When it comes to health and fitness, there’s always room for improvement. Face it, we live in a society that inundates us with temptations like junk food, junk TV that keeps us glued to the sofa, a Twinkie making kit (seriously?), and a message that gives us photo shopped bodies to emulate. That’s pretty twisted.
You can get fit and healthy – but forget the fad diets and workout gimmicks. No, it takes old fashioned sweat and elbow grease to reach your fitness goals. Maybe you’re already rocking your workout, but if you want to take it up a notch and get better results, you have to start outside of the gym.
You can’t have your “gym life,” and then your other life. If you are going to commit then you’ll need to make it a lifestyle and start by making these changes today for better workout results tomorrow.
Change your diet
You know that diet is important when working out, but it is more than just calorie counting. Your body is a finely tuned machine and as you build muscle while losing fat, your machine needs the proper fuel. For instance, you need some fat in your diet. Fat helps your body absorb certain vitamins and minerals. Carbs are acceptable, too – complex carbs specifically; simple carbs like sugar, not so much. You need a diet rich in fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. The cleaner and more natural your food is, the better.
Good hydration goes hand in hand with a healthy diet. Dehydration can cause fatigue and undermine your workout. If ignored, it can be life threatening so drinking plenty of water is important. Since caffeine acts as a diuretic, drinks like coffee and tea should not be considered as part of your water intake.
Goals hold you accountable, give you something to reach for, and help you measure your success. Goal setting is important whether you are losing weight, getting fit, or just adopting a healthier lifestyle. You need to be able to measure your progress. Without goals you are just going in circles with no real direction. Set goals, starting with some that are small and easily achievable. Then make them progressively more challenging but attainable. Don’t go too long between goals because this will cause you to lose interest. Instead, space them far enough apart that they are a challenge to reach and use them to keep yourself motivated. Write these goals down and post them in a place that is visible, where you can see them every day – like your bathroom mirror. Then keep your eye on the prize.
Manage your stress.
Stress is a huge health and fitness saboteur. It will make you sick and cause you to pack on the pounds. It messes with your metabolism, slowing it down to a crawl. It also signals your body to produce certain hormones that actually cause you to gain weight – but stress can also affect you in ways you may not even realize.
Stress lowers your immunity so your body is not as effective in warding off illness, lowers your pain threshold, and increases your risk of injury. Any of these can cause serious setbacks to your fitness goals, but good stress management strategies like yoga, meditation, time management, and even seeing a counselor if necessary can help you get better results..
Make sleep a priority.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to obesity and weight gain. When you are exhausted it can be difficult to muster up the energy to work out or cook a healthy meal. Lack of sleep also causes your leptin levels to drop. Leptin is a hormone in the body that is responsible for making you feel full. When your leptin levels are low, your hunger feelings are high. So, generally speaking, tired people are hungrier than well-rested individuals. Hunger can also make you more susceptible to injury and lower your immunity, both of which can set back your workout considerably.
Rewarding yourself for reaching goals will help keep you motivated. Find interesting and creative ways to pat yourself on the back like getting a new outfit, treating yourself to a massage, or taking a trip. Food is not a good reward because you don’t want your brain to begin equating success with food – especially with junk foods or “guilty pleasures.” Instead, find things that won’t sabotage your diet or workout but will still help you to celebrate your accomplishments.
You can easily begin incorporating these steps into your routine today. Once you do you will find that your motivation will increase and you’ll get better results.