5 Habits that You Need to Succeed in Your Fitness Journey

It’s the start of the year. You’ll probably be more motivated now than ever to conquer your fitness goals and live a healthier life. After all, getting in shape and leading a fit lifestyle is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health.

Achieving your fitness goals is less about big changes but rather more about the power of small, consistent habits. It’s the daily routines that take you to success in whatever goals you are pursuing.

However, it is not always easy to self-motivate and stick to a routine without the right habits in place. Though information on fitness may be abundant, seeing real results requires more than just sporadic diet and exercise fads. You need a blueprint to make success inevitable.

This article will discuss the 5 most effective habits required to succeed in your fitness journey.

Fitness is more than just working out - it requires changing your lifestyle on a deeper level. Without ingraining the right habits, you end up relying on motivation and willpower alone. But motivation fluctuates, and different fitness barriers are inevitable that can derail your progress, so you need healthy routines that can sustain you.

Habits are what make progress easier and success achievable. Each time you repeat an action or ritual, it strengthens neural connections in the brain, making any behavior more automatic. For example, if you make a habit of exercising, it doesn't become a chore but a fulfilling activity that brings joy to your life.

This means that if you build positive habits aligned with your fitness goals, achieving them is almost guaranteed.

Habit 1: Setting and planning your goals

All journeys have their destination. If you are serious about your fitness and health journey, you must set achievable goals and plan accordingly. Avoid creating vague statements for your goals. You need to make clear goal statements so they can be achievable.

The key is to make these goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Vague goal: “I want to get better shape”

SMART goal: "I want to lose 10 pounds in 3 months by exercising for 30 minutes at least 4 times a week and maintaining a balanced diet."

Vague goal: "I want to start running."

SMART goal: "I aim to build up my running to 10 miles per week over the course of 2 months, starting with 2 miles per week and increasing the distance by 2 miles every two weeks."

SMART goals are actionable and more likely to be accomplished because it sets clear directions and steps on how and when we could do them.

But goal setting is only half the battle. The next crucial step is planning – turning these goals into actionable steps. This involves creating a detailed plan that outlines what needs to be done daily, weekly, and monthly to reach your targets. It's about breaking down your larger goal into smaller, manageable tasks that can be easily integrated into your daily routine.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Sticking to a regular workout schedule matters more than pushing for PRs or big numbers every session. Sustainable consistency beats short-term intensity spikes. Intensity has its place for progress, but the foundation must be set through recurring consistency first.

A structured workout schedule and staying consistent with your routine can go a long way in your fitness journey.

Tips to prioritize consistency:

  • Schedule workouts like any other important meeting - don't cancel or reschedule
  • Focus on completing sessions rather than crushing yourself each time
  • Set reminders and prep gym bags/meals to support consistency
  • Gradually progress your workouts
  • Celebrate streaks of unbroken consistency
  • Combine easier and more challenging workouts across the week

Remember, missing a day or two is not a failure; it's part of the journey. The important part is to get back on track as soon as possible.

Consistency is about persistence; not perfection.

Here’s a plan for women to help you stay on track:

And for men:

During quality sleep, muscle tissue repairs itself, and critical hormones are released to facilitate adaptation and growth. Skipping sleep impairs strength and aesthetic gains. Even worse, lack of sleep increases the risk of injury in gym and athletic sports. Treat rest with the same disciplined approach as your workout.

Tips for Quality Sleep & Recovery:

  • Prioritize 7-9 hours of sleep per night
  • Develop consistent pre-bedtime routines
  • Limit digital screen time before bed
  • Create an optimal sleep environment
  • Do not eat 3-4 hours before bed time to allow proper digestion of food
  • Schedule rest days between intense training sessions
  • Hydrate properly
  • Foam roll
  • Stretch

By dedicating focused efforts towards sleep and recovery enhancement between workouts, you maximize your training response. Gains compound faster by letting your body adapt.

Rest is as crucial as your sets.

Tracking progress in detail is one of the most vital fitness habits, yet often neglected. Without proper metrics, how will you know what's working?

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Tips for Tracking:

  • Take monthly body measurements with photos
  • Log workouts with reps, weight, intervals
  • Time your endurance runs or rides
  • Calculate strength gains through 1 rep maxes
  • Record calories, macros, and body weight
  • Use apps to compile data over time
  • Take before/after photos in the same clothes, lighting
  • Note workout quality, energy, soreness, and sleep

If you can track your gains and even your losses in the gym, you can make appropriate adjustments in your exercises and nutrition plans. Furthermore, tangible results and updates through tracking provide a boost in motivation and allow you to align your goals each week.

Tracking also helps minimize the mental stress of weight fluctuations and provides you with a general overview of your fitness progress and health.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Eating right is half of the equation. You need to fuel your mind and body with nutritious sources through whole foods to help your body repair and boost your energy so you can conquer your workout sessions.

Tips for Eating Right:

  1. Meal prep based on target macro
  2. Prioritize protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats
  3. Always hydrate
  4. Limit processed foods
  5. Avoid sugars
  6. Manage portions using hands or weighing food
  7. Supplement if optimal nutrient needs are unmet
  8. Allow strategic cheats in moderation

Eating right enhances your physical abilities while nourishing your mind, allowing you to stay sharp, focused, and disciplined.

Occasional snacks or missed out workout sessions won’t derail progress; poor everyday eating habits will.

Habit 6: Customizing your algorithm

There’s no denying that a huge chunk of our modern life is digital. The average person spends about 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social media. Each minute we spend scrolling through our phones consumes our already limited time and attention, which also influences our thoughts and preferences.

By being intentional in what posts you view, videos you watch, and people you follow in your social media and internet browsing habits, you can change your device’s algorithm. This means that content that truly adds value to your life and fitness journey will be shown more in your social media feeds.

If your thoughts and preferences are aligned with your fitness goals, you’re more likely to engage in activities that reinforce these thoughts consciously.

Be intentional with your browsing habits.

Your habits and routines are your foundation in whatever goals you are trying to pursue. If you can build positive habits related to your fitness and health goals, you can minimize the mental resistance to exercise and make fitness activities almost automatic.

Remember that motivation fades and fluctuates. But your habits will always remain and can become your default mode. By incorporating these habits into your fitness journey, you can increase your chances of achieving your goals.

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Bert Bauzon is a licensed physiotherapist specializing in spinal care and sports rehabilitation. He writes articles and books about exercise science and health care.

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