I had a lovely reader of mine (Lia this is lookin at you ;-)) asked me about the basics. About what any new person could do when they are first starting out on their journey towards a healthier lifestyle. I think this is a great topic of discussion not only because I know that this is a common question to have but also because today as I happened to touch on New Years Resolutions and why they tend to fail during my Personal Training Staff training last weekend.
So you have so many New Years Resolutions surrounding the idea of the health and fitness, yet so many of them fall through…
Why is that?
People care about their health and really seem to want to make some more healthful choices in their lives for their future, yet many people continue to make bets on how long their friend’s new ‘health kick’ will last.
It’s really rather sad that this occurs but it is actually some reality hidden in that. In fact, as stated in my training, only 8% of New Year Resolutions actually stick. EIGHT PERCENT! Perhaps now it’s easier to understand why many tend to roll their eyes when friends or family start talking about ‘makin some changes’ in the new year. It’s not that they are trying to be mean or not be encouraging, but rather that they are going off of experience and expectation….
Expectation that New Years Resolutions fail.
WE need to work on changing that BUT first, we need to figure out why people tend to fall through with their goals. Here’s a few reasons that we discussed in training.
- Health and fitness are not priorities. You may say “I will go to the gym 4x a week” in the beginning but what happens when things get busy? Exams? Midterms? Do you then give up those goals because other things come up?
- Aesthetics Vs. Passion. I have said this before, if you are going to the gym or eating ‘healthier’ strictly to work towards a goal body you will probably not stick it out as you are more than likely to be looking for a quick fix. When that quick fix turns out to not be so quick, one gives up.
- Lack of goal setting knowledge. Most tend to go overboard (ie. be unrealistic) about their goals. “I will go to the gym every day all day.” “I will never drink, eat bread or have a dessert again.” Unrealistic goals will ultimately fail because no one could keep those up.
- People get overwhelmed. If you feel that you don’t know what you are doing it may end up getting discouraged. This may then cause you to peace out early.
- Doing something because you feel you have to rather than you want to do it. You hate riding the bike but you feel you need to loose weight and that is the way to do it. If you have to drag yourself around to do something, you won’t do it for long.
I know there are many more but these are some big ones. The famous “I don’t have time” fits right into #1 as everyone (at least 95% I would say) has a spare hour or two in their day where they not working or doing other things that neeeed to get in the way. Do you watch TV for 2 hours every night? Well then TV is the priority over going to the gym or prepping some healthy meals and snacks for the next few days. Simple. You set what is important in your life and that will be what you end up doing.
#3 is also a big one. Going gung-ho in the new year is not the way to go as you will be trying to do TOO MUCH change all at once and end up overwhelming yourself. Instead, make a SMART goal that is specific (exactly what will you do), measurable (how will you measure your progress?), has an action plan (how will you reach this goal?), is realistic (is this within your abilities?) and has a time frame (When to start? when to finish? When to adjust?). Take a special note to the realistic one. By doing this you will ensure better success as it forces you to take a hard look at whether your goal is too much for your to handle at that time and gives you a rough idea as to how you will achieve it.
#2 and 5 are both centered around passion. What is the deep desire that makes you do what you do? If the desire is shallow (ie. I want to get skinny) than it probably won’t last through scheduling conflicts that make it tough to keep working at your goal. You need to ensure that you like doing what you are doing. For example, in the realm of fitness, if you aren’t a weight lifter than maybe consider doing fitness classes OR joining a team sport in your area OR checking out some of the recreational activities (swimming, dance, etc). If you are doing what you like than it will never feel like a chore to do it and you will not find yourself looking for an excuse to skip it. Instead, it will be something you will look forward to.
Lastly, that overwhelmed feeling. When something is new to us we tend to get a lil overwhelmed with how to go about starting or doing it. We think to ourselves “I don’t know what to do” or “I’m going to just do it wrong” or “what if __ happens?” There is so much information out there that finding what could work for you can be quite challenging and scary. The big thing from the get-go is that you cannot be afraid to ask questions. Ask LOTS of questions so that you can feel that you understand what and why you are doing something and thus become more confident in doing that thing more often. Figuring out what works best for you will take some trial and error BUT the push to keep trying new things out sometimes comes from having a lil assistance at the start to get the foundation in.
So now that I have blabbed your ear off as usual, to more specifically answer Lia’s questions about starting her own healthier lifestyle, I want to address her questions interview style to make it more efficient…as I tend to ramble if I don’t have structure 😛
DISCLAIMER: I’m not an expert, these are just my thoughts and opinions on the topics.
Here ya go Lia!
