10 Concrete Ways to Achieve Your Goals in Health and Wellness

Most people make New Year’s resolutions.  Most of these New Year’s resolutions are wishes for health, wealth and happiness.  There is something about a brand new year that makes people want to start right and so they make resolutions.

The word “resolution” comes from the verb “resolve,” which means to come to a solution or a decision over some puzzle or question.  Frankly, most New Year’s resolutions are mere wishes and not really resolutions because precious few of them ever become reality.

In order for resolutions to become reality they must be more than just mere wishes, but actual action plans with action steps. Since health and fitness directly impact our personal well-being and the well-being of our families, we must resolve to be fit and healthy.

But how?

Here are some ideas:

Know the state of your health. Go and see your doctor before starting any exercise or diet regimen. Get yourself checked out thoroughly and tell your doctor about your goal of weight loss and health. People often go on crash diets out of desperation that never have a happy ending. Make sure that you choose a healthy eating plan that will allow for long term success, so you don’t set yourself up for failure right at the start.

Phrase your resolution as a principle. Let your resolution be the guiding principle that will define all the food and activity choices you will make for the whole year.  If you can, articulate it as a theme or a motivating phrase.  The catchier and shorter it is, the easier to remember and the easier to use to discipline yourself and to rally your forces against inactivity and surplus weight.For example, if you use “Thin is in in 2017” — it’s catchy, but it isn’t very precise. A spaghetti noodle is thin, but so is a flagpole. But if you phrase it as a command, “Lose 52 pounds in 2017.”  It is not a wish or a desire anymore, it’s both a goal and a command.

Break it down into small tasks. 52 pounds is a big figure. But, then again, you have 12 months or roughly 52 weeks lose those 52 pounds, which translates to about 4 and a quarter pounds each month of the year or 1 pound each week. So, there you go.  You can revise your resolution: “One pound a week in fifty-two weeks makes fifty-two pounds lost in 2017.” One pound a week is not only a healthy weight loss pace, it is also a very doable goal.

Think of particular plans of action. Answer the question: how do you intend to lose one pound each week? Here is where you have to do a lot of thinking.

  • You can’t starve yourself because starving will boomerang into binges.
  • You can’t deprive yourself because deprivation may mean malnutrition.
  • You can’t abstain from all your favorite food because you will be frustrated.

Think in terms of what you can do instead of what you can’t do.

  • Choose unsweetened plain tea instead of soda.
  • Replace your chips and fattening dip with vegetable sticks and a low-calorie dip. (You can find plenty of healthy dip recipes online.)
  • Eat fish and chicken instead of pork or beef.
  • Bake, boil or poach instead of fry.
  • Grill instead of sautee.
  • Squeeze lemon juice and a little olive oil over lettuce instead of using cream dressings.
  • Eat whole grain bread instead of white bread.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Walk or bike to the market instead of taking the car.
  • Begin a cardio and strength regimen or join a fitness class.

Find a workout buddy. It’s a lot easier to jog or walk when you are with a friend – the mile goes more quickly because of the companionship and conversation. Make sure your workout buddy is a person who knows you well enough to be a drill sergeant when you’re feeling lazy and need one; and a cheerleader when you’re feeling run-down and can use a helping hand.

Continuously challenge yourself. Take baby steps at first, but when you get stronger and more confident, lengthen your stride. If you tell yourself that at the start you will walk around the block before breakfast, do this until it becomes part of your routine (about a week or two) and when you are no longer panting when you circle the block, walk to the next block and back.Gradually increase the length of time that you walk or walk more times around the block or go farther and farther until you build up stamina and strength. Once you get bored with just walking, try jogging.  And then running. Up your game to keep things interesting.

Find ways to measure your progress. Keep a log on your refrigerator door and note down how many blocks you walked today. If you use a pedometer, note the number of steps you took every day. The feeling of accomplishment will fuel further resolve to stick to your workout or physical activity routine. Also monitor weight loss and inches, this is more positive reinforcement that will keep you going.

Designate a weighin day. If you weigh yourself every day, chances are, you will have an emotional roller-coaster experience as the reading on the bathroom scale is often impacted by your daily toilet habits, the outfit you’re wearing, how much fluid you took, etc. Instead of going on a roller-coaster experience, give yourself breathing space and weigh yourself once every week or once every two weeks.

Reward yourself. If you lose 5 pounds, treat yourself to a movie or a massage. Surely a 20 pound loss deserves your favorite bottle of perfume or a new gadget? Whatever the reward, remember to choose something with meaning. Rewards reinforce behavior, which can keep you going for the long term straight to your goal!

