Getting In Shape and Maintaining Excellent Health
In today's busy world it is easy to become complacent about our health and well being, and too often, we wait until we are over weight or have health problems to decide to address our health. Consumed with work, school, family, and friends, people often forget how important it is to form a healthy diet and exercise routine and commit to it. When it has been a while since you have tried to get in shape it can seem a bit intimidating, but do not worry. I have provided 7 steps you can follow to lose weight, get healthy, and stay healthy.
The first thing to remember when establishing a diet and exercise routine is that EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! Everyone is going to have different goals, health levels, and fitness abilities so there is no one size fits all way to lose weight. For this reason, it is important for each person to evaluate their fitness and health needs to be successful in their journey to great health and weight loss. With that being said, the first step to losing weight is to …
1. SET A GOAL
The first step to losing weight is to set a goal for what you are trying to do and why. Maybe you are getting married soon, have a high school reunion coming up, or are just tired of being too tired to do the things you love. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to get healthy, you need to write them down. Put them somewhere where you can see them so you can remind yourself of your goals.
You also need to give yourself a time frame for completing your target goals. Is the wedding in two months? Do you have a date this weekend? Understand how long you have to get in shape and this will help you decide how to structure your workout plan. Understanding the time frame you have in which to lose weight will also help you know how much can actually be accomplished. Which brings us to the next step to losing weight …
2. BE REALISTIC
There are several factors that contribute to a person's ability to lose a certain amount of weight and the methods that they can use to do so. Therefore, it is important to be realistic about your weight loss goals and the routine you are establishing to accomplish them. You may want to lose 20 lbs by this weekend to look great for your date; but this goal is not too realistic. Even if you were able to lose this amount of weight in that small amount of time, it would be very unhealthy and you may end up in a hospital rather than a restaurant. So be realistic with how long it should take you to meet your health goals and understand, realistically, what it will take to get there. You may want to only work out 10 minutes a day and eat Taco Bell for breakfast. This plan will realistically not get you healthy and chances are you will not lose any weight either. So understand the components to getting healthy.
You need to plan a healthy diet on a daily basis and establish a moderate workout routine that is challenging but will not burn you out. A lot of people will begin working out for an hour a day and realize that this is more difficult than they anticipated and give up. Do not short change your success. Determine a realistic amount of time to workout for, you can always increase this as your fitness increases. This brings me to the next step …
3. SET A PLAN YOU CAN CAN STICK TO
You will only be able to reach your fitness goals if you are able to stick to your workout routine and diet on a consistent basis. For this reason it is imperative that you set a statute that you can realistically commit to. There are several things that need to be considered when doing this.
You need to consider the time you have to workout. If you are busy parent, full-time student, or have a full work schedule you may not be able to workout everyday. So based on your schedule you need to determine how many days a week you can commit to working out.
You also need to consider your current fitness level when you begin your routine. If your endurance is low, that's okay. Do not try to workout for longer than what is physically possible for you. Challenge yourself but do not be a hero. Overworking yourself does not count if you can not be consistent or you injure yourself.
Also, know what types of exercises work best for you. All of us have tried new workouts that we found to be boring or did not make us feel like we were getting the most out of our workout time. If there are certain exercises or activities that have worked for you in the past, revisit them. If you enjoy swimming, jogging, tennis, or other sports, incorporated those into your routine as well. Remember, you do not have to limit yourself to a gym, one routine, or one piece of exercise equipment. You will get in shape faster and enjoy it more if you add variety to what you are doing.
Finally, diet is a significant component to weight loss. Unfortunately, many weight loss programs fail because they do not address the diet. Diet does not mean that you can not eat food that tastes good. Let's be honest, it can be hard to make it through the week without at least one soda, bag of chips, or piece of fudge cake. But you do need to know how to limit the junk and increase the good stuff- fruits, veggies, protein, and some carbs. And of course, this brings me to the next step to weight loss …
4. IDENTIFY YOUR WEAKNESSES
Superman had kryptonite, you may have key lime pie. Regardless of what it is, everyone has a weakness when it comes to sticking to a healthy diet. Do your best to replace unhealthy snacks with healthy ones. There are a wide variety of great tasting, healthy snacks that will make you feel great about sticking to your diet. Try replacing a candy bar with some dried fruit, or replace soda with carbonated flavored water. You can satisfy the same craving but do so in a way that is more healthy.
