You’ve seen this meme, right? Gym December vs. January?
January boasts the resolutioners and yeah, if you’re one of the lifeies, you know January, February, even March is a little over-crowded. But what happens in March? Sometimes even February? The gym slowly starts to clear out. The newbies show up less frequently and class sizes get smaller.
Why does this happen?
We start too big. Too much. Too soon.
Too often, most people have grand resolutions. Extreme motivation. Now or never attitudes. And it’s easy to throw 100% of yourself into a project for a while. But after a while, you get tired. Sore. Achy. And hungry. Diets seem awesome on day 1 when “I can totally do this!” But day 10? 15? 30? “I just want a *#$&#)@)% piece of chocolate!!!”
How do you turn your life around?
Your health should be your priority, no matter what. Living longer, moving well, keeping up with your family, not being terrified of taking the stairs, or being able to shop, literally, without dropping, should be something none of us fear. And unfortunately, I’ve seen and worked with too many people who are missing out on some of life’s most simple advantages all because they don’t know how to make their health a priority.
People who struggle with health and want to make that big change in January often understand just how bad their health is and they know how important it is to make the change. I see it every day. But where people fail is when they don’t know HOW to make the necessary changes needed to boost both their fitness and their spirits. Most believe that a gym membership and working out 5, 6, 7 days a week will be the only way to become healthy. And while I totally support a great workout routine, what many people don’t understand is that it takes so much more than lifting weights and a cardio session to turn the un-fit into the super-fit. Or heck, even normal-fit.
But the biggest surprise of all? Most of what each person needs is incredibly easy to do. And NO ONE needs to make immediate drastic changes to his or her lifestyle. The drastic change happens all on its own throughout the pursuit of better health. The key is starting small and creating little, daily habits that will help turn a lifetime of struggles into a new lifetsyle of good health.
Strongfigure’s 10 Tips for a Healthier Life
1. Start small. People fail when they dive head first into a new lifestyle, trying to completely rearrange everything in their lives from what they eat to how they exercise. It’s stressful and often unmanageable. So start small. Eliminate a few unhealthy snacks you typically eat. Or add an extra glass of water to each of your meals. Find something that’s doable for YOU and just start small. Here are some really easy things to think about when making the first step to a healthier lifestyle.
- Eliminate soda and try unsweetened green tea instead.
- Instead of coffee with creamer and sugar, try coffee black, or try it with a little coconut oil! One of my favorite ways to drink coffee is with a teaspoon of coconut oil and a TBS of full-fat cream. Real cream–not the fake stuff!
- Replace an afternoon vending machine snack with some a Greek yogurt, almonds, a piece of fruit, veggies and hummus, homemade snacks like egg muffins or meatballs! (My favorite)
- Add a protein shake to your day!
- Walk more–whether you take your pups for an extra walk, park further away, get up from your desk every 30 minutes and walk for two–just try to move more each day!
- Take time to yourself. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 30, find something that helps you relieve your mind, breathe deeply, and recenter yourself. Grab book, make a list, stretch your muscles, close your eyes for a few minutes, even download an APP like “Calm” that helps you relax. My favorite way to wind down is by following a romwod video for daily stretching and flexibility. Grab a free 14-day trial here and try it out! https://romwod.com/members/aff/go/strongfigure
- Drink more water. Start with one extra glass and when you’re ready then move to two. Start your day off with a glass of water — even if it’s with your cup o’ joe.
- Do you need seconds? Do you need bread with every meal? Are you eating enough veggies? Getting enough protein in your diet? Pay attention to your choices and be conscious of all that you take in.
- Speaking of paying attention, take note of how much sugar you eat over the course of a single day or even a whole week. If you’re going above 50+ grams, start thinking about ways you can cut back on sugar. Eliminating most (not all!) of your sugar intake will help your reach your goals tremendously!
- Are you missing a vitamin in your diet? Multi? Fish Oil? How simple is it to add a vitamin to your daily regime?
- Do you have an idea? ______________________________________________
2. Watch your nutrition labels. You don’t have to go through your kitchen and throw away everything deemed “unhealthy”; however, start reading your labels. Look at how much sugar is found in your foods. Read the ingredients and look for things like “high fructose corn syrup,” and “hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils” (which are really bad ingredients–arguably the three worst!) Once you start becoming familiar with what’s in your food, as you shop, reading labels will become habit and you’ll start to steer clear of foods filled with sugars and processed chemicals. It sounds difficult now, but just start reading and Google those ingredients you don’t know! Educate yourself first and you’ll be much more likely to shop smarter when you know WHY food is bad–not just because you think it’s going to make you gain weight. Here are my favorite grocery store shopping tips:
- Shop the perimeter of the store: that means fruits, veggies, meats, dairy, and always try to get organic and free range when possible.
- You don’t need to buy organic fruits and veggies that you’re going to peel. Also, if money is an issue, try to buy free range meats, then organic dairy, and last, organic fruits and veggies.
- Frozen fruit and veggies are just as healthy (if not healthier) than fresh.
- Watch out for canned items–even if it says organic. Beware of the added sodium and sugars!
