It matters. Your commitment to you matters. This is a lifestyle and to be the healthiest version of you, you need to be ALL IN. We all know health and mobility is often taken for granted until it is lost. Start now so you stay healthy and mobile and remain able to do the things you love to do. It’s not as hard as you think. Why? Because once you build healthy habits, it becomes easy to live by habit.
A lot of clients tell me they lose weight then gain it back. Or they lose some weight but can’t drop the last 10 or 20 pounds. They’re discouraged and sometimes want to quit. But before you quit let’s talk about the three pieces to success and some really small changes that can make a difference. A big difference.
Yes, to lose weight we need to expend more calories than we take in. But, I see so many people eating like birds. Barely eating and barely losing weight! Talk about discouraging. I think, “They must be hungry all the time”. I’m telling you, you can EAT and you don’t have to be hungry to lose weight. Read that again. You can eat. You dont need to be hungry. You will still lose weight. In fact, the less you eat, the slower your metabolism gets. Your body adapts to survival on low energy expenditure and low calories. And guess that it does to do that? It starts shutting down the least important (but still important) body functioning processes, one by one. You just won’t notice until you’re really sick. Your metabolism is fired up when it is processing food. If you don’t give your body enough food it learns to live on 800 calories a day, or 1000 or whatever you are giving it. Teaching your body to change that takes time. But it is doable. But the better option is don’t starve your body to begin with!
Ok, Let’s break this into three pieces. Food intake (energy in). Activity output (energy out). Sleep (recovery and repair). These are your keys to success.
Let’s start with activity. Long term success (this means staying at a fairly stable and consistent weight and health level for the rest of your life) happens only with a lifestyle. For some that is a bigger change than others. But it’s a whole lifestyle. What does that mean? Well, many people start by going to the gym for an hour a day. Some see the results they want to see, other don’t. Why? Well to say it simply, if you exercise for an hour a day but then go to a job where you are sitting from 9-5, come home eat and watch TV until bed you aren’t getting enough activity. One hour a day is not enough activity to keep your healthy, or create enough energy expenditure, so you may not see results.
This is where lifestyle changes come in. We all have to work, but you can find ways to get more movement in during the day. Movement is healthy. Increasing low intensity movement through your entire day will make a HUGE difference. You can park your car at the back of the parking lot when you go to the grocery store, the bank, work, etc… This will give you the opportunity to walk more. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. I know, I know…. no one likes to take the stairs. But, it’s just creating a habit. And once you have the habit, you’ll WANT to take the stairs. Im serious!! If you work in an office, stand more. Take the long way to get to your office. Take a walk during lunch. You will be surprised how much all those little things add up! Start creating new habits. After work, cut out 1/2 an hour of TV and take a walk instead. What about social media? Want to browse? Take a walk and browse if you have to. But move. If you think about all the time you spend watching TV or browsing social media, think of how much time you’d have to move if you traded some of that time for healthy movement time instead or for meal prep, etc… We make time for what we value and prioritize. Is your health on your list of priorities? That’s why I said, are you all in? Or half in?
You don’t have to go to the gym more than once a day. You just have to move. Walking is one of the most underutilized and most beneficial ways to exercise. And it improves circulation. I wear a wrist fitness tracker. I don’t worry about my steps. But I use the data to gauge my all day activity. I glance at it a few times a day and make a mental note to myself. I’m either moving enough for the day based on my personal goals and how my body feels. Or, I say to myself… ok you have a half a day left to find ways to move more. It keeps me consistent from day to day. Most days because of habits I am meeting my goals.
I train almost every day with a heart rate chest strap, yet that little wrist worn tracker is as important to me as my daily training. The 90-120 minutes I spend training each day is such a small portion of my 24 hour day. Even doing that much high intensity training every day (much more than many need to) would not be enough for me to meet my goals, or remaining consistent, without lining up a healthy movement lifestyle all day, every day. I move a lot during the day. Low intensity, healthy movement. It keeps my metabolism firing. It keeps me loose. It keeps me mentally engaged in life. And it keeps my body needing more fuel (calories)! Best of all, It keeps my circulation strong (we all know how important that is!). So can you incorporate more movement into your every day life with some of the ideas above? Start small. Just a few things at a time.
Next let’s talk about energy in. Food. Diet is what makes exercise effective. Read that again. Diet is what makes exercise effective. You can work SO hard at the gym but if your diet doesn’t support your goals you wont see a change. You cant exercise a diet of fast food and sweets. If you could, everyone would be doing it. Committing to health means committing to nutrition. Are you all in? Just just half in? Fitness goals are, seriously, 80% diet and 20% exercise. Yep…. its true. This is why many people struggle with maintaining consistent weight and health. They diet for a short time then revert back to old habits before the new habits have a chance to stick! It takes a year to build a solid habit. A year! But a year is such a short period of time in your entire life. Just think, one year building the habit and the rest of your life its easy! Done deal for me!
We have to balance energy in with energy out. And if trying to lose weight, energy in must be less than energy out. Humans tend to over estimate calories burned and under estimate calories consumed. Keep that in mind. You have to fuel your body with enough energy to be active! But you cant starve your body either. You need balance. A healthy lifestyle is built around balance. Many forget that.
Nutrition is SUCH a big topic. It needs like 100 blog posts of it’s own. But to summarize and keep this somewhat brief. The process of breaking down food BURNS calories and keeps your metabolism running faster. And some foods (protein) burn the most calories being digested! So, eat a lot of clean protein. In fact just eat CLEAN (foods with minimal ingredients or at it’s best not ingredient label). Eat all the colors of the rainbow. Limit 10% of your daily food intake (calories) to processed food. Yes, it’s ok to have a cookie or a sugar loaded coffee, a beer, or a drink, whatever your treat is, as long as it is in moderation. Eat foods that will fuel your body for an active lifestyle. Keep your energy in and energy out in balance. Some days you eat more, other days less. Listen to your body and what it needs. Teach your body to expect that food is always coming so there is no need to store fat for a famine. Remember, limiting your energy in, just teaches your body to adapt to survival on minimal calories. So then as soon as you eat more… Boom! Fat gets stored. Your body prepares for “starvation” again by storing fat quickly. Do not starve your body!!! You can eat and lose weight or maintain weight. Oh and a quick add on, drink a lot of water. Lots! Your body needs water to flush sodium and toxins and to carry nutrients around your body. Water aids in recovery and keeps your body functioning at its best. The benefits of water need an entire blog post!
Lastly, sleep. Making time for your health is the only way to create a healthy lifestyle. Prioritize sleep. This is when your body will rest and recover. For some reason in this country it seems being “busy” and working all the time, sleeping very little, over extending ourselves and running ourselves ragged is somehow like wearing a badge of honor. Wrong! I look up to those that value their health and wellness and make their self care a priority. They make time for their health. They make time for exercise, for sleep, for meal prep. Schedule your sleep. Commit to it. Be ALL IN. If you do not get the necessary sleep you need you will gain weight and/or you wont lose weight. Your body will produce more cortisol and guess what that does? Increases weight. Makes you eat more. Makes you crave sugary, fatty, processed foods. Slows your metabolism. So if you are tired, creating a healthy lifestyle is going to seem much harder than it needs to be. No one likes to feel tired. So rest up! And if you feel rested your all day activity will increase and get easier. And, your metabolism will function better.
So these are the three pieces of the puzzle. Are you all in? Or only half in? Commit to yourself. To your health. To your wellness. To your future. I can promise you no one ever looks back and says, “Damn, why did I waste time on self care?”. Nope, they look back and say “Ive never felt (or looked) so good. Why did it take me so long to get started?”. Small changes add up to big results.