How to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes That Stick

Personal trainer in Vilnius

Starting a healthier lifestyle journey can seem too overly complicated and it’s simply because there’s an overload of information out there. From intermittent fasting to diets like vegan, KETO, or carnivore—one can barely count them all. 

If you want to choose a workout, it’s a similar scenario. With options like high-intensity interval training, weight lifting or classes like yoga and pilates, how do you know what’s right for you?

Weight lifting and workout routine

To get your motivation up, read on an interview with Liutauras, who’s a professional trainer and an expert in his field. It’s likely that waiting until New Year’s to make resolutions won’t be necessary.

VP: Tell us a bit about yourself

Liutauras: I am a physical preparation coach and personal trainer. For the past decade, sports has been a foundational part of my life. Earlier on, I was conducting group workouts and had private clients. Just recently, upon the occurrence of feeling eager to see the real results of my work, I’ve been focusing solely on physical training.

My personal career as an athlete ended a couple of years ago, and now I enjoy working out in a less committed and more intuitive way. Meaning, I change what I do, depending on how I feel and the circumstances of that day. I don’t feel bad about not hitting the gym. Instead, I go for a run or a swim.

Personal training

When growing up, I spent my days in a judo hall, wrestling. Later, working out at the gym, especially with weights, took over. My time spent there naturally transitioned and gave start to my career as a trainer.

I’ve always enjoyed weight-lifting, and physical preparation was always part of it. I think this is where the desire to work with athletes and help them prepare originated.

Shortly after, I  discovered running, and primarily long distances and even marathons. I truly believe that running is great for both your physical and mental health. I still often go for a run, even if it’s for a few kilometres.

Finally, I’ve also had the opportunity to practice and participate in Crossfit competitions. I took some winning places here in Lithuania as well as abroad.

VP: What does your typical day look like?

Liutauras: Like most people, I start my days early in the morning. Except that my mornings start at the gym working with clients, individually and in groups. Workouts are tailored according to everyone’s needs and desires. 

Some people want to become leaner, some want to become bulky, and others simply want to feel good. I also have clients who come to me with post-injuries or specific issues, so finding ways to resolve them becomes integral to our work.

The second half of my day, afternoon and evening, is dedicated to working with kids. I train kids and teen athletes, from a very young age, who are just starting school,  and up to the time they graduate.

My main job revolves around kids who practice karate. These kids are strong at their core—they know what they want from sports and they are motivated to put in the work. 

Physical preparation for young athletes

Together we not only meet during our physical preparation sessions but I also often visit them during their karate practices. I always try to take part in various competitions with the kids I train, even if it means frequently travelling abroad.

I want to support them throughout the way—and there’s quite a bit of joy in seeing these kids, who practice so hard, and then show up in their domain at their best.

VP: What’s your philosophy around food and workouts?

Liutauras: You might often hear someone making jokes about how they exercise a lot only so they can eat guilt-free delicious meals afterwards. There’s some truth to it, and those who work out intensively will agree to this mindset to some extent. It’s a pretty good feeling when your conscience is calm after you ate one of the items from that blacklist, like a burger or a slice of pizza.

Liutauras personal coach and trainer

I personally have never tracked my calorie intake. But then again, I’ve never been on the polar opposite of overindulging. I try to remind myself and my clients that, first and foremost, it’s all about your health and how you feel. Only then goes your reflection in the mirror. 

Your food choices have to be as healthy as possible, and we should also set an example for our children. With that said, we can have a treat once in a while, and there’s no need to punish yourself for that. 

The key here is to discover what works specifically for your body — experiment with different ingredients and recipes. With time, you’ll be able to recognise the foods that are not only right for you but also those you enjoy. 

healthy and hearty brunch

I try to eat a lot of vegetables, eggs, whole grains, meat, and fruit. The same goes for sports; you have to enjoy it first, and not dread every time you go to the gym.

VP: For those who want to incorporate workouts in their daily lives, what should they start with?

Liutauras: First of all, those who want to get started should decide on what kind of sports they are interested in. Typically, people come through friends and their recommendations. 

Spend some time exploring different activities. Your preferences highly depend on your personality—some like team sports, others like to work out on their own or have a personal trainer with them. 

