Changing your lifestyle can be really hard. Scratch that. It IS really hard. And it requires a lot of hard work and discipline. This is probably the worst week for me to write this, seeing as how I have blown past my macro goals EVERY single day this week, but hey, maybe this makes me a little more relatable because I am right there struggling with you.
We all know what to do… exercise and eat healthy. Just those two simple things is all. Psssh, yea right. Those are two of the hardest things to do! Eating right all sounds fine and dandy until I see french fries at the restaurant (how quickly I forget what a side salad is…), or when I spot a lone bag of chips in the cupboard that scream for me to open them and indulge while Netflix & Chillin. And working out? That can be even tougher after a long day at work. No time, there’s never any time! (Bonus points for you if you caught the Jessie Spano - Saved By The Bell reference).
So, while diet and exercise can be difficult routines to discipline yourself into, are there any quick and (somewhat) easy ways to whip that butt into shape? Sure there are! Think small, incremental changes, and build from there. No one will become Jillian Michaels overnight, so let’s not start our journey with three hour torture sessions in the gym.
Tip #1: Just Join a Gym
Grand fitness aspirations are… well…. grand, but until you put the pedal to the metal, you aren’t going to go anywhere. Join a gym and commit to not wasting the $50/month fee and actually decide to show up. Start with three days! You still have four left to fiddle around, run errands, be lazy, or just enjoy being home. Even if you only make it for thirty minutes a day in the beginning. You are still thirty minutes ahead of the couch potatoes. Besides, knowing you are sinking money into a gym and not going should make you feel bad. Don’t make yourself bad.
Tip #2: Cut (Some) Crap
Clean eating is hard. Like ridiculously hard. Everything yummy and delicious is processed, full of fat, made with artificial sweeteners, or loaded with GMO’s. It’s so frustrating! If eating donuts were easy though, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Rather than dumping everything in your pantry and replacing it with green, leafy vegetables all at once, try changing up your daily snacking habits. Let your meals be what they are, for now. Let’s focus on one change at a time. Snacks can make your daily fat intake go 0 to 100… real quick. Healthy snacks, like fruits and veggies, and protein bars will fill you up without breaking your daily calorie bank. Hey, if you like rice cakes, eat rice cakes! Just trade in those calorie-sucking snacks for healthy alternatives. We can migrate into healthy meal choices later.
Tip #3: Buy a Good Book
If you’re more the magazine type, get a subscription. In college I was totally addicted to US Weekly and People. Ok, so maybe that addiction hasn’t completely gone away… but either way, I would only let myself continue reading a total page turner, or indulge in some celebrity gossip while I was working out. Some may say, you obviously aren’t working out hard enough if you can read magazines. Tomato, tomatoe… it was enough motivation to get my butt to the gym at least four times a week until I made it enough of a habit that I went regardless. And right, at this point, I am usually too fatigued to read and workout, but it got me over the initial hump.
Tip #4: Replace Your Liquids
If you are already a pure water drinker, bravo. You may pass go and collect $200. If you’re like me and you enjoy the occasional (ok, often) energy drink or sugary soda, then make it a point to replace these with water. Cutting down on your caffeine can be excruciating if your body thinks it needs it (like mine does), so I am not suggesting cold turkey on this either. If you are heavy consumer, try trading in half of your daily intake for water. If you are a light consumer, cut down on half of your weekly intake and replace with water. Slowly up your water intake over time and decrease your shitty liquid intake. And the moral of this story… a cup of coffee every day isn’t going to kill you. If caffeine killed, I would be dead. If it makes you happy, drink it! Just keep the end goal in mind: a half gallon of water (64 ounces) each and every day.
Tip #5: Cut Down on the Party Scene
I love going out as much as any other ex-sorority-girl-turned-mommy does. But late nights are detrimental to healthy eating and next-day workouts. For starters, a night out can easily add hundreds of calories to your daily food intake (e-a-s-i-l-y). And what about that late night pizza afterwards? Nothing says love handles like pepperoni slices dipped in ranch at 3AM. And as for following any sort of fitness plan the next day? Unless you mean staggering between your bed and the bathroom, nothing else is happening. This isn’t to say going out is bad. It isn’t. I believe it is necessary for survival in this real-life adult world. However, just keep these nights in moderation. Besides, drunken party girl dancing on the bar was age-appropriate at 21. Not so much at 31.
Tip: Vodka-water is one of the lowest calorie drink options. Garnish with a lemon and/or lime for added flavor. Just in case you’re wondering…
Tip #6. Reward Yo-self
This one is by far my favorite! And it is the easiest one to do (after putting in all the hard work, of course). Give yourself a tangible reward for sticking to your new fitness and/or diet plan. Make it a daily reward, a weekly reward, or a larger monthly reward. Make it something you wouldn’t normally buy yourself, or allow yourself to do. Many hardcore fitness people take a weekly cheat meal and stuff their faces with cheeseburgers or pizza (which just so happen to be my regular go-to meals). Some people find material things rewarding, like buying new workout clothes every time they reach a fitness milestone. Other cool things I’ve heard are people who agree to pay themselves an allowance each week for reaching certain goals ($50/week, don’t mind if I do). Pick something fun that makes you excited and gets you going on the right track.
Getting fit and eating right don’t have to be as torturous as people make them out to be. Small changes can set the gears in motion for life changing habits. Start small, but think big!
What are some quick & easy tips you have for getting started with a healthy lifestyle?