We all know health and fitness are important. Goodness know there are enough articles, experts, and fads out there telling us to eat this, avoid that, do this weird exercise every other day while standing on your head and facing east. I, for one, just don’t have the time, energy, or patience to keep up with it all. I value a balanced diet and solid fitness routine and I strive to live a healthy life, but I need it all to line up with my lifestyle. I don’t have it in me to spend hours at the gym each day while furiously counting every animal, vegetable, vitamin, and mineral I put in my mouth. So over the years I’ve tried to cultivate a healthy lifestyle; I avoid dieting, fads, and excessive exercise, as I know these are not sustainable for me. I do workout everyday, but I make sure it accommodates my schedule. I have stumbled upon an eating routine that also works for me without leaving me feeling deprived or breaking the bank. Before sharing my health and fitness tips, I ran them by a professional personal trainer to ensure their overall validity. Because these habits work for me, he deemed them legitimate. But I do want to preface this by saying, I am in good shape. I’ve always led an active lifestyle, maintained a fairly healthy diet, and when I do feel the need to drop a few pounds, it’s never more than five or six. I say this because I don’t want any false expectations regarding the results of my tips. For me, they keep me in shape, provide me with reliable, sustainable energy throughout the day, and help me manage my overall health. If you’re desiring more significant results, perhaps try combining these tips with more aggressive calorie reduction and exercise.
Watch What You Eat
First off, I realized long ago that counting every calorie and analyzing each piece of food I put into my body is not conducive to my daily life. Being single in a big city, I find myself eating out quite a bit, or taking my meals on the go or at my desk. I like to eat when I’m hungry; I don’t want to deprive myself or wait until my next designated meal time. With that in mind, I decided to simply cut out sugar and carbs as much as possible. For me, this doesn’t take much mental effort. It’s easy for me to discern what items on a menu or in the grocery store are packed with these gut growers. And when in doubt, I just check on the back of the package. When at a restaurant, I stick to obvious sources of protein; fish, turkey, chicken, certain vegetables, etc. I just avoid pastas, breads, potatoes, rice, and sources of starch like that. Sure, some sugar and carbs slip in, but by avoiding them as much as possible, I greatly reduce my intake. But don’t get me wrong, I allow myself splurges. After all, the key is sustainability, and without a treat from time to time, I’d inevitably fail.
… But Make Sure To Eat Breakfast
On the no-sugar, no-carb note, I stopped starting off each morning with cereal or oatmeal. Well, actually, I first started EATING BREAKFAST. We’ve heard it all our lives: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When I was in my twenties, I had better things to do – like sleeping in an extra twenty minutes. But as a 30-something, I am now far wiser (and less capable of lazing away in bed), so I figured I’d give this mystical meal a try. I first started by downing a quick bowl of cereal, but quickly found it left me hungry soon after, so I’ve since switched to eating protein in the morning. I start each day with either two hard-boiled eggs or with a protein shake and protein bar. Because I don’t typically have the time or desire to boil eggs in the morning, I do this task each Sunday, boiling 12 of them and then sticking them in the fridge. Easy-peasy on those mornings I’m in a rush. As for those days I don’t fancy an egg, I eat a protein bar and wash it down with a protein shake. Though this is a fairly high-calorie breakfast, the protein keeps me full for hours. I’m also careful to choose brands low in sugar – Muscle Milk for the shake and Power Crunch for the bar.
Walk A Mile (In Your Own Shoes)
Another change I’ve made is walking; I walk as frequently as possible. Because I live in Los Angeles, this is not always easy, but I make it work. Anywhere within walking distance – like the dry cleaners, Starbucks, or the market – I hot-foot it rather than using wheels. This isn’t exactly strenuous cardio, but I figure it’s something. And something is always better than nothing. If you live in an area where walking to the store or nail salon is not an option, try adding it into other activities. Rather than just letting your dog into the backyard to pee, take Fido for a 20-minute jaunt by foot. If you have a long driveway, walk to the mailbox or to take out the trash – this is really only applicable for those of you way out in rural America. Get creative and get moving – even if it’s just for ten minutes. For me, I walk when possible and then take my dogs out three times a day. While none of these are marathon-length activities, they still get me moving throughout the day.
On that note, exercise whenever you can. I love going to the gym, but some days it just doesn’t fit into my schedule. So, I do mini-workouts whenever possible. For instance, when I’m unwinding at night in front of the TV, I do push-ups, but not ordinary ones. I face the television, place my feet on a chair with my hands shoulder-width apart on the floor. Essentially, it’s a push-up position but with your feet elevated on a chair, stool or flat surface. At first, I could only squeeze out ten before face-planting into the floor. But slowly I’ve worked up to fifty. They are hard, but well worth it, and easy to do anywhere. I also found some yoga poses online – vinyasa-style, as this is more aerobic than other types – and I go through the sequence while I cook, like while waiting for water to boil. Basically, when I have down-time, I try to use it in physically-productive ways. Obviously, not every minute of free time do I use in this manner – after all, a girl needs time to breathe.
Water, water, water… and iced tea. I used to drink soda like it was going out of style, but when I decided to reduce my sugar intake, this habit was the first to go – and the hardest to kick. So, I just started swigging water… constantly. I found that it made me so full and quenched my thirst so effectively, it also ridded me of my soda craving – at least for the hour. Then when my tongue would start tingling for a Coke, I’d just drink more water. I sometimes substitute iced tea for some flavor, which just further helps to flush me out as it’s a diuretic. I know water is nothing new, and we’re constantly inundated with its benefits, but the sheer fact that it helped me kick my Coke addiction makes it my most valuable tool. I always knew it was good for me and I should drink more, but seeing it accomplish this and witnessing the ways it curbs my appetite was truly an unexpected and welcomed surprise.
Let us know what tips you swear by to stay healthy!