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4 tips to help you form healthy habits

4 tips to help you form healthy habits

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It is so challenging to give health and fitness advice when we are all so different. I come from a background where I learned to form healthy habits from the beginning by doing physical labor on the farm as a kid, and not having very many unhealthy foods available in our house. Each of us has a different story, different habits, different body types and levels of willpower. I came up with some tips to help those who struggle perhaps to create new habits. These are things I have done myself to get back into a healthier routine if I had lapsed in my discipline.

Keep a well-stocked pantry

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If you stock your fridge and pantry with food that suits a clean eating, nourishing lifestyle, and keep out the foods that negate that, you won't have to fight temptation as often. I keep protein options around not only to build muscle but also to cut my sugar cravings if I have them. I keep fruit, both fresh and dried, around to satisfy my moments of wanting dessert. Or I make 3-ingredient pancakes (eggs, banana, & nutmeg) if I'm dreaming of cake. These choices at home also mean I can go to meetings or to visit my family and not have to say no to everything. I can eat a little of what is offered without being rude or strange, and not feel horrible about myself because I know when I go home, I will be back into my clean food routine.

Wake up, workout (and quickly)

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Working out right after you get up in the morning, even for just 15 minutes, helps you wake up and build confidence for your day. Setting your mindset into 'active' mode right away helps you enter your life with a lighter, brighter outlook and you will be energized. If your day becomes super busy you won't arrive home at night and say, "Dang, I didn't have time to work out today." You won't have to deal with days on end that are too busy if you set that alarm 15 minutes earlier just to get your squats, crunches, push ups, or a mile on the treadmill in. It's one way to start, and build in that habit. I know for me, I'm super tired when I get home from work, so some days if I just give in to that feeling and don't work out in the afternoon, I don't feel bad about myself because I did my 30-minute workout in the morning.

Challenge yourself during breaks

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You get a break during work. These are great moments for those 30-day challenges, especially the squat challenge which you could do anywhere, as they take very little time yet definitely help progress. Do some push-ups, pull ups if you have a spot, squats, lunges. It all adds up, and vastly improves your ability to form healthy habits by helping you to integrate workouts into your routine, no mater how busy you are. These challenges can also kick sluggishness, as long as you are staying nourished throughout the day as well.

Pack it up

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Packing enough food is super helpful for anybody looking to form healthy habits. I pack more than I need, just so I don't get tempted to go out and buy something when I'm hungry (this is also because I'm working on keeping a healthier budget!). Ziplock bags of measured amounts of fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables; containers of healthy leftovers or if you're one of those organized people who preps their meals every week; some protein or energy bars that are made with more natural ingredients. Smoothies and your favorite protein drink are wonderful things to carry around with you!
These are just a few things for those of you looking to build stronger, healthier habits and needing some advice on how to do it and stick to it. Most of all, try and enjoy the journey: discovering simpler food and how good it actually is, how strong you are and can be, and progressing step by step on the path of changing lifetime habits. Human beings are so amazing, we get to choose what we do in every moment and how we do it. Keep up the good work, and may you be the healthy person you dream of being!
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This is a post by PumpUp member @bodysoulspiritfitness, a teacher and movement artist with a passion for healthy living and adventure. Follow her blog here.

How to master self-discipline

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This is a post published by PumpUp member @coachmelissa. Check out her website at melissalepage.com 

A craftsperson masters her or his trade through repeated practice, care and continuous learning, and devotion to her or his purpose. 

The same elements are needed to master the craft of discipline:

  • Repeated practice
  • Single-minded devotion to the purpose
  • Continuous learning
  • Care

Here are some extremely useful tips:

  1. Do the task even when you’re not in the mood. Procrastination is such a common problem that I believe it to be universal. How often have you told yourself, "I’m not in the mood to do this"? The task is probably difficult or confusing. It’s uncomfortable and you’d rather do things that are easier, that you’re good at. You’d rather clean your house or trim your nails or check your email than start a task that could have had the biggest impact on your business/life. But if we wait until we’re in the mood, we’ll never master anything.

    Instead, practice this: Plan to finish the most important tasks first, write them down in your agenda, and start doing them, no matter what. Don’t check email or social media, or go clean something, or do a quick chore or errand. Sit down, and do it. It will be uncomfortable. You can still do it even if it’s uncomfortable.

  2. Exercise even when you really don’t want to. Yes, this is the same thing as procrastinating — we put off exercise for many reasons, usually because it’s hard, because we ‘don’t have time’, and because we’d rather do something easier. Change your perspective. View exercise not as punishment, but as an act of self-care. You wouldn’t skip brushing your teeth for a week, would you? Your teeth would rot. Similarly, skipping exercise for a week rots your body.

    Instead, practice this: Tell yourself you’re going to do a workout/run at a certain time, always plan your workouts ahead of time (I could never stress this enough, it is crucial). I tell all my clients to do this: plan. Take your agenda out, as you write your tasks, write down your workouts by blocking 20-30mins or even 1h of that day ONLY for your fitness. And then show up. Do it even if you’re tired or feeling lazy. Ignore the lazy feeling, the distractedness, and suck it up. You’ll find that you feel great for having done it. Either way, you’ll start to master doing things that are uncomfortable

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  3. Sit with a little hunger. We tend to panic when we get hungry, and run for whatever piece of junk food is closest to us. What I’ve learned is that you can be hungry and it’s not the end of the world. We don’t always need to be stuffed and satisfied with crazy delicious food. 