1. Quick Skinny Tips or Tricks?
Sadly there are no quick fixes. The media completely messes with people by showing pictures of celebrities that have lost a whole bunch of weight ‘overnight’ to gives us the false impression that this is actually humanly possible. Did they loose weight? I guess (I say that because who knows what they do to these images)… Did they do it in a healthy way? Probably not. That’s the thing, even if they did loose weight or ‘tighten up’ quickly it was probably through doing something very unhealthy and unrealistic long term. I seems that preparing for the red carpet automatically = start my no food, juice cleanse for the next week , exercise my ass off and hope I don’t die from starvation.
I’m sorry if I’m being blunt but this is reality. Making changes to the body takes time and hard work. Change is not easy as it requires lots of patience and a conscious effort to accomplish BUT you will appreciate it that much more in the end if you put that time in. Not to mention, you will be making these changes in such a way that you can maintain your efforts and not harm your body over the long term. I call that a win.
So with that said, what are my “skinny tips”
- Drink lots of water daily. Not only is this essential for proper body functioning and detoxification, water also helps to move things around making you less likely to bloat. On top of all that, it fills you up too! Are you really hungry or just thirsty?
- Eat yo veggies! Greens specifically. These have so many beneficial properties (alkalizing, minerals, vitamins, fibre, protein, etc I can go on) PLUS they fill you up once again for very lil calories. Gotta love nutrient dense foods my friends.
- Eat whole foods. It’s time to dump the packages and get out your frying pan/steamer/pot! Eating processed foods can lead to upset stomachs, bloating, gas, water retention and many other unpleasant side effects due to the chemical storm that is added to them. These foods are also stripped of many of their nutrients leaving you with lil benefits of ingesting that food. Whole foods are what your body craves as they fuel it properly
- Get movin. Make a conscious effort to move more. Sitting at a desk all day? Take the stairs, get up and stretch, sit on an exercise ball rather than a chair. There are so many lil things you can do to add a lil bit more movement and physical work into your day.
- Dump the inflammatory foods if you are sensitive. Gluten and dairy are the top two contributors to bloating, gas and all things “I feel fat” if you have an intolerance to them. Be mindful of how you feel after you eat foods with these two things vs when you don’t as it can make a huge difference to cut them out if you have problems digesting them.
- Watch the booze. Hate me for this one but it’s true. Alcohol is a major roadblock for a number of goals related to health and fitness. Whether you’re trying to loose weight or build muscle, alcohol can put a wrench in your plans. Quick reason why: It’s toxic to the body and thus your body sets its as a priority to be rid of it ASAP. The result? Your digestion is off (as our body tries super hard to filter the poison out, other food gets left undigested and potentially gets converted to fat for storage), your sleep is off (filtering is hard work!), your mind is foggy, you get dehydrated, your body is tired (when the best workouts happen right?) and forget trying to rebuild new strong muscle after that workout because your body is busy elsewhere. I’m not saying don’t ever have another drink. No, that’s not realistic for most. Instead, maybe reconsider weekend binge feasts…
I want to do a separate post on this one as I know that this is something many other readers have questions about. I will also address your specific question about bread and carbs too because too many people are afraid of carbohydrates when really, they provide the easiest and preferred fuel for your body and brain!
As a general statement, and once again this is my opinion, I will say that your body wants, needs and craves whole foods. I touched on this in the previous question but eating real food is the best thing you could do for your body. Next time you are in the grocery, parade your cart around the edges of the store and avoid the middle aisles like they are toxic….cuz they mostly are to be honest. There are some exceptions to this rule, but for the main gist, keep that picture in mind. The fruits, veggies, whole grains to some degree, meats/poultry/alternatives, fish, milk (I hesitate on that one…will explain later), nuts and seeds are what your body wants as they are still wholesome and nutritious.
What’s not wholesome and nutritious? The food found in boxes. The food that has been processed so much that it has been stripped of its nutrients and is simply a bag of empty calories, fillers, chemicals and preservatives. A rice cake is not food. Low fat, low this, low that foods are not food. TV dinners are not food. These are simply things made to look like food, feel like food, falsely appeal to our taste buds and confuse the hell out of out bodies. What enzyme digests splenda?!?!
3. Books or Websites that are usual tools?
I tend to learn a lot from other bloggers to be honest. I love reading health and nutrition blogs for new recipes and ways of preparing food that best keeps the nutrients locked in while still being delicious. They teach me how to work in tricky ingredients like gluten free flour alternatives (coconut, buckwheat, almond flours, etc). They even introduce me to new REAL FOOD ingredients. I would have never come across peanut or chestnut flour (both amazing gluten free flour alternatives for baking) for example without glancing at these lovely blogs. They are also motivating and inspiring. There are others out their trying to figure out digestive issues like me! Who knew?!? That is amazing because they give me ideas to try to help myself out health wise which I can appreciate.
