Fit For Life: Not Just Skinny For The Summer
Beach Body vs Lifestyle Fitness
Everywhere you look you can find plans to get you “skinny just in time for the beach,” or programs that promise you a “beach body by summer.” These are oftentimes crash diets and intense workout programs that are not conducive to a healthy lifestyle, and often incredibly unsafe to maintain beyond a month or two. It’s not all bad news though–if you commit to a healthy lifestyle consisting of a balanced diet, and reasonable workout regimens, you can get something even better than a beach body for summer, you can get a fit body for life.
Getting and staying fit for life isn’t about severely cutting calories, hitting the gym for 2-3 hours per day, avoiding restaurants, and drinking nothing but water. Being fit for life is about adapting to a new, healthier way of doing things in your everyday life; a way that’s manageable and sustainable for the duration of your life, not just a few weeks or months.
Tips for Leading a Healthy Lifestyle
Target Your Diet
Your diet is worth 80% of your overall fitness, so no matter how much you work out in the gym, or on the field, you won’t see much progress in your health and fitness levels unless you learn to eat healthily. Making sure that your diet is balanced and full of nutrients is the most important aspect to maintaining a fit body for life. The easiest way to maintain a healthy and balanced diet is to practice meal prepping. Plan and cook healthy meals, then pack them in individual portions to take with you to enjoy during the days that you won’t be able to prepare a nutritious meal at home. You’ll be more likely to stick to a nutritious diet if it’s convenient. Remember that practice makes perfect, so the more you pack your meals, the easier and more habitual it will become.
Focus On Fun
Do something that you enjoy and it won’t feel like a chore, but rather something that you can’t wait to do. Thinking about being active as a way of life, rather than a workout, is a great way to make sure that you succeed in your goal to be fit for life. When you’re having fun being active, exercise will no longer feel like something that you have to do, instead, it will be something that you want to do, and something that you wake up looking forward to throughout the day. If you really love hiking, playing tennis, running, swimming, playing basketball, or any other physical activity, go ahead and incorporate it into your daily or weekly workout routine. You might be surprised at how often you make time to exercise when you love what you’re doing.
Aim for 30
Many people say that the reason they do not exercise more often, or stay fit year round, is because they just don’t have the time. Interestingly enough, the more active you stay, the less time you’ll require to maintain that level of endurance. Aim for 30 minutes per day, every day, of exercise with intensity levels that are just high enough to get your heart rate up and make you sweat a little. That’s only 2% of your day! Doctors say that to find your intensity sweet spot try talking. If you can easily hold a conversation, you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough, but if you can barely speak, you’re working yourself too hard. Aim for somewhere right in the middle where speaking is possible, but labored. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits, or else you may end up injured.
Don’t Ignore The Pain
There will be days that you will hurt; most likely this pain will come from the previous days’ exercises. It is especially important that you listen to your body and recognize the pain as a signal that it’s trying to give you to give whatever’s hurting a break. Allow that part of your body a chance to rest and heal for the day, so that you can continue on your fit for life journey. Work on other areas of your body to prevent further, and more serious, injuries. Take care of your body, so that you can go back and train it another day, and it will take care of you.
Switch Up Your Exercise Routine
All too often people who are trying to lose weight or work out just enough to look good in the summertime forget about the importance of variety. Static workout routines allow your body to get used to the movements, the weight load, and the intensity, so that by the time summer rolls around you aren’t improving anymore. Having gotten the results that they wanted for the summer, one of two things happen: either they stop working out entirely and pack on the pounds again, or they continue the routine that’s gotten them this far. Unfortunately, at this point they’re most likely wasting their time on a workout regimen that’s no longer providing improvement.
The Big Four
There are four different types of exercises that should be incorporated into your lifestyle for a balanced workout routine. Being fit for life means including: endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance to your regular workout routine. You need endurance to make sure that you can keep up with the challenges you face in the rest of your exercises, as well as your daily life. Strength training is equally important because your muscles will need to be in shape to carry you through your lifelong journey. Flexibility through regular stretching will help keep your body limber and your muscles resilient. Practicing balance ensures that your body is centered and in control of the movements you face in every form of exercising so that you can prevent injuries.
Everyone wants to know the secret to fitness success, and it’s easy: be more active. The time you spend at the gym shouldn’t be the only activity that your body gets in a day. Getting your body moving and staying active will help keep your endurance levels high, and will even increase your lifespan. Aim for at least 10,000 steps per day. That number may seem high and daunting now but it’s ultimately a goal that can be worked up to by taking a few extra steps in your everyday life. When you have a question for someone at work, walk to them rather than emailing for a quick fix. If you live close enough, walk to that local restaurant on date night, or walk to the grocery store. You’ll quickly find that every little bit helps to getting you one step closer to you 10,000 goal.
Add Some Qualitative Goals
Most of the time when you sign up for a gym membership, you will be asked to express your fitness goals. Many times, the goals they’re looking for are quantitative and the progress and success of these goals can be measured. These goals are great for trainers because they give them a starting point to prepare a personalized workout plan for you. It’s important for your own motivation to have a few qualitative goals though. Goals that aren’t traditionally measurable, like: “I want to be fit for life,” “I want to feel better,” “I want to have more energy,” and “I want to improve my self confidence.” These are the goals that will keep you pushing yourself forward, to become better.
Sleeping is one of the best things you can do for your body to help it recover from the physical and psychological stressors of the day. During sleep, your body repairs the tears in muscle fibers that have accumulated during your workout, and helps your muscles to grow. Make getting enough sleep, that means 7-9 hours per night for adults, a priority– even if it means TiVo-ing your favorite show to watch at an earlier time tomorrow, or skipping out on some chores or errands that you haven’t completed yet. Sleep is important for both your physical and psychological growth and recovery, so make time for it!
Make Sure To Rest
Muscles repair and grow during times of rest, not just during the hours in which you’re asleep. Allow yourself a day off from the gym every once in awhile to allow this growth and repair to happen, and your chances for being fit for life will increase exponentially. Skipping your rest day puts you at greater risk for serious injury, and adds unnecessary stress and strain on your joints, bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles that are already torn and tight from previous workouts. Without time to repair themselves future workouts become obsolete.
Say Goodbye To Excuses
This is the final tip, because once you’ve followed the last 10 tips to beginning a healthy lifestyle and remaining fit for life, this one will easily melt away on its own. Feeling the physical, psychological, and emotional benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle will encourage you to stop making excuses to avoid physical activity, because the more you move, the more you’ll fall in love with the endorphin rush you feel during and after a great workout.
Berkeley Wellness. “Getting Fit for Life.” @berkeleywellness. January 24, 2014. Accessed February 04, 2016. http://www.berkeleywellness.com/fitness/active-lifestyle/article/getting-fit-life.
Fields, Lisa, and Kimball Johnson, MD. “Sedentary Lifestyle (Sitting Disease): How to Get Active.” WebMD. November 22, 2012. Accessed February 04, 2016. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/do-you-have-sitting-disease?page=1.
“What’s On Your Plate?” National Institute on Aging. Accessed February 4, 2016. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/whats-your-plate.
“Fitness.” Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier. April 24, 2013. Accessed February 04, 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670?pg=2.
“Getting Fit For Life.” WebMD. Accessed February 04, 2016. http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/guide/getting-fit-life.
“President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.” Why Is It Important? -. Accessed February 04, 2016. http://www.fitness.gov/eat-healthy/why-is-it-important/.
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