When you reach your fitness goal, it is an incredible feeling. Your weight is down, your body fat levels are down, your energy levels have increased and your self-confidence is through the roof. For many people, when they see the difference in their body from when they started to when they finished, the pay-off from all the hard work and dedication is massive.
However, despite reaching your target weight and body shape, it can be common to get complacent and fall back into the bad habits that were evident before the start of your fitness journey. As a result, your weight goes up, your body fat levels have increased, you are not following your diet, and your mood decreases. That downward spiral from such an incredible high can be very hard to deal with.
So, how do you make sure that this does not happen to you? And if it has happened to you before, how can you ensure that it does not happen again? How do you stay in shape all year round?
Establish a Routine
The most important word when it comes to staying in shape is consistency. This can be applied to getting in shape too, but even more so when it comes to maintaining the physique that you worked so hard for. In order to achieve consistency, you have to find a routine that works for you. When it comes to your training, this means knowing how many sessions per week you are going to do, what area of your body you are going to train, the days, times, and duration of each session. Once you figure this out and make it work around your other commitments, your mind will be clearer and you will not want to turn back.
Diet and a sustainable form of cardio are going to be essential, too. With your nutrition, you should know what foods work best for you, having included them in your diet when you were getting into shape in the first place. If you enjoy it and it works, stick to it! Know what times you like to eat at, how you want to split your meals and how you want to prepare them. This will help you stay consistent with your nutrition.
When it comes to cardio, I would always recommend low-intensity steady-state as the best form, the most favourable being walking. So, know how many steps you need to do per day, pick a time when you want to go out for a walk, throw on some music or a podcast and enjoy the fresh air. If you enjoy going for a run or a bike ride, then you can mix it up and add that in, too. Establishing these habits every day is going to be the cornerstone behind you maintaining your physique.
Follow an Enjoyable and Effective Training Plan
To stay in shape, you not only have to be disciplined with your training, but you have to enjoy it. Throughout your fitness journey so far, you will have experienced a plethora of benefits to your life during and after your training sessions, and it is important to instill and maintain those principles thereafter.
You will have also experienced a plan that is easy to follow and gives you structure. Make sure you continue to follow a plan that fits into your schedule and is effective for your fitness goal. This will make the process of training uncomplicated and much easier to stick to. If you enjoy your training and how it makes you feel, you will stick to it for a long period of time. If you don’t, find the love for it and stay disciplined. Being consistent with your training is absolutely essential to staying in shape.
Make Your Diet Tasty, Effective and Sustainable
Another vital part of staying in shape is your nutrition. Training and exercising are very important, but if they are not backed up by your diet, you are going to run into problems. Just like with your training, you have to be consistent with your diet. Firstly, you need to figure out your maintenance calories (calories you need to consume to stay the same weight, based on your Basal Metabolic Rate and daily activity).
Once you do that, you then need to stick to your diet by making your meals enjoyable and tasty. Your nutrition does not have to be bland and boring, but it has to be beneficial to your goal of staying in shape. Use seasonings and even sauces to improve the taste of your meals and experiment with different recipes. Once you get into the habit of cooking healthy, enjoyable meals, you won’t want to turn back!
Manage Your Calories
Despite instilling great habits with your nutrition, you are inevitably going to run into tricky situations. For example, you may go on a big night out with your friends or have a large meal with at a restaurant that can take your calories overboard. During your fitness journey, you will have learned a lot about calories and how to manage them. This is an essential skill for the rest of your life because of the barriers that may interrupt your everyday routine.
So, when you do come up to obstacles, it is firstly important to remember that one bad day will not ruin everything you have worked so hard to achieve. However, adopting useful strategies such as saving your calories for that big meal later in the day or slightly dropping your calories for the next day or two if you go overboard are going to be key to consistency with your diet. Enjoy yourself and treat yourself but learn to live in moderation and make sure that most of your week features healthy, effective nutrition that will help you stay in shape throughout the year.
Master Other Areas
The last point is to consistently perform well in other important areas that are key to staying in shape. These include getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night, staying hydrated throughout the day (I usually recommend 2-3 litres per day), keeping stress levels low, taking high quality and beneficial supplements, reducing alcohol intake, and keeping active around the house (cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc).
All these habits are very important and should be instilled into your life, not just from a fitness perspective, but also to keep you healthy and productive every week. Again, if you occasionally have a slip up, it is not the end of the world, but focus on getting back on track the next day and staying as consistent as possible. Once you find a way of fitting this into your life and managing it around your other life commitments, it will become easier and more manageable.
So, to stay in shape all year round, it is vital that you integrate these points into your daily life and make them habits. Once you do this, you will find that staying consistent becomes easy and you will not fall back into the downward spiral that got you to want to change things in the first place. Stay consistent, instill these crucial habits and you will lead a much healthier, happier life.
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