Fitness is different things to different people. Some embrace and enjoy it, some are driven to obsession with it, and others hate it and only do it because they have to.
Well, if your fitness lifestyle is making you or your life miserable then as the saying goes, “you’re doing it wrong”. There’s really no reason for this to happen, fitness should be positive in every sense.
Below are 24 commandments of fitness. These will help you not only enjoy your fitness lifestyle more, they’ll make it easier, less frustrating, and above all, healthier and more effective for you.
1. Make it a lifestyle, not a chore
The better you can embrace fitness and make it an integral part of your lifestyle, the more successful you’ll be. If you keep seeing it as a regular, unwelcome intruder into your life, on the other hand, it will always be a chore that will eventually wear you down and cause you to quit.
In other words, fitness isn’t something you “do”, by going to the gym once a day and preparing a few “clean” meals. It should define your lifestyle, your habits, your way of thinking and your attitude to life. Only once it becomes a part of who you are will you truly taste success.
2. Listen to your body
When all the theory and all the expert advice is said and done, what’s left is your body. Your body is the only real expert, and it tells you what it needs. All you have to do is learn how to listen.
Your body responds to the foods you eat, either positively or negatively. It also responds to the physical activities you perform. Soreness can be a sign of growth, or it can be a sign that something’s wrong. The signals are very different. Learn to distinguish between them.
A word of warning though – when your mind is weak, it will try to convince you that it’s your body that’s weak. Don’t listen to a weak mind, it will quit a hundred times before your body does.
3. Just because it’s edible, doesn’t mean it’s food
There’s more to food than taste, calories and macronutrients. Real food doesn’t just provide your body with energy, it nourishes it with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. This nourishment is important to your body’s function and therefore to your health and condition.
If you put empty calories and other such garbage into your body, you’ll feel and eventually look like garbage. Like any machine, if you look after it and run it on premium fuel, it will perform better and endure longer.
4. Explore new areas
Fitness doesn’t necessarily only mean training with weights and cardio machines in the gym. There’s a world of alternatives out there to be explored. Look into different types of training such as Bootcamp, Crossfit, outdoor activities, different sports, and so on. Find what suits you best and makes you happiest, so that you’ll stick with it.
The same thinking goes for your training program itself. Keep changing things around, look for different ways of doing things. Try to keep challenging your body, keep things interesting, and at the same time you’ll find what works best for you.
5. Get plenty of rest
It’s during times of rest that your body recuperates, rebuilds and grows. There’s no point working hard to maintain a fit and healthy body if you then don’t give it the opportunity to renew itself. Rest is vital to all of your body’s functions and to the wellbeing of your brain as well. Be sure to rest when your body tells you that you need it, and to get plenty of sleep each night.
6. Say “no” to extremism
In fitness, taking anything to the extreme is almost always a bad idea. The concepts of “if something is good, then as much as possible must be best” and “if too much of something is bad, then none at all must be best” simply aren’t true.
The best approach in any situation is usually somewhere in the middle. Everything has its “sweet spot”.
The same goes for food quality. Limiting yourself to only eating organic, hand-reared food or a short list of approved “clean” foods is extremist and unnecessary.
7. When in doubt, trust Mother Nature
There’s always a lot of debate over which foods are healthy, which aren’t, which cause cancer, which are safe, and so on. Sometimes scientific studies even disagree on these points.
Rather than getting caught up and confused with the to’ing and fro’ing, there’s one simple rule that you can rely on, and that is that you can always trust what Mother Nature provides. This is why it’s always best to focus mostly on natural foods, and to keep processed foods and foods with artificial ingredients to a minimum.
You don’t need to be extremist about this however – the occasional treat or “bad” food isn’t going to kill you!
8. Don’t just look fit, be fit
Looking great is the motivation for a great many people involved in fitness. It’s a shame however, to put so much work into creating a great physique and then have it totally unusable.
Don’t just sit on the gym machines trying to pump out more muscle. Work on your conditioning and usable strength and/or athleticism as part of your training as well. It will keep you healthier, feeling better and more confident, and better-equip your body to deal with training over the long term.
9. It’s the journey, not the destination
Very few people will have the commitment and resolve to reach their destination if they don’t accept and make peace with the journey they need to travel to get there.
Your main objective is of course very important, but don’t commit your entire focus to it. Learn to love the process as well. In the beginning, you probably won’t, but as time goes by as you embrace it as part of your lifestyle it will become a part of you that you enjoy and feel proud of.
10. Fitness is the only real anti-aging strategy
We often hear about miracle skincare products that supposedly “reduce the visible signs of aging”. Whether they do or not however, that’s not the same thing as anti-aging.
Anti-aging means delaying the aging process, or keeping your body as a whole young. This is only achieved through good nutrition and regular exercise. These two things are the best skincare tools you’ll find. If anti-aging is your goal, only put good foods into your body, avoid smoking and alcohol, and exercise regularly. That’s it.
11. It should make you happy
Giving in to a craving doesn’t make you happy, it satisfies you. Temporarily. Being lazy doesn’t make you happy, it makes you comfortable. Temporarily.
What does make you happy is making healthy choices for your body that move you closer to your fitness goals. They might not always be easy or feel comfortable at the time, but they will leave you with a sense of happiness and pride in yourself.
As time goes by, you will actually feel happy doing them as well. If you don’t, it could be because you’re being an extremist and chosen a path that’s unreasonable and impossible to sustain. Listen to your heart, it will tell you when you’re doing the right thing.
12. Stay humble
While fitness is a sign of a healthy body, humility is a sign of a healthy attitude. And you can’t be truly healthy and beautiful on the outside until you’re healthy and beautiful on the inside.
