Quick Tips to Live By
For a few months, we published several great quick tips per week that you could implement to start living a healthier life! This now-defunct section is compiled below for your browsing pleasure! Enjoy!
Get Up and Walk
I’m behind a desk at least half of my day and there are many of you out there that sit even longer than that. This can be terrible for your posture, especially as you crane your neck forward with your back hunched over – you might be doing that right now!
One easy trick to help stretch your cramped muscles and improve your posture, is for every 45-60 minutes you spend sitting, get up and walk around the office for 5 minutes. Head to the water cooler, hit up the restroom, go see what your pals are doing down the hall, anything to get you up and moving. These 5-minute office hikes can help stretch out your tight muscles, relieve your back/neck from the stress of stooping forward, and are a great way to give yourself a quick mental break!
Besides a pot of coffee, one way to energize is through exercise! Getting the blood pumping and endorphins kicking in is a great way to achieve elevated energy levels. One option is morning workouts before you head off to work.
While it may be torture to get out of bed 45 minutes early, it can set you up for a great day. Once you get the endorphins flowing you will be energized for the day to come! Energizing exercise could be the answer you’re looking for!
Forget the Scale
Stepping on the scale every day is an emotional roller coaster for many – one morning you’re down 3 pounds but up 2 pounds the next….what the crap?! Constantly weighing yourself can really hurt your psyche especially when your weight fluctuates.
Try this: only weigh yourself on Friday morning (or every other Friday). This makes for a good option because during the weekend we all can lose focus and gain a few pounds which make weighing in on Monday sometimes psychologically crushing (“I lost 4 pounds last week but gained it all back in only two days!”). Weighing yourself on Friday gives you an opportunity to put the weekend behind you and keeps you off that emotional roller coaster!
Put Down the Phone
This tip isn’t just for you; it’s for me as well. Technology can overtake our lives. What’s the last thing you look at before bed and the first thing you reach for when you wake up? Yup – your phone!
This dependency on having social media, news…etc. right at our fingertips can cause us to be oblivious to the world around us. I’m not saying leave the phone behind on your next hike but at least put it in your backpack. You will be able to appreciate nature more thoroughly and you will be able to provide your body and mind with a distraction-free break. Plus, we can all use a break from that way to active group chat…that never ends!
An Apple a Day
An apple a day can help keep obesity away – I enjoy looking at the recent health research to see if there are any new studies that we can focus on to help make health, fitness, weight loss, and just living healthier easier. One study that caught my eye determined that an apple a day (fruit, in general, can be great for you) is a great way to fight obesity.
The study published in the journal Food Chemistry found that the non-digestible compounds in Granny Smith apples helped to prevent some of the disorders that are commonly known to be associated with obesity! The non-digestible compounds in Granny Smith apples were found to help re-establish a healthy gut micro-flora. This helped fight obesity because, when healthy, micro-flora help us feel satisfied and more satiated instead of hungry all the time. So grab an apple and get to eating!
Why We Fail
We all fail – it’s just how it goes, but we need to always learn from every failure. Failures are great for teaching us about ourselves, our weaknesses, and our strengths which can help make us stronger (not to mention more humble).
If you’ve failed in the past, you probably have a good idea why. Was it the diet? Was it mental weakness? Was it the overall plan? You can then create a program that is built around what you have learned and one that takes into consideration your time constraints, daily routine…etc. Learning from these failures can help you succeed in any venture you start. So even if we fail, don’t let those failures go to waste; learn from them and grow!
Need a way to stay motivated and committed? Try keeping a workout log! As busy as we are, it’s hard to be active as much as we want – this can lead to not exercising at all!
One way to stay motivated is to remember to log your workouts on a monthly calendar. Every time you miss a workout – or don’t leave the couch – make a big red “X” in that square. Trust me, when you see three red “X’s” glaring back at you, you will know that it’s time to get active – like in baseball, you don’t want to get three strikes! This can help you stay on track and motivated not to strike out!
More Rest Days
We all need rest days – they are pivotal for our bodies to recoup, recharge, and grow. That being said, a rest day doesn’t mean a free-for-all when it comes to nutrition and doing absolutely nothing when it comes to fitness.
Many times people splurge on these days! While I’m all for eating in moderation, if you are trying to lose weight, splurging on your rest days could be the difference between a successful week or actually gaining weight. The same goes for fitness, we want to still stay active! Take your rest days, eat in moderation, enjoy the relaxation, but as with all things remember moderation is key!
Exercising in the basement (or anywhere at home) can be tedious if it’s beautiful outside! Sometimes we need to unwind outside using your backyard as our gym.
When exercising outside the only limit is your imagination! You can employ bodyweight exercises to get an effective workout basically anywhere.
For example, the stairs on your deck can be used for elevated/decline pushups, dips, step-ups, stair jumps….etc. or you can just run stairs! Likewise, a deck support beam can be used for pull-ups while lunges, squats, heel jacks, and burpees can be performed anywhere! Utilize what you have when it’s a beautiful day to burn calories and unwind!