- Just because it says “low fat,” or “gluten free,” doesn’t mean it’s healthy! Don’t buy foods too high in sugar (anything over 6-10g per serving is too high!)
- “Diet” foods are full of fake ingredients and added chemicals. Stay away!
- Buy as little processed food as possible. Processed means that man has done something to the food item. The more processed it is, the worse it is for you. And if it can live on a shelf for years, ask yourself if you really want those additives floating around your body?
- If it’s green, if it was once alive, if it used to have eyes, if it grew out of the earth–it’s safe to eat.
- Avoid food items that come out of a box.
- Avoid any food that has added sugars, dyes, syrups, or ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t know what they are.
- Get dark chocolate made with at least 70% caco.
- And if you must, buy ice cream or baked goods that are homemade or made with REAL ingredients.
3. Keep a journal. I know, not everyone enjoys writing stuff down, but whether you keep a few notes on your phone, in Evernote, even a little notepad in your desk, start taking down notes on how you feel during the day. Do you wake up starving? Do you always get hungry at 3pm? Maybe you get moody after lunch? If you start jotting down mood and energy notes, you’ll quickly begin to understand how your body responds to certain foods and when you need to eat as well as foods to avoid at certain times of day.
4. Write down what you eat and when you eat it. This goes hand-in-hand with keeping a journal. In fact, you can combine your food and mood/energy notes together to get the best overview of your body’s reaction to food. Did you eat pretzels with a soda at 3pm and get sleepy at 3:30? Did you have green tea and some almonds at 3 and ended up with great energy to finish out your day? How many times of day are you eating and how many calories do you consume? Do you burn more than you consume? Do you consume more than you’re burning? It’s ok if you’re doing one or the other–you’re just taking notes and figuring yourself out. Remember, the first step in making a change is all about educating yourself and learning more about what works and what doesn’t, for YOU. Some people are shocked to learn that they’re eating less than what they think. Others are surprised to learn that they’re eating twice as much as they thought they were. It’s ok! You need to figure out what you’ve been doing so you can see where you need to go.
5. Move more. Nothing crazy–park further away, take stairs. You’ve heard these tips before but try to increase the amount of steps you take each day. Walking is the easiest form of exercise we can do and it’s a very efficient fat burner.
- Go for a walk with the kids or with your spouse/significant other.
- Take the dog for a hike!
- Just make an effort to go up and down the stairs in your house a few more times than usual.
- Buy a fitness tracker or download an app on your phone that will track your steps every day. I’ve used the Fitbit One and the Garmin Vivosmart–I love seeing how much I can move every day!
- Clean something or do some gardening work.
You don’t have to join a gym. You may be a very sedentary person. If you can move just 10% more throughout the day, you’re already doing something positive for your health and the minute you start to see those changes, you’ll automatically want to continue–even do more than before.
6. Download apps on your phone that help track your sleep, your steps, help you look up foods that you’re curious about. My Fitness Pal, iHealth, GroceryIQ, etc., are all easily available to help you learn more about yourself, your health, your sleep, your foods. You don’t have to make any changes yet, you just want to get a good idea of what you’re used to eating, why, when, how much sleep you typically get, etc.
7. Experiment with new foods and recipes. So you’ve been learning about all the foods you’re eating and you’re ready to try something new! Head to the store and check out the produce aisles. Find something you haven’t eaten before and quickly Google a recipe. Find a recipe you like, pick up the ingredients you need and try out a new dish! Will you love it? Maybe. You may hate it. Does it mean you’ll never try a new recipe again? Of course not. Just look for something different. You may want to try a new veggie side dish or you may want to replace a pasta dish with a dish made from Quinoa (a protein-packed superfood). There are so many amazing and good-for-you foods out there…why limit yourself to boxed, processed, “because I’m used to it” food items? Do you need ideas? Check out our 2016 Recipe Roundup post!
8. Sleep more. You may be on point with your sleep and if you are, four gold stars for you! But if you’re not averaging a good 8 hours of sleep each night, you’re not helping yourself get healthier, and in fact, you may be doing more damage than you realize. I know it’s hard to set a new bedtime or cut back on the TV watching before bed, but something is going to have to give. Your body can’t heal, replenish, rejuvenate, or rest if you don’t give it enough time! WE NEED MORE SLEEP!
9. Drink more water. Just like sleep, drinking enough water helps the entire body. From skin and brain power to digestion and fat loss, drinking enough water–at minimum half your bodyweight in ounces–will automatically boost your health. How simple is that?! Start early and keep drinking throughout your day. You can do it!
10. Spend 5-10 minutes a day doing something that lowers your stress. Walk your puppy, read a chapter in a good book, listen to music or a podcast, meditate, make a list, play the piano, sit in a dark room all alone…whatever helps relax you, lower your stress. Stress breaks us down, makes our cortisol rise (which we don’t want) and slowly destroys us. Try to relax every day. Stretch often, get up and move around, walk outside where the air is fresh, take your vitamins, and breathe.
You can do this, one day at a time.
Do you have a tip for creating change in a simple, healthy, sustainable way? Leave us a commnet below!
This week’s Strongfigure Conditioning Workouts: