We’ve all got #goals. But reaching them isn’t going to happen by accident. When it comes to achieving your health and fitness goals, consistency is your greatest tool.
Why Consistency Matters
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, increase your veggie intake, or reach a new lifting PR, consistency is your best friend. Reliable, dependable patterns help you stay on the path towards a goal, even when your motivation wanes.
Actually, let’s talk about motivation for a second. It’s easy to confuse motivation with consistency, but they’re two very different things. Motivation is an internal feeling, a willful desire to do something. And if you’re anything like me, you often don’t “feel” like hitting the gym or eating a salad while everyone else digs into the cheesecake. But that’s where consistency comes in.
Consistency, as defined by Merriam-Webster, means it’s “free from variation or contradiction.” That is, it’s the same, whether you “feel like it” or not. Consistency takes discipline, which is something we must be intentional about. Consistency means creating habits that follow us on days our motivation has run out.
If you’ve got a fitness or nutrition goal in mind, you can’t rely on motivation to get you to the finish line. Dedicated, consistent habits are the best way to succeed.
Consistency in Nutrition
Just like anything else in life, healthy eating habits come from focus and dedication. Consistent adherence to a healthy eating program isn’t always easy. In a world where we are inundated with fast food and sugary snacks, it takes conscious effort to put nutritious food into our bodies.
Sticking to a nutrition program might not be easy at first. But over time, your brain will start to recognize these patterns, and pretty soon, that behavior becomes a habit. Within a month or two (science suggests it takes an average of 66 days to form new habits), those healthy eating behaviors will be automatic.
Consistency in Exercise
First things first: what is your motivation for getting fit? (You can read more about that topic here). Keeping the underlying “why” in mind can go a long way to creating consistent exercise habits.
In terms of physical performance, creating consistent habits helps your body adapt to a workout program. By introducing different muscle groups to varying activities regularly, you’ll create progressive overload, a principle that is vital to new muscle growth.
And just like consistency in nutrition, creating a routine helps require our brains, so eventually, our fitness routine becomes a habit.
How to Keep Consistent in Exercise and Eating
Now that you know consistency is the key to success, how can you nurture consistent eating and exercise habits – even in your busy daily life?
Set Small Goals
Sure, it’s possible to make big, sweeping changes to your health and fitness, but you’re more likely to succeed if you start small. Make a goal you know you can reach, like a fitness PR you can attain in a month or two, or cutting your run time by a few seconds. Commit to swapping red meat for lean protein or adding another fruit or vegetable to each meal. Over time, those small goals add up to big changes.
Make a Plan
Success doesn’t happen by accident. Make a plan for all the meals and workouts you’ll do this week (or this month). While you won’t always adhere to that plan perfectly (more on that below), having a plan gives you a roadmap to help you reach your goals.
Consistency and monotony are not the same. If you’re doing the same workouts, day after day, or eating the same meals, week after week, you’re going to get bored. Adding in some variety keeps things fresh, fun, and interesting. Why not try some new workouts or find a new recipe to try this week?
Accept Imperfection, But Demand Effort
Perfectionism can sabotage your consistency. If you’re expecting perfection, you probably beat yourself up and feel completely defeated every time your day doesn’t go exactly as planned.
You are human. You’re going to be imperfect. It’s just the nature of how things work. Yes, you’ll skip a workout here and there. Yes, you’ll cave and have that piece of birthday cake even though you’re going low-carb (because let’s be honest, cake is delicious). And guess what? That’s okay.
Perfection isn’t possible. Accept imperfection as a part of your health and fitness journey. As long as you’re putting in effort – and you’re making progress towards your goal – there’s no reason to fret.
Focus on Positivity
Your health and fitness goals rely more on your mindset than on your physical effort. If your brain is in a bad place, it’s going to be hard to stay consistent for the long haul. Make mindfulness and gratitude an integral part of your day. Focus on how far you’ve already come and tell yourself that you CAN and WILL reach that next goal.
Track Your Progress
This tip might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how often we forget to pat ourselves on the back. Sure, you might not be all the way to your goal yet, but I’m willing to bet you’ve already made some progress.
Keeping a progress journal can help you see what’s working, what’s not, and how far you’ve come in your health and fitness journey. And don’t focus solely on the numbers. Track how great you feel, both physically and emotionally, what you’ve learned about yourself, and why you want to keep chasing those goals.
Consistency doesn’t happen by accident. What are your tips for creating healthy eating and exercise habits? Share them with us in the comments below!