By Nancy Cozart
Back on Track
If you have let your healthy living and fitness goals slip, it is never to late to get back on track. Don’t throw in the proverbial towel. Instead, dust off your sneakers, take one small step forward and get back into the game.
You may have an endless list of excuses as to why you don’t have time in your life to make exercising a priority. Maybe you are busy with work, family or household chores. You may be tired when you get home from work and you don’t have the energy to exercise. Whatever your excuses may be, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities and move your health and fitness goals to the top of the list.
You only have one life to live. Live your best life and make your own health and fitness goals a top priority. By focusing on living a healthy life and making your own health and wellness a priority, you are investing in yourself. Your quality of life is important and you will want to be around for a long time to enjoy your retirement. Not only should you make your financial investments a priority, but you should make your health and wellness and your fitness goals a priority, too.
It’s Never Too Late to Start
It’s time to stop procrastinating. Don’t put off your health, wellness and fitness goals. Start today and take one step forward every day.
If it has been awhile since you started an exercise routine, you may want to start with setting small goals that are easier to accomplish.
Start a journal and write your goals down on paper. Hold yourself accountable. List the days of the week, the month and the year. Assign goals for every day.
Day 1 should start today. Don’t put it off until tomorrow. For Day 1, start with something that is easy to accomplish, such as: take a walk around the block.
For Day 2, add another goal, taking one step forward. An example of your second day goal might be: set the alarm to wake up 30 minutes earlier. Take a walk around the block twice. Exercise for 30 minutes.
For Day 3, add another goal. Maybe on Day 3, you could walk for 45 minutes on a treadmill in the morning, or go hiking with a friend for 45 minutes in the evening after work.
For Day 4, add another goal. An example might be: walk for 60 minutes on a treadmill, take a 60 minute walk at the park, or take a 60 minute Zumba exercise class at a local gym.
For Day 5, add another goal, such as: ride an exercise bike for an hour, swim laps for an hour, or ride a bike on a trail for an hour.
Don’t stop there….keep going. Every day, set a goal for yourself and work to achieve it. Hold yourself accountable. Don’t procrastinate or make excuses. Living your best life starts now.
If you don’t like to exercise alone, there are many strategies and approaches to exercising that may work better for you:
Option 1: Sign up for an Exercise Class.
Whether you prefer Zumba, Yoga, Jazzercise, Aquacize, Spin Class, or anything in between, group exercise classes are a great way to get your fitness goals back on track. Sign up for classes at a local gym, community center or community college. Group exercise classes offer a great way to exercise and improve your fitness, without feeling lonely. You may even make some new friends in the process.
Option 2: Find an Exercise Buddy.
If you are finding it difficult to commit to an exercise routine, consider finding an exercise buddy or a friend who can help to support you and join you on your fitness journey. Ask a friend if they will go with you to walk trails at a local park. Or find a friend who will sign up with you for an exercise class at a gym.
Option 3: Join a Hiking Group.
Join a hiking group and sign up to go hiking at local parks in your area. This is a great way to get back on track with your fitness goals. Google “hiking groups near me” or search for hiking groups on Meetup.com. Or participate in walks to benefit charitable organizations if you enjoy walking to support worthy causes.
Option 4: Join a Gym.
If you prefer exercising around other people, consider joining a gym. A gym membership might help to provide you with the motivation to get back into an exercise routine. You could sign up with a personal trainer for one-on-one exercise training sessions. Or you could try exercise machines, ellipticals, weights or exercise classes.
Finding a Routine you Enjoy
If running on a treadmill is not your cup of tea, there are lots of other options that might work better for you:
Swimming or Aquacize
If you enjoy swimming, consider swimmimg laps or sign up for a group aquacize class. Water aerobics or swimming laps are both great forms of exercise that do not put a lot of strain on your back, ligaments and joints. As you get older, if you experience back problems, Arthritis or other health issues, you may find that swimming or water exercise classes might be a better fit for you.
Change of Scenery
If walking or running on a treadmill does not appeal to you, consider a change of scenery. Head to nearby parks and walk, hike or jog the scenic trails if you enjoy nature. If you enjoy lakes or rivers, consider lakeside or riverside trails. If you live near a beach, consider walking or jogging at a beach.
Choose a Sport that You Enjoy
If you are a golfer, consider joining a golf club and spend your leisure time on the golf course. If you enjoy tennis, maybe you can join a tennis league. If you like baseball, you might want to join a recreational baseball team. If volleyball is a sport you enjoy, look for recreational volleyball leagues to join. If basketball appeals to you, consider joining a recreational basketball league. Find a sport or activity you enjoy, and spend your leisure time engaging in those recreational activities. You are more likely to stick to a routine if you are participating in a physical activity you enjoy.
