Most people are already aware of some of the things they can do to improve their lives: start going to the gym, watch what you eat, learn new hobbies, etc. But many of us already do those things. I mean, this is Physical Culture Study after all. We lift weights, do cardio, and try to attain a healthier and active body that we can be proud of.
I have been on a mission to improve all aspects of my life for a while now. I started lifting weights only a few years ago, when I was in my late 40s. I embarked on a journey at an age most people consider “too late”. And yet here I am, now in my 50s, and arguably in the best shape of my life. It wasn’t a day and night shift from being an average adult to a fit man, however. It was a gradual change, and I picked up a few simple habits on the way that I believe have helped me tremendously. Today, I share with you some of the simplest daily habits you can take to help improve your life and inch you closer to your goals.
Regardless of whether you will be lifting or doing other strenuous activities on a certain day, I highly recommend doing stretches daily. The benefits are plentiful, the most obvious being that it leads you to a fresher state, mentally and physically. Your muscles activate and stress releases. For a morning when you are feeling groggy, there are few other things you could do to wake yourself up in a pleasant way.
Doing stretches on a consistent basis will also help significantly improve your flexibility, posture, and even strength, according to M3 Insurance. This will bring you closer to the goals you set for yourself, while also preventing injuries that could disable your physical activities for months.
The following video is a routine I use extensively every single day. Of course, I do my own variations since I have minor back problems, but the routine is fairly easy to do and only takes around 5 minutes of your time.
Write your goals down
This seems exceedingly cliche, but allow me to sell you on it again. There have been numerous studies that show people are much more likely to achieve their goals if they just write it down. Systematically, it makes sense. You put your goals from your mind down to paper, something you are able to physically visualize. This has mental effects to help you want it more and see the goal as something that you can actually reach.
If you aren’t the type to put pen to paper, there are still ways to achieve the same results. You simply have to be creative with it. For example, one of my goals back when I started was to get from 170 pounds to 160 pounds, while starting to lift weights again. I used a very popular fitness app called MyFitnessPal to track my weight and what I eat. Within it is another helpful feature: I was able to put a solid goal down, 160 pounds, and a rate at which I was comfortable reaching that goal, lose 1 pound a week for 10 weeks. I didn’t have to physically write anything down and feel cliche about my goals. It still resonated the same intention, too. My goal was input into something I can see everyday, and I had a clearer view of what to expect in order to reach it.
Consider the bigger picture
When I first started out, I was obsessively stressing about every minor detail in my journey. If I “gained” 2 pounds after a day, I would freak out and research my way into insanity.
Fitness, the cycle of getting from where you currently are to where you would like your body to be, is a long-term quest. It is absolutely one of those things that requires patience and confidence. I remember looking at my weight loss chart on the MyFitnessPal app. In a 3 month span, the line was not drawn straight from 170 pounds to 160 pounds. It was considerably jagged and spiky, caused by the many fluctuations of weight I had day-to-day. If you look at your own weight lifting progress, you will find it isn’t linear as well. One day you could reach a one-rep max and the next you could fail a set.
The most important thing is to not get derailed from your daily operations. Numbers spike and there are plenty of factors that contribute to your body’s weight or strength on a particular day. To improve your fitness, you need to look at the overall goal. Refer back to where you wrote it down and consider your long-term progress toward it.
Gary Baker is a retired marine with a newfound interest in general fitness and well-being. He began his journey in his 40s and now maintains and encourages self-improvement through active living.