Have you ever (like me) sat there reading advice about how to really make ‘that’ change to an active lifestyle, and found yourself thinking ‘there is no possible way I can relate to these suggestions because there is no possible way I can relate to this person‘?
Recently I have undertaken research to explore if there are common traits and experiences amongst people who have been consistently active for a period of over twelve months (this was the ONLY criteria). Within the questions was one asking for any advice these people may have for those of us find themselves in the same position I was many years ago – having what felt like my MILLIONTH go at losing weight and ‘getting healthy’ because I still believed the two concepts were completely intertwined. For me personally, it was a shift of mental focus from weight loss to just doing an activity that I actually enjoyed daily which has seen me sustain my athletic lifestyle for over 3 years now – about 2 years and 9 months longer than any previous efforts of mine.
There were so many great responses that I had to share them. Because unlike some of the advice out there, these are real, relatable people who have managed to sustain their last attempt at maintaining active lifestyles for a decent time period. AND they ‘get’ it. They’ve been in the position where they may have not, for some reason or other, been able to sustain their previous attempts; which is why their advice is so valuable.
Funnily enough, there’s no mention of consuming cans of ‘harden the f^&% up’, or suggestions of ‘just think of how you will look at the end’; they use terms like ‘enjoy’, ‘be kind to yourself’, ‘slow and steady’ and surprise surprise – they even talk about having fun!
Q. Do you have any advice for people starting their athletic journey that may have not sustained previous efforts?
Courtney, (3+ years consistent activity)
You don’t have to be an athlete to be a good person, but if you want to give it another go, forgive yourself for the past and just experiment with activities until you find the one you like. As a fat woman, I was told that walking was best. Now I’m climbing mountains and pole dancing. I’d tell that person that there is no limit to the number of times we can try new stuff!
Sandra, (4 years)
Hang in there. Take the online motivation that comes your way.
Erin, (4 years)
Don’t ever be disheartened, slow and steady is the way to go. Take small steps always. If you push too hard and make too many changes too soon I don’t think it is sustainable. Settling small milestones helps because it provides you with motivation to get to the next goal.
Hannah, (5 years)
That it’s okay if something doesn’t stick, it doesn’t make you useless or lazy. It just might mean that you haven’t found something that works for you. Don’t think that you have to be at the gym every night to be fit, there are many different ways to get fit and we all have to find one that works for us. Blow stereotypes out of the water! I am sure that many people would look at me and think I am lazy and unfit but I completed my first half marathon this year and I am working my way up to squatting and dead lifting my own body weight! Just never give up on the first try! Keep going with it and give everything a chance.
Narelle, (4 years)
Put it in your diary. Commit with a friend. Move every day. Cook your own food. Enjoy the healthy benefits, its not fat loss as much as it is a healthy lifestyle. I never believed that at first, now I do. When I used to run when I was 130kgs people would yell abuse at me. Cause I was gasping for air so badly I couldn’t yell back…. Use that. Use that to motivate you. Remove the negatives… negative people, negative advice, negative food from your house. At 11pm I stand , still to date, in front of my larder looking for “something I can eat” there is nothing that doesn’t take me at least 14 mins of prep work…. So I go back to bed. Leave notes for yourself. Positive ones. Make new friends at the gym!!! Get your family on board. Make announcements tell the world. Get everyone to support you. Its changed my life.
Kassie, (1.5 years)
1) Find a non-threatening environment where you can take the first step.
2) Do something that is manageable long term – don’t dive in deep and burn out.
3) Get a support system in place that can help you sustain this effort (doctors, friends, trainers) whatever works for you. You wouldn’t undertake a big project at work/home without the proper support and tools. Don’t think that you need to do this on your own. I see a therapist regularly that specializes in issues surrounding weight loss.
4) Set attainable realistic goals for yourself.
Nicole, (10 years)
Find out what motivates you, and manufacture it! I don’t like letting others down, and I like to see my progress. Getting a coach and using Training Peaks is really helpful for me.
Also, start small in your activity but have a big goal that thrills you. As soon as I went to watch a triathlon, I knew I wanted to be part of it. I couldn’t run though, so I started with walks knowing that in the end, I’d reach my goal.
Do whatever you need to in order to get moving. If you’re planning on a 5km run but can’t get yourself to move, maybe walking to the shops to buy an ice cream would help. When I’m in a pit of depression, I ignore my training program and do anything to move. Ride my bike to buy a burger? That’s fine! Walk a block to get a cake? No problem. Go to the pool, swim two laps then sit in the spa for half an hour? Awesome! (Yes, I have done all of those things) It’s way better than nothing and as you start to move, the endorphins come back which puts you on the path back to your training program.
Rachelle, (13+ years)
Start slowly, small consistent changes lead to sustainable habits. Don’t expect too much too quickly, be patient with yourself and find movement you enjoy. Find things that are fun. A balanced lifestyle is key.
Micki, (8+ years)
LIFT WEIGHTS! Weight lifting is the most beneficial exercise for weight loss and longevity. It also provides direct measurable results that are NOT about how much you weigh or what you look like. Tracking how much you can lift is a much more positive way to track your improvement.
Eliza, (4 years)
It has to come from within. The reason for change, for becoming healthy (not skinny) has to be your own and not one placed upon you by others. Become an athlete because you want to challenge your self, your body. Become an athlete because you want to be able to have your kids chase you. Become an athlete because you want to live a long and healthy life. Become an athlete because you want it.
Christy-Ann, (6 years)
- Find a time of day that is most convenient for you, and make it a priority. That is your time to train, and nothing else is allowed to have that time.
- Write down your goals and look at them every day – be specific, so you know exactly why you’re doing this and what you have to look forward to.
- Take progress photos.
- Exercise very early in the morning, because – hey, what else would you be doing at that time of day? Nothing else can get in the way, also, you’re too sleepy to talk yourself out of it.
- If you exercise early in the morning, the rest of the day you have the satisfaction of feeling like you already accomplished something big.
- An exercise buddy once told me something her dad said, “Have you ever exercised and regretted it later? I never have, so I do it because I know I won’t regret it.”
- Find a venue to brag about accomplishments to friends! They will be proud of you and make you feel good 🙂
Katie, (5 years)
Find something you enjoy and the “working out” won’t feel like a punishment.
Jac, (1.5 years+)
It’s worth it! You will feel so much better!
Connie, (4 years)
Start with what you feel success with – it may be as everyday as a brisk walk. Be open to trying different things yoga, hoola hoop (I did take a workshop one evening! Spent most the time picking up the hoop), urban poling or drop in programs. An active lifestyle is easy to sustain when you find something you enjoy.
Margaret, (5+ years)
Read a lot about it, ask questions, and just make the start!
Even if it’s just to the letterbox, or the street corner that’s a start!! Then the next day remind yourself of how great you are, aim for the next house or tree. Having a positive mind set is important, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do something or if you are finding it hard.
Try not to compare yourself to others efforts. That is their journey, not yours!
Take it day by day. Consistency is key! Just make the start. You can do it! You can do hard things!
I also keep boards on Pinterest that I look at nearly every day. That’s a good motivational tool for me.
And a final word from me: