separation mentality and simply combine the two. This could mean doing circuit interval workouts that combine cardio-intense exercises like burpees as well as strength exercises like squats and push ups. Or, you could simply add some plyometric exercises like jump roping and sprinting in place between weight sets.
No only will you save time by working out this way, you'll be making sure your workout is as effective as possible, meaning you'll get in shape even faster.
3. Avoiding all of your favorite (unhealthy) foods
One of the worst things about dieting and trying to establish healthy eating habits is that more often than not, you're forced to cut out all unhealthy foods out of your diet. Not only does this make you feel deprived and eventually bitter about your healthy eating habits, it usually leads to a binge session of those very same foods when you're at a moment of willpower weakness.
But if you're exercising regularly and keeping a healthy diet the majority of the time, allowing yourself some of your favorite less-healthy foods here and there will not only make you happier and less bitter, it'll also make it more likely that you'll stick with healthy eating for life.
4. Obsessively counting calories and exercise
When I was still early on in my fitness journey, I used to track every single bit of exercise I did so I'd know exactly how many calories I was burning through movement and exercise each day.
Yet despite my obsession about the calories I was taking in through food and burning through activity, I had a really hard time making progress. I'd spend hours exercising every day, absolutely obsessed with how many calories each treadmill and weight training session burned, yet it was only when I finally ditched the crazy calorie counting that I was finally able to start getting leaner and stronger.
The overall lesson? Try and avoid any type of exercise that you really dread beforehand, don't deprive yourself of everything you love and strive for balance as much as possible. Not only will you enjoy life much more in the moment, you'll be setting yourself up for healthy habits in the long run as well.
Photo courtesy of the author