Be kind, loving and patient toward yourself. Be your own cheerleader and your own drill sergeant. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you feel disappointed at not having reached a milestone. Tomorrow is a new day. Give yourself good advice and talk yourself out of giving up.  Encourage yourself to get back on track.

Beachbody

Reasons to Eat Fat to Lose Fat

Coconut oil is a healthy fat.

For decades, all forms of dietary fat were demonized like there was no tomorrow. Fat was blamed for causing numerous chronic health problems and diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer. As time marched on, researchers discovered more interesting findings. While past recommendations encouraged us to avoid fat at all costs if we wanted to achieve healthy weight loss, experts are now saying that some forms of dietary fat not only help you to burn fat, but also improve your health and well-being in the process. You see, not all fats are created equal; there are good fats, and there are bad fats. Bad fats are synthetic saturated fats and trans-fats found in processed junk foods, whereas good fats are polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and natural saturated fats like those found in animal products and organic, unrefined coconut oil. So, let’s take a closer look at a few reasons why we need to eat fat to lose fat.

Healthy fats turn your body into a fat burning machineIn the past, people were urged to follow extremely low-calorie, virtually fat-free, diets to lose weight; nowadays, the exact opposite is true. Low-calorie diets are not practical for healthy weight loss, and they are actually not that effective either. Rather than encouraging your body to burn fat for energy, the body ends up becoming more effective at using carbohydrates for fuel. What’s more, cutting out fat also reduces the activity and effectiveness of fat-burning hormones known as Adipokines. One such hormone is known as Adiponectin, which boosts the metabolism of fats in the body. This basically means that it turns the body into a fat burning machine, as you will burn stored body fat as a primary source of energy.

Healthy fats replace carbohydrate intakes – Complex carbohydrates are important macronutrients, but if we consume too many carbs, either simple or complex, we will find it harder to burn fat, and easier to store it. When we consume carbohydrates, insulin is secreted by the pancreas to regulate blood glucose levels, and to shuttle nutrients into your cells for energy. If you follow a higher healthy fat diet, your carbohydrate intakes will be lower because you need an equal macronutrient ratio. Less carbohydrates will mean less insulin being secreted. By reducing insulin secretion however, your body can access stored body fat for energy more effectively, meaning that it will use more fat for fuel, as opposed to glucose from carbohydrates.

Here are some examples of healthy fat foods to include in your diet: avocados, nuts (e.g. walnuts, almonds), olives, wild-caught salmon (not farm-raised), flaxseeds, whole eggs (yes, eat the yolk!), chia seeds, coconut and organic virgin coconut oil (cold pressed, unrefined).

Healthy fats increase satiety levels – Finally, the last reason we should try to eat more good fats if we wish to achieve healthy weight loss, is because fats can increase your satiety levels. This means that you will feel full for longer, so you’ll want to eat less. Per gram of fat, you receive 9 calories of energy, as opposed to 4, which would come from proteins and carbohydrates. Satiating fats, however, will provide more energy and keep you feeling full for longer, so you will be less likely to overeat.

Beachbody

6 Tips to Help You Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

friendsWe all desire to be healthier and every year we make a resolution to do just that, but making a resolution is much easier than keeping it.

Have you recently made a resolution to be healthier?

Would you like some great tips to help you reach your New Year’s resolution goals?

Well, if you do, then you have come to the right place to do just that! The more you know, the easier it will be to stay focused and consistent, so you can become a healthier you for the long term.

Resolution

The key to keeping your resolution is to start with goals that you can keep. Start with a small resolution and work your way up to bigger ones.

Instead of deciding to workout every day, resolve to work out two times a week. After you accomplish that, then you can add another day to your workout routine.

Each time you keep a resolution, you will gain momentum to help you accomplish your next goal. Before you realize it, working out on a regular basis will come naturally to you.

Rewards

Set up a rewards system to help you stick to your health resolutions. If you have something to look forward to, it is much easier to stay focused on what you want.

When you do reward yourself, remember to make it a non-food reward! Choose something that will inspire you like donating all your too-big clothes to charity, or go for a relaxing spa session.

Your reward can be almost anything as long as it doesn’t undermine your efforts and motivates you to accomplish your health and fitness goals. Your reward should also fit into your budget.

Friends

A goal is always easier to accomplish with help from your friends. When we stumble and fall, our friends will be there to help us back up. Find other like-minded people that also want to be healthy and start a group so that you can all support each other.

