Living Healthy in a Hectic World

Every day we are bombarded with ads promoting smaller waistlines and bigger biceps.  We crave tighter glutes and results that loosen our jeans.  Among the noise, we hear “Eat less/eat more! Avoid cardio/go running!”  If you’re able to tune out these distractions long enough to balance work, family, and a week’s worth of laundry, the last thing you probably feel like doing is going to the gym. However, it is possible to live a healthy lifestyle and incorporate clean eating in your routine without neglecting everything else in the process.  Much like the airline announcement prior to take off, “in case of an emergency, please secure your air mask before assisting others,” prioritizing your health will enable you to perform at your best and help others.

I see so many fitness ads, workout programs and diets that I’m not sure which one is for me.  How do I decide where to begin?

A healthy lifestyle is more than “working out” and “eating right.”  If a program requires drastic changes that you cannot maintain on a regular basis, you should reconsider.  The goal is to find something that is attainable AND sustainable.  What works for some people, may not work for you.  It is important to consider where you would like to be and where you currently are.

I’m always going out for food and drinks with clients and co-workers.  How do I make healthy choices while everyone else indulges?

Plan ahead.  The following tips can help you maintain a social life without breaking your “caloric bank.”

-If you have any say in where you decide to eat, speak up.  Familiarize yourself with restaurants that provide healthy options and smaller portions.

-Consider ordering from the appetizer menu or combining side dishes.

-Make sure you have healthy snacks available.  If you arrive to a dinner or party on an empty stomach, you are more likely to eat larger portions of less healthy food.  I like to keep protein bars or a bag of peanuts and raisins in my purse or glove compartment at all times.  Drinking a protein shake ahead of time helps your curb appetite as well.

-Can you bring a dish to share?  If you’re invited to a party, cook one of your favorite dishes so you know there will be at least one option that you can enjoy without feeling like you’re ruining your diet.

-Speaking of “ruining” your diet, understand that it’s okay to enjoy a piece of cake or a cocktail from time to time.  By incorporating these into your routine, you’ll feel less guilty for having them and your progress will not be ruined with the occasional treat.

-Who says the outing needs to include food and drinks?  Suggest meeting for a spin class or for a walk outside.

I spend two hours commuting to work and spend 10+ hours working.  I travel and don’t have access to a gym. When and where can I workout?

Anticipate road blocks and plan accordingly.  If you forget your gym bag on the way to work, plan on going home and changing immediately into clothes so you can run outside.  From my experience, I know that if I spend go home and sit down, I’m unlikely to want to get up and drive to the gym.  A workout doesn’t always have to involve going to the gym either.  There are a variety of strength and cardio movements that can be done in your own living room, while outside or in a hotel room.  Here is a sample routine that doesn’t require any equipment. Complete each move for 30 seconds.  Complete three rounds of the routine.

-Jumping Jacks/Squats

-High Knee Run/Pushups

-Jump Rope in Place/Alternating Reverse Lunges

-Mountain Climbers/Alternating Front Lunges

-Wall Sit/Full Arm Plank

I eat right and exercise but am not seeing any results. What gives?

A lot of times, we forget to prioritize sleep and rest days.  Throughout the week, we are running from meetings to appointments to soccer games to the dry cleaners.  We’re up early to take the kids to school and home late after dropping off the soccer teammates at their homes after practice.  The day isn’t over.  There are schedules to organize, reports to work on for the boss and a spouse to spend time with.  On a “good night,” you maybe get 6 hours of sleep.  However, most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night to stabilize hormones and allow their bodies to recover.  Lack of sleep not only affects energy levels, but it also effects the hormones that control hunger.  You end up hungrier, craving more sugary/fatty foods.  And that time at the gym?  You’re more susceptible to injury and illness when your body isn’t getting the adequate amount of rest.

How can I find the motivation?

Set goals.  If you are training for something specific, you will feel much more purpose driven in your pursuits.  A goal gives you a vision, an end sight, so you are not “spinning your wheels,” aimlessly wandering through the gym.  I also find that keeping a fitness log helps me to progress toward goals.  Write down your exercises, record the weights and reps and challenge yourself to do more over time.  Here are examples of goals you can incorporate.

-Hold plank for 30 seconds

-Hold a wall sit for 60 seconds

-Complete a 5k

-Walk for 20 minutes (instead of the 10 you currently do)

-Complete a pull up (or 10!)

-Fit into a pair of jeans that are a size too small

-Take your kids to the park 3x/week

-Walk for 20 minutes with your spouse 3x/week

-Complete a triathlon

Stay Positive

Regardless of your starting point, you are capable of setting a goal and creating the route to get there.  There may be times when you’re frustrated, stressed, disappointed or bloated!  Accept these feelings and know they are temporary.  You have not lost all of your progress.  You have not backtracked.  You have simply “pulled over.”  Rest, reroute if necessary, and being moving again.  There is no “back on track” because every day is an opportunity to move forward, albeit with a leap of faith or a baby step.

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