Many of us started the year with the same resolutions: eat healthier, go to the gym, lose some weight, quit smoking and so on. But at the same time, most of us fail miserably with a bag of chips on the couch every evening. I used to be the same, but something changed.
Last year I had a love-hate relationship with the gym: the first 5-6 months were awesome and I was very happy with my progress, but something went wrong along the line. Maybe I was not ready for a full commitment, maybe I didn’t have enough motivation to keep going, I don’t know. But I stopped, and it wasn’t until last December that I actually got back to working out and eating well.
I still have a lot to work to improve my physical condition, sculpt my body and get to the results I want, but now I’m confident that this will happen sooner or later. It’s not easy, temptations are everywhere, but with the right approach I’m sure it’s possible.
To be honest, I did not want to share these tips with you before I actually get convinced that they work. That’s because a ton of health related articles constantly pop up in my feed, and most of them are just filled with wrong assumptions. Even the most important nutritionists and fitness gurus constantly fight on deciding what’s best for our bodies and how we should eat or exercise.
So please keep in mind that these have been tested on myself only, gathering small pieces of information from all sorts of resources. While you could follow the same steps, you might want to consult a doctor first, to discover what’s best for you. This article includes only the things that helped me lose some weight and feel better in my own skin (and no, it’s not that kind of “lose 20 kilos in 1 week” type of post).
If you are struggling with the same issues right now, keep on reading and let’s help each other stay motivated and determined to lead a healthy lifestyle 🙂
- Make a workout playlist and listen to it only at the gym/ while running/ etc. This way, you’ll be very excited to go exercise and listen to your fav tracks (I just recently found this cardio mix below and it’s amazing).
- If you go to the gym, mix both cardio and heavy lifting. Only cardio will not make you lose much weight and can be quite boring sometimes. I use to take a day only for cardio, once a week, and the other days I do 20 min cardio for warm-up and use the rest of the time for free weights and machines.
- Each day, exercise only one group of muscles. For the first few months, you can group them (I do chest + back + arms, legs + butt and abs in a single workout hour). You can go with abs + butt in one day and leave the legs for a full day, or you can do chest day and back day, if that is your goal. I want to tone my whole body, but my biggest problem is the belly fat, so it makes sense to choose a day only for abs. Keep your goals in mind and find out what’s the best option for you.
- If possible, pick a gym that’s close to your house. Trust me, you won’t find excuses when the distance to the gym is only a 5 minutes’ walk. Plus, you will always find a spare hour to spend there, even if you left the office late.
- Use more spices. Garlic, oregano, paprika, basil, curry… use them to spice up all your food. If you used to eat a lot of fast food, you’ll see that broccoli, chicken breast or mushrooms will seem really fade and tasteless at first. So spices are the best way to solve this problem.
- Before working out, get your carbs up if you want to have enough energy (a bowl of yogurt with fresh fruits, peanut butter, honey, a banana). Also, a cup of coffee does wonders with your energy level.
- If you’re hungry, grab a quick snack. However, if you feel you’re simply missing something, don’t go straight to the refrigerator. Most likely you don’t need food, so drink a glass of water or open the window for a breath of fresh air.
- Don’t miss the cheat-meal. Here’s the deal: if you refuse yourself all the guilty pleasures, you will start feeling deprived and angry. So after a month or two, you will feel the need to indulge into huge amounts of fast-food and sweets, just to feel “happy” again. That is plain wrong and can lead to food disorders. Therefore, eat well and healthy for 80-90% of the time, but have a donut when you really want it (or a big pizza… which is my biggest weakness ever, as you can see often on my Snapchat).
- Quit smoking. I already quit more than a year ago, but back in university I used to replace my food cravings with a cigarette. Worst idea ever. Indeed, you might seem to be skinny if you eat only one fruit a day and nothing else, while stuffing yourself with nicotine, because it cuts down your appetite. However, it’s definitely not a healthy habit.
- Visualize your progress. Take selfies now and then, track how your clothes fit after a certain time and keep count of your results.
- Track your meals and physical effort. Many mobile apps (My Fitness Pal, Fat Secret, etc.) allow you to register your calorie intake. Also, they can show you how many proteins, carbs and fats you consume during the day.
- That being said, make sure you don’t fall on the other (wrong) side of the road. You can very easily underestimate your calorie intake, giving the fact that not all you consume is available in the app, or you can easily forget about liquid calories (juice, coffee, alcohol) which should add up to the summary. So don’t let yourself ruled by this number, just use it for a quick overview.
- Forget about diets, detox, pills. And first of all – don’t ever starve yourself. You won’t lose weight this way – and even if you will, that will all come back sooner than you think. The majority of diets and abusive weight-loss programs work only for a short period of time. So think about this as a long-term decision.
- Ignore the number of kilos. It might sound as a paradox, but it’s the most important advice. Once you start lifting weights, your body will lose fat, but build muscle. And the weight will go up instead of decreasing, like you would expect to. If you’ll weight yourself every single day and track all the grams lost and gained, you will eventually lose your mind. Forget about kilos and start worrying about your body shape and clothes size.
- Have a real goal in mind. The “I want to fit into that red dress” mindset is wrong, because it’s just a simple wish and not something that defines you. I know you want to look good in a bikini (we all do), but try to find motivation in something else: you probably want to feel good, be confident, healthy, keep your energy level up. That’s the best motivation ever for me.
What are the best healthy lifestyle tips that keep you on track? Let me know in the comment section below 🙂
(P.S. All gifs are from the awesome Tumblr.)