Mental Health and Wellness
Don’t forget to focus on your mental health and wellness. Your happiness and well being is important. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, help is available. Counseling and therapy can help with issues such as stress management, depression, anxiety and mental illnesses. Consult with a doctor or psychiatrist if you need medication.
Mental health and well being are important components of living a healthy life. There should not be a stigma associated with mental health. There is no shame in getting help with stress management and mental health issues. For a healthy life, make sure all components of your life are in harmony: mind, body, health and wellness.
You are Beautiful
Do not let society and the media dictate standards of beauty. Size 2 models in magazines are not realistic standards for comparison. In real life, people come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. You are beautiful. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
The number on your scale does not determine your self worth. You are a beautiful person regardless of your shape, size and skin color. If you are “plus size”, you are beautiful. Do not let body shamers make you feel ashamed of your size. If you have gained weight, you are still beautiful.
Focus on living a healthy lifestyle. Do not let societal pressure to be thin make you feel bad about yourself. Beauty is determined by your inner self, not the size of your body. You are a beautiful person regardless of your size.
Be proud of yourself and who you are. Do not let society place a label on you.
Live it…Don’t Diet
Instead of restricting calories and starving yourself, consider eating plenty of healthy fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nutritious foods. Eat plenty of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables, but cut out fried foods, junk food and foods high in calories and low in nutrients.
Don’t Skip Meals
Make sure to keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand, such as fresh fruit, nuts, sliced vegetables and low fat popcorn. Don’t skip meals and try not to eat too late at night. If you are in a hurry and you don’t have time for breakfast, consider eating low-fat yogurt or a banana.
If you have a few spare minutes, make yourself a nutritious smoothie with low-fat Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, spinach, kale and carrots. Bake homemade muffins with fresh bananas, shredded carrots and wholesome ingredients instead of eating junk food. Resist the urge to eat donuts and sweets that are high in calories and low in nutrition. Stock up your refrigerator, freezer and pantry with healthy food and steer clear of processed foods that are low in nutrients and high in calories.
Instead of eating junk food for lunch, plan ahead and stick to healthy meal plans. Bring your lunch to work and enjoy nutritious salads, sandwiches, fresh fruit and vegetables for meals. With a little planning, you can stick to healthy meals instead of resorting to fast foods that are low in nutrients and high in calories.
Avoid Dinner Dilemmas
Plan ahead to enjoy healthy meals at dinnertime and avoid dinner dilemmas. A crockpot is a valuable way to prepare healthy meals. In the morning, place vegetables, spices, seasonings and low fat ingredients in the crock pot. Set the crockpot on low for 8 hours. When you get home, a healthy dinner is waiting for you. Google crockpot meals online, check out cook books at the library or invest in some crockpot recipe cook books to find healthy crockpot recipes.
If you have leftovers from your crock pot meals, consider freezing the leftovers. Leftovers are perfect for lunch or dinner.
You don’t have to sacrifice flavor when focusing on eating healthy meals. There are many ways to add flavor to low calorie, nutritious meals. Use spices and seasonings to add flavor to your meals. Instead of eating fried foods, consider cooking stir fry vegetables or using a Wok to create healthy meals that are big on flavor and low in calories.
Invest in some Tupperware containers and bring healthy meals to work instead of eating junk food.
When dining out, choose healthier menu options such as salads, vegetables, broiled fish, poultry or baked meals. Avoid fried foods and foods that are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Make sure to eat plenty of vegetables, salads and high fiber foods that will fill you up.
If you have a sweet tooth, there are still plenty of healthy desserts that offer an abundance of nutritional value. Consider eating fresh or frozen fruit for dessert. With a Nutri-Bullet or a blender, you can create nutritious smoothies. Combine low-fat plain Greek yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit or vegetables to create delicious smoothies for breakfast or dessert. Freeze smoothies for a delectable frozen yogurt treat.
For a little slice of tropical paradise, create tropical smoothies with yogurt, pineapple, coconut and bananas.
If you enjoy coffee, try drinking your coffee without added sugar. For an iced coffee treat that is big on flavor and low on calories, place a little whipped cream on top of your iced coffee. Sprinkle your iced coffee with cinnamon to add extra flavor without adding extra calories.
Living Your Best Life
Life is short and fleeting. You never know from one day to the next what might happen. Don’t put your health or your happiness on a shelf. You are the captain of your own ship and you are in charge of your own health. Set sail on a path that leads to a healthy lifestyle. Living your best life is within your reach. Don’t procrastinate or wait another day. Your best version of you starts today.
You may have a long list of excuses as to why you don’t have the time or the money to invest in your most valuable and important asset: yourself and your health. Consider this: if you do not make healthy living a priority, you may end up with a quality of life that is not ideal. Genetics and lifestyle both play a part in your health and wellness. Give yourself the best possible advantage and chance at a healthy life by investing in yourself and focusing on health, wellness, fitness and healthy living. Your life depends on it.