It seems to me sometimes that fitness is sooooo complicated. You have to eat this. Work out like this, not that. I think what happens is that we equate fitness with losing weight. They aren't necessarily the same. And while I may run the risk of giving the impression that I think NO ONE needs to lose, in my opinion, often it's not "weight loss" that people need; it's just to get healthy and gain healthier habits. The accompanying weight loss is just a by product of making healthy changes to your lifestyle.
Which brings me to the topic on hand today. What are some easy things that ANYONE can do to lead a healthier and happier life? What good is health if you're miserable, right? So I've come up with a short list of ten things that any of us can do to get on the right path. There's nothing scientific about them and honestly, no studies were done. But after over 20 years of working in the weight loss/health care/fitness industry and a lifetime of battling my own body image related demons (I kicked their butts!!!); I'm going to consider myself someone who knows what they're talking about. Put me on the stand and make me expert witness! Here we go.....
1. Get rid of your scale! - We get fixated on a number that really doesn’t mean anything. Ditch the scale! Most of the time, it’s not going to tell you what you want to hear anyway. It's not your friend! That number doesn't necessarily mean anything. Instead, measure your progress by how you feel and how your clothes fit.
2. Make small changes. – Don’t think you have to commit to exercising 2 hours 5 days a week. Or restrict your calories to 800 or some other outrageous number. Make small changes like giving up (or reducing) the amount of soda you drink. Drink 8 glasses of water. Forego having bread for a couple of meals a day. Small and smart changes add up and are easier to make a part of your lifestyle. One of my favorite sayings is, "Little and often fills the pot". This applies to so many things, even a healthy lifestyle. Small changes practiced often lead to healthy results.
3. Commit to make exercise part of your lifestyle. – You don’t have to kill yourself, just commit to do some physical activity every day. Commit to SWEAT every day. Even if it’s only for 20 minutes to start. Again, don't go NUTS! Don't try to do something that you're not going to be about to keep up with for a lifetime. Just commit to MOVE everyday...in some way...yoga, zumba, rumba or some other fun thing ending in "a"!
4. Change the voices in your head. – The voices in our heads tend to tell us a lot of negative stuff. Think about this: If someone came up and said to you even half of the stuff you say to yourself, you'd slap their face. You wouldn't let someone disrespect you and talk to you like you're nothing; so why do you disrespect and talk to yourself like that? Quit allowing those voices to say things to you that you wouldn’t allow anyone else to say to you! Make those voices talk nice and respectfully to you. Your body will respond in kind!
5. Listen to your body. – Really listen. Is it hungry? Feed it what it needs. Is it tired? Give it rest. Is it stressed? Help it relax. Listen to your body and get to know it. Your body and your brain don’t always agree. Most of the time, it’s your body that’s right! Your body can do more than what your brain says it can! Again, that's why we HAVE to feed our brain, right, positive, motivating, loving thoughts.
6. Sleep 7-8 hours a night. - Period. End of story. Our bodies need to rest and regenerate. We are complex machines that require a lot of energy just to move. Just to digest food. Our bodies need sleep as a time for it to perform routine maintenance. I hear you. "Serene, I just have too much to do. I just can't go to bed until this stuff is done." YES. YOU. CAN! That "to do" list that we cling to will still be there when you wake up.
7. Stay away from sugar. – There is nothing healthy that comes from sugar. It puts fat on us. It wreaks havoc on our moods. It prevents us from knowing what real hunger feels like. Cut down SIGNIFICANTLY on the amount of sugar you take it and you’ll see a HUGE change in your body AND how you feel. I'm not saying never have another sweet. But consider how much sugar you're having every day and then make ways to decrease that.
8. Incorporate strength training. – Muscles burn fat. Muscle is what spurs your metabolism. Build lean muscle and you are building a fat fighting furnace! It's okay to get off the treadmill. You won't blow up and get fat. Move rapidly through strength training moves and you'll still get the cardio benefit that you get from the treadmill.
9. Eat real food. – You want butter? Eat REAL butter. You want chocolate? Eat really GOOD chocolate. Sour cream? Don’t go fat free. The flavor that it loses from eliminating the fat is replaced by sugar and chemicals. Eat REAL food. You’ll find that it takes less to satisfy you and you’ll enjoy it sooooo much more. Often we binge on foods because we never feel satisfied. We're trying to feed our bodies with nutrition deprived foods and so our bodies keep wanting more. But, and this is where the listening to your body comes in, our bodies are asking for FOOD, not junk. We don't put water in our gas tank and expect our car to run. That's ridiculous, right? And yet, we put nutrient deficient food into our bodies and then want those bodies to perform. Doesn't work that way. Eat REAL. A good rule of thumb: most of what really feeds your body is along the perimeter of the grocery store. Dairy, fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, etc...those are real foods and they aren't in the aisles. It's the processed and over sugared foods that are in the aisle shelves. Keep along the perimeter and you'll do fine!
10. Build relationships with those you love. – Oh, I could wax poetic about this for hours on end! There’s so much more to life than what size pants we wear, or if we look like a super model in our swimsuit. Build relationships with the people that you love. Live for them, NOT what you look at in the mirror. Your workouts and your body are not the end....they are the MEANS to an end. That end being that you live longer and stronger for and with the people you love! Something that we all need to be reminded of from time to time.