The scale keeps going up, your energy is going down, your clothes don't fit and you are in a meltdown. We've all been there, for some of us, numerous times. We want to exercise, eat healthy, BE healthy but life just seems to get in the way. You need a process to help you get to the place you want to be, but you don't know where to start. That's the keyword: PROCESS. The journey to a healthy body is a step by step process. It takes time, effort and consistency, and you will find the effort is worth every bit of hard work. A healthier you is a happier you, and that spills over to everyone in your life, making the health journey contagious and far reaching. Are you truly ready and committed to be in the best shape of your life? Be ready for hard work and establish a process that works best for you. It's time to pry yourself off the living room furniture and get out there and get healthy!!
There are so many good plans to follow, websites to read, apps to get, what's the best process for you? That's ultimately up for you to figure out because you know you better than anyone else! Narrowing down the most important steps for a successful path into a healthier you look something like this:
- Make smart, attainable goals
- Set a routine and stick to it
- Make healthy food choices
- Be willing to try new foods and new forms of exercise
- Find people to join you on your health journey
- Don't be so hard on yourself
Make Smart, Attainable Goals
The best way to make a positive change, a BIG change, is to have a plan that encompasses goals that are actually attainable. Not easy goals, not beyond what a human being is capable of, but attainable goals.
- Decide how much weight loss you want to achieve and find the best diet plan that works for you.
- You want to be in better shape so map out your fitness goals and find an exercise routine (or routines) that fit you and the results you want to see.
- Spend your Saturdays or Sundays planning out your next week's meals and do the shopping and prep to get you ready for the week ahead. If you've already bought and prepared healthy food, you are more likely to eat it.
- While you are planning your meals, also plan your workout days and the areas you want to focus on per day.
- Keep making short term and long term goals as you explore your new healthy lifestyle: fitting back into your favorite bathing suit so you can take a long awaited vacation with new found confidence in the newer healthier you, as an example.
- The things most important to you are your best motivators, include them with your goals: Achieving a healthy body to live a longer life and be around for your loved ones. Run that marathon you always said you would never be able to accomplish.
Set A Routine And Stick To It
Whether or not you realize it, we all have a routine. When we eat, sleep, work, all encompasses our daily life. And the exciting news: it is quite possible to tailor our routine into making healthy living a reality. A routine, in fact, establishes a firm foundation for you to achieve your best shape.
- We already discussed meal planning and workout planning. Do it and stick to it!
- Try to eat your meals around the same time and go to bed at the same time each day.
- Drink more water and drink it EVERY day!! Water is key to living a healthy lifestyle and weight loss by keeping you hydrated and helping you feel "full" so you don't binge on unhealthy foods.
- When you start to become comfortable in your workouts, time to change up your interval training. Try compound movements, exercises that are using more than one muscle group at a time.
- Commitment is KEY: Being healthy takes work. Commit to eating healthy, buy and prep your healthy meals, drink your water everyday, commit to your workout routines and commit to NEVER GIVE UP!!
Make Healthy Food Choices
Food is the fuel that allows our bodies to do everything we do in a day. You don't put dirty, contaminated gas in your car and expect it to run smoothly. Your body is no different.
- A good healthy breakfast is key to start your day out right and fuel your body for a good workout. When you are consistently eating a good breakfast it can help lower your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and help to tackle obesity.
- Choose foods with fiber and protein for a good start to your day and your workout. Breakfast foods high in sugar and white flour can be replaced with whole wheat and fiber. Eggs, whole-grain cereals, nuts, milk and yogurt (no added sugars) are good options.
- Complex carbs are not a bad thing, they are actually the fuel your body needs as its main source of energy. Complex carbohydrates are found in beans, fruits, whole grains and vegetables.
- Protein is an essential factor for your body because it fuels how your body maintains itself, how it grows, and how it builds and repairs muscles. Protein can come from dairy, eggs, beans and lentils, poultry and red meat.
- Fruits and vegetables are obviously vitally important to healthy eating. Not only are they low in fat and calories, they also provide antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and natural fiber. Fruit and vegetables are recommended to be in your diet several servings per day.
