I am the last person you will find at the gym. I’ve got my yoga mat, I’ve signed up for Barre classes, hot yoga and I’ve hired a trainer. I had my collection of fitness DVD’s (Tae Bo, 30 day shred, Windsor Pilates) that just gathered dust. I’ve made half ass attempts to run and have tried to work out with friends and have had access not only to gym discounts but free gyms at my work place. The only time I was moderately successful was when I had a trainer, I paid a lot of freakin’ money to have someone show me what to do and yell at me when I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough. But trainers are expensive, over the course of a year, I spent probably $1500 and that wasn’t even going every day (between the gym membership and the training sessions). I looked phenomenal! I was in shape, I was toned up and felt confident. But then I ran out of money. Which made me stop going completely. Working out is not my thing. I try to like it, I try to do different things but getting motivated to work out after a long day or waking up an extra 30-40 minutes early to get a work out in is not for me. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to look great, be in shape or feel awesome about my body.
In the last year I’ve tried to make some dramatic changes in not only my diet but in my physical activity in order to drop a few pounds and in hopes of avoiding illness. I noticed a few major changes overall in my health fairly quickly. I eliminated a lot of processed food from diet, almost completely eliminated soda and juice from my diet and I switched from regular milk to either soy or almond. I’m now trying to add more physical activity to my lifestyle in order to combat the holiday eating thats soon to commence and to hopefully drop a few.
Getting in physical activity doesn’t have to be time consuming or take hours a day. I’ve found that by adding it in gradually its helpful in the long run to make it a habit.
Here’s a few of my tips for getting more physically active:
Walk more. This was the first thing I did. Instead of taking the bus to work (which drops me off right at the front door) I opt for the train. The train requires me to walk almost a mile to and from the train station to my job. Its about two blocks from my apartment to the train station. It really takes me just about the same amount of time to take the train than it does the bus, so I’m not altering my morning routine too much (I leave just an extra 5-10 minutes earlier each day). If taking public transportation isn’t an option for you, try parking as far away from the door of your job as possible. Or at lunch time take a walk around the building or find a place to have lunch that you can walk to.
Find excuses to get up and move around at work. Unless you’re working at a call center and you’re literally attached to your desk via a phone cord, find reasons to get up off your butt while you’re at work. On a call and don’t need your computer? Stand up and move around while you’re talking! My desk is at the front of my office so I try to find as many reasons to walk to the other side as possible. I could easily send an email, or make a call, but if it means me getting up and delivering mail to someone on the other side of the office I try to.
Make up for the week on the weekends! I work Monday through Friday, and when I get home the last thing I want to do is clean, work out or run errands. My weeknights I relax, catch up on my TV shows or watch a movie. I try to make my weekends incredibly productive. It usually means boosting my physical activity by cleaning my apartment, running around doing errands (most of which I try not to drive if I can avoid it) and if I’m out shopping, I’m always hopping from store to store. 9 times out of 10 my activity levels are higher on the weekends! I get up early and get so much more done, and usually am wiped out by the end of the day.
Find a workout sequence that you like and try to work it into your schedule. This is what I’m trying to do now. I don’t want to spend an extra 30 minutes in the morning working out. But a quick 10 minute yoga sequence before I hop in the shower, wakes me up a bit and makes me feel like I’m doing a bit more activity in my day. Even if you do it just onceThis one is my favorite:
Getting more physical isn’t the only answer. A healthy diet is really important to maintaining your energy, helping with weight loss and getting in shape or getting healthy.
If you want to make some minor changes to your diet its really a lot easier than you think! I’m always trying to encourage my family to get on the Healthy Train, it doesn’t really work when I’m 300 miles away, but maybe someday. It takes some small steps and some can be more challenging.
