Maxine’s Challenge has now started, with today being Day 3 of the May Round. For the past week, I’ve been planning and preparing and scheduling, so that all is organised for kick off day. Today, I’m feeling quite happy with myself and confident, that I’ve done all I can do, to ensure a smooth start, without any problems in relation to not having enough time or not being organised.
As one of my focuses for the next twelve weeks is No Excuses, I’ve been thinking about what it is that causes me to start making excuses. What I’ve come up with, is that when I get busy, I get overwhelmed and stressed. This leads me to not having time for meal preparation after work. Or it can lead me, occasionally, to cancel a workout, with the excuse that I should be spending the time doing something else.
To try to avoid this happening during the challenge, I’ve come up with my top five healthy habits. These are habits that usually work for me and ensure that I lead a healthy lifestyle.
5 Healthy Habits
This is my number 1 top healthy habit. It doesn’t matter what is happening in my world, exercise will still be a non-negotiable for me. I detested exercise at school and I hated team sports. In those days, the only exercise I ever did was riding my bike. I rode all over town, with my friends, from about eight years old, until I left school. We were never taken to school in the car. It was just a known fact that we would ride to school, unless we wanted to walk
Perhaps that is where exercise made it’s first imprint on my brain. Fast forward to age 30,when I went on a big fitness and weigh loss splurge. I joined the gym, and dragged my old bike out of the garage, and started riding it again. My youngest child was a toddler then, and I rode all over town and out on the country roads with her strapped into the baby seat behind. I loved those days so much and have such fond memories of them.
That was the start of my life in fitness and it has continued ever since. Of course, I have my peaks and troughs, my injuries and life circumstances, which have sometimes led to a decrease in my enthusiasm for exercising. Regardless of the circumstances, since then, I’ve always managed to fit in exercise of some sort.
Even though the way I have exercised has constantly evolved over the years, it has always been part of my life. To get the health benefits from exercise, it doesn’t have to be as prominent in your life as it is for me. There is no necessity to live it and breathe it constantly, as I tend do. If you’re not an exerciser, and you start with just 10 minutes, that is fantastic. Doing something is always better than nothing.
2. Preparation & Planning
I usually have everything ready to go to make exercise easy, so for me, most of the preparation is around meals. This week I have pre-prepared and frozen meals from the Maxine’s Challenge website, so I can just grab something quick on those nights that I don’t get home from work until late. They are particularly useful on the days that are so busy and exhausting, that the thought of preparing a meal is just too much. This is when I would normally go to something quick and perhaps not so nutritious.
As well as making fully prepared meals, I have vegetables prepared in containers in the fridge, ready to throw into a saucepan and cook. Not having to peel and chop is a big time saver, at the end of a busy day. All that is then required is to just add the protein.
Planning really works for me, and is essential, for me to feel in control of my life. At the beginning of the challenge, I spend time planning ahead for the next 12 weeks. I plan my workouts meticulously – what they will consist of and where they will be. They could be strength workouts in the gym, bushwalking, walking around town, hill intervals on the hill near my front gate, outdoor cycling, RPM classes in the gym, swimming, rowing or outdoor cycling – either on the roadbike or on the trail bike. They could be anything, and they do change, usually, for each 12 week block. Of course, I don’t do all of the activites mentioned during the same 12 week block. I usually choose two or three options to focus on and that could change at any time, depending on how I feel. The important thing is that this is the time they are planned.
Before the twelve week challenge, I schedule everything that I can think of into my calendar. This includes events, appointments, work and anything else that I am obliged to do. Due to the way my work schedule works, I can only schedule work for a week in advance. So every Sunday night, my work hours are included which enables me then to schedule exercise times around them for the week ahead. I always highlight work in red and exercise sessions in yellow. That way they can’t be missed with a quick look. I treat exercise entries in my calendars as though they were appointments. They are non-negotiable and it would take serious thought to skip them. It does occasionally happen that something unexpected will crop up. I would then try to fit that session in at another time. Scheduling really does give me focus and clarity.
4. Early Mornings
Life works better for me when I start the day with an early session in the gym. The day always goes better and it allows me to feel in control. Because I have early morning alarms set, I need to have early nights. I’ve learnt over the years that I can no longer stretch out both ends of the day. The exceptions are when I have early starts at work. Occasionally, I may have to leave home at 6am to get to work on time. On those days, I get into the gym as soon as I get home. Having a home gym makes this much easier to do.
5. Drink More Water
I can hear you groaning and I know you’ve heard it before. It’s such a boring and worn out message, but it is so true. I have a drink bottle with me at work at all times, and drink small amounts and often. The total amount depends on how much exercise I’ve done or will do that day. It is never less than 2 litres but can easily be 3 litres if I’ve done a long walk or bike ride. You would be surprised how quickly you can become dehydrated. Once you’re starting to feel thirsty, you are becoming dehydrated. The trick is to drink before you feel thirsty to prevent dehydration. There are so many benefits to drinking water that I could do a blog post on just drinking water. For this post, I think it’s enough to say that you will be healthier if you drink sufficient water
These are just a few of the healthy habits that I try to live by. I don’t mean to sound like a saint. Life often can get in the way, and the healthy habits can be forgotten quickly. But daily healthy habits are what I aspire to, and do my best to include in my life. As I age, I know that these habits are going to be hugely beneficial to positive ageing which is always my goal.
I should add, that these habits have just become part of my lifestyle, since adopting them many years ago. I don’t need to be participating in a 12 week challenge to be using them. I’ve found over the years, that life for me, is better when I’m organised. This includes planning ahead for 12 weeks. I always plan and set goals for 12 weeks ahead, even if there is no official challenge happening in my life.
Do you have a favourite healthy habit? I’d love to hear about it and promise to reply to all comments.