Planks have quickly become the “go-to” exercise to strengthen your core. It used to be all about sit-ups and crunches – now planks take their place in the sun! They are great because they use your own body weight to improve the stability of your entire core; which is exactly what the core muscles are supposed to do.
It doesn’t have to be normal planks either. Use your imagination and you can create all kinds of great core working exercises. For instance, there is also the side plank, plank-ups, pushup planks (like shown), planks with lat rows, planks with leg raises for your glutes, one-leg planks….etc. and so much more. The possibilities are endless!
Mental Break Required
Life is hectic. Between work, family, hobbies… etc. it’s hard to find time to exercise. Sometimes what is needed is a mental break from constantly worrying about the gym. It will free up some time and give you a chance to recharge mentally and physically.
That’s not to say to stop exercising completely but instead pick a few activities (hiking, biking…etc.) that will keep you active (blood pumping, heart rate elevated, sweating) that don’t seem like actual exercise. This will make for the perfect mental break that you might need to stay motivated going forward.
If you’ve surfed around on this site long enough, you will know that I’m a huge proponent of walking – especially if you are just beginning to get back on track! It really is an excellent way to help sedentary people take their lives back by burning calories, improving their heart health, and increasing their exercise capacity all at a very low impact on your joints. When we set up exercise programs one of our program staples is walking every day, especially on “off” days.
YAY walking…. right? That being said, as we get stronger and our exercise capacity increases, it’s time to take it up a notch. When brisk walking becomes too easy we can increase its intensity in a number of ways. One of the simplest ways is to start walking on an incline which will not only help you burn more calories but also more effectively trigger your glutes – you can easily burn 400 calories walking on an incline for 45 minutes. Likewise, you can also carry light dumbbells (2-3 pounds). Both of these tactics will have you working harder as you walk! Lose weight walking – it’s simple!
Forget the “Fat Burn” Zone
If you’ve ever walked by the cardio equipment section at almost any gym in the United States you will notice the little colorful charts – the fat-burn zone charts. They basically show you where to burn fat by exercising at a low intensity for what seems like hours and hours.
Now don’t get me wrong, these are great for those who are just starting, but for those looking to take it a step further, there can be more efficient ways to burn calories. The truth is that we all are busy and don’t have the time to be on a treadmill for hours. To burn more calories in a timely manner and quickly as possible, higher intensity is the ticket (we aren’t even mentioning the EPOC effect). Basically, high-intensity exercise can give you a better time trade-off when it comes to calories burned per time spent exercising – we all want that to be higher, right? Find out more here.
Literally one of the best tools you can use to keep you motivated is selfies. They work by letting you see how far you really have come when you feel like the progress is going too slow! Get started by taking two pictures – front and side view – before starting your fitness program (or today if you are currently doing one). Then wait 4 weeks and take another set of selfies. When you need a motivational boost, compare the two to see the progress you’re making!
Even though you may not have lost a huge amount of weight, the selfies will show you that your body is changing. Your arms may look more toned or your hips appear slimmer or your posture may be improved! These improvements will be the massive motivation you need to keep going and striving towards your goals!
Maybe the hardest thing to understand when it comes to reaching your desired goals and changing your lifestyle is that results take time – seriously. It literally has taken months or even years to create the body you currently have so why would it only take a week to two to completely reverse it? While you can lose a bunch of weight quickly on a crash diet, this is unsustainable in the long run and usually leads to you regaining the weight and more!
Remember this commonly held rule: it takes at least 4 weeks for you to see results (mostly small changes like posture, reduced bulges…etc.), 8 weeks for your family and friends to notice changes, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world to take notice. Of course, this is different for everyone and their respective program. That being said, just be patient when it comes to making big lifestyle changes because it will be so worth the time and effort!
Subgoals are Key
If you want a stepping-stone approach to reaching your goals – and therefore a more realistic approach – then subgoals are the key! Don’t get me wrong, having a huge goal is great but if you don’t have a plan to get there then it’s going to be a frustrating journey!
For example, if your main goal is to lose 50 pounds this year, you can make monthly subgoals to help you reach that big goal. Fifty pounds sounds like an unreachable goal but if you make 10-12 subgoals like running a sub-10 minute mile, doing 30 pushups, losing 10 pounds in 2 months….etc. as you go along it can help motivate you!
These smaller goals keep you engaged, focused, and motivated because they are attainable in a shorter period of time. No one likes working incredibly hard to not reach their goals in a timely manner, but you can reach your subgoals one by one each week/month to help keep you motivated! It’s all about staying motivated and staying in the game as you work towards your overall goal!
Be Mentally Tough
Maybe the most overlooked part about weight loss is being mentally tough… Sustainable weight loss can be a lengthy, tough, pain-in-the-arse journey that takes personal drive and straight-up willpower to complete – anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
Once you let the thought of defeat or entertain the idea of quitting enter your mind it becomes like a sickness that will just continue to grow and consume you until you finally do just quit!
Instead vividly picture where you want to be (full of precise details like: How will you feel? How will you look?) and work towards that with a dogged determination! We have faith in you!
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