Let’s start at the very beginning…
The other day while picking up my groceries for my weeks meals at the supermarket, I could see out of the corner of my eye a woman hovering near me, peeking into my shopping cart and inadvertently trying to catch my eye. After a short while of what I felt was her following me down every isle and putting similar items as mine in her shopping cart, she approached me and very politely apologized explaining to me that she wasn’t a creep just was curious as to what I eat and how I train. I happily explained to her my eating and training habits and helped her understand and get an idea of ways she can start to reach her goals.
This is not an uncommon situation. I am often approached with these questions at work and in my everyday life and it has got me thinking that even though healthy food choices and making time for exercise every day is a lifestyle for me now, it wasn’t always this way and I too needed someone to show me the right direction to start with. The majority of the population looking to be healthy doesn’t really know where to start and are often confused by the various diets and fads and stories they have heard and become frustrated and give up even before they even begin. I’ll admit, I was once there too, buying frozen dinners thinking that was healthy, doing loads of cardio, eating only 3 times a day, constantly feeling weak and drained. It took someone to show me down the right path in order to eventually find my way into this healthy lifestyle.
So, in this blog article I wanted to help those of you who may be new and just starting out on your fitness goals. It’s for those of you who are tired of not seeing results and are dedicated to making changes in order to see a new and improved you!
My personal basics:
- If you haven’t already, start by eliminating all processed food & drink from your diet. ie: sodas, candy, white breads and pasta anything made with refined flour and/or sugar. Instead, satisfy your sweet cravings with naturally sweet foods like fruit and unsweetened teas and healthy carbs like sweet potatoes and oatmeal.
- Drink lots of water! Your body is made up of 60 to 70 percent water, water transports oxygen and nutrients to your cells, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs. It gives you constant energy throughout the day and helps keep you full.
- Start every day by eating a healthy breakfast! So many people skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight, but the practice is more likely to cause weight gain than weight loss. By having a healthy breakfast you are kick starting your metabolism which helps your body burn more calories throughout the day.
- Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day, two to three hours apart. Plan ahead, cook your meals at the beginning of the week and make smart choices for each meal by choosing whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and colorful vegetables. Not only does eating 5 to 6 times a day help increase your metabolism, but it also helps you avoid cravings throughout the day.
- Measure out your portion sizes on a scale to avoid overeating. Or another easy way is to cut your existing meals in half. So instead of eating an entire grilled chicken salad all at once, eat half now and half a few hours later.
- Keep a food and exercise diary. I have found that when I write down everything I eat it causes me to be more aware and conscious of what I am putting in my body. It helps you to think about your food choices as well as monitor what you are eating.
- Find your balance between food and physical activity, if your goal is to lose weight, you should be exerting more calories than you are consuming. Start your day off by going for a run outside or swimming laps in the pool at your local gym ( my personal morning cardio favorite J )
- Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Getting adequate sleep is not only essential for your health and wellbeing, but inadequate sleep causes you to eat more (an average of 300 calories more a day) and puts stress on the body which triggers it to slow metabolism and store fat.
- Set time aside every day to hit the gym and get in a good workout. Make going to the gym (or working out at home) a priority! There is no excuse for not getting in a workout, even if you have to split up the time into ½ hr sessions. You won’t be able to reach your goals if you are not willing to put in the work.
- Be realistic about your goals; don’t expect to lose 20lbs in two weeks, it’s neither sensible nor healthy.
The path to good health isn’t the same for everyone, and yours may change over time and evolve into something more tailored to you and your needs, but the basic principles remain the same. Take it one day at a time, every step in the right direction gets you that much closer to your goals. And most importantly, understand that the best way to attain your goals and what you have set out to accomplish lies within you and your willpower to stick to your plan and avoid the temptation to eat badly or skip a day at the gym. Every day will have its challenges but if you determined and you put your heart and soul into it you can and will reach your goals, maybe even sooner than you expect.