Today is a day for turning over a new leaf; like so many Americans, I struggle to maintain a healthy weight. While exercise is super-important, nutrition is the key to making an impact and living healthfully, so for the next 21 days I’m going to make some drastic changes to the way I eat. Coupled with intense workouts, I’ll be feeling great inside and out in no time. I’ll be posting plenty of recipes, but I also wanted to share 10 tips for making the necessary lifestyle changes to become fit.
- The Starting Point weighing yourself has always been the standard, but taking other measurements is important too. Not seeing the scale budge can be disheartening, but using a tape measure to see how many inches you’ve lost is another indicator of progress. Take a picture of yourself in a bathing suit on day 1 and you’ll have before-and-after pics to see how well you’re doing. Set solid goals and write them down. I like to use pairs of pants as benchmarks, trying them on periodically until they fit comfortably.
- Arm Yourself with Knowledge there are many conflicting theories out there (no-carb diets vs. the food pyramid, for example) and it’s important to approach health and fitness from an educated standpoint. Talk to personal trainers and nutritionists (insurance may cover the costs of visits), read credible sources, and figure out a plan to save time and maximize your benefits. (Personally, I will be eating a modified version of the Paleo diet that my Crossfit gym planned for me–it’s an interesting concept that you can read about here.)
- Find Your Sweet Spot hate running? Try a kickboxing class instead. Working out doesn’t have to be a drag. There are so many ways to get your cardio in, and many gyms offer fun classes like Zumba or dance (look here too). Read a book on an exercise bike or listen to music while you jog. Don’t forget about strength training either. Many classes incorporate strength training aspects, plus there are a variety of machines and variations so see what works for you.
- Have Healthy Fun working out in the gym is a good way to structure your routine, but theres’s so many great outdoor activities to get yourself moving that won’t even feel like exercise at all. I like taking long walks, kayaking, hiking, biking, rock climbing, tennis, and swimming, just to name a few. It’s always great to try something new.
- The Buddy System Works exercising with a friend not only makes it more fun, but you can challenge one another and push yourself more than you might have alone.
- Use Social Media letting your friends know you’re making healthy lifestyle changes is a great way to get support. It’s also a way to hold yourself accountable, and you’re less likely to get swayed into unhealthy activities if people know you’re giving them up. Check-in when you go to the gym, tweet links to healthy recipes you find, and follow fitness pages on Instagram. Plus you may even inspire someone else.
- Remove Temptations get rid of as many junk foods and unhealthy snacks as you can from your house (and office, if possible). It’s easy for your will power to go out the window with those cookies calling your name, but you’re much less likely to go out to the store to get them when a craving strikes. Try to get support from the people you live and work with and ask them to stop buying chips (or cookies or whatever your weakness is).
- Cook in Advance have healthy snacks and meals ready-to-go so that when you do get hungry, a good choice is right at your finger tips. I like to make a large pot of turkey chili or soup for my go-to snacks and just pop them into the microwave when I want a snack or need something quick.
- Log It All using a food journal is a great way to increase awareness of your eating habits. The best way is to track your foods and activity with an app; I use LoseIt!but I’ve also used Fooducate in the past. You can find more info on those and 62 other great fitness apps here.
- Plan a Reward despite all the benefits you’ll find in how you look and feel in a fitter lifestyle, it’s nice to give yourself a gift every once in a while. Set milestones along your path to your goal and do something extra for yourself when you reach them. Pamper yourself with a massage or pedicure, or get a new pair of jeans now that your old ones are too big. I’m going to get myself to a new pair of running shoes if I keep on track for 3 whole weeks. You can treat yourself with forbidden foods too–but only in moderation. Cheat meals are actually very beneficial, you can read more about them here.
If you’re on the fence about making lifestyle changes, it can be hard to get started but once you do, you’ll pick up momentum. Over time you will adapt to the changes you made and find that the fit life is fantastic! #fitlife