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The Power of Routine in your Health and Fitness Journey

When actions are baked into our regular routine, the effort to actually do them becomes so much easier. They begin to feel almost automatic. 

The trick when it comes to health and fitness is to bake in what serves your wellness and take a hard look at eliminating what is sabotaging your health.

This is where the power of developing a sustainable routine enters the picture. 

How Are You Managing Your Energy? 

A common thought of many people is that they are simply too busy to create a regular health practice. The reality is, however, that the issue is often less around being too busy and more about not having enough energy. There is a difference. 

Here’s the good news: when you are engaged in a healthier routine, you actually maintain better energy, and you are able to be more productive and more mentally and emotionally present. That is, you’ll spend less time dragging through your day and feeling overtaxed if you’re treating your mind and body better. 

Assessing how you’re managing your energy and where you are spending it, then, is a good first step in this process of developing a healthier routine. 

A few key items to pay attention to are:

  • Are you eating enough or what will properly fuel you throughout the day? 

  • Are you staying hydrated? 

  • Are you giving yourself adequate breaks throughout the day to reset and rejuvenate? 

  • What thoughts and emotions are you experiencing throughout the day? 

  • Are you relying on nightly alcohol to cope with stress? 

These questions all point to areas where you may be causing yourself energy drain or putting yourself at an energy deficit. Skipping meals, eating poorly, propping your energy up with too much sugar and caffeine–these can all contribute to low energy states or fluctuating energy. 

Going for too long without taking a break can also lead to poor productivity and low mood states. Even strategic 90 second breaks are helpful. 

And never to be forgotten is that your brain uses a huge amount of your daily energy. Your thoughts and emotions do drain you, especially anxiety, stress, and worry. Being mindful of what's on your mind can be illuminating.

A common habit is to wind down with beer, wine, or a cocktail. But, regularly drinking alcohol depresses your mood, can cause unwanted weight gain, and contributes to poor sleep–all of which drain your energy. 

Once you have a good sense of where you may be overtaxing your energy stores, you can start to see where your healthier routine can really benefit you. 

Focusing On Doing Instead of Not Doing

Changing your routine does take some effort. It can be a challenge to shift habits, however unhealthy they might be. Grabbing fast food, sugary or highly processed snacks, soda, or afterwork drinks have a lure that can be difficult to resist, especially when you’re feeling tapped out. And willpower will only last so long: it’s a huge energy consumer and can be in short supply when you’re feeling under pressure. 

A useful approach then is to be thoughtful about what you’re going to do, instead of what you’re not going to do. Instead of thinking about not drinking soda, then, make sure you have plenty of sparkling water on hand in your favorite flavors. Instead of belaboring the idea of not reaching for those ubiquitous office cookies, plan to have a piece of fruit.

This same approach can apply to any changes in your life, not just diet. The important point here is to have a strategy for replacing the void left by the “not doing” so you can focus on the solution instead of avoiding the problem.  

Have a Heart to Heart with Yourself: What Is Important? 

It’s one thing to say that you want to be healthier or exercise more or drop a few pounds, but what does that mean, really? Why is it important to you? What are the repercussions if you don’t address your wellness? And where are you really at when it comes to health and wellness?

Having a concrete idea of what your values are around health and why this is important to you is a key ingredient if you want to make real, sustainable change in that area of your life. And be honest with yourself. Where are you really at in your health journey and where do you want to be? And, why? 

Knowing what’s driving you on your health path is an important part sticking with it. Maybe you want to be able to hike with your grandkids. Maybe you want to be able to run with your friends. Perhaps you’d simply like to age well or feel fewer aches and pains. 

Whatever the reason, write it down. Remind yourself of this important purpose often. 

Make Your Wellness Routine Non-Negotiable

A sticking point in creating healthier habits can be deciding what to do when. An easy fix is to get out your calendar and schedule your wellness activities, like exercise. And, make these items a priority.

We all know how to make an action a non-negotiable part of our routine. We brush our teeth regularly; we show up to work on time; we don’t miss the important meeting. It may take different forms, but having something on your agenda that you absolutely won’t miss is something you’ve done regularly. 

This means you can do it with your health journey, too. The more regular a commitment, the easier it is to keep in the groove. Maybe it’s meeting friends every Monday and Wednesday for a 5-mile run. It could be a regular appointment with your personal trainer. Perhaps it’s a weekly Pilates class you do with a friend or a dance class you have with your partner. 

Whatever form your wellness activities take, making sure that they are a non-negotiable appointment in your calendar serves two important purposes. The first is that you don’t have to think about what activities you’re doing. Second, you don’t have to give any thought to when your activity will happen. 

The less you have to think about the details of your wellness choices, the easier it is to make them habits. Said another way, the more baked into your regular routine something is, the easier it is to keep at it. 

You Will Feel Better

Here’s a simple fact about being on a wellness journey: when you are healthier, you feel better. It may take a bit of time to get there, sure. But gone are the days when the mindset was “no pain, no gain.”

Your wellness journey doesn’t need to hurt. And in fact, moving in a healthy, feel-good way, nourishing your body well, and progressing steadily over time is a path that’s much more likely to result in sustainable wellness practices and avoiding injury or other negative impacts. 

Becoming healthy doesn’t happen overnight. So, give this process some time. But also, pay attention. Take stock once a week; reflect on your journey and make note of how you feel from week to week. Looking back over these steady changes is a great motivator to show you that being healthier actually does lead to a better quality of life. 

Having a regular routine will get you there. Try it for yourself. 

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