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It’s a new year! I’m pretty sure a few of you have made resolutions to get fit/lose weight. Or maybe just be a little healthier. It’s the perfect time of year for it. The weather stinks. The holidays are over. The Christmas cookies are all gone. Let’s start 2018 off right!
I’m not a big fan of working out. And I don’t have a lot of willpower. But I’ve found what works for me and what doesn’t. I’d love to share some super simple tips and tricks that help me to maintain my healthy weight. I’ve compiled a list of easy ways to fit in exercise and some substitutions for not so healthy foods. I hope this list gives you some new ideas to help you reach your goals.
Tip #1. Eat small but frequent meals.
You’ve probably heard this advice before. Eating frequent (but healthy) snacks throughout the day keeps you from feeling hungry and deprived, keeps your metabolism up, and helps control your blood sugar levels. Try to have a small, healthy snack in between breakfast and lunch and again between lunch and dinner. Some healthy snacks I love are yogurt, granola bars, baby carrots with hummus, or a handful of multigrain crackers. I also like to have a very small, sugar free snack before bed to keep my stomach full and metabolism up. I usually grab a handful of nuts or a couple small pieces of cheese.
Tip #2. Drink lots of water.
Not only does water flush out toxins from your body, it works as a natural, calorie free, appetite suppressant. If you are always feeling hungry, you can use water to trick your stomach into thinking it’s full. If you aren’t a big water drinker because you need more flavour, add lemon (see tip #3) or try adding other fruit with one of these cool fruit infusing water bottles.
Fill the infuser with your favourite fruit to stay hydrated while giving you a shot of natural flavour.
Tip #3. Add lemon to your water.
Lemon is a natural, healthy way to boost your metabolism. And it tastes great! Squeeze a lemon or add some fresh slices to your water every day to help with your weight loss routine. Studies have shown that it’s most effective when your drink it on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. Not only does it help with weight loss, it’s also great for your skin and cleanses your liver. As well as adding a dose of vitamin C to boost your immune system and fight off colds.
Tip #4. Add some cardio!
You don’t need to sweat. But you do need to get your heart rate up. Ideally, we should be getting 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week. It’s really not as hard as it sounds. You don’t need a gym membership. You don’t need to start running. Just go for a walk!
Try this: Grab your phone or iPod, turn on some upbeat music, and speed walk (walk fast enough to get your heart rate up) for 15 minutes. That’s it. Then turn around and do the same thing until you’re home. Boom! 30 minutes of cardio done. It seems way easier if you just think of it as walking for 15 minutes and then heading home. In a perfect world, you should do this 5 times a week. If you’re having trouble fitting it in, start by aiming for every other day. Eventually you’ll WANT to go for those speed walks to breathe some fresh air, get your heart pumping, and clear your head.
Cardio idea for moms – Have a dance party with your kids. Shake the sillies out, sing, dance, have fun!
Tip #5. Fit in extra calorie burns
Here’s a little secret that I use to fit in more exercise. I do 10-15 squats every time I need to use the bathroom. Think about how many times a day you need a bathroom break. Multiply that number by 10-15 squats a day. THEY ADD UP! You can do this at work or home and each set only takes seconds to complete, making it so easy to fit into your day. And if you’re already following tip #2 and drinking more water, that will equal more bathroom breaks and therefore more squats 😉
You can also try making yourself a “daily fitness to do list”. Example: 100 jumping jacks, 50 squats, 25 lunges per leg, 50 sit ups. Fit your list in throughout your day. For some, it’s easier to spread it out through the day instead of trying to set aside a chunk of time reserved just for working out. This can be especially tricky if you are home with kids constantly interrupting you.
Add weights – increase your weight resistance by
wearing ankle weights like these.
Even just wearing them walking around the house or work while going about your normal routine will help you burn extra calories. They are affordable and really don’t take much effort at all.
Tip #6. Try something new.
If you’re tired of the same old workout routine with limited results, mix it up. Maybe you just haven’t found the right form of exercise for your body. Try some things you’ve never tried before, and alternate those workouts to keep your body guessing. The game changer for me was trying yoga. I hated working out. But I found yoga didn’t really feel like a workout. It’s gentle, rejuvenating and quiet. But it’s toned my body better than anything else I’ve tried. We live in a world where information is at our fingertips. There are so many awesome YouTube videos and channels out there with free workouts. Meaning, you can try something new in the comfort of your own home. Here is a link to a great yoga video for complete beginners.
Tip #7: Food substitutions.
Here’s a list of simple ways to make healthier choices:
• Switch your bread from white to whole wheat
• Swap your 2% milk for 1%, Skim or Almond Milk
• Swap pop or juice for lemon water
• Craving Fries? Opt for sweet potato fries
• Try using honey in your tea/coffee instead of white sugar. Or start gradually reducing the amount of sugar
you use. Eventually you won’t miss it.
• Another way to cut sugar out of your coffee: use Vanilla Almond milk in place of cream and sugar. Yes, it still has sugar in it, but is a better alternative.
• Swap mashed potatoes for brown/wild rice or quinoa or caulitatoes (cauliflower mashed potatoes)
• HAVE to have potatoes? Opt for sweet potatoes instead.
• Swap vegetable oil for coconut or olive oil when cooking
• Reduce your red meat. Opt instead for chicken or fish. Other alternatively great sources of protein are nuts/seeds, eggs, quinoa, chick peas, hemp hearts, beans, lentils, hummus, tofu.
• Swap sugary cereals for granola with nuts, seeds, raisins and yogurt. A healthier way to get the same satisfying crunch of a bowl of cereal.
• Pasta lover? Instead of regular pasta, switch to whole wheat pasta or spaghetti squash.
Or get yourself an affordable handheld spiralizer like this one and
make zucchini noodles.
• Swap creamy pasta sauces for healthier versions like these:
Healthier Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce and Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce.
• Love chips and dip? Try veggies and hummus. You still get the satisfying crunch and dipping.
Tip #8: Write it down!
When I was struggling with controlling my weight, this made a huge difference in my progress. I found if I wrote down everything I ate and my daily exercise, I was able to notice patterns in my habits and I became more mindful in improving them. It’s so easy to just pop a candy in your mouth or have a cookie and not give it much thought.
It’s just one, right? Well if you know you have to write it down it makes you contemplate whether it’s really what you want to be doing. I got myself a health tracking journal like this one and wrote down everything I ate and what exercise I did each day. I also tried to keep track off my mood, how I was feeling about myself, etc.
Tip #9: Meal Prep
Set yourself up to succeed by prepping your healthy meals ahead of time. That way if you’re rushed, sleep in, etc, you can just reach into the fridge and have a healthy lunch or dinner ready to go. No excuses to eat out or order a pizza! Here is a great link on Meal Prep for Beginners.
Tip #10: The 21/90 Rule.
Remember, it takes 21 days to create a habit and 90 days to create a lifestyle. Don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t happen overnight. Really give your new routine some time. If that means saying no to outside obligations, then so be it. Surround yourself with positive influences and make it happen!
So simple right? Motivated? I hope so! Give some of these tips a try and make 2018 YOUR YEAR!