Being humble also allows you to keep an open mind to learn, and opens the door for positive opportunities and positive people to come into your life. It keeps your outlook open and optimistic and generally makes you a happier person.
And as an added bonus, you’ll also impress far more people by being kind and humble than you will by being full of yourself.
13. Choose your company wisely
The right people surrounding you can help keep you accountable, help keep you motivated, help keep you focused, and make your fitness journey altogether easier and more fun.
The wrong people, on the other hand, will demotivate you, discourage you, have you second-guess yourself and your ambitions, frustrate you, and basically mentally sabotage your efforts.
Choose the people who you let in to your fitness world wisely. They can easily make the difference between success and failure.
14. Stay off the rollercoaster
One of the quickest ways to get derailed and frustrated on your journey is to buy into all the marketing hype and BS that we refer to as the fitness or weight loss rollercoaster.
Much of fitness marketing is aimed at getting you to onto the ride with promises of fast, effortless results, and keep you there indefinitely chasing your tail while your results go nowhere.
Forget the marketing, forget the inflated claims and hype, and just focus on doing your own thing. In the long run, that will be much more painless and effective than searching for those illusive “secret” miraculous results.
15. Get outside
There’s something refreshing and rejuvenating about getting outside and amongst nature that you just can’t experience inside a gym or anywhere else. Connecting with nature on a regular basis will keep you centered, grounded and in touch with life’s bigger picture.
Be sure to program some outdoor activities into your fitness program, even if it means going for a walk from time to time or just sitting under some trees to contemplate your life. Get out there, breathe in the nature and let it fill your being.
16. Savor your meals
Overeating is a very easy thing to do, particularly when you eat rapidly and mindlessly.
It’s always a good idea to maximize the satisfaction you get out of each meal by eating slowly, chewing thoroughly and really savoring your food. That’s means not eating when you’re in a hurry, and not playing on your phone or watching TV while you eat.
Set aside enough time for each meal and make yourself mentally present to really taste and enjoy your meal. Get the most out of each bite. Eating in this way will satisfy you far more than just shoveling food into your mouth recklessly.
17. Forget their rules, make your own
There are plenty of rules round advising you how you should be doing things as far as your fitness goes. For example, “do your workout first thing in the morning, and get it out of the way”.
Well, what if you’re not a morning person and find it a misery to get out of bed early? What if you’re just not motivated and energized first thing in the morning? What if you have far more energy in the evenings, making more far better workouts then?
Always remember that you’re an individual, and the only rules you should follow are you ones that work best for you. By all means consider other people’s advice, but then make your own rules and follow them.
18. You can be scared into fitness, but not forever
A lot of people get scared into fitness, usually by a medical event or a warning from their doctor. Something like that can be a very powerful motivator.
But once some time passes, the initial shock can gradually wear off and that motivation will fade. It’s human nature not to be too concerned with consequences that aren’t immediate. That’s why people happily smoke and drink to excess.
If you’ve been scared into fitness, you’re going to need a positive goal to keep motivating you on your journey once your fear subsides.
19. You should NOT eat whenever you feel hungry
Some people claim that a healthy diet plan should allow you to eat whenever you’re hungry. Problem is, that’s the very mindset that has led so many people to obesity in the first place.
The fact is, very few of us in the developed world have ever really felt hunger before. We’ve craved foods, and we’ve experienced our brain telling us it’s time to eat, but these things are very different from real, physical hunger.
What we perceive as hunger is borne out of habit, not the need for energy. People who are overweight actually have an excess of stored energy, and are therefore in less need of more.
Just as we can’t rely on our thirst to tell us when to drink, we can’t rely on what we think is hunger to tell us when and how much to eat.
20. Love yourself
Loving yourself is so important if fitness is your goal, regardless of your current physical condition. Believe it or not, it is possible to love yourself and at the same time work on improving yourself. In other words, you don’t need to be perfect to love yourself.
Your fitness journey shouldn’t be seen as a punishment for letting your physical condition be substandard. It should be completely positive. You should love yourself for the unique person you are, for the effort you’re making, and for the wonderful future you’ll inevitably create for yourself.
21. Keep it simple
Fitness and weight loss can be incredibly complex and confusing, especially if you listen to other people too much. It doesn’t need to be, however. Complexity can quickly lead to frustration and disillusionment. Keep it simple.
Remember, the basics will get you 80 to 90 percent of your results. Look at the military, for example. They’re in great shape, and what do they do? They run, they do calisthenics, push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups. That’s about it.
It doesn’t get any simpler than that!
22. Drink fresh water
Water is an essential element for just about every metabolic function in your body. In fact, your body itself is about two-thirds water.
To say that water is important therefore, would be an understatement.
Be sure to drink plenty of fresh water each day to keep your body healthy and functioning well. Even your rate of fat loss is influenced by your water intake.
23. Push your envelope
If your exercise program consists of doing the same thing day in and day out, then your body has no incentive to change. For your body to grow and develop you need to extend yourself past previous limits on a regular basis.
Don’t just go through the motions therefore. Push yourself and challenge your body each time you train. Remember – if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
24. Never forget that you’re human
Never lose sight of the fact that you’re not perfect, and you never will be. If you stumble on your journey, don’t be too hard on yourself, just pick yourself back up and keep going.
If you expect perfection, you’re setting yourself up for failure. One slip-up and you run the risk of losing belief in yourself and giving up. Be reasonable and remember that you’re human. We all are.
It’s what you do the majority of the time that counts, not what you do on the odd occasion.