Here are a few of my favourite blogs for recipe inspiration:
- The Coconut Diaries. Great fun recipes that are both real and yummy. Kim is a genius in the kitchen and loves her spices.
- Chocolate Covered Katie. Dessert whiz, Katie knows her stuff. My first baked oatmeal came from her site.
- Edible Perspective. Ashely has tons of great allergen free recipes for those with digestive upsets
Also, many of my favourite recipes have come simply from Pinterest or Instagram.
Some of my favourite blogs for reading, recipes and just in general include:
- Nut Butter Runner. Morganne is always updating her blog, sharing her life and love for fitness which I can appreciate. She also gives out great recipes that are super easy and healthy.
- Sprint To The Table. From one fitness lover to another, Laura is a fitness competitor who loves strange food combinations, lifting and loving her life. She gives out great healthy recipes for all us body builders out there and also tests out new products on the daily for us to then try out. Overall I really enjoy her style of writing. An easy read that I can just continue from post to post.
Although I’m not much of a book reader, there are a few books I would like to read that are very informative and that I would totally recommend for others to check out!
- Wheat Belly. For those interested in the controversy around grains. I would love to get my hands on a free ebook version of this one!
- Discover The Power Of Food. This was a free gift given to me at work as the author of this book is the founder of GoodnessMe!, Janet Jacks. She came in to all of our stores and told a lil about the book and why she wrote it and it seems amazing! The entire book is based on teaching you about what different foods (sugars, wheat, gluten, etc) do the body, the importance of taking care of your adrenals (stress!!) and many more. She also provides a huge list of recipes that are all dairy and gluten free to be as non-inflammatory to the body as possible.
- Grain Brain. Although it seems this book itself is controversial, it talks about the effects of grains and sugars on the brain and relates it to human disease. I think it would be an interesting read and perspective.
Lia also wanted to know some basics on where to start with clean eating and daily exercise so I will give a few tips for that too.
For ‘clean eating’ I have mentioned a few things already…
- Eat real foods, dump the packaged, over processed ones
- Drinks lots of water
This term ‘clean eating’ is thrown around a lot and can be easily misinterpreted. Why? Most people have their own definition of what is considered clean. For example, my idea of clean eating may be too extreme for many people. I choose to make all my own food and the only things in my house that come in a wrapper or box are still whole foods for the most part. Things like quest bars, whey, frozen fish/chicken/meats, oatmeal, natural nut butters, etc are all things that grace my shelf that are not directly picked off a tree. Basically they are still wholesome ingredients, just another person/machine has taken them and packaged them up for selling. I then take the time to prepare all of my food so that I know that I’m getting the nutrients my body craves and none of the added sugars, fats, or chemical nasties. On the other hand, a packaged granola bar, whole grain bread and flavoured yogurt may fall under another person’s idea of clean and that is perfectly okay too. You do what works for you and your body. I will have my beliefs and others with have theirs.
Overall I think that ‘clean eating’ is whatever foods make you feel like the optimal you. They give you energy. Make you feel good and not guilty. Don’t eat foods that upset your system and stay as natural (ie closest to the actual whole food) as possible.
Tips for daily exercise…
- Find an activity you like doing and do more of it. Like fitness classes? Find one in your area and even bring a friend to join and motivate you. Interested in learning to lift weights? Talk to friends who enjoy the gym, join their sessions or simply go to bodybuilding.com to get you started on some workouts if you are stuck on what to do. The main thing is that you have to enjoy it or you won’t do it.
- If you work at a desk all day, think about swapping your chair out for an exercise ball. This not only makes you work your core all day, it ensures your posture is maintained in the neutral position (or else you would fall off the ball or your back would scream at you). An office chair can lead to stiff and tight muscles, sore and weak back muscles and a weak core as it appears to do all the work for you by giving you a nice backrest. Not the case.
- Take a walk on your lunch break with a co-worker. Take an after dinner stroll with your family (this helps with digestion too!). Take the stairs if applicable to your job. Just move more!
- If you are planning to exercise, make sure you make it a priority. Book it into your calender or daily schedule like any other meeting or appointment. This way you have set this ‘me time’ as a task for the day that cannot be changed. That is your time to do something for you that you have planned into your day. Everyone needs me time in their lives.
I know I have left a few holes in my explanations as I want to dive into those in further posts, but, Lia, I hope this post helps you out a lil bit and for all my other readers please don’t be afraid to ask questions as I love to be able to write up responses to them!
Have a great night friends!