Fitness is a big part of my life. In 2013, I invested in Kayla Itsines’ BBG program and it changed my entire life. Because of her dedication to building a program that would be accessible to all women of all types, she has quite literally led a fitness revolution. I am forever grateful to her commitment because it never fails to fuel mine, too. I am also a foodie. If there is food in front of me, I will eat it. Even if I’m not hungry. I am greatly affected by hormonal shifts and, come PMS, I can put away some serious calories. It’s a problem. Chocolate is a daily necessity in my world.
Because fitness and food are both passions of mine, I am all about sustainable, realistic patterns that render wellness. I believe prioritizing one’s all around health is such an important part of living well. In light of that, I wanted to put together a small list of approachable tips to staying fit, regardless of your lifestyle.
1. Drink Water
We’ve all heard this one since elementary school, right? At times, the advice drowns out like white noise in the background. Water is boring to a lot of people. No matter what, they can’t seem to get themselves to drink it, they say. I get it. I was that person at one point. There’s so many other tastier options.
I’ve become something of a water connoisseur. It all started when the only water you could get at the movie theater was Aquafina. That stuff tastes like toilet water smells. There has always been this part of me that is certain that whoever bottles that liquid just purifies sewer water and slaps a label on it. I realized that Smart Water, for example, tasted significantly better, and it became increasingly more obvious how varied tap water can taste.
Water Weighs In
According to Healthline.com, studies have shown that simply drinking water before each meal may increase weight loss by 4.4lbs over a 12 week period. Additionally, even middle-aged and obese participants who drank water before each meal lost 44% more weight than the group studied who did not drink more water.
Middle-aged or obese individuals don’t have the monopoly on water benefits, of course. Drinking water is beneficial in more ways than just weight loss or maintenance. Water carries nutrients and oxygen to your cells, flushes bacteria from your bladder, aids in digestion, helps keep your skin clear, cushions your joints, normalizes your blood pressure, protects your organs and tissues, stabilizes your heart rate, and maintains electrolyte/sodium balance. It’s arguably the most important dietary supplement you consume on a daily basis.
So, How Much Should You Drink?
Depending on how much you weigh, you should be drinking between 1/2 to 1 oz of water per pound each day. So, if you weigh 150 lbs, you should be consuming 75-150 ounces of water on a daily basis. To make it easy for myself, I carry a 32 oz hydroflask with me everywhere I go. I keep it filled with ice water (I like it reallllllly cold) and make sure I have a stainless steel straw in it at all times. I don’t know about you, but drinking out of a straw helps me consume a much greater volume. Getting a water bottle with a cap that has a built in straw might be an even better option, too! If you’d like, add a lemon wedge to jazz it up!
Make drinking water a habit. You will have more energy, eat less filler foods, and feel clearer headed. I guarantee it!
2. Exercise Every Day, For a Minimum of 30 Minutes
It seems to me that there is a common misconception that in order to “exercise”, a person has to have a gym membership or be committed to an intense fitness program that requires all sorts of equipment. However, leading an active lifestyle is becoming more mainstream. This shift makes me really happy. I think fitness is truly for everyone, and can be practiced in a wide multitude of ways.
One of the most accessible and most effective forms of exercise is walking. In 2017, NBC news released an article titled “Why Walking is the Most Underrated Form of Exercise”. TBH, it totally is! Walking is low impact and engages the whole body. The great outdoors offers varying landscapes to keep your walks guessing (major incline up that giant hill, anyone?) and the scenery will always find a way to show you something new. According to the article mentioned, “walking improves fitness, cardiac health, alleviates depression and fatigue, improves mood, creates less stress on joints and reduces pain, can prevent weight gain, reduce risk for cancer and chronic disease, improve endurance, circulation, and posture.” Go for a walk, seriously!
Switch it up!
For me, a combination of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and resistance workouts using bodyweight or extra weight from equipment have proven most effective. I have been using Kayla Itsines’ plans since 2013. As a busy mom of three, 28 minute workouts is just what the doctor ordered. Personally, I prefer waking up early and starting my day with a workout. I don’t like working out in the afternoon or evening because it seems to be difficult to find the motivation to get started. I know for some, it’s the complete opposite! Beginning my day with a good sweat while everyone else is sleeping helps me right my mind for the hours ahead of me, and gives me a better outlook on things in general.
I structure my exercises to alternate each day. So on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, I resistance train. Mondays I normally do legs, Wednesday arms, Friday abs, and Sunday a full body workout. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, I incorporate cardio. The type of cardio varies, too. On the treadmill, I love to sprint. 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for 15 minutes is my go-to for HIIT. I run at 10.5 mph, but when I first began this type of workout, I started at 9.0 mph. It’s fun to see yourself evolve by pushing your limits as you get stronger and faster!
