Sunday, January 8, 2017

Kickstart Your New Healthy Life Right Now

I think it's safe to say that one of the most popular resolutions or goals that people have in the new year is to lose weight and/or get healthier.  I can't say that that hasn't been one of my goals for the past... oh, I don't know, million years I suppose.  Every year I tell myself that this is the year that I get my dream body!  I've yet to actually do it, but hey, maybe this is my year!

Regardless of whether you have some weight to shed or if you're just looking to have a healthier lifestyle, I have some tips to easily kick start your new year, as well as some pitfalls to avoid.  As someone who has been on a weight loss journey for about 15 years, I've learned a thing or two.  I've been up and down with my weight and have lost a total of 70 pounds over the course of that time.  It's been quite a journey and one that will probably be life-long, but I've enjoyed the ebbs and flows of it all anyway.  So let's get on with some tips and some things to watch out for!

Tip 1/ Watch The Calories In Drinks
It's been said before so this certainly isn't groundbreaking, but kicking soda and other sugary drinks out of your life will be life-changing.  Don't get me wrong, I like a crazy fattening Starbucks drink every once in a while like anyone, but drinking them all the time is just insane.  The same goes for soda, sweet teas and energy drinks.  None of that is good for you, so just stop drinking it.  Diet soda isn't exactly the greatest substitute, but it sure beats regular soda.  Ideally, you should be drinking mainly water.  If you still crave a little carbonation, drink some seltzer water.  There are tons of flavors to try, and while it takes some getting used to, you'll like it in the long run!

Pitfall 1/ Just Because It's Natural Doesn't Mean It's Healthy
We've all seen the pre-made foods in the store that have the words "natural" and "organic" in big, happy letters enticing you to buy them.  It's been ingrained in our heads lately that both of those words automatically mean that this must be good and is definitely healthy,  but this isn't necessarily the case.  When we drill down to it, macaroni and cheese can be as natural and organic as it wants to be, but it's still macaroni and cheese, and is still going to be a bad choice over something with lean protein and greens.  I used to buy the natural frozen foods from Amy's and Evol, but once I actually looked at the label I stopped.  I was blowing almost 500 calories on my lunch!  And there weren't even vegetables or anything remotely healthy in the meal.  Don't be tricked by those words!  Make sure your meal is balanced.  As they say, eat the rainbow!

Tip 2/ Meal Prep Will Save You
There is nothing worse than coming home from a long day at work and having to cook.  Or looking in your refrigerator and seeing nothing in there.  So you end up calling for delivery and get something that is way less healthy for you than something you could whip up in your kitchen.  That's why meal prep is an absolute savior.  If you're like me, I can eat the same thing over and over and over again for weeks before I get tired of it.  I know that you should be switching your meals up to keep your body guessing, but eating the same thing for a week straight certainly isn't going to kill you.  Plus it saves you the aggravation of having to put any effort into food throughout the week!  Also, if you're able to steal some room at work, you can bring in enough food to last you for lunch for the week and not have to worry about getting sucked into something unhealthy in your lunch room.  I usually bring enough supplies to make salad for the week and it really helps me from making bad choices!

Pitfall 2/ Just Because You're Working Out Doesn't Mean You Can Overeat
This is something you will struggle with if you're new to exercising.  Your metabolism just starts getting crazy and you just want to eat everything all the time.  If I don't work out for a long time, when I get myself back into a routine, it takes me a couple weeks before I get my eating habits in check.  If you're hungry, try drinking some water.  If that doesn't satisfy you, make sure to keep some healthy snacks on hand so you don't eat something bad.  At least this way you're satisfying your hunger!  Also, if you're tracking your steps with a FitBit or your phone, don't think that just because you hit your 10,000 steps for the day that it means you can eat more.  It doesn't.  If you're having trouble with monitoring how many calories you're burning and what you're eating, try writing things down or using an app like My Fitness Pal to keep track.  That can really be an eye-opener!

Tip 3/ Stop Buying Bad Food 
This seems like a no-brainer, but it isn't always easy to break this habit.  Food addiction is a real thing, especially with sugary treats.  It seems like different foods can affect your moods differently.  I remember my Mom and I went on LA Weightloss and for three days we couldn't eat carbs.  My poor Dad must have been at his wits end since both of us were insanely cranky from not eating carbs.  Have you ever missed your morning cup of coffee or didn't drink as much soda as you normally do and start getting a headache?  That's caffeine withdrawal.  So yes, while it seems like it's an easy thing to not buy the food that you know you shouldn't be eating, it isn't as easy as you might think.  Try your hardest to be strong when you're shopping.  Afterall, you're less likely to eat something if it isn't readily available.  There's been days when all I want is a cupcake but I have no idea where to go to get one that's easily accessible.  So I don't have a cupcake.  Problem solved!

