The fitness industry thrives on quick fixes. We love the promise of fast results by making extreme changes for a short period of time. We are quick to commit to restrictive rules but don’t think much beyond what happens after that one week, 21 days, or one-month challenge.

It’s common to give up after not seeing immediate results after a few weeks of hard work. We often go to extremes. If we can’t stick to zero carbs, then we eat all the carbs. If a new piece of gym equipment doesn’t deliver results, we give up on exercise altogether.

Quick fixes turn us into quitters.

While we want to believe that we can make big sacrifices in order to achieve big changes in a short amount of time, that is rarely the case. If we do happen to lose weight, get that six-pack, or go down a new dress size, it rarely lasts long because those quick fixes don’t set us up with the tools we need to create lasting change.

Whether the goal is losing body fat, building strength, getting faster, or improving health markers, the principles of successful behavior changes are the same. Spoiler alert: the answer isn’t a crash diet, a short timeline, or restrictive rules! Creating lasting results requires knowledge and skills that allow us to make small changes consistently over time. In other words, it requires creating good habits. This means forming habits that we don’t just stick to when we feel like it, but habits we practice diligently for an extended period of time. While results won’t always be immediate, it sets us up to create changes we can maintain moving forward.

Before hopping on a new diet train, take a minute to think long term. Consider if it teaches valuable skills and habits that can be followed for more than a few weeks. Prioritizing positive habits over quick fixes not only helps us achieve results, but it helps us maintain those changes long term.

These habits can help you reach your immediate goals and maintain those changes in the future:

Add more vegetables and protein to meals.

Be aware of portion sizes.

Learn how to grocery shop and prepare meals at home.

Substitute meals out for meals at home.

Create an environment that makes it easy to eat healthfully.

Learn to eat meals mindfully and recognize feelings of hunger and fullness.

Learn how to make the best choices when enjoying meals out.

Be aware of the caloric content in different foods.

By Kate Lyman