Just Get Moving!
As I talked about above, walking is a phenomenal full body cross-training option that I frequently use. On the treadmill, I set an incline of at least 5 degrees and walk at 3.7 mph or faster for at least 35 minutes. Spinning, skiing, swimming, dancing, hula hooping, jumping rope, or going for a bike ride are just a few more ideas. Whatever gets you moving and your heart rate going– counts! And the endorphins released are worth every drop of sweat and/or tears. I promise.
3. Eat to Feel Energized
I will be honest: I am a stress eater. And while I wish I could tell you I reach for a stalk of celery when that cortisol starts to rise, I’d be lying if I did. Instead, I go for sugar in chocolate and sugar in carbs. Basically, I just go for sugar. Not to mention, I am prone to overeat in that state of mind. A week ago, I was beating myself up for mindlessly consuming. On a sheet of lined paper in one of the many open notebooks I have lying around the house for my random thoughts and lists, I wrote down “I want to eat to feel energized, NOT sluggish”.
Setting that intention by writing it down and phrasing it thoughtfully has proven helpful in a simple yet impactive way. I think a little longer before I go shoving another handful of chocolate chips in my mouth and I try to stop myself from consuming more when I’m already full by clearing my plate and putting food away, out of my line of sight. The truth is, when I overeat and consume more sugar filled goodies, I am consciously aware that it won’t make me feel better. And all too often, I do it anyway. Instead, I end up feeling sluggish and guilty. My body is robbed of proper nutrients it needs to function well.
I will be honest: I am a stress eater. And while I wish I could tell you I reach for a stalk of celery when that cortisol starts to rise, I’d be lying if I did.
Eating to feel energized probably looks a bit different for everyone. Dr. Sanjay Gupta noted on a recent podcast episode that there really isn’t such thing as “superfoods” that render the same wonderous results for everyone. Instead, he said it’s best to track what you eat for several weeks and take note of how you feel. He did that and found that for him, pickles are a superfood. This was actually great news for me…the idea that pickles COULD be a superfood…because I love them. This concept brings me to tip #4.
4. Record a Food Diary
Also in moments when I’ve allowed my stress to take the wheel of my dietary choices, I recalibrate with a food diary. This is helpful for me to visually understand how often I’m eating and what I’m taking in. Additionally, I can note how I feel, and if I want to make adjustments. Writing down what I’m eating can also help me take a quick inventory of the thoughts that are circulating in my mind and how they are affecting my choices, on the whole. Having a visual on my habits makes changing them more approachable.
This article from Harvard Health breaks down the benefits of keeping a food diary in awesome detail and offers feasible tips to get the most out of it.
5. No Eating After 8 PM
If you’ve heard this once, you’ve heard it 10 times. This is because it truly does have merit. Late night snacking is not an uncommon vice. Whether you reach for a fun size bag of candy, a bowl of cereal, a bag of microwave popcorn, or a handful of chocolate chips (well that’s weird, I don’t know how that bag of chocolate chips got on my nightstand…said me, never) it’s a tempting little habit to fall into.
Capping your consumption before 8 PM has multiple upsides. You may sleep better, be less likely to experience unfavorable conditions like heartburn, avoid overeating, and maintain a healthy, consistent weight. Unless you’ve had a crazy day and it’s dinner you’re having to consume past 8 PM, the snacking we take part in that late at night is more likely to be out of boredom, craving, or emotional regulation. Remember tip #3, Eat to feel Energized. Unless your career schedule has you on the nightshift, you probably don’t need to fuel your body after 8:00. Instead, maybe try grabbing a cup of herbal tea and settle in with a good book on audible. Sleep well 🙂
Remember, It’s a Lifestyle
No matter what, I think it’s crucial to remember that all of these tips work together with myriad of other things to create a lifestyle. Nobody’s perfect and there are ebbs and flows to everything. Sometimes I eat like a paid athlete, and other times like I just got broken up with. The point is this: incorporating these simple ideas into your life will be most effective as a lifestyle rather than used as a “quick fix”. Baby steps toward our goals and a focus on the values behind what we are doing is key. I hope you can apply these tips to your daily life and reap the benefits ten fold. Like you, I am ever evolving and getting back to the basics helps keep me on track when life just feels overwhelming. Comment below with any great hacks you’ve used and share the knowledge! Have a great week and keep smiling 🙂