Once we have noticed a problem in our lives or maybe something just missing and we come to the decision that the problem is that we are not living our lives quite as well or as fully as we should be living it, many of us have to step back a second and come to the realization that we do not know where to start. What changes should we make? Should I just dive right in fully submerged in this new lifestyle? How often and long should I be working out? These are all questions I am going to answer and more with specific instructions along with experiences of my own.
The first thing that you must do is decide on a goal for yourself. Do you want to lose weight? Do you just want to be living better? Both will lead to the same lifestyle later but if you are trying to lose weight your diet and exercise will need to be stricter. You should, also, not shy away from setting specific goals; goals that include time frames and are measurable and most importantly realistic and possible to be done in a healthy manner.
Next comes the mental prep. You need to prepare yourself for what is to come. You must be mentally tough in order to make a real life change. It will be hard and you will have moments of weakness, but you must be strong in will. This is why setting specific goals is important. Without specific goals people often lack the proper motivation that changing their lifestyle requires.
Now for the actions to be taken; let’s start with nutrition and diet. Firstly, you must remember that when grocery shopping never bring junk food into your home just because. Stop buying soda, chips, unhealthy crackers and snacks. Simply put, if they are not available you cannot have them. Limit or eliminate your intake of the obvious junk food. Now, I will not tell you that you must completely eliminate junk food right off the bat or even ever. I believe in balance. It is okay to indulge every once in a while. How I personally control my cravings and my indulgences is by only ever having those craving foods when I am eating out or on a special occasion. This is possible because I do not have these craving foods in my own home. That way I am consistently eating the things that I actually should be.
Next, you can never go wrong with vegetables. Eat as many as your heart desires and do not worry about calories when it comes to vegetables. Try to eat fresh produce or frozen and stay away from canned vegetables if possible as they are filled with preservatives and sodium. Of course you should be eating fruit as well, but make sure you are not just drinking fruit juices and smoothies as these contain no fiber. Do not overdo it on the fruits either as they do contain healthy nutrients and vitamins, but they are also high in sugar. Too much sugar in any form is bad.
When you are grocery shopping, be sure to look at nutrition labels. Know to watch out for high levels of sodium, fat, and sugar. Do not be fooled by non-fat items as they often include more sugar. Do not be too afraid of all fat as our body needs it to function. Just make sure your intake of fats is of unsaturated fats. One of my greatest fears in food is sugar. This is because I had no idea until the past few years how much sugar is in our foods. Women should only be taking in 25 grams of sugar per day and men should only be taking in 37 grams. Lastly, try to avoid the more middle aisles in the grocery store as the more you work your way towards the middle the more you are surrounded by highly processed foods. Stick the basics with real whole ingredients. I am not a registered nutritionist or dietician so I try not to give people advice that I personally have not experienced. So, I do recommend that you do some reading on your own from RELIABLE sources. I cannot stress that enough. Make sure all reading material you look towards is accurate information as so much of it out there, especially on the internet, is not.
Now, I am sorry but for the exercise portion I have to be a little vaguer. This is because everyone’s bodies require different things. Start by deciding where you want to be working out. Will you want to be doing it at home? Will you want to work out outside? Do you want to join a gym? This will dictate what kind of exercising you will be doing. If you want to work out at home you might try a highly rated workout program or home workout videos. There are also online subscriptions to workout videos as well as the free option of YouTube. I caution you, if you choose to work out at home it is easy to slack off so make sure you hold yourself accountable or have a friend join you so that you can hold each other accountable.
If you choose to join a gym, explore all the gyms in your area and make sure you choose the one that seems the best for you. The gym you join should feel like a safe place for you. Gyms can be intimidating at first. I think the best weapon against intimidation from the unknown is having a plan. Personally, when I was afraid to go into my gym I would look up workout routines so I knew exactly what I wanted to be doing while I was in there and so that I would not be nervous or embarrassed of looking like I don’t belong. Know that no one is judging you.
Find out if you enjoy just straight cardio, lifting weights, a combination of both, or something completely different such as dance workouts. Once you have found something that makes exercising fun your motivation will be much easier for you to maintain.
The last thing that I want to cover about your healthy and fit lifestyle journey is staying accountable. Make sure that before you start on this journey that you hold yourself accountable for your actions. For some people their internal drive is enough to keep them going, but for others it is not as easy. For these people I suggest telling one or many people about what you plan to do. Have others watching you so that you don’t slip up or if you do you have support. I also recommend going on this journey with a partner or friend. These changes are much easier to undergo if you are not going it alone. Lastly, don’t beat yourself up too much if you slip up every once in a while. You are forever learning and making mistakes and learning from them, but as long as you have a strong will and goals set, there is no reason you can’t accomplish them. Good luck!
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