Over the years, I have read about and tried a TON of different health and fitness books, workouts and diets. Some have worked, some haven’t, but along the way, I learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work for my body.
For example, last week I wrote about my February Whole[ish]30 challenge. Through that experience, I learned that what I needed was a lifestyle diet that I knew I could continue longer term than just 30 days. Whole30 is a lot of deprivation [for good reason!] but I knew if I did that, at the end, I’d be tempted to binge eat everything I’d deprived myself of, ruining all the good I’d done.
One of my biggest strongholds is my own self-control. I LOVE food, and being able to eat the right portions, and keep treats in the “occasional” category is really hard for me. But I have learned that the best way my body sheds fat is through staying away from startches and sugar. So my own spin on Whole30 helped me to stay away from starch and sugar, and because of that I lost 10lbs in 30 days!
I learned a lot of other health and fitness tips over my journey with getting fit and losing weight, and I want to share them with you! Not everything that worked for me will necessarily work for you, but I hope that it can encourage you to figure out what your body needs in the form of diet and exercise in order to be your most healthy self yet!
- Accountability. It is WAY too easy to talk yourself out of working out, but when you know you’re meeting friends, it makes it much more difficult to blow off. I have formed some awesome friendships with girls I work out with, and have actually come to look forward to meeting them before the sun rises!
- Be realistic with your goals. Make them a challenge- something that you’ll have to work toward. But make sure to give yourself grace at the same time and…
- Be willing to reassess those goals. It’s not giving up, it’s being realistic. Sometimes your current realities prevent you from doing things you want to do. I made a goal of running a half marathon before I turn 30. But my reality is that I’m at 2 miles right now, and don’t know if I’ll have enough time to get that up to 13 in the next 3 months. So my new goal is to run a 1/2 marathon within my 30th year. The goal is still there, it’s just tweaked to be more realistic!
- Baby steps. Knox just started walking, so I know more than ever where the term “baby steps” really comes from. Babies crawl before they walk, and they walk before they run [and then YOU’D better be able to run, because you gotta keep up with them!]. Figure out your starting point and make small attainable goals for yourself. I had to fast walk for weeks before I could run 1 mile, and then I worked my way to 1.5, then to 2.
- Baby steps, part 2. If you have lofty weight loss goals, break them down into small stepping stones. If you look too far into the future, or at your entire goal, you could get overwhelmed at how far you still have to go. I want to lose 30lbs by my 30th birthday, June 28th, but that can seem like a huge mountain to overcome when I look at that entire number. So I take it 5lbs at a time! Each 5lbs is a victory and one big step towards that 30lbs. I’m down 12 so far, and feeling awesome about how far I’ve come!
- If you miss a day of exercise or eat something unhealthy, take a page out of Taylor’s book and shake it off. Don’t let it ruin your day or how far you’ve come. Tomorrow is a new day, and unless you ate an entire Chinese Buffet, you won’t have gained enough weight in a day to completely derail your success!
- Losing weight really is 80% diet, 20% exercise. You may still lose weight if you don’t change your diet, but it won’t happen as fast, and the second you stop working out, it’ll come right back on.
- Change your definition of “diet.” The old school definition where you change how you eat until you lose weight, then going back to how you were eating before, does NOT work. Before too long, you’ll be playing Adele to all the weight you worked so hard to lose. Diet is the way you eat- and in order to lose weight and keep it off, your change in eating needs to be viewed as a new lifestyle. It’s not the easiest thing to maintain, but if you want to keep the weight off it’s worth the life change.
- Figure out how your body processes food. Do your research. Like I said in the beginning, I’ve read a lot of food, exercise and weight loss books. I’m always interested in what people found to be successful for them, and then try to see how my body reacts to different ways of eating and exercising. So far, I’ve learned that I will lose weight if I cut out sugar, starches and most dairy. I’ve been pretty strict with sugar and starch, but now that my Whole30 is over, I will allow myself the occasional treat, and have introduced some forms of dairy back into my diet. I also love to try different forms of exercise. Most of the time I do the normal gym thing of cardio and lifting, but I do really love Zumba and other group exercise classes. If you can make it fun, and put it to a good tune, chances are I’ll have a good time!
- Find a consistent time for exercise you can stick with. If you had told me 2 years ago that my workout routine would consist of waking up at 5:30am, I would’ve called you CRAY. If you know me at all, you know I LOVE sleep, but I realized if I didn’t work out that early, it wouldn’t happen. Knox is down to 1 nap, and there’s just too much I need to get done during his nap to designate that as my daily work out time. [Let’s be real though, some days “too much to do” means taking a nap alongside him…ha!] By the time I put him to bed, I’m about ready for bed myself! I will admit that I hate my life every time my alarm goes off that early, but because I have the accountability of friends and the knowledge that it just won’t happen later, I get my butt out of bed and get dressed. [Which is really the hardest part.]
- Figure out your motivation and remind yourself of it every day. I’ve said it before, but my biggest motivation is my family. I want to be able to keep up with Knox, be healthy for any future pregnancies God blesses us with, Lord willing grow old and grey with Stuart, and have fitness and health be a foundational element in our family. My grandmother had diabetes, as do WAY too many Americans, and I want to protect myself and my family from that and other preventable diseases by encouraging health and fitness as a daily part of our lives. Maybe your motivation is being able to proudly wear a bathing suit this summer, or an upcoming wedding or losing your baby weight. Whatever it is, remind yourself of your motivation often and you’ll get there!
- Figure out what type of exercise will get you EXCITED to move. I LOVE running outside. Give me weather in the 60’s, a fab playlist and I’m there. Maybe you think I’m crazy and would rather have a root canal than go for a run. That’s ok! [I mean, you’re weird cause root canals sound AWFUL, but whatever floats your boat.] If you like to dance, Zumba is SUPER fun, or simply grab a friend and have a weekly date to go for a walk. I go for walks with my neighbor, other mom friends and it’s a great alternative to catching up over a meal.
- Which brings me to: find alternative ways to get your body moving. Exercise doesn’t always have to mean driving to the gym and pumping iron. Like I said above, grab a friend and go for a walk. Take your dog for a walk or run. Go to the park with your child and run around with them, or push them in their stroller for a walk. Play ultimate frisbee with some friends. Go for a bike ride! Make it fun, and you’ll be excited to do it instead of dreading every time you put on your sneakers.
- Make a fun playlist! Like I said in #12, I love to run to a fab playlist. Stuart and I recently signed up for Apple Music’s 90 day free trial, and I must say I’m hooked. [This isn’t an ad for Apple Music, but having access to almost every song ever recorded is pretty darn awesome.] I made a running playlist that starts with Demi Lovato’s Confident, and includes JT’s SexyBack, Rachel Platton’s Fight Song, Gwen’s Make Me Like You, and a few dozen of Taylor’s greatest hits. It gets me pumped every time I put my sneakers on and excited to push myself a little farther when I’m tired. Maybe music isn’t your thing…I know some people like to walk or run while listening to audio books or podcasts! That’s a great alternative to sitting on your couch reading a book or laying in your bed listening to a podcast! Exercise can be fun people :)
- And lastly, if you have the budget for it, buy some cute workout clothes! Any kind of motivation you can muster up helps when you don’t feel like working out. If feeling cute at the gym is what it takes, do it!
I’m sure there are a lot of other great health and fitness tips out there that could help get you out the door and working out, but these are the top 15 things that have really helped shape my own health and fitness regimen and keep it up. If you have any health + fitness tips that aren’t listed above, please share! I’d love to hear more!
I mentioned that some books have helped shape my health and fitness lifestyle. Some of those are the following: