It’s true, 2018 is here and we all hit the restart button on life. The new year is the perfect time to give yourself goals and create strategies for life that could create greater positivity and happiness. One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is health and fitness – admittedly, this has definitely been one of mine in the past, but overtime, I have evolved it to be less about losing certain amounts of weight and to be more opened ended for holistic health and wellness. Finding the right goals and routine for you is important in achieving any goal, and with a few guided steps, those who need help in formulating a plan can successfully find true results.
STEP ONE: Finding The Time For You
One of the hardest hurdles to overcome is finding time. We all have chaotic schedules with spouses, children, jobs, day-to-day chores and the other random stuff that may pop up in life. The important thing to remember is that you run your own schedule, and sometimes you have to sacrifice to make time for yourself. Set aside 30 minutes every night or even a full hour four to five nights each week to work toward your goals. Overtime, give yourself more and more time to continually expand your goals – the more your work out, the more working out you’ll need to do to keep achieving your goals.
STEP TWO: Get Out Of The House
Too many people start their journey at home with a small set of weights and a treadmill – to some, this may work, but to many who failed at fitness time and time again, you need the public motivation. Personally, being around others that I see achieving greater goals than mine motivates me to be better because I know that I can achieve exactly what others are achieving. Having a gym membership may be intimidating, but separating home and fitness helps to keep your fitness routine active and not lazy. Finding the right gym setting for you is important – not everyone will be successful in a traditional gym. Some may find success in a group fitness setting, like yoga or cycling, while others may need more aggressive sports, like rugby or martial arts. My husband and I are prime examples of this, in that he seeks fitness through sports and organized activities, while I prefer individual gym sessions or group fitness classes. We each have worked toward our goals while enjoying the exercise we do.
STEP THREE: Hold Yourself Accountable And Find Someone Who Will Support You
You may be able to motivate yourself to workout, but continually motivating yourself gets old and you easily can become lazy. I have found that when you have someone to hold you reliable for your actions, you feel greater guilt in performing negative actions, like eating bad food or failing to go to the gym. For those who have the money, a personal trainer or life coach is incredibly helpful once you find one that works with your style of motivation. They assist you in creating a program that holds you accountable and gives you the results you desire. For those like many of us who don’t have the dollars to drop, a friend going through or that has gone through a similar journey can help you. Start by asking them to send you motivational texts, check in to see if you’re achieving your goals, or even text them every meal to tell them what you’re eating. If you feel guilty about sending that text, you probably know you’re not properly fueling your goals.
STEP FOUR: Detox Your Garbage Food Habits
This is THE HARDEST part of any fitness routine – the “diet”. I absolutely despise the word diet because too many of us hear diet and think starvation, but it’s really about nutrition and fueling your body. Too many people see food as a comfort zone or a second thought in fitness when it really attributes to over 50% to reaching your fitness goals. Going cold turkey on the things you love is really not going to help you – you’ll just binge later and end of hurting yourself. Start by eliminating one bad food group at a time. For me, I always struggle with sweets, but I first started by eliminating processed sugar (mostly due to an intolerance I had), and slowly moved my way to replacing desserts with fruit and healthy baking like dark chocolate protein muffins versus sugary brownies or cupcakes. Overtime (and yes, it will take a VERY long time before you see the difference), your body will find the taste of real sugar to be overly sweet and kind of disgusting. Adjusting your habits to healthier options is not something you will love right away, and probably won’t love in two or three months, but give yourself the time to adjust and you will soon find the habits becoming your daily reality.
Personally, I try to eliminate as much sugar as possible, in addition to minimal dairy (switching to soy or nut milk is another great step), and use ingredient swapping like changing starch rice to riced cauliflower or making baked chicken breast versus fried chicken. At first, everything will taste bland and unfulfilling, but find seasonings to spice things up and add sauces that are healthy and flavorful to assist.
TYPICAL FOOD SWAPS TO START YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY
- French Fries – Use thinly sliced sweet potatoes or red potatoes and bake them in the oven instead of frying in oil. Use Greek yogurt, dill and garlic to create a creaming dipping sauce instead of ketchup or ranch dressing.
- Tacos – Use romaine lettuce instead of tortillas and ground turkey instead of beef for a learner meat. Skip the sour cream and use plain greek yogurt.
- Ice Cream – Whip nonfat cream with a pinch of coconut sugar and freeze it for a sweet, but light treat. Serve with fruit or a light drizzle of melted dark chocolate (80%+ cocoa).
- Salad with Dressing – Although, not bad, swap traditional salad with the works and heavy dressing for a light, fun salad. Spiralize a cucumber into a bowl, add black olives, fat-free feta cheese, whole cherry tomatoes and diced red onion to your proportional liking. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Chips – Rice cakes are the perfect crunchy swap. Add all-natural peanut butter to the top for a protein boost (store upside down to prevent oil separation).
- Bread – Opt for a gluten-free or whole grain option versus traditional white bread. You’ll gain more fiber and healthy ingredients your body can use for energy.
STEP FIVE: Meal Prepping and Cooking
It’s crucial that your go-to meals aren’t fast food or processed snacks. These types of foods throw you off, but for those with an on-the-go life, it’s important that you set a little time aside to cook and prep food for the week. When I grocery shop, I love to buy snacks that can easily be grabbed and eaten, like yogurt, fruit cups, granola bars or single-serve rice cakes. With a few minutes at the beginning of your week, you can bake or individually package easy meals and snacks, like sliced fruit, chicken and vegetables, protein muffins and quinoa bowls. Creating convenience is important because it’s easy to not want to cook dinner when you’ve had a crazy day, so having food available is important to maintain your goals.
— Coming Soon: Check out an upcoming post on cooking subscription delivery services! —
STEP SIX: Rewards Are O.K., But Manage Them With Limits
Depriving yourself of the good things is going to cause a major backfire and relapsing into the circle that caused you to create these goals in the first place. Don’t take yourself back and reward yourself when you do great. Rewarding doesn’t mean treating yourself to the all-you-can-eat buffet twice a week, but giving yourself a little gratification will go a long way. Are you a sweet tooth addict? Make a bet against yourself – for each week, make the goal to not eat processed sugar and when you reach the end of the week and hit your goal, treat yourself to a doughnut or two scoops of ice cream. Don’t go overboard and add tons of toppings or make it a full “cheat day,” but give yourself something to look forward to – ONE THING. That’s the most important factor, keeping it to one thing and not plates full of spoilers, and it’s important that you earn it.
STEP SEVEN: Turn Fitness Into Fun
Find a routine that is fun for you and your family. Create co-workouts with your friends or spouse, take your kids to a trampoline park instead of the gym, or invite your family to help cook dinner with you. Showing them you dedication to being active and healthy is important to grow relationships and this could be an opportunity to build bonds with others. If you’re not having fun with fitness, you’re going to lose your motivation quickly to keep an active routine. Change your routine with season, allowing for more outdoor activity in the warmer months and find fun indoor activities for winter. Explore local options that may be great, like skiing or running local forest preserve paths.