Join a group workout class. Classes are an ideal way to stay motivated and healthy. With the right support, you will find that keeping your resolution is much easier!

Reaffirm Your Resolution

Stay focused on your goals. Set aside time each day to contemplate and to reaffirm your resolution.

Ask yourself… What can I do today to reach and keep my health and fitness goals?

The more you think about your goals, the more likely you are to keep those goals. You can even create a vision board dedicated to your resolution to be healthy.

Take a poster board and fill it with images that remind will remind you of being healthy. Hang it where you will see it every day and be reminded to stay focused on your goals.

Lifestyle Choices

Being healthy is a lifestyle choice. We make choices every day that impact our life and our health. Keeping your resolution to be healthy will be influenced by those choices.

Examine your choices carefully and ask yourself if this will hinder you or help you in keeping your goals.

When you become more aware of your choices, you will find it easier to stay focused on keeping your resolution to be healthy.

Accountability

Keep yourself accountable for your actions.

Before you skip your workout or eat that slice of pie, ask yourself…Will I regret this decision? Will your decision leave you feeling guilty?

Deep inside, you know if what you are doing is healthy or not. Thinking about the consequences may help you make the right decision. Exercise and eating right is a choice, not a jail sentence. Healthy lifestyle changes should be fun, not a chore! YOU are in charge of your life. No one can do it for you.

Stay focused on what you want and don’t let anything stop you from getting it. When you truly decide that you will keep your resolution to be healthy, then you will.

Another way to become accountable is by telling someone or multiple important people in your life about the resolution you have made. Ask them for help in checking in with you as to its progress. This can help you because you will be anticipating having to discuss your progress with another person.

Beachbody

 

Enjoy an Active Holiday Season

Holiday Season Snowshoeing

Now that there is snow on the ground and you are in a holiday mood, it does not mean that it’s time for you to give up on your exercise routine or plan. You might find it hard to eat healthily and still get a chance to work out with all the family gatherings and parties. But, you can still do it. You need to prioritize your health more during this challenging time.

First, you have to change your mindset. You can use the additional family time to bond with relatives and also work out in group settings. Below are some ideas to assist you, and your family or relatives, stay active and healthy during the holiday season.

Make a plan earlier

If you plan on traveling to another state or city, be sure to do some research online. Find out if you can be an ‘add-on’ to any of your relative’s existing memberships, or if you can get a temporary gym membership.

If you happen to be traveling somewhere warm and you prefer to be outdoors, try to look up hiking trails and running routes in the area. You will get many resources online to help you make that big step.

Make family time

Usually, the holiday season is all about spending time with your loved ones. It’s the perfect time to drink, eat and be merry with everyone. Why not consider exercising together or playing fun games that will help everyone to exercise by the end of the day?

A game like hide-and-seek or tag is ideal to play with young nephews or nieces. There are many games you can find, even for adults, once you Google search. You can even inspire your loved ones to take a walk with you around the neighborhood. The walk will help all of you to burn calories and bond with the family. This is a perfect light workout for everyone and will take you away from that pumpkin pie, even for a while.

Take part in holiday-themed runs

Most towns and cities offer various runs during the holiday season. Preparing for a walk, run or obstacle course race helps you stay motivated to exercise. Ensure that you invite all your loved ones so that you can motivate each other and show up for the event.

Bring your own equipment

If you will be traveling and you are sure that you will not access a gym, consider bringing some portable fitness equipment like a TRX suspension trainer, tubing or Valslides. These simple solutions will fit in your carry-on bag or suitcase.

Go out in the snow

Most people who work out a lot consider snow to be ideal “fitness equipment.” So, if you will be surrounded by snow the entire holiday season, make sure that you take advantage of it. You can go snowboarding, ice-skating, skiing or snowshoeing. Maybe you can take part in a friendly snowball fight, too.

All these simple solutions will help you beat the weight-gain battle and stay healthy during the holiday season.

Beachbody

Make Exercise and Good Nutrition a Family Affair

Family exercising together.

Have you ever noticed that it’s much easier to stick to a exercise or diet plan if you have someone in the trenches with you? Have you ever been the person eating carrot sticks and celery while watching someone else eat fat-drenched carbs with sugar on top? Why not make exercise and good nutrition a family affair?

Get Rid of the Junk Food

Starting with food, which is often the most difficult part of the willpower bandwagon, if the whole family is working on eating healthy foods, you can just keep those sinful temptations out of the house. Consider avoiding the junk food aisle all together and purchasing healthy alternatives for snacks.