Here’s what I did to change my diet:
Cut out pop (I’m from Michigan, we say Pop, deal with it!) and sugary/artificial drinks (including juices). This was a little more challenging when I first started modifying my diet, I drank a TON of Diet Coke. But I could go months without pop now. I never buy juice anymore (there’s often a lot of added sugars) and the few times that I do drink soda or a sugary drink its with alcohol (which now rarely happens). When it comes to juice, I either try to buy one that the only ingredient…is you know…the fruit it comes from. If I had a juicer I’d probably juice my own. I really only drink coffee (1 maybe 2 cups a day), water and tea. If I do drink pop, I try to stick to an italian soda that has limited ingredients (I love the blood orange soda at Trader Joes).
Avoid overly processed foods. I’m not saying you can’t have them at all, I’m certainly not 100% a clean eater, but I’d like to say I’m a good 75% clean. I stopped buying pre-packaged foods, pre-made foods and started making my own. (even my own spaghetti sauce!) For me, its not at all realistic to eat 100% clean. My office often goes to lunch or has lunch brought in by vendors. Some weeks we will have lunch presentations two or three times a week, and then we go out for lunch one day. I can’t control how other people prepare their food. But I do my best to make sure the food I eat at home is as clean as I can get it. I make my own ranch dressing, homemade mac and cheese and occassionally my own frozen burritos (breakfast and regular). As I’m writing this I’m trying to think of the last time I bought a pre-made meal. Occassionally I get a frozen bag of fried rice or similar dinner option, but rarely. My shopping usually consists of veggies, protein, pasta, cheese and fruit.
Cut back on Sugar. Ok this is like 80% true. I don’t eat a lot of sweets in the first place, but I think I eat even less now. Even with a bowl of peanut M&Ms on my desk every day. That was my real test, and has honestly helped me avoid sugar regularly. I still eat cookies, candy and ice cream on occassion. I don’t keep any at home at all, most of the sweets I eat are while I’m at work. I try to limit how much I eat (the weeks before and after Halloween were rough) but I do a pretty good job. I skip the cookies for our lunch presentation typically and try to eat a piece of fruit in the morning for breakfast to satisfy the sweet cravings.
Add more Veggies. I did a total veggie overhaul on my diet. I eat twice as many vegetables as I used to. Instead of just making mac and cheese, I’ll add spinach or broccoli. When I make a lighter pasta I’ll add tomatoes, onions and kale. Since I make my own ranch dressing, I can make it thicker for a dip and slice up some cucumbers and celery for a quick snack. Or I bake up some Kale Chips to snack on. Or if I’m in the mood for a crunch, I whip up my Pepper Pico De Gallo with some tortilla chips.
Everything in moderation. I’ve always operated under the mentatilty that cutting out things completely doesn’t work. Thats why I work towards things gradually (like pop, although I drink almost no pop at all, it took me awhile to cut it out). If I cut out sugar completely I’d totally crave it. Indulging in sugary treats or savory, fatty dishes helps satisfy those cravings. Just do it in moderation. Instead of an entire cookie, eat half (if they’re big of course) or only one slice of pizza instead of two. It can be challenging, but if you work towards moderation instead of complete elimination, it will be helpful.
Some other tips:
Celebrate the victories! Did you walk an extra mile or two over the weekend? Did you go an entire day without drinking soda! Celebrate! It takes a lot of small steps to get where you want to go. Don’t celebrate by eating an entire chocolate cake…but you know…celebrate! Give yourself goals and reward yourself when you meet them! Want to go a whole month without soda? Treat yourself after you’ve accomplished it! Buy a new pair of shoes or treat yourself to dinner at a place you’ve been dying to go. When you reward yourself its more motivation to succeed!
Find someone to help you feel accountable! (or start a blog to document your journey) This blog has helped me feel way more accountable through my finances and soon my fitness plan as well. By sharing it publicly I feel like I owe it to you to be successful! It doesn’t mean having someone to work out with, or someone to pester you about whether or not you had pop today. But someone to cheer you on and share in your success! Help each other out with tips of your own!
Got some other tips to get into shape and change your diet? Share them in the comments!