Are you concerned about your appearance? Unable to fasten your favorite jeans or concerned about gaining more weight? You are not alone, we all want to lose a bit of weight. Many of us also want to add a little lean muscle and have the ability to climb stairs with ease. The thing is, for many of us, we may be going about it the wrong way.
Change Your Focus
Stop focusing on tight jeans, your reflection in the mirror, your heart rate or blood pressure. Shift your focus to creating and living a healthy lifestyle. The rest will fall into place. Develop and live a healthy lifestyle centered around “clean” food. Engage in moderate exercise as a minimum and take small steps to make yourself feel good by becoming happy, healthy and self confident.
Choose Healthy Goals
Before you change your lifestyle and replace unhealthy habits with healthy ones, you must first identify the problem areas. Why are your pants tight? Too many ‘bad foods’? Why are you short of breath? Too little exercise, or too many cigarettes? Identify the cause and effect – identify the problem and alter or eliminate the cause.
Chances are that if you are out of breath from running up the stairs, it is because you are not getting enough exercise. Make it your goal to start with moderate exercise. Only walking 1 brisk mile 3 times a week would be enough.
Focus on these health and fitness goals when taking stock of your current state:
Maintain A Healthy Body Weight – A healthy body weight will improve both your appearance and your attitude. As you lose excess weight, the results you see will motivate even further to achieve your weight loss goals. You will enjoy eating healthy foods (and avoid unhealthy foods) and look forward to your next workout at home. You’ll be happier and healthier and your friends and family will notice the positive changes. Action steps to reach your ideal weight include eating clean, wholesome foods. Eliminate junk foods and empty calories like colas and sodas (drink water instead). Get active, spend less time sitting down and more time walking on your treadmill (or your exercise of choice).
Move More – Exercise will help you burn calories, but will also reduce your blood pressure and heart rate, increase the oxygen level in your blood and help manage unhealthy stress levels. Find the fitness approach that works best for you and workout 3-5 times each week. Action steps to get started include finding a space at home so you are able to move freely. Get the minimal equipment you need to get started, make a schedule and make a commitment – and start. Sometimes you can do the most effective workouts with very little equipment.
Creating Healthy Habits
Once you identify your most pressing health and fitness goals and action steps that will help you reach them, use the action steps to create simple, healthy habits and you will automatically begin living a healthier lifestyle. Here are four tips to help you create healthy habits:
- Get Real – If your end goal is weight loss and/or improved cardiovascular fitness, setting a goal to run a marathon may not be a practical or achievable goal. Each day you fall short of your training goal you will become more discouraged and eventually quit. But running a 5K race six months from now may be an excellent realistic goal to work towards. On a similar note, don’t choose habits that you hate! If your goal is a clean, natural plant-based diet, don’t attempt to commit to eating more broccoli (or similar food) if the thought of broccoli turns your stomach. Your attempts to make eating broccoli a healthy habit will fail. Similarly, if you hate running, you will find it very difficult to make running a daily habit. Instead, choose an exercise you enjoy.
- Reward Success And Punish Failure – Change is difficult, when establishing new healthy habits reward yourself each week or month when you are successful. If your goal is eliminating colas and sodas and your new healthy habit is drinking more water, reward your successes with something that you want, unrelated to food. Perhaps a trip to the spa, a new shirt, something fun. However, if you fall off the water wagon and hit the vending machine, you must pay the price. Choose a “painful” chore or cash amount that you must sacrifice to a family member or coworker each time you slip. It is important to make the penalty of failure (breaking your new healthy habit) more severe than the pleasure you get from (in this example) drinking the cola. Think of it like a “swear jar” and the more painful the penalty, the more likely you’ll stick to your new healthy habit.
- Tell EVERYONE – While it may seem that weight loss and improving your fitness and health are personal and private issues, establishing new healthy habits can benefit from accountability. Giving up cigarettes? Tell everyone – friends, family and coworkers can help hold you accountable should you be tempted to “cheat.” Regardless of their supporting you or shaming you, “Didn’t you quit?” You will be less likely to disappoint your friends and family when you are tempted. You can also challenge your friends and support group to create their own healthy habits.
- Be Consistent – Develop and follow healthy habits until they become healthy routines and be consistent each day, each week and each month. If you experience a temporary setback or failure, ensure that it is only temporary, make a note and improve tomorrow or next week. As an example, if you miss (or skip) your workout today, DO NOT skip the next one. It becomes very easy for one missed workout to become two, then five, then thirty. Remember those New Year’s resolutions you made? Don’t let your new healthy habits become a distant memory like those resolutions. Commit and be consistent!