Whole grain crackers, pretzels, yogurt, string cheese, nuts, apples, carrots, celery, kale, berries, bananas and other fruits are healthy alternatives that often cost less in the long run and are chock-full of vitamins, dietary fiber and low in calories and fat. Experts recommend placing the healthy alternatives at eye-level in the cupboards or refrigerator so that the healthy items are the first thing a person sees when they look for a snack.

Look for Healthy Alternatives to Family Favorites

If your whole family is working on good nutrition, you can look for healthy alternatives to your favorite dishes. Enjoy baking? Often substituting pumpkin or applesauce for the butter or oil can work well in muffin, cake or brownie recipes. It replaces the fat, adds flavor and vitamins and is an easy swap.

Use cooking spray instead of high calorie oils in your cooking, and add more green leafy items, more vegetables and fruits to your meals, which can make a big difference as well. Does your family enjoy spaghetti dinners? Consider swapping the heavy pasta for lighter alternatives – spaghetti squash is a vitamin-rich alternative. Eight minutes in the microwave, top with your favorite marinara sauce and you’d hardly know the difference. Yet the difference between them is huge — 31 calories in spaghetti squash versus 158 in spaghetti per serving.

Family Fitness

Why head out to the gym on your own if you can bring the whole family? Often a gym will offer a substantial discount for a whole family membership, and many gyms even provide childcare and play rooms for smaller children. Older children will enjoy shooting baskets, running around the track, and your pre-teens and teens will enjoy learning to use the weight machines and free weights.

Exercise doesn’t have to stop at the gym. Gearing up for a 5K? Why not register the spouse and kids as well? They’re likely to be there to cheer you on anyway, but if you’re all in it together you can prep for it together and eat healthy in preparation together.

Maybe you’re not a runner. Family walks after dinner are a nice way to wind down and hear about each others day. Weekend hikes, skiing, biking or paddling trips are excellent ways to commune with nature and create memories your kids will have with them forever.

What is the best thing about involving the whole family in healthy eating and exercise? Making healthy choices now will make all of you healthier in the long run and will help to establish wonderful fitness and eating habits in your children that they will continue throughout their lives. Studies show that children who are active do better in school, have more confidence and even do better on some tests. With the multitude of benefits for everyone, why not get everyone involved?

Beachbody

5 Simple Strategies for Sticking to Your Fitness Goals

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No matter what your fitness goals are, strength training is an important component to any exercise program.

Sticking to your fitness goals can be challenging, but it is also very rewarding. Learning to be healthy takes time and dedication to your fitness goals. Sticking with those goals also takes time and patience to perfect.

Don’t be discouraged if you stumble every now and then, the most important part is that you get back up and try again.

Here are some tips to help you stick with your fitness goals.

Commitment

Make fitness more than a goal, make it a lifestyle. The more committed you are to your fitness goals, the more likely you will be to stick with them.

  • Tell others about your decision to be healthy. When we make public our intent to be fit and healthy we also make that commitment more real in our minds. Every so often it is good to reaffirm your commitment to being healthy and fit.
  • Teach others what you have learned about fitness. By teaching others you will gain a unique perspective on how fitness works.
  • Write it down. Write down your commitment to yourself and the specific goals that you want to reach.

Switch It Up

Your exercise routine should not become boring. Once your workout becomes boring, it won’t be long before you stop doing it. Try new things, and keep it fresh and exciting.

  • Take A Class: Instead of doing your same old workout, try taking a class. There are so many different classes and teachers, each with their own unique approach to helping you meet your fitness goals. Classes can be really fun, especially when there is an energetic and highly motivating teacher.Also, classes are great places to meet other fitness conscious people, and when you have people with a fitness mindset in your life, you are more likely to stick with your fitness goals.Class choices are plentiful and include: aerobics, cycling, Kettlebell, CrossFit, ViPR, Bosu, ballet barre, boot camp, Pilates, Tai Chi, QiGong, Zumba, Doonya, and kickboxing, just to name a few.
  • Hire A Personal Trainer: They are experts at motivating people to workout. They will also give you fresh ideas for your workout and can guide you to take your fitness to the next level and that can be motivating in and of itself.The other critical benefit of getting a trainer is that it gives you someone to answer to, it’s much harder to skip a workout when you have an appointment with a trainer.

