7 Health and Fitness Hacks to Help Busy People Stay on Track

by Makeda Vaughn

It’s mid-January and everyone who made promises to stay healthy and fit for the New Year is holding on for dear life to keep up with those commitments. If you’re like me, you’re juggling multiple activities along with a full time job, and realizing just how much hard work it takes to stay consistent.

Consistency is something that I have often struggled with on my fitness journey. However, thanks to Pinterest and keen observation, I have found some fitness hacks that help keep me focused and dedicated to my health. The key to consistency is to eliminate all possible excuses. That’s it. If you’re honest enough with yourself, you’ll be able to identify your bad habits. Here are the fitness hacks that have helped me, and I hope they can help you reach your fitness goals as well.

1. Plan and prepare most of your meals at the beginning of the week.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” I absolutely hate that quote—only because of how true it is. I never fully believed in meal planning because, well, I didn’t want to take time out of my busy schedule to plan for the week ahead. But, it actually saves time and money to dedicate a few hours each week cooking three meals in advance. It also helps with staying on track with calories and portion sizes. As I’m sure you’ve heard many a fitness guru say, 80% of reaching your healthy living goals comes from proper eating habits. You eliminate the chance of going off track by having food ready to eat. Meal prep eliminates guesswork when you’re already tired from a long day.

Quick Tip: Egg muffins and sandwich recipes can save you time from having to cook each morning. Pinterest has plenty of recipes. Smoothies are another great time-saving way to get in healthy nutrients. You can package your pre-measured smoothie ingredients in advance to eliminate prep time as well.

2. Pack your gym bag in advance.

If you pack your gym bag with your workout clothes the night before, you eliminate one excuse for not going to the gym. I find it easier to stop by the gym when on my way home versus going home first and then leaving the house again when I’m tired after a long day. And in 20-degree winter weather, that’s just one more reason to stay home.

Quick Tip: If you’re aiming to work out early in the morning before work, take your shower or bath the night before, and go to bed in your workout clothes. If you can at least put forth the effort of wearing the workout clothes, you’re more likely to get up and put in the work.

3. Take advantage of home workout equipment.

When all else fails and you just cannot make it to the gym or want to eliminate monthly gym payments, working out at home is always an option. Former video vixen Buffy the Body has plenty of fitness gear along with DVDs that guarantee results. Black Girls Workout Too also has a popular fitness DVD with positive reviews. In addition to workout videos, Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart, and many other retailers offer affordable equipment for sale.

Quick Tip: Let’s not forget the old-fashioned and free exercises of push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, lunges, squats, and more. These are some of the most effective exercises, and you can do them anywhere, with whatever amount of equipment you have access to. Pinterest is your best friend when it comes to finding workout routines that do not require any equipment at all. Just search “workout plan.”

4. Set up a regular meeting with yourself.

See each workout as a meeting with yourself. Schedule your workouts in your planner, outlook calendar, phone calendar, or any other tool you own to organize your life. By making an appointment with yourself to take care of your health, you’re getting in the mindset that this is an important meeting, just like all the others you attend for work, school, church, and other activities.

5. Keep a journal for inspiration and to track progress.

This is something new I’m trying out, and so far I have found it to be helpful. Get a planner or a regular notebook and turn it into your own progress report and book of inspiration. Track your workouts and meals, so you’ll know whether or not you’re improving. I personally keep extra pages to write down my thoughts on how I’m feeling for the day, and also notes about my workout. It’s nice to look back on how far you’ve come. It gives an extra boost to continue going.

Quick Tip: If you’re not into journaling, use your phone or tablet as a tracker. There are plenty of fitness apps (think MyFitnessPal and FitBit ) out there to help with tracking nutrition, diet, and physical activity. I personally use an app and an old-fashioned notebook.

6. Flood your news feed with fitness inspiration.

Most of us spend any free moment we have checking our news feeds on social media sites. Why not add some purpose and encouragement to this mindless task, by following fitness gurus, celebrity personal trainers, healthy eating sites, and other positive lifestyle brands? Their posts are usually filled with lots of tips, tricks, workout and meal prep ideas, and other bits of FREE inspiration and ideas to keep you motivated.

Quick Tip: On Instagram, @FollowTheLita and @Massy.Arias are awesome fitness gurus to follow. On Facebook, Kia’s Fit Fare offers lots of yummy looking, healthy recipes. And A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss is a great website with workout and healthy eating tips, as well as blog posts on lots of other topics related to Black women and wellness.

7. Celebrate your milestones!

I’m all about a celebration and rewarding oneself for hitting goals. Why not?! If I don’t celebrate my achievements, who will? I have several reward systems that push me to work hard. Many of us need positive reinforcements to stay motivated. You can reward yourself each time you lose or gain a certain amount of pounds, inches, or muscle mass. Just find a creative way to reward yourself so that you have something to look forward to, but also make sure it’s a reward that doesn’t work against the progress you’ve made.

Quick Tip: Try using a jar or cup and paying yourself each time you do something in service of your fitness goal. You can do this however you want. Pay yourself $1 each time your work out. Or maybe pay yourself $5 every time you lose a couple of pounds or inches. You’ll be improving your fitness and saving money at the same time!

I know it can be difficult to keep up with these health and fitness resolutions, especially if you’re a busy professional, parent, student, or any combination thereof. But if you take small steps and minor changes, it will lead to a true lifestyle change. You must have a burning desire to change, for change to take place. Wishing you peace and good health this year!

Photo: Shutterstock

Makeda Vaughn is a blogger. You can find her on her website SkinnyGotCurves.com. She can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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