I’m sure you’ve heard these sayings. “Fitness is for life”. “Fitness is not a destination, it’s a journey”. “Being fit and healthy is not a part-time hobby, it’s a lifestyle”.
I started this channel almost 10 years ago. That’s right, can you believe it? Let me know in the comments below how long have you been following my YouTube channel. If you are new here, then go to YouTube and subscribe to my channel https://www.youtube.com/c/joannasohofficial/
When I first started this channel, I was rather new to fitness. I only started exercising about 2 years, and so I was still learning a lot about fitness and nutrition as well as understanding my own body. And through these years, each and every one of you has been on this journey with me and grown together with me.
Fast forward to today, I’ve been exercising consistently for more than 10+ years now. I can proudly say that fitness is my lifestyle and it is still a journey I’m on. So how did I get to this point of making exercising part of me? In this video, I’ll be sharing with you some of my tips on how to stay motivated, stay consistent and build a long-term fitness lifestyle, not just today, but FOREVER.
1. Start with simple goals
The most common mistake which people fall into is that they go to the extreme and try to “jump in and do everything” - change their diet, start exercising, stop drinking, etc - and within a couple of weeks, it becomes unsustainable or they lost motivation and fall back into their old ways of living.
What we do on a daily basis is based on our habits. Habits run our daily life and it’s built through many years of doing the same thing over and over again, whether it’s eating junk foods, overeating, or giving yourself excuses for not exercising. Hence in order to build a new positive habit, it will take time as well.
I didn’t just start exercising 10 years ago and maintained that momentum ever since. My first 2 - 3 years of fitness were very inconsistent with a lot of uncertainty. What I’ve learned from those years is to start with simple goals and you don’t have to set high expectations for yourself. When you set extreme goals, you're more likely to feel defeated if you "mess up." When the expectations aren't as intense, you are more likely to stay consistent and enjoy your journey.
You don't put that pressure on yourself to be perfect. If you eat something “bad” or skip a workout, you wake up the next day and get right back on track because now it’s just part of your lifestyle. This approach is much more attainable and leads to more consistency long term.
2. Build mental strength & make it a habit
The next tip is to build mental strength. Mental strength involves developing daily habits that build mental muscle. It also involves giving up bad habits that hold you back.
Most of the time, what stops us from getting a workout done is our mental strength. You’re constantly fighting with yourself mentally and giving yourself excuses on why you should skip your workout today. When I find this happening to me, instead of letting the thoughts continue to run in my head, I would be aware of the thoughts, block them off and get my workout done immediately.
I’d exercise my mental muscle and tell myself that working out regularly helps make it a sustainable behaviour, whereas missing sessions doesn’t. I’d also remind myself how good I will feel physically and mentally after a workout session. The more I practice and exercise my mental strength in doing what’s right for me, the easier it becomes to shut off those negative thoughts and bad habits. And overtime, I’ve built up mental resilience, discipline, and a long-term fitness habit. So it doesn’t happen overnight, you have to keep exercising your mental muscle.
3) Fall in love with the process & the person you are becoming
Oftentimes, we’re so obsessed with setting fitness goals and achieving them, that we’ve forgotten about the process. Remember, sustainable results take time. Nothing good comes easy. Be patient when it comes to reaching your physical goals. But more importantly, I want you to start focusing on the journey and learn to fall in love with the process and the person you become throughout the journey.
Are you enjoying how much energy you have nowadays? Are you feeling happier and more fulfilled? Are you able to manage your anxiety and depression through exercise? Are you having more confidence in yourself? Are you feeling stronger physically and mentally? Are you loving how you feel and look?
Check-in with yourself and ask yourself these questions frequently. By looking deep within yourself, you’ll be able to find the joy in exercising and also a meaningful reason why feeling good and fit should be part of your lifestyle forever.
4) Keep exploring
When I first got into fitness, I was introduced to functional training. But through the years, I’ve explored and tried out many different types of workouts such as group exercises, kickboxing, cross-fit, running, pole dancing, yoga, HIIT, and strength training.
You won’t just be interested in one type of workout and this could even change through the years. One thing that has helped me to stay consistent is to keep exploring and keep trying new things in my fitness journey. This way, I’m always learning different things and also discovering what I might be good at. So don’t be afraid to go to a new class and try it out. You might just fall in love with it and realise how good you are.
5) Don’t give up on foods you love, but find the balance
Don’t give up on foods you love! Yup, that’s right. You don’t have to give up on your favourite treats just to be healthy. Instead, find the balance to nourish your body and soul.
Ditch the word “dieting”! When we think of “dieting”, it’s often associated with restriction, short-term and unsustainable regimes. Most people who have the “dieting” mindset tend to gain more weight over time.
I'm a firm believer in never giving up the foods you love. Instead, find the balance in nourishing your body and soul. That means eating regular and balanced meals that satisfy your nutrient and mineral needs with your cravings. So, I personally practice the 80-20 method. That means eating to nourish my body 80% of the time and eating to nourish my soul for the remaining 20%
For example, you can find a way to make your favourite foods healthier. If pizza is your favourite food, get creative and use clean ingredients to make your healthier version. Or instead of enjoying the entire slice of cake, share it with a friend. If you know you’re going to enjoy a buffet, then have a lighter lunch. Living a healthy lifestyle long-term is about finding that balance, which can be maintained on a daily basis.
6) Follow the 3-day rule
Next, I have one simple rule which could apply to any fitness activity – I do not allow myself to go on more than three days without a workout. So, if I know I’ll be having a busy couple of days coming up, or if I’m going for a holiday soon, I’d make sure I fit in my workouts before them so that I have “banked” my three days. Even if I’m on holiday with no gym access, I’d still make sure to keep my holiday an active one by clocking my steps in. If you can keep to this one simple rule, you’d be able to make fitness part of YOU long term and you will never struggle with trying to “get back on track”. I’ve stuck to this rule for 10 years now and I’d say this is one of THE most important rules for me to make fitness a lifestyle.
7) Have a positive mindset & don’t give up
And finally, have a positive mindset and don’t give up. Look at transforming your workout routine into a long-term habit as a journey. And throughout the journey, remember to listen to your body and your mind, and trust that you will achieve what set out to do in the end. A positive mind frame will take you halfway to your goal.
Remember that journeys don’t necessarily go to plan and that it can be difficult to keep a positive mindset all the time. If you’re having a low day or are lacking in motivation, accept it and go with it; take a day off if you need and remember that tomorrow is another day. Don’t get discouraged if you stop for a while. Get started again gradually and work up to your old pace. Even if you don’t meet your goals today or tomorrow, pick back up again and move forward. As long as you wake up every day and try to be better than you were yesterday, you are on the right track.
Remember, physical activity is for life. When you start to view health and fitness as a lifestyle rather than a part-time hobby or a 30-day challenge, you develop behaviours that will improve many areas of your life. Living a healthy lifestyle can inspire creativity and teach you discipline, adaptability, and balance. This will not only leave you looking and feeling better, but you will show up as a better version of yourself for the people in your life that truly matter. Review these tips whenever you feel your motivation slipping.