    Instead, practice this: Don’t eat if you’re not hungry. When you get hungry, sit there for a moment and turn to the hunger, and see how it really feels. It’s not so bad. This practice isn’t to make you starve yourself (not great), but to show you that a little discomfort won’t ruin your life, and that you can make conscious choices about when and how much to eat.

  4. Talk to someone about something uncomfortable. We avoid difficult conversations, because they’re not fun. They’re scary, uncomfortable. But that leads to all kinds of problems, including resentment, a worse relationship, worsening the situation, and more.

    Instead, practice this: When you have a problem with someone, instead of replaying the problem in your head, talk to the person in a gentle, compassionate way. Try to see the situation from their point of view, not just yours. Bring it up with a simple, “Hey, can we talk about ___?” And tell them how you feel, without accusing them or making them feel defensive. Ask them how they feel about it. Approach it with the attitude of finding a solution that works for both of you, that preserves your relationship. What you learn from this is that pushing through an uncomfortable situation will resolve a lot of difficult problems.

  5. Stick to a habit. One of the hardest things people face when changing their habits is that it’s difficult commit after the initial enthusiasm dies down. It’s easy to stick to a habit for a week — but what about pushing through the second and third weeks? It gets a lot easier afterward, but a lot of people drop the habit too early.

    Instead, do this: Commit to one small habit for two months. Reserve just 5 minutes a day for that habit, and do it at the same time each day. Set as many reminders as you can so that you don’t forget. Track the habit on a calendar or log it, so you see your progress. Show up every day and do it. You’ll start to master the formation of new habits, which will open up all kinds of opportunities.

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  6. Turn toward the problem. When we have a problem, we avoid even thinking about it. Think about whether you have one of these problems: you’ve been avoiding exercise, you’re overweight, you’ve been avoiding a major project, you put off dealing with your finances, you’re unhappy about some situation in your life. Often these are uncomfortable situations, and we’d rather not face them.

    Instead, practice this: See the obstacle as the path. Don’t avoid the obstacle (the difficult situation, or the problem you fear), don’t go around it, don’t ignore it. Turn toward it. See it. Acknowledge it. Figure out what’s going on. Find out how to navigate within the problem. You’ll find that it’s not easy, but not as bad as you thought, and you’ll be happy you did it. And more importantly: you’ll get stronger from facing the problem.

  7. See good in the activity. Discipline really derives from learning that you don’t need some incredible reward — there’s inherent good in just doing the activity. For example, if you’re going to eat healthy food, you don’t need to make it taste like your favourite dessert or fried food— you can just enjoy the act of eating fresh, healthy food in itself. If you’re going to exercise, it doesn’t need to give you a flat stomach or nice arms immediately— you can just enjoy the activity.

    Practice this: No matter what the activity, find the good in doing it, and the activity becomes the reward.

  8. Meditate. People think meditation is difficult or mystical, but it’s fairly simple.

    Practice this: Take 2 minutes to sit still, and focus on your breath, noticing when your mind wanders and gently returning to the breath. There are lots of other ways to meditate, but this is the simplest, and it shows you how to watch the urges that come up, and see that you don’t need to act on those urges. As the days go by, add more minutes to your meditation session. With time it will get easier to keep your mind clear of thoughts.

You might not be good at these at first, but that’s why you practice.

You’ll learn to get comfortable with discomfort, to show up even when you don’t feel like it, to stick to something even when the enthusiasm wanes, to not act on your urges right away, to enjoy any activity as a reward in and of itself.

Does life need to be pure discipline and no fun? Of course not. But if you can enjoy any activity, in the moment, why not learn to master something that will pay off for you in the long run?

Follow Melissa on PumpUp @coachmelissa. Check out her website at melissalepage.com 

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For No Excuses November, let’s kick out bad habits. Think of a bad habit you’d love to quit  (ex: no complaining, no putting yourself down) and make sure you don’t do it for the rest of the day! Thanks PumpUp member @doniaaly for the positive and energetic photo!

New Update: Scheduling!

Improving your fitness all starts with building good habits, and what better way is there to build a habit of working out than scheduling it?

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After scheduling your workout, it’s added right into your iPhone’s calendar! You’ll also get a push notification reminder before your workout to make sure you don’t forget.

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This update also fixes a bug that was preventing existing workouts from loading for some people. Not to worry: your workouts are still there and will load properly after you download the latest update!

We’re pumped to show you what’s next, but for now, try scheduling a workout into your week and let us know how it goes! Tweet us your thoughts on the update — we can’t wait to hear what you think!

In case you missed the last update…

We launched VOICE COACHING*! Now you will know what to do and when to do it without looking at your phone! Get simple voice commands and motivating feedback throughout your workout.

For a limited time, you can try PumpUp Pro FREE for 7 days by using the following promo code: PUMPUPVOICE

About the author…

image Calvin is the Lead Developer of PumpUp and a recent graduate of the University of Saskatchewan. He stays healthy by walking a ridiculous amount and eating lots of whole, unprocessed foods.

* Available to PumpUp Pro members