Pitfall 3/ Allow Yourself To Indulge
On the flipside of that tip, if you're really craving something, allow yourself a small bit of what you're craving.  Maybe all you want is chips because you normally would eat an entire bag or a good portion of one in one sitting.  Maybe get yourself just one snack size bag and enjoy that.  Or if you're a sweets person, go somewhere and get one cupcake or ice cream cone or whatever sweet you're craving.  Allow yourself to have treats in moderation, but where you're able to, don't buy in bulk or else you're going to feel obligated to eat more than just one of that thing.  If you are craving something and you put off that craving, you're more likely to end up binging on it.  We're all human and we're all imperfect.  We're going to falter sometimes, and that's okay!  Allow yourself a treat every once in a while.  Eating healthfully is hard stuff, so you deserve a break!

Tip 4/ Get Moving!
Again, this probably seems like a no-brainer, but get moving!  Even if it's just a little bit every day.  If you go from not exercising to exercising a couple times a week you're going to start noticing some results!  When you drastically start changing your lifestyle, your body is going to react.  If you're just starting out, don't push yourself too hard.  Once you get into a rhythm you're going to get to know your body, and you'll know when you're uncomfortable because you're pushing yourself and when you're uncomfortable because what you're doing is actually painful.  Get to know your body because your exercise shouldn't be painful.  There's going to be discomfort, especially if you're doing something you've never done before, so make sure to know the difference.  

Pitfall 4/ Don't Quit The Weekends
It seems like you should have all the time in the world on the weekends to fit your workout in and maintain your healthy eating, right?  But somehow it seems like life always gets in the way.  Maybe you have a day trip planned or a night out with your friends, or maybe you've just had a very hectic week and you just want to sit on your couch and do nothing.  All of that is well and good, but be aware of what you're doing and eating.  If you have plans to be out all day, maybe wake up a little bit early and get a quick workout in before you start your day.  Take a look at a menu for the restaurant you're going to before you go so you can have an idea of a healthy choice without having to be tempted by some of the unhealthy choices.  And maybe, just maybe, plan your weekend around your new healthy lifestyle!  Maybe there's a really cool park near you that you can go walk around in, or a new healthy recipe you've been wanting to try.  Make this new healthy lifestyle a priority because, while you can allow some cheating, you don't want to ruin all the hard work you've been doing all week.

Tip 5/ Listen To Your Body
I talked about this already a little bit, but I can't stress the importance of getting in tune with your body enough.  One of the best ways to do this is through mindfulness training.  It's not easy right off the bat and it might seem a little stupid and not worth your time, but I promise that if you make it a habit, you will start to get to know your body in a totally different way.  And once you are in hyper tune with your body, it's amazing the things you'll start to pick up on.  You'll be a lot more aware of whether you're eating because you're hungry or eating because you're bored; you'll be able to understand how certain workouts are making your body feel, and subsequently how your body is feeling when you don't work out or have a day where you don't eat too well.  You can really start to understand how cool your body is when you really give your mind the time to get to know it.  Gosh, that sounds cheesy, but I promise it's true!  So where do you start?  Search for mindfulness on YouTube or your app store and there will be tons of options.  One of my favorite apps is Stop. Breath. Think.  It allows you to tell it how you're feeling that day, how your body is feeling, as well as the option to enter some of your emotions.  It then caters the mindfulness options for the day to how you're feeling and walks you through a session.  The app is free and comes with a few sessions, but the option to buy more are also offered.  Give it a week or so before you really start to get good at it.

Pitfall 5/  Know What Workouts Will Work For You
This is probably something that is going to come from trial and error, but it's definitely worth trying out a couple different workouts instead of just committing to a certain niche gym or workout class.  YouTube is amazing for this since you can try pretty much any type of workout on there for free!  I've done kickboxing, yoga, pilates, barre, HIIT and more, all without leaving my living room.  Give this a try, but maybe also see if you can get a free trial at a gym.  I feel like I tend to push myself a little harder when I'm in a class, but I know that I don't have the time to go to the gym, so I just fit in a home workout when I can.  It isn't perfect, but I do what I can, and that's a good way to start!  

Now I want to hear from you!  Tell me about some of your tips and pitfalls so we can all learn from each others journeys!

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