On a search for a better world, finding it in the most unlikely places
Let’s face it: most of us could stand to be in better physical condition. With heart disease and diabetes on the rise in all age groups, it should be abundantly clear that we need to give more time and effort into living a healthy lifestyle. Getting fit and staying that way isn’t easy. Infomercials notwithstanding, losing those few extra pounds and toning those love handles requires a lot of sweat and effort. There are a few simple steps that you can take to give yourself a much better chance of success in your battle to maintain a healthy and active life. Here are five ways to gain the upper hand in the war on calories!
1] Be aware.
Fitness is a thought process. Count how many bottles of soda you are consuming in a week. Take the time to read labels and investigate things like sugar/corn syrup/sucra-anything/fat/cholesterol/sodium in the things you are consuming. As soon as you become aware of what you are eating/drinking and in what quantity, your attitude towards food will subconsciously begin to change. Wear a pedometer, estimate your calorie intake, and stay informed.
Educate yourself on healthy/healthier lifestyle choices. Ask your barista, ask the server at your favorite restaurant, talk to your doctor. Visit your local bookstore and buy a couple books on fitness, but steer clear of anything with a sensational title (ie “How to Get the Body You’ve Always Wanted in 60 Days”). If it sounds too good to be true, then it is. Period. Do your research, talk to fitness experts, and heed their advice.
2] Keep it simple.
Complicated diets and/or workouts have a very low success rate. If you have to spend more time trying to track your meals/workouts than you do eating or working out, then you will fail. Period. For beginners, your workout routine should be simple enough for you to easily memorize, and the same goes for diets. Most of us have very limited time to devote to planning meals and filling out ridiculous workout logs. So don’t waste your efforts: find a simple routine based on supported, common sense fitness and stick with it.
3] Take small steps.
I am convinced that most people are unsuccessful in their attempts at fitness because they try to make huge lifestyle changes all at once. Let’s face it: most of us don’t have the willpower or self-discipline to make changes that fast. You didn’t get out of shape instantly, and you’re not going to get back in shape instantly either. Many workouts promise instantaneous results. Bull. Don’t fall victim to the hype! Over TIME you WILL get results by making small decisions. Set achievable goals, and celebrate when you reach them! This strategy is used in debt reduction programs with surprisingly positive results, and it will work for you.
Instead of drinking two bottles of soda a day, drink one. Then drink one can a day. Order non-fat milk in that morning latte (small instead of medium, etc.). Instead of grabbing fast food every day for lunch, skip it twice a week. Then only eat out twice in a week. Over time you will wean your appetite and eventually your chemical dependency on sugar/fat will disappear! The same goes for working out: gradually work your way into a high-intensity, simple routine. Not only will you achieve greater long term success, you will reduce your chances of injury.
4] Bring a friend.
Have a family member or friend help you stay on track. Heck, get a group of friends together and talk about your struggles/challenges/successes! Not only will you stand a much greater chance of achieving your goals, but your friendships will be based on shared adversity and honesty. The bottom line is that you will get better results with a group of people working for the same thing than you could ever achieve on your own.
5] Don’t stop believing!
Keep going, keep your goal in mind, and give it 100% effort. If you want to be fit, then you have to be committed to the journey. Two years ago, I weighed 155 lbs, my diet was terrible (too many frappuccinos), and I was getting sick entirely too often for a 20 year old. Today, I have put on a good 25 pounds of muscle, I run a 6:30 mile, and I get sick maybe twice a year. It has not been an easy journey, or a quick one, but at this point I can do the things I love more often and with more proficiency because I am focused. I’m simply saying that if you make gradual changes, keep your eyes on the goal, and stick with the journey, you will not regret taking the first steps. Your will be able to give more time to the people you love and the things you want to do, and you will enjoy a greater quality of life than most. Here’s to your success, and here’s to hoping that I see you in the gym, on the track, or down the trail! Good luck!