Five fitness hacks of highly successful people

Kami Phillips, CNN Underscored
Updated Wed January 9, 2019

Let's face it, healthy habits don't just happen overnight. It takes time and dedication to successfully make a change in your day-to-day life. Aristotle once wrote, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." And while many people tend to start new fitness regimens or diets at the beginning of a new year, sticking to them can sometimes prove to be the most difficult part.

If you're looking to get fit and need motivation to keep you on track, or are simply looking for healthy hacks to start your year off on the right foot, take a cue from these five wildly successful people.

Barack Obama makes working out in the morning a priority

Former President Barack Obama values health so much that he makes fitness a priority in his morning routine, starting off his day with a good old fashioned sweat sesh.

This was true even when he was in the Oval Office. According to an interview with Newsweek, the former president made no excuses for missing his daily workout, penciling it in in the morning ahead of a busy schedule.

A trustworthy alarm clock is the first (and most important!) item required to get in the habit of waking up early and squeezing in a morning workout. Whether it's set for 15 minutes earlier or an hour earlier, getting out of bed is half the battle. Try using the Travelway Home LED Digital Alarm Clock ($19.97, originally $29.97; amazon.com), one of Amazon's best sellers. Or wake up to your favorite song with the iHome Bluetooth Alarm Clock Radio ($49.95, originally $59.99; amazon.com).

For more insight into Obama's life and career, shop his top-selling memoir "Dreams from My Father."

Serena Williams changes up her workouts to stay motivated

Superstar athlete Serena Williams is quite possibly the greatest female tennis player of all time. And while her success on the tennis courts has won her numerous world titles and rankings, she stays at the top of her fitness game by regularly changing her workouts. After a health scare in 2011, Williams was forced to explore new fitness routines to stay in shape. "For me it's so important to mix it up. I ran, and then I biked. Then I did elliptical. That didn't work out so well, because it was boring, so I tried yoga. I started dancing because I couldn't train when I was sick. We started making up moves, and it was fun. Now I run for 10 minutes, and then I dance," Williams told Fitnessmagazine.com.

Changing your fitness routine usually requires different styles of activewear with different functions. So why not treat yourself to a new outfit to stay even more motivated? For yoga, try these Zella Live In High Waist Leggings ($54; nordstrom.com) that have over 5,600 customer reviews paired with a cute crop tank, like this ALO Cover Tank ($54; nordstrom.com). For lifting at the gym, rock a Nike Dry Training Tee ($35; bloomingdales.com) that will wick away moisture with a pair of Under Armour Sportstyle Joggers ($59.99; bloomingdales.com).

For more insights on Serena Williams' life and career, shop "Serena Williams: The Inspiring Story of One of Tennis' Greats Legends" by Clayton Geoffreys.

Meghan Markle self-motivates by using workout DVDs and at-home exercises

The Duchess of Sussex has long been known as a wellness and fitness fanatic. An avid yogi and runner, Meghan Markle enjoys working out, not just for the physical benefits, but for the mental clarity that comes along with being active. But even before hopping the pond to join the royal family, Markle was on a tight schedule with limited time to squeeze in her workouts. Between running her lifestyle blog, "The Tig," and starring in the hit TV show "Suits," she had to make the most of her free time. "I do it all on my own," she told Shape. "I do DVDs at home or I go for a run by myself. I think if you can self-motivate, that's half the battle."

In an interview with WomensHealthMag.com, Meghan's trainer of three years, Craig McNamee, says "she particularly loved doing lower-body exercises using a mini band" which can be used just about anywhere. "I just find the results are great, and you can do little 15-minute increments," Meghan told Shape, "you just find those little bits of time that help, and then at the end of the day, you've had a full work out."

Get your workout in anywhere and anytime with Dynapro Mini Resistance Bands ($8.99; amazon.com), Fit Simplify Mini Resistance Bands ($10.95; amazon.com) or Perform Better Mini Resistance Bands ($17.95; amazon.com). Each set is top-rated on Amazon and come with rave customer reviews.

For more insight on Meghan Markle's life and career, shop "American Princess: The Love Story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry" by Leslie Carroll.

Jennifer Lopez's No. 1 fitness rule: stay hydrated

Jennifer Lopez is one of those women who defy every stereotype of aging, and she's proud of it (rightly so!). The triple threat is no stranger to showing off her incredibly sculpted physique on social media, and considering the fact that the 49-year-old doesn't look a day over 29, we don't blame her. But besides a strict workout regimen, eating clean and getting plenty of sleep, she swears by one simple rule: stay hydrated.

While we all know that drinking water throughout the day is one of the best things you can do for your body, Lopez especially makes hydration a priority in her fitness regimen. "Drinking plenty of water, especially before a workout, can help you push harder and get more out of your exercise routine," she told Hello!.

While hydrating prior to her workouts is key, she also makes sure she ends every sweat sesh with even more water: "I love the way working out makes me feel, so I try to keep my body hydrated and well rested after every workout," she said. "That way, I'm ready to hit it hard again the next day."

Stay hydrated with the Hydro Flask 32-Ounce Water Bottle ($44.95; nordstrom.com). Thanks to its TempShield protection, your water will stay nice and cold while you sweat it out, and it comes with a high-flow straw lid that makes it easy to sip throughout your workout. You can also try the Life Factory 22-Ounce BPA-Free Glass Water Bottle ($19.99; amazon.com), a top-rated pick on Amazon. Its glass bottle ensures no leaching will occur from metals or plastics and all materials are BPA/BPS-free and phalate-free.

For more insight into Jennifer Lopez's life and career, shop her book "True Love."

Bob Iger, Disney CEO, disconnects from technology until after his morning workout

Many of the world's most successful people work long hours, which is why their mornings are so important to their personal schedule. Whether they work out, spend time with family or meditate, the mornings are a perfect time to disconnect. Disney CEO Bob Iger spends his mornings phone free in order to work out without distractions before his busy day.

"I create a firewall with technology, by the way, in that I try to exercise and think before I read," Iger said at a summit hosted by Vanity Fair. "Because if I read, it throws me off, it's distracting. I'm immediately thinking about usually someone else's thoughts, instead of my own. I like being alone with my own thoughts, and it gives me an opportunity to not just replenish, but to organize, and it's important." Being completely focused on your work out can help yield better results and a more energized approach to what your day may bring. So take some tech-free time in the morning to get fit, focused and healthy like Iger.

Whether you disconnect to do yoga, meditate or an at-home work out, a durable rubber yoga mat is a must have. Try using the Manduka EKO Yoga Pilates Mat (starting at $55.75; amazon.com), which is made from biodegradable, non-toxic and latex-free materials.

For even more zen in the AM, shop "Wherever You Go, There You Are; Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life" by Jon Kabat-Zinn (starting at $9.99; amazon.com).