By Kate Horney

I’ve read countless books and studied thousands of research papers. And with a degree in Exercise Physiology, I know the “science of fitness” like the back of my hand.

But what’s even more important than learning the science?

After many years of coaching women both online and locally,and over 10 years of living the fat loss lifestyle myself, I have a lot to say regarding the topic of learning REAL LIFE fitness… today, I’ve narrowed it down into 6 of the most important things I’ve learned- 6 things that I’ve observed make the biggest impact for women and their fitness journeys.

I hope these realizations will help you on your journey as well….

Here are 6 things I’ve learned about Fitness:

Short workouts work better. (It’s called efficient exercise.) When creating my workouts I ask myself “is this something I could do for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, it simply won’t work for me. The fitness industry’s norm of excessive cardio workouts and hours at the gym are not only counterproductive metabolically, but they are also unsustainable! I don’t have time, nor do I want to spend hours on my workout. A few long leisurely walks with my family plus short, intense workouts using weights, sprints and plyometrics fit much better into my lifestyle- both now and long term.

Deprivation doesn’t work. Thinking of food in terms of items that you can and cannot have is disastrous. Not only are you are setting yourself up for an all out binge, but you’re also wasting a ton of mental stress by focusing on something that truly doesn’t matter. It’s FOOD! I don’t know about you, but as a busy wife, mom, friend, and coach, I have much more important things to think about than some stupid brownie I am telling myself I “can’t” have. To keep from depriving myself I not only altered my mindset, but I also use buffer foods (hey almond butter and cocoa powder) and strategically consume “off plan” meals to stay satisfied. In addition to enjoying occasional treats, here’s my perspective and a great mindset shift that you can adopt as well: I CAN have anything I want, at anytime. But I am simply CHOOSING not to. It’s my choice.

You don’t need a gym! You can get fit at home! “Getting slim without the gym” has been my new favorite motto. As you know, there are some days when getting out of the house to exercise is simply not an option. The good news is that you can still get fit in the comfort of your home. Don’t despair if you feel like you don’t have time to get to the gym. Remember, our goal is to do SOMETHING. And you can get a fabulous fat burning workout in the comfort of your own home. Hold your baby and do squats and stationary lunges (no weights needed!) for your lower body, then lift your baby overhead (get ready for some giggles) to strengthen your arms and shoulders, or lay on your back and do “baby chest presses.” And during those precious 30-minute nap times, grab some dumbbells and get in a rest based training workout, pushing hard until you can’t and then resting until you can.

Make fit friends! This year I have truly seen the power of accountability! Both in my own life and in the lives of the women I coach. Having social support, whether through friends, or family (or awesome women in an online community!) is key to reaching your long-term goals. We are social creatures by nature, and we feel good when we have someone who listens and can relate to what we’re going through. At my local Bikini Boot Camp, our group training allows us not just to get a great workout, but to develop and foster friendships- many of which reach beyond the walls of the gym. If you don’t have a local group, connect with moms in a similar situation as you online (like MOMSANITY)…. and if you need a friend, we’ll keep you accountable! 🙂 The key is to establish a built-in support system and to make sure you have someone to help you on your journey.

Treat yourself in moderation. Yes, that’s right- you can eat dessert or have a piece of bread. I’m all about living a healthy, happy and BALANCED life.There is nothing wrong with treating yourself and your family to a yummy dessert or a less than healthy option every once in awhile. (hello, chips and salsa!) It’s when you begin to indulge on a regular basis that it becomes less of a treat and more of an expectation or habit… and THAT is the issue.

Fitness must be a secondary goal. There is certainly nothing wrong with making it a goal to be in the best shape of your life in 2015, but at the same point, I would encourage you to do so in a balanced way. No matter how important we think the quest for a “perfect” (although we know there really is no such thing) body may be right now, none of us will take our bodies with us to eternity. We will all age and ultimately pass away one day. When that time comes, and we are surrounded by our family, I highly doubt our dying words will be, “I wish I had have spent more time at the gym, and more time weighing my food and perfecting my body.” It’s a great goal-but it must be secondary. I do think health & fitness should be a priority, but it is not (and should not be) the end all be all. What is the cost/benefit ratio of your commitment? Are you pursing your goal at the sacrifice of your family? Of your health? Of your sanity? Fitness should promote health, should make you happy and should NOT consume your life.

What are some REAL LIFE fit tips YOU’VE learned since starting your fitness journey? Share below!

Kate Horney is part of the Momsanity Team, which is a community of Moms striving to achieve balance through physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. You can read more about this amazing program here, and also get information about the Momsanity Sisterhood here. The Sisterhood is a closed group with nutrition guidelines, workouts designed for fat loss and strength building, daily spiritual guidance, and more!