- Is there such a thing as "healthy fats"? Yes there is and they are also an important part of our daily intake. Healthy fats can be found in olive oil, avocados, seeds, nuts and olives as a few examples.
Be Willing To Try New Foods And New Forms Of Exercise
Being focused on taking care of your body and finding the place of being in your best shape means getting outside your comfort zone and trying new forms of exercise and new foods, all as a way to a better, healthier you. That doesn't mean you can't keep doing walks around your neighborhood, keep walking, but add in some weights and some interval training to increase your heart rate and make your body stronger.
- Add some lunges, burpees, planks and mountain climbers to your normal cardio workout.
- Interval training encourages you to break out of your normal cardio. It applies to walking, running, biking or rowing. Start out in a warm up phase, then speed up and exceed to 90% of your max heart rate, then back into a 3 minute normal pace pattern, and repeat again. This is a great workout for your heart, body and a good calorie burner. Interval training has new terminology: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). There are several apps and an enormous amount of websites to help you find a plan that fits you the best with a profile menu set to personalize all your workouts specifically just for you.
- If you are walking, running or doing an aerobic workout and want some more resistance to build muscle, add some hand weights to your workout time.
- Eat a small, healthy meal or snack prior to working out. Focus on some good protein and fruit as good pre-workout snacks.
- Challenge yourself to try some new healthy foods you have never eaten before. You might just surprise yourself with some new favorite foods, improving the way you eat everyday.
Find People To Join You On Your Health Journey
Working out, getting physical exercise several times a week is key to helping you achieve the best shape of your life, as we've already established. But working out/exercising with friends or colleagues can also be an effective means for relieving stress. Exercising with a group of friends is a positive way of finding peace and a sense of community for those who find themselves having to function in high stress environments. Studies have shown that those who exercise and walk through a weight loss journey with a partner can lose up to an additional 10 pounds as compared to those who go about it alone. You can most certainly tackle your exercise and diet alone, but motivation can sometimes increase when you share the journey with another person, or a group of people. Many people find that when there's accountability involved, you put more emphasis on completing your goals. And who doesn't like to have a cheerleader, cheering you on in your victories and supporting you through your defeats!
Don't Be So Hard On Yourself
No one is perfect. NO ONE!! There will be rough days, days where you shut the alarm off and don't go on a run. Days where you find yourself halfway through a cheeseburger and you realize maybe the quick food choice wasn't the best option you could have chosen. You know what? It's OK!! Really it is. Everyone deserves a cheat day every now and then. You get a taste of food you are craving and then you are good to go for awhile. Don't linger in guilt. Health and fitness is ready at any stage of the game for ANYONE. What do you do when the pangs of guilt are gripping you?
- FORGIVE YOURSELF!! Tomorrow is always a brand new start. Get up the next morning, wipe the slate clean and start over. Turn your guilt into motivation.
- So, you ate unhealthy food, and dessert, all in one day. The cravings got the best of you. It happens to everyone. Having a cheat day every once and awhile is a good thing. Eat something you have been craving. Craving will be satisfied and then you can get back on track with your healthy eating.
- You've skipped working out for a few days, a week even. Giving your body some time off from exercise is not necessarily a bad thing. Pick back up exercising where you left off. It may take a day or two to get you back to where you were but that can fuel your desire to catch up with purpose.
- The scale isn't moving down as much as you wanted, the workouts aren't giving you the results you wanted as quickly as you wanted. It's OK! You set goals as a plan of action, some goals take longer than others to achieve. The important part is you are making a huge effort to take care of your body and your health. Results may not come as quickly as you want but you are improving your overall health and way of life every single day. Remember that when you feel discouragement looming over you.
It's a journey to travel when you want to be in the best shape of your life, and one worth exploring. The hard work, effort and commitment it takes are not easy, but well worth the effort. A healthy life is a full life. The biggest decision is the one YOU make for YOURSELF: the decision to take control of your health and fitness. No one can do it for you. That's the beauty of a better, stronger, healthier you: You accomplish what only you can do. The key is to not compare your journey with someone else's journey. We are all different and progress at our own, individual pace. The comparison to make is with where you were before and how far you've come since. The victory is in each one of us. Are we willing to run the race? Your body says YES!