Now is the perfect time to begin sculpting a hotter, fitter, happier you. Fitness is not one size fits all. Whether you prefer Tai Chi in the park or the intensity of a boot camp style workout, finding what works for you is the most important element. But getting fit doesn’t have to be grueling. With just a few “best practices” you can get the look you want without the drudgery.
Below are my top ten tips to help you take control of your health even if you aren’t a fitness enthusiast.
1. The classics are classic for a reason. Just like a good pair of jeans and your little black dress is the foundation of your wardrobe, time-tested healthy habits are also the very basics of health and fitness. Sleep at least eight hours a night, drink plenty of water and even more when you exercise, don’t skip meals, always eat SOMETHING for breakfast (coffee doesn’t count), eat your veggies and go easy on the sweets. While these habits seem basic, you’d be shocked by how many of us aren’t doing them. With just a few tweaks to your daily routine, you can not only feel better, but your health and appearance will also improve.
2. Muscles are sexy…especially on women. I could spend hours telling you about all of the benefits of building muscles. Not only does moderate weight training reduce your risk of injury, osteoporosis, and heart disease it’s great for your curves. Whether you do a body sculpting yoga class, using your own body’s weight to build muscle, or hit the weight room three times a week for a twenty-minute session, weight lifting will help you carve out and define the curves you want.
3. Variety! Chances are if you don’t see fitness results you probably haven’t switched things up for a while. I would recommend changing routines every two weeks. Sometimes that means changing activities, and other times that means increasing the intensity. Maybe this week you pair spin class with a yoga class. Maybe next week it’s kickboxing. Increasing the intensity of your current routine is another way to push through a plateau. So, switch it up!
4. Push, swing, and hang! Shapely arms and a tight, firm behind are easier to achieve than you think. Don’t worry if you can’t do a push-up. Even modified push-ups will get results. Can’t manage even a single pull-up? Just hanging from the bar for as long as you can help improve your upper body strength and definition. One of the best exercises for the whole body is the standard kettlebell swing. To firm up your derriere, squat deep and thrust your hips forward, concentrating on activating your glutes as you power upwards.
5. Goals are important! Long-term goals are important, but short-term goals are even more important. Breaking your long-term goals down into small, achievable benchmarks is the best way to avoid being overwhelmed and quit. One great way to do this is to measure your success by more than just the numbers on the scale. Maybe you want to look better in your jeans or get in the habit of being in bed by 10 pm. Focus on improving every day rather than drastic changes. Pace yourself. Take it one day at a time. Attaching your goals to overarching goals, deadlines and rewarding your victories are all important mental strategies to make your bid for fitness a success.
6. Remove the barriers. Pack your lunch and your gym bag the night before. Team up with a gym buddy. Set your gym membership to auto-pay. It’s easy to give ourselves excuses for poor nutrition and missed workouts. But if you want to achieve your fitness goals, get in the habit of setting yourself up for success. If your gym buddy is waiting for you to show up, you are less likely to blow off your scheduled workout. If you have a packed lunch, you are less likely to splurge. And who wants to waste their gym fee?
7. Meditate. It’s not just trendy; it’s healthy. People who meditate as little as ten minutes a day report improved mood, mental focus, energy levels, and lower levels of stress. Stress is hell on your body, inside and out. Improperly handling stress can lead to breakouts, dull skin, hypertension, ulcers, and depression. So, when you finish your workout, or perhaps before bed, find time to practice some form of mindful meditation.
8. Stretch. Dynamic movement is essential for good health. Most exercise is predictable. Up and down, side to side, forward and backward. However, to get the most out of your body, incorporate stretching and lateral movement. Expanding your range of motion will help you to avoid injuries, improve balance, and give your muscles the long and lean look that so many dancers and swimmers enjoy.
9. Go on empty. Fasted cardio is not just a great way to burn calories and melt fat, it can also help you overcome laziness. Willpower is like money. You only have so much of it to spend each day. If you blow it all on work or household chores, you are almost guaranteed not to have enough to stick to your workout routine. That’s why it’s best to exercise first thing in the morning. Before breakfast, before all the demands of the day sap your mental energy and will-power, get out of bed and go workout. Since your belly is empty, your body will be forced to tap into your fat stores more quickly to provide your body with energy. The endorphins your body releases during your workout will improve your mood and help you start your day with a win for you and your waistline.
10. Shop in the produce aisles. You don’t have to be a nutritionist to eat healthily. Grocery stores put “whole foods” suck as produce, meats, dairy, and bakery items along the perimeter. One trick to improve your nutrition is to buy 70% of your groceries on the perimeter of the grocery store, avoiding the sugary, preservative laced, artificially colored items in the aisles. Shopping and eating this way will require a little planning on your part, but with practice and a few simple recipes, you can eat like a king as the pounds melt away.
Remember that making drastic changes to your diet is a recipe for disaster. Dramatically cutting your caloric intake will give short-term success but an extreme change can damage your metabolism and creates an unsustainable relationship with food. It’s best to cut your daily intake by no more than 500 calories a day.
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Author Bio: Jane Grates
Skydiver, maker, audiophile, vintage furniture lover and communicator, collector, connector, creator. Making at the sweet spot between art and computer science to save the world from bad design. Concept is the foundation of everything else.