On my health & fitness page, Inspired Health & Fitness I posted 30 Days of Health & Fitness tips last month. These are things I incorporated into my life that help keep me healthy, fit and accountable. I often get asked for advice, recipes, tips etc., so I thought this may be helpful for others. This is the complete compiled list of all of the tips.
1. Keep a fitness journal or calendar. I have had one for TEN years. It is my accountability. What I use is a calendar, and I write in each day what I did that day; walking, running, a workout video etc. At the end of the week I add up the hours I spent being active and my weight. When I needed to lose weight and was working seriously on it, that journal was instrumental, I could see what I did that week and if it worked to get me closer to my goal. It’s also great to look back on and be proud of all the hard work you did.
3. Ditch the butter in cooking. Use it very sparingly! I’ve switched over to olive oil and use only a TBSP in most cases. It was worth my minor $15 investment in my “misto”, which allows me to only spray a fine mist of EVOO on my veggies. I don’t miss the butter, easy way to cut a few calories.
4. Set your workout clothes each night before you go to bed. That way when your alarm goes off, you wake up in the mindset that you are ready to workout and not hit snooze and skip.
5. Try different workouts. Did you buy a program and you just don’t enjoy it? Try something else, ask friends for suggestions. The key to maintaining a fit regimen is to find something you ENJOY.
6. Keep a food log for a week. Log EVERY bite that goes into your mouth. You will be surprised. Every single bite (unfortunately) does count. Once you get an idea of where your problem areas hide, you can work on a solution.
7. Do not skip breakfast. Ever. You need energy to start your day and you need to start your metabolism. People who often skip meals early in the day, end up eating more later in the evening. Aren’t in the mood to eat? Try a banana, easy to eat on the go and easy on the tummy. A piece of toast with peanut butter is another good option. I find I often like bland foods early, even a cup of greek yogurt is easy to do.
8. Google the calories in your favorite meals at restaurants you frequent. Then, take a deep breath, and look for other options with lower calories, less fat and sugar. Ideally you do not want to be eating any meal that is more than 1,000 calories, even if it’s a night out. You have 2,000 calories each day to use (most of us do), use them wisely!
9. Sugar, it’s not easy to avoid in processed foods. Did you know for adults the “recommended sugar is only 24-36g per day? It’s easy to hit that by lunch if you are eating the wrong things. I recommend striving to never eat a single food that has more than 10g in it.
10. Find a fit friend! Fitness is *always* more fun with a friend; so find a class to do with a friend or go for a walk with a friend. I’ve even had friends come over and we do a HIIT workout together in my living room. Makes it more fun and I never cancel when I have a friend joining me!
11. Think *nutrition* and *vitamins* when you eat. Your goal with eating should be to sustain your body with whole foods and good vitamins. Not just to satisfy a craving or fill a hungry belly. Think: Fiber grams, whole grains, protein, healthy fats. If you look at a label and see more sugar than fiber or protein; that’s a no-no. If you a see a high amount of saturated fats and no protein, look for a better option.
12. Full body workouts *are* important. While I love to run, and that is great cardio, I also need other workouts each week that work other areas of my body. That should be your goal, to find workouts that work different areas so each can strengthen and improve in muscle: Legs, arms, abs, etc. It should also not always be cardio, some days should be lower impact and more about strength training that sweating off calories. There should be a balance, in order to achieve overall health and results.
13. Stop eating so many foods out of a package! Less processed foods, the better. Start slowly, it’s hard, but take a look at the back of those packages and what is added in. How many words can you pronounce? That’s what I thought. SO, look for more fruits, veggies, whole grains, meat, beans, seeds, nuts. Granola bars were a frequent food I ate out of a wrapper, this is my substitute, easy to make and makes a batch to last a week: http://blog.metrodetroitmommy.com/2015/03/healthy-snacking-energy-bites.html
14. Stop eating and drinking things with fake sugar like aspartame. I know it can be hard, but the chemicals in those “sweeteners” are just not good for you and they change your taste-buds. Once I stopped, and a year later had a sip of a flavored water with aspartame, I could not believe how sweet it tasted, and how gross. There are more and more sparkling waters and flavored waters now with nothing or with only a couple grams of sugar. I like Vitamin Water Zero and Aquafina sparking water. Or, I use lemon or lime to infuse my tap water.
15. Change the way you vacation. This was huge for me. Every summer or spring I’d vacation and completely off-set my healthy habits and gain weight, then try to counter-act that the following weeks.