If there are certain things that you can not live without, try to limit them. You may not be a ray of sunshine in the morning without a full dose of coffee. But instead of two or three cups, try just one and a protein bar, fresh fruit, or V8 juice. These alternatives will provide your body with healthy energy and contribute to your weight loss goals.
Finally, know your physical weaknesses. If the mornings just are not your thing, do not try to get up 2 hours before you usually would to exercise. As noble as this may seem, you probably will not be doing this for long. So pick a time that is comfortable and you will be able to stick to your plan more easily. Also, you have to acknowledge any health conditions or injuries you may have before establishing a workout plan. If you have joint injuries or arthritis, you may want to focus on low impact exercises and cardio. If you have asthma, you may need to pace yourself or take breaks while exercising. Knowing your physical weaknesses will prevent injury and enable you to have longevity in your fitness journey.
5. MAKE IT FUN
Everyone knows that you can not do any thing for long if it is boring or miserable. You will not stay motivated and your heart will not be in it. So make it fun. You can join a dance fitness class or start your own workout group with friends. You can listen to music that inspires you while you workout or find a peaceful place to workout at. If your environment is fun and inspiring, you will have more energy and motivation while working out. You will want to go more often and stay longer. If you are around people with similar fitness goals while exercising, you can find motivation from their hard work and results.
You can also make your diet fun. This sounds like an oxymoron right? But trying new recipes, taking a healthy cooking class or throwing a "make healthy meals" party with your friends can bring new inspiration to a boring or monotonous diet. Do not be afraid to try something new. Remember, the goal is change, and you can only change your health by changing your activity level and what you eat.
6. STAY POSITIVE AND MOTIVATED
Remember the goals you set in step 1? If you do, you are already half way there. Posting your goals so that you can remember them will help you stay focused and motivated. You may try making a collage of your goals. If there is a dress you want to fit into, put a picture of it on the collage. If you want to wear a certain swim suit to the beach this summer, put a picture of the suit or the beach on the collage. These items will serve as a visual representation of your goals so that you can remember exactly why you are punishing yourself so much.
Allow yourself breaks and down time as well. No one wants to work non-stop. You can stay motivated by setting specific days to take a break from your workouts and diet. Go out with friends, play with your kids, take your dog for a walk, and try to gain inspiration from the world around you so you can be refreshed for your next workout day.
Please, do not use a scale as your indicator for success. Often times we will look great long before we have made a dent in the number we see on the scale. Know that your diet and workouts are making you healthy on the inside and this will be reflected on the outside. Rejoice in your increased energy and the knowledge that you are sticking to your goals. And if you are still not happy with your amount of weight loss, re-evaluate your fitness plan and modify it to see the changes you are looking for.
Most importantly, do not give up. It took you a while to get out of shape and it will take some time to get back in shape. Keep you eyes on your goals and you will be successful! The key to a healthy life is to consistently eat healthy and engage in healthy activities, so do not forget the last step.
7. MAKE THE CHANGE PERMANENT
Once you lose the weight, you are going to want to keep it off. Who wants to keep going through the whole weight loss process over and over. So to maintain a healthy weight you will need to permanently commit to living a healthy lifestyle. To stay progressing and not go backwards, you are going to need to consistently update your goals. When you have met one goal, set another. Make long term goals and map out how you will accomplish them. You may have started out wanting to lose 15 lbs and now you want to run a marathon. Establishing new goals will give you something to keep working towards and will serve as motivation for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Once you have committed to the new you, try to encourage those around you to engage in a healthy lifestyle. Not only will this benefit their health, but it will also help you stay motivated as you see those around you striving to stay healthy. Be an example to your family and children. Good health starts at home and if your household incorporates the values of healthy living into their routine, your whole family will have health and longevity.
Good luck on your journey. I know you can exceed all of your health goals and become the person you know you can be!