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OK, you’ve decided to make a change and become a healthier, fitter you. Whether you’ve never been active and you just came up with this idea one morning, or you were athletic and have gotten away from the lifestyle, it’s extremely important to begin small and work your way to that new you. Here are 5 steps to starting your fitness journey, one small step at a time.
Step 1 – You have to realize that this is a journey, not a race. And, and, and… a better, fitter you will not only make your life better but will make the lives of those around you better. Yes: kids, spouses, family and friends and work will chew up time in your day and wear you out but imagine how much easier it will be to deal with all of them after you develop a healthier and happier body and mind. You don’t have to become an athlete overnight (not to mention, the soreness from “trying to do it all in one workout” will probably leave you bed ridden) but you will need to make some changes in your life moving forward. Remember…there will be gains and setbacks but you must always keep your mind focused on the “future” you, not today’s or yesterday’s you.
Step 2 – Be mindful of and track what you eat. All too often we eat because food is so readily available (ya, first world problems right?!). Without thinking, either at the office or at home, we end up “grazing” on high calorie, high fat food that doesn’t leave us full. Subsequently we get hunger pangs and want to snack more. Trust me, the calories from those handfuls of candy or chocolate, small bags of chips and super deluxe café mochas throughout the day add up. Generally, active women should consume around 1,800-2,200 calories a day and active men should consume 2,400-3,00 calories a day based on activity (note, I said generally. Caloric consumption is dependent on each person and their individual activity level). “Grazing” during the day can add up to the thousands of calories…on top of what you’re already eating during mealtimes. Take the time to make a food log and see; what, when, how much and more importantly, how many calories you’re eating on a given day. A great tool to have on hand is a digital food scale. It’s very hard to eyeball an accurate portion size. Use a scale to ensure your portions are the right size to correspond with the calories listed. Having this tool in your kitchen is an excellent way to stay accountable and on track with your eating. The line of digital food scales by EatSmart Products are easy to use and provide accuracy that takes the guesswork out of eating. The EatSmart Precision Elite Digital Kitchen Scale features an extra-large backlit LCD screen for clear readings and allows you to choose your measurement preference (ounces/grams/lbs/kilograms). To use, simply put a bowl on the scale, hit the “tare” button to remove the weight of the bowl, and you’re ready to start measuring. Here’s an added bonus … by weighing everything in one dish on the scale, you don’t need a measuring cup or spoons- dirtying less dishes! (Who doesn’t love less dirty dishes?!) EatSmart Products’ most popular food scale is the Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale, which has over 7,500 reviews on Amazon.com!
Step 3 – Get active and track it! Commit to activity every day. Look, you may have no desire to train for a triathlon or marathon or any kind of race for that matter…and that’s perfectly okay. You will need to MOVE! Start by committing to some type of regular activity that you enjoy. Walk during lunch, take a fitness class, ride your bike around the neighborhood, swim laps or even sign up for a dance class. The idea here is to not only get you moving but get you moving while doing something fun (which means you’re more than likely going to keep doing it). We’ve talked about tracking calories to see how much is fuel is going into your body. Now, let’s pair that with a fitness tracker to see how many calories you’re BURNING. A fitness tracker gives us an idea of how many calories we’re burning through the day including our exercise sessions. They’re an invaluable tool to give you a better idea of how many calories you should or shouldn’t be eating.
Step 4 – Focus on health and strength and what it means to you…not numbers on a scale. Too often we get so wrapped up in what the scale says. You didn’t drop “x” amount of weight this week: then you must be a failure. That couldn’t be farther than the truth! First off, you’re not changing your life and lifestyle for numbers on a scale. You’re doing it for a healthier, happier you for the long term. Should you track your weight? Sure, but realize there can be SO many factors that come into play with your “weight”: time of day, day of the week, amount of water or food consumed or not consumed prior to weigh in, amount of sleep (fatigue can cause weight retention or loss depending on the person). We’ve all heard it too, muscle weighs more than fat. Use the scale as another tool in your fitness arsenal, not the be all and end all.
Step 5 – Add strength training to your weekly routine. Weight training is critical as you age to retain muscle, in addition to a strong body and effective metabolism. Strength training can range from bodyweight exercises to traditional in-the-gym weight training to Olympic/power lifting. And no, you are not going to “get too big”; women reading this article, you will not “get too manly” by doing weight training. What you will do is give your body strength to tackle workouts and another tool in your arsenal to rev up your metabolism.
Remember, these steps are here to help you as you start on the path to a healthier, happier and more fit you. You should feel proud of yourself for making the decision to change your life; more importantly, relish the results of your hard work and effort. You’re going to be amazed at where this journey leads you!
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