Once you think you’ve found something you’d like to try, don’t jump into some extreme conclusions such as “this is definitely not for me” or “I’ve finally discovered my passion.” 

My advice—don’t rush, take your time to practice it a little longer. Familiarise yourself with the chosen sports branch and all of its nuances. And remember: enjoying it is key to succeeding. 

Group workouts

Sports is something that will positively affect your health, and gradually you will find pleasure in exercising every single day. You’ll gain more energy, more strength, and desire to move. Your mind also gets clearer.

So how to get started? Simply start; don’t postpone it until tomorrow or next Monday. Life is all about making the right decisions today.

VP: What would be your 3 tips to maintain motivation for someone who wants to get into better physical shape?

Liutauras: 1. Don’t overtrain. The motivation behind your changes and the desire to work out regularly tends to diminish, especially when people push too hard from the very start. 

In the beginning, your enthusiasm seems to be through the roof. After a while, due to an intense regime, you simply exhaust your body. This gives the opposite effect and sometimes even a burnout.

That’s why some planning is necessary at this stage so that you know which days are dedicated to workouts and what exactly you’ll be doing. Also, don’t forget to give some rest to your mind and body. 

2. Avoid making radical changes. If you want to start exercising and eating healthier, don’t try to also quit all of your bad habits all in one go. A change overnight is not very likely to happen. 

And for a habit to stick, the change has to be made step by step and repeated consistently. Otherwise, soon after, you end up right where you started. 

3. Diversify your leisure activities. Start by doing something more active in your free time than you are typically used to. Go out for a walk in nature, or get on your bike for a leisurely ride.

active walk in the park

Discover ways to spend your free time so that you can be active and at the same time, escape your daily routine. Then it’s not only your leisure time, but you also have an active rest day from your workouts, so you’ll be excited to kick off the next day. 

VP: What are some of your clients’ mistakes that you come across the most often?

Liutauras: People tend to make mistakes in things that seem simple at first sight. Without a doubt, the most common mistake is regarding eating habits.

For example, skipping breakfast or snacking after dinner, especially on something sugary. This might sound like an innocent mistake, but if you do it repetitively—the results accumulate and create a pretty big problem.  

Another factor that’s often overlooked is high-stress levels in your day-to-day life. It has tremendous effects on your body, and I’m not even talking about exercising here.

If the person went to bed after midnight, because “it’s impossible to fall asleep earlier,”  when feeling restless after a chaotic day at work, no surprise, there’s no energy to go to the gym in the evening. 

You have to prioritise managing your stress levels and sleep. So going to bed much earlier and leaving your excuses aside, goes without saying. Only then do you want to incorporate sports gradually. As with time, working out becomes an effective antidote to those hard-to-cope periods. 

Lastly, it’s setting your expectations right. Someone who hasn’t been physically active for a few years or even longer,  often forgets to appreciate the efforts put in and milestones they achieve every day.

Also, they are too focused on the end-goal instead of the process. You have to set a comparison of what you did yesterday and how much progress you’ve achieved today.

VP: We only have 30 minutes at the gym: what’s the most effective way to spend this half an hour? 

Liutauras: In all honesty, people often spend way too much time at the gym, it’s especially the case when they’re working out with someone else. In 30 minutes, you can squeeze in a pretty good workout, but you’ll have to leave your phone at the locker first.

Start with short yet quality warm-up so that your body is well-prepared and has the chance to ease into the session. Rotating movements are great for that, in combination with a few series of simple exercises, and a few minutes of cycling. Then it’s time to exercise your abs and back, followed by several rounds of sit-ups and burpees⁠—and you’re ready to kick off your workout. 

workout equipment

When there isn’t much time, I’m a fan of short, but intensive workouts, with light weights or none at all. Get a jump rope, a box on which you can jump, a crossbar, and dumbbell for some sit-ups.

Work out in rounds with some short breaks in between or without them, depending on the desired intensity. Focus on the speed and quality of the movements, and then leave a snippet of time for a quick stretch to complete it.

 VP: Where can we find you in the digital sphere?

Liutauras: Reach out via Facebook or Instagram. I’m a frequent user of both. 

VP: Thanks Liutauras, for getting us onboard with how to make healthy lifestyle changes, and our workout sessions—they were always productive and heaps of fun!

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