I made a new friend recently who had been an active athlete in her youth, gotten away from that lifestyle, was clearly ready and eager to make a change, but not sure how. Sound familiar? That was my story four years ago, and maybe yours?
Anyway, she was quizzing me about triathlon and I could just tell the way she lit up that she was on the verge of change. She asked for some help and some ideas to get started so I said I would put together a few. I suggested she just pick one fitness and one nutrition related change, then gradually build and add to that.
I would preface this by saying change is not quick or easy. But neither should it be about deprivation, white-knuckle willpower, or loss. Done right, it is about achievement, freedom, and gain. It just takes that first step and a little patience and faith.
Five ideas for fitness change
- Go to bed earlier and get up earlier. Get your workout in first thing in the morning if at all possible. It sets your day off on the right foot and will help you keep your nutrition dialed in better if you've started the day with a good choice! (The picture up top? That was me headed to swim at 6:30 am two days ago. GREAT start to the day!)
- Schedule it in. Most of us use a calendar. Look at what you have going on and schedule your fitness time in at the start of the week. Every Sunday I look at my training schedule and map it to my real life schedule. There is always a way to make it all fit, even if it means starting a long run at 4:30 am with a headlamp!
- Start off doing something every OTHER day. That'll give you enough time to get excited to do it again two days later. Early on, the key is to stay excited about it and overdoing can crush enthusiasm. Then gradually ramp up to 6 days a week and commit!
- If you don't have a sports passion, try lots of different things as you get going - spin classes, run/walk, hiking, biking, swimming. As long as you are getting your heart rate up, the activity doesn't matter. It's important to find that "thing" that will keep you coming back for more.
- Set a goal that is within the next three months. It might be a 5k, learning a backhand, kayaking across a lake, or doing 20 pushups. A common mistake is to set a goal that is way too far out. No one needs six months to train for a 5K. Six weeks, sure.
Five ideas for nutrition change
- Ditch all the soda, yes, diet too. If you want something besides water, try the non-sweetened, naturally flavored sparkling waters.
- Go to bed earlier and at a regular time. Not only does good sleep help with hormones that are important for weight management, but you'll be sleeping instead of eating in those late-night hours that tempt us to eat and make poor choices.
- Learn to love green veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and spinach. Then eat a heap of them TWICE a day, without fail. And stop thinking veggies are only for dinner!! I often get my first batch in at 10 am because the green stuff keeps me full and healthy.
I like my broccoli and sprouts roasted and spinach either raw or lightly nuked, then a bit of salt or hot sauce is all I need.
- Don't go out of your way to add carbs (rice, potatoes, grains) to your meals. You'll get plenty. Pick and choose when you have these, earlier in the day is better. For instance, I start my day with Ezekiel bread and almond butter, mid-day I'll have some granola and fruit with greek yogurt, then by dinner it's just veggies and protein.
- Have protein and healthy fats in every meal. These will keep you sated longer. And fat does not make you fat.
Change can be really exciting and it sure beats sitting around thinking about how stuck we might be. Pick one fitness change and one nutrition change and start the process now! Let me know how it goes :-)