TIPS FOR STAYING FIT BY COACH STACY FOWLER, M.S., C.P.T.
So here are some tips to keep that Holiday Jingle Jangle – the inevitable 1-5 pounds of additional fat brought on by 3,000 calorie feasts -- from taking over your waistline during the Holiday season.
As the ball dropped at Times Square on New Year's Eve, so began a new round of resolutions. Do these look familiar?
- Lose weight
- Get in shape
- Eat better
- Get healthy
They’re all noble resolutions, for sure. But most of us who resolve such broad and unspecific self improvements – well, we usually fall off the wagon before the end of January. So what’s the secret to winning resolutions? Stick by the old adage, “slow and steady wins the race.” Rome wasn’t conquered in a day, and neither will you lose weight, get in shape, eat better or get healthy without a specific and realistic game plan. Gradual lifestyle changes tend to be the ones that stick – and goals that are personal tend to be more achievable. Here are ten specific resolutions that promote a healthy mind, body, and spirit and won’t lead you to thinking you might have bitten off more than you can chew:
- Sit up straight: I know, I’m sounding like your mom. But if you want to create the illusion of looking ten pounds lighter, work on your posture. Standing, walking and sitting up straight make you look younger, stronger, thinner and more confident. Slow and steady – every time you hear a commercial on the radio or television, check your posture.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: You know the drill – fruits and vegetables are the original health foods. They provide much needed vitamins and minerals as well as critical dietary fiber. Slow and steady – set your sights on colors. This week concentrate on green – dark leafy green vegetables, and green apples, grapes and kiwis. Next week concentrate on another color like red or yellow.
- Cut out fat: That’s actually not very good advice, as fat provides the body much needed Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Slow and steady – include healthy fats such as those found in fish, nuts, and avocados. Limit your trans-fats such as those found in meats, cheese and processed foods.
- Move: You’re not going to transform your body in a day. Slow and steady – start with a short walk most days of the week and build up to daily 30 minute walks. If you don’t enjoy walking, try bike rides, swimming or dancing. Start up a weight routine at your local gym or recreation center – or create a home gym. Consult with a trainer who can get you started on the right routine for you.
- Reduce the junk: Junk foods, that is – and if you have a sweet tooth, this might be the hardest resolution to keep. Slow and steady – instead of eliminating soda altogether, cut your intake in half. For example, if you drop your consumption from ten to five cans of soda per week, you’ll lose 12 pounds per year! Substitute healthy, low calorie water drinks such as Propel or drink green tea instead. Bring a nutritious lunch to work – you’ll save both money and calories. Keep some healthy snacks on hand in your desk and eat those in the middle of the afternoon instead of heading to the vending machine for that candy bar. And don’t deny yourself entirely those sweet and salty treats – just learn to eat them in moderation.
- Eat slowly and focus on your food: I have a bad habit of eating too fast – a throwback to my days of coaching and eating on the run. Slow and steady (literally) – it takes the brain about 20 minutes to signal the stomach that you are full. It just makes sense to eat slowly so that you don’t overeat before you realize that you’re actually full. Eating slowly can save you about 200 calories per meal. Eating without the TV can also save you calories – plus, you’ll tend to savor and appreciate your food more. Start your meals with smaller portions – you can always go back for more if you’re still hungry.
- Write it down: Research has shown that by writing down what you eat and how much you exercise you can double your results. Wearing a pedometer will garner similar results. Slow and steady – wear your pedometer and log your daily steps in your calendar. Your goal is to build up to 10,000 steps per day. Each day add 200-500 steps until you reach the goal. Log your daily food intake in a similar fashion – and don’t forget to include those mindless munchies that may account for so much of your daily eating!
- Stop stressing: Our minds are a lot like our cars – if they’re constantly running, they’ll wear out. Slow and steady – treat your mind as well as you treat your car and let it rest some each day. Take time to breathe deeply for a few minuets each day. Better yet, take up yoga and get a massage every now and then.
- Make time for you: Your day job never seems to wrap up at 5:00 and those late nights damage your social life as well as your health. Slow and steady – that tendency of yours of trying to “squeeze one more task in before you go home”? Get over it! One hour before quitting time you need to decide what absolutely has to be finished and what can wait until tomorrow. Learn to delegate where you can, and remember, you can say “no” sometimes. Spend those newfound minutes each day on your health and relationships. One more thing – go play! Recreation can refresh both your mind and body.
- Motivations to go: Load up your life with positive elements. Slow and steady – choose some fun music to sync to your iPod while you work out. Find some inspiring quotes that inspire you and tape them to your computer monitor, dashboard, or cubicle. These are taped to mine:
"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." Leo Tolstoy
"Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back." Babe Ruth
“Don't wait for your ship to come in; swim out to it." Anonymous
Resolve this year to be healthy – but keep it real. Take things slow and steady – focus on feeling healthy and the “looking good” part will follow. Stop seeking excuses for why you can’t get in shape. Instead, find reasons to get up and move more. Like I always say, “When you’re moving you’re improving!”
“When you’re moving you’re improving!”
Coach Stacy Fowler, M.S., C.P.T.
President, Colorado Governor's Council for Physical Fitness