Same thing happens to me over the holidays, until I got a bit of a plan in place. This is a blog I wrote with what I do and what has worked for me for several years: http://blog.metrodetroitmommy.com/2015/06/10-tips-how-to-not-gain-5lbs-on.html
16. Stop Eating When Full. I repeat: Stop. Eating. When. Full.
17. Buy a new cook book. To find a love of eating healthy, you need to find new recipes you love as well. Some of my favorites are the Hungry Girl cook books and Fix it and Forget it Light- for the crock pot.
18. Learn about the calories in your food. If I had to pick one thing that made the most difference for me, other than just taking action, it would be this. Find out what is in the food you are eating, ALL of it, from each snack to each meal to each time you go out to eat. It’s the best place to start.
19. Eat Out Less. Simple. Eating out is hard to do while watching calories and fat/sugar. Much easier to control at home and really know exactly what you are consuming. A couple of meals out a week aren’t bad, but much more and it’s not going to work. Here is a blog I wrote with tips on when you are eating out: http://blog.metrodetroitmommy.com/2015/03/14-tips-for-eating-healthy-at.html
20. Know your serving sizes. It’s not just what you are eating, but how *much* you are eating. Eating too much, even of a good thing, you will gain weight.
21. Try different salad dressings. I used to love ranch, (secret: I still do!) but when trying to eat healthy salads, I had to find other options. First, I love to add toppings that just taste great so I don’t need much dressing- favorites like sunflower seeds, egg, fresh tomatoes, garbanzo beans and avocado. Some of the healthier dressings I use now are (not necessarily together) salsa, squeeze of lime juice with EVOO, or EVOO and balsamic vinegar, Mrs. Dash Table Blend seasonings or homemade guacamole.
22. Make the change to whole grains. It is LIFE changing. Once you and your family get used to eating 100% whole grains, you won’t go back! When eating carbs, nutritionally you want/need fiber. If you are eating mainly white bread and white pasta, you aren’t getting the fiber you need. Try a few brands until you find some you love, my family likes the Aunt Millie’s breads and Meijer brand whole wheat pasta.
23. Read More. Read about health, fitness and nutrition. I have learned quite a bit through reading. I have enjoyed: Jillian Michaels; Master your Metabolism, Michael Pollen; Food Rules & In the Defense of Food, Eric Schlosser; Fast Food Nation, Michael Moss’s Sugar Salt & Fat, Bob Harper’s Skinny Rules.
24. All fat is not bad. In fact, poly and mono fats are fantastic for you. You want Omega 3’s and 6’s in your diet. Almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds make great snacks and are filling. Avocado and peanut butter also have healthy fats. As with anything, eating in moderation is key.
25. Splurge! It’s ok occasionally to have a meal where you eat something that is higher in fat or sugar than you normally would. I still love getting a deep dish pizza or a cheese burger with fries. I just limit the occasions I do it now. Sometimes I want dessert, so I indulge, but cut my portion in half. What I’m trying to express is that you want a plan you can live with, not one you will outgrow and not be able to keep up! No diets here, 40lbs still gone. And guess what? I still enjoy plenty of “guilty pleasure meals”. All about moderation.
26. Willpower is like a muscle, in order to make it strong, you have to exercise it!
27. Find fun active family activities to do. Biking around the neighborhood, walking at the zoo, hiking on a nature trail, swimming at the pool, play a game of soccer etc. Not only will you be getting fit, but you’ll be teaching your kids life long habits and setting a great example.
28. Don’t buy treats or food you should not be eating on a regular basis. If it’s not in the house, you can’t eat it. Skip that aisle when shopping. And if you do have to have some treats for the kids, keep them out of sight, I know for myself, as soon as I see a brownie or bag of chips, my mouth is watering. Better to avoid it, not look at it and not tempt yourself.
29. Don’t add calories you can not taste! This was an eye-opener for me. Many times I was adding mayo to a sandwich and could not taste it. Same with cheese when you add it to the many other toppings on sandwich. SO, I started paying attention to what I *could* taste and enjoy, and only use those things. Now it’s just mustard on a deli sandwich, don’t need mayo. Some times I don’t even need the cheese. Same goes with soups or casseroles and other dishes, pay attention to what you are adding and what you can taste to figure out what you can leave out.
30. Save your calories for what you enjoy! Don’t waste needless calories on food that isn’t your favorite, if you really want dessert tonight, eat a little lighter at other meals and that way when you splurge on ice cream later it won’t break your calorie bank. If you know you’re going out to dinner later, skip the Starbucks in the morning and save those calories for the real meal you will enjoy.
Theresa is a wife and stay at home mother of 2 boys, David (13) and Aiden (10). Her hobbies include traveling, reading, running, cooking and volunteering at MI Humane Society with the adoptable cats. She also spends her free time serving as PTO President at her son’s elementary school. She enjoys being active and is proud to have completed 4 marathons. She loves to share her passion for health and fitness with others.