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Small Changes to Kick Start Your Fitness Goals

Jan 25, 2021

The month of January brings with it hopes for healthier lifestyles and a myriad of products and diets promising to deliver just that. But, before you try the next big thing, it may be helpful to take a look at some of your current habits. Sometimes, small changes that you can attainably commit to are all you need to kick-start some quick, efficient results.

  1. Mindful Eating: There’s not enough time in the day, and while running from this task to that task, you’re more than likely eating a lot of “working” breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners. But, did you know that eating while distracted can make you feel more stressed and less full? When you eat, you want to come out feeling refreshed and nourished, but if you’re doing something else while eating, you’re going to feel hurried and like you didn’t even eat at all. Try your best to put your foot down and take your meals as “you time”. Don’t pay attention to work or the TV or people trying to get your attention; instead focus on your food, the smell, the taste, how it feels to eat it and how it feels to really take care of yourself. If you're struggling, look to YouTube for some Eating Meditations (yes they exist). In the long run, you’ll find yourself eating less, feeling less stressed and genuinely enjoying your food more.

  2. COFFEE: Raise your hand if your day can’t start until you’ve had your morning coffee(s)? I don’t know about you, but I drink multiple cups a day. While some of us can handle the taste of coffee black, some of us need to tone it down with some sugar, cream, etc. to get our dose of caffeine. Coffee is very good for weight loss, but sugar and cream… that’s another story. So do you have to drink your coffee black or not at all? No! But, a helpful hint to cutting those daily calories is to cut just a little bit of sugar, add a little less creamer, or switch to a lower calorie dairy or dairy alternative. No need to go cold turkey -- just a small change. Measuring what you put in your cup can really help with this. For instance, if you normally add 3 tsps of sugar and 1 tbs or cream, try adding 2 tsps of sugar and 1 tbs of half and half. It’s a small change, but it really makes a difference and your taste buds will get used to it - I promise!

  3. Find Times to Move: Going to the gym and completing your workout every day is great, but it’s not the only movement you should be doing in a day. To keep the body going and your metabolism up (burning those extra calories!) you should be moving as much as you can throughout your day. Of course you don’t need to put work on hold every 5 minutes to go out for a jog, but you can easily schedule in some times where you can go for a short walk, go up and down your stairs, do some crunches, stretch, or whatever activity feels right for you. Maybe you have a phone call you know you can take while walking or a Zoom training you know you can rep out some push ups in between notes. Break through the idea that physical activity is just for the gym and find even 5 minutes here and there to stick it into your daily schedule.

  4. Water: Oldest trick in the book -- stay hydrated! Not only does drinking water keep your metabolism going and replenish your daily stores, it also makes you feel more full. By drinking more water, you may be less apt to grab that post-lunch snack or pre-dinner spoiler; you may also find yourself eating less at meals. Try just drink even one or two more glasses than you usually do a day, or buy yourself a water bottle with a time tracker on it -- you won’t regret it!

  5. Fiber: Fiber is that lovely bit of nutrition that keeps you full and keeps things… moving. The American Heart Association suggests you eat about 25-30 grams of fiber per day (from food not supplements)! Fun fact: most Americans don’t come close to that in their daily intake. How can you tell if that’s you? Try tracking your food for a day or two on an app or website like My Fitness Pal or Lose It, and see what your breakdown is like. Fiber will keep you fuller, longer, for less calories than other options, making it a great choice for those trying to lose weight. What can you find fiber in? Foods like popcorn, apples, beans, broccoli, oats, whole grains, and even dark chocolate! Look up some sources that sound good to you, and find ways to add them into your snacks and meals.

  6. Don’t Not Eat That: Stop demonizing certain foods because someone along the line told you never to eat them. I went through a whole year of my life not eating bananas because someone told me they were too high in calories. The fact is, a lot of the time we won’t eat a whole wheat slice of bread to avoid carbs, but then we eat a sugary granola bar when we need a snack instead. You’ll stress yourself out all day thinking about what you can and can’t eat. Instead of trying to construct the perfect diet plan, try instead to just listen to your body more -- what does it feel like it needs right now. If you feel hungry, but a salad doesn’t sound good to you, you may just be bored/tired or maybe your body needs fats and proteins instead. Try looking at food as fuel, not the enemy. If you stick to whole, not processed choices most of the time, you’re probably going to be okay and feel great.

  7. Look Inside: What causes you to eat less healthy or move less? Finding your “why’s” may help you to create little habits to overcome those barriers. Are you bored? Try chewing some gum or drinking some sparkling water instead of going for a snack. Stressed? Try doing a 5-minute HIIT workout in your living room or a quick meditation instead of lying down or hitting the pantry. Tired? Have some coffee (one less sugar) or do some energizing stretches. Whatever it is, take a pause before you feel lazy or before you eat something you don’t need and just think to yourself “why am I doing this?” and “could I try something else first?” There’s a very good chance that you’ll do the yoga video and no longer want that cookie you were going for. Then again, if you still want the cookie, you can feel better about indulging!

You don't have to go all or nothing into a lifestyle change. Sometimes, a few small things here and there are enough, and you don't have to shake your whole world up and be unhappy to get there. Experiment, be kind to yourself, and stay positive - you're doing great!

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