Start Small And Set Specific Goals

When choosing your fitness goals, you should pick a goal that is easy to stick with. Start with small goals and work your way up to the bigger and longer goals. Don’t set a goal that will be too hard to manage. Anything we make hard we will stop doing, make your goals fun and easy.

Goals should be categorized as short and long term, and specific action steps should be included as to how you will reach each of the goals.

Take each goal one step at a time. Break each goal up into steps that are easy to implement. Even a hard goal can be made easier if you break it up.

Starting with smaller goals will help you to build momentum. Each goal that you complete will empower you to start working on the more challenging ones.

Motivation

Motivation is the key element to sticking with your fitness goals, and it is the driving force that pushes you to succeed and to keep with it. Here are some tips to help you stay  motivated.

  • Remember why you made a fitness goal in the first place! Keep connected with the reasons you started in the first place. When you stumble, use those reasons to motivate yourself.
  • Reward yourself!! When you do good and push through a hard workout remember to reward yourself in a healthy way. If you workout all the time without noticing and acknowledging the payoffs and rewards, it will be much harder to stick with your goals. A reward will help you to remember how gratifying all the hard work can be.

Momentum

Motivation is the driving force, but momentum is what makes the whole process easier. When we have momentum on our side, nothing can stop us. It’s only when we lose that momentum that it becomes hard to stick to our goals.

  • Don’t take long breaks or to many breaks between your workouts, this will cause you to lose focus and momentum. When you feel that momentum, keep it going.
  • Don’t think about it, just do it. Many people tend to over think and wonder if they should workout or complete a step on their goals action list and this causes them to talk themselves out of doing those things.

Motivation and momentum are critical to sticking with your fitness goals. Use your commitment to strengthen your resolve and take each goal one step at a time. Make your workouts fun, exciting and different. Most of all, don’t forget to reward yourself!

Beachbody

 

The Importance of Physical Fitness as a Pre-Teen

Photo credit: Man vyi (own photo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Does your pre-teen seem more interested these days in watching movies or playing video games than engaging in fun fitness activities? If so, you’re not alone. The struggle is real for many families. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov), roughly 62% of children between the ages of 9 and 13 do not engage in organized sports outside of school and 23% do not engage in any physical activity during their free time. The importance of physical fitness as a pre-teen cannot be understated. The key is to form healthy habits early on and find more creative ways to motivate this age group to move more and actually enjoy it. Some of the health benefits of regular physical activity include stronger muscles and bones, weight control, better sleep, less stress, more energy, and the ability to think more clearly. All the more reason to get the whole family moving!

Exercise Is No Longer a Priority

Today’s middle-aged adults may find themselves fighting a stubborn middle-age spread. Former high school track stars have evolved into busy parents who juggle careers and families and it’s hard to keep up the fitness levels we once had. When we were young, however, many of us were more active. We rode bikes to our friends’ houses and spent hours running around and playing outside. If we wanted to watch a movie, we had to actually get up and go to a theater or make a trip to the video rental store. If we wanted to play video games, many of us went to an arcade – often traveling by bike to get there.

Compare that to today’s kids, who have everything they need for hours of entertainment conveniently located in their family computer or smartphone. Even buying things can be done with the click of a mouse. As a result, today’s kids are inherently more sedentary than past generations. The exercise we got naturally – through bike rides to our friends’ houses and playing outside – are not a necessary part of their daily life. Exercise has to be planned, squeezed in. It’s an additional activity, not a natural part of the process.

Instill Healthy Habits

Establishing fitness habits at an early age can lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits. A pre-teen is still malleable. The habits you instill now as a parent are habits that will continue with your child for a lifetime. Be a role model yourself by eating a balanced diet and exercising daily. Remember, your actions speak louder than words. Make time to be active as a family, too – go for a bike ride or a family hike. Buy gifts for your kids that will get them moving, such as a skateboard, a basketball, or a jump rope. Also, encourage your pre-teen to get involved in vigorous activities like running, swimming or playing sports like volleyball, tennis or soccer. Most importantly, limit the amount of time that your pre-teen spends playing computer games and watching TV to no more than an hour or two a day.

Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Pre-teens are in the awkward years. Exercise can help boost confidence, release endorphins, alleviate tension, and reduce that antsy pent-up energy kids get at this age. Physical activity also enhances thinking skills and brain function by increasing oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Furthermore, studies have shown that when pre-teens participate in organized sports and other fitness activities, they develop greater self-esteem and a more positive self-image than pre-teens who weren’t physically active.

Beachbody