Now that the Thanksgiving weekend is finally over, the feelings of guilt, self-consciousness and fatness are probably starting to settle in. Many of us will decide “It’s time finally start working out and get on a diet” and become motivated to take action. Unfortunately, once the initial spark has faded and the reality of our busy schedule and the impending holiday season sets in, many of us will revert back to our old unhealthy habits and put off getting in shape until the new year. We’ll that’s all going to change this year because I’m going to show you how to create sustainable health and fitness habits!
The main reason why many diet and exercise programs fail is because there is not a clearly established game plan to implement healthy habits. Each person has their own needs, goals, schedule, and lifestyle that are specific to them. Therefore each person should have a game plan that is specific to them so they can build healthy habits that fit into their schedule and lifestyle. Most diet and exercise programs are being squeezed into the day as opposed to fitting into the day. A 7am bootcamp class isn’t going to work if you have to be in the office by 8am and Crossfit at 6:30pm won’t fit into your schedule if you work until 7pm.
Whenever I first meet with a new client, the first thing I do is go over their daily routine and find out where we can implement healthy habits that fit into their current schedule and lifestyle. There are four main areas I focus on when I look to incorporate healthy habits:
1. What time of the day makes the most sense for you to workout? If you normally wake up at 5am, getting up an hour earlier to drive 15 minutes to the gym, workout for 30minutes and drive 15 minutes back home is not an efficient use of time. However, waking up a ½ hour earlier and going outside for a 3o minute run or doing one of our 30 minute workouts from our website is. The key to success and consistency with your workout program is finding a time that you can fit into your regular schedule. Try getting in a 30 minute workout at your lunch break, joining a gym that is on your way home from work or doing one of our workouts when you get home.
2. What are your current eating habits (what you eat and when) and where can we make healthier adjustments? For the many people have inconsistent eating habits. The problem with inconsistent eating habits is that your metabolism—your body’s calorie consuming engine—cannot run at a high, consistent level. Routinely skipping breakfast also slows down your metabolism, further decreasing the number of calories you burn which can cause your body to store more fat.
To maximize your metabolism, a meal schedule of 4-5 evenly-sized meals, every 3-4 hours is optimal. It may sound like a lot but when spaced out properly, it can be equal too—if not less than—the number of calories you are currently taking in. Each meal does not have to be a sit down, fork and knife meal. A protein shake in the morning or a mid-morning/mid-afternoon snack with protein such as almonds, string cheese or a protein bar with a piece of fruit are good options. If you go out to eat for lunch, a great way to spread out your calories is to save half of your meal as a mid-afternoon snack.
For dinner, unless it’s a “splurge meal” (which I’ll get to later), try to keep it low in carbohydrates—bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, fruit, etc. Any carbohydrates that your body does not process or burn by the end of the day gets stored as fat so keeping your carbohydrates down at night can prevent you from storing excess fat and can even burn fat while you sleep. Stick with lower fat protein sources such as chicken, fish and lean cuts of beef to keep the calories down. Add some vegetables to your dinner to make it more interesting and give yourself some creative options.
The two most common meal schedules I recommend are:
300-500 Calories Per Meal
• Mid-Afternoon Snack-5pm
250-400 Calories Per Meal
• Mid-Morning Snack-10am
• Mid-Afternoon Snack-4
3. What are some things that you don’t want to give up—at least for right now—that we can work around? I recently started working with a client that had to have chocolate in the middle afternoon. He had read somewhere that dark chocolate was good for you (and so is smoking and drinking, right?!) so he would normally have that and “occasionally” a Snickers bar. Instead of the dark chocolate I had recommended Green Emerald Cocoa Almonds and instead of the Snickers I turned him onto Detour protein bars—both of which he absolutely loved! He was still getting his chocolate fix but more importantly we were able to work around his need for chocolate by finding healthier options.
The key is to be creative and find ways that you can “trick” yourself into thinking you are still getting what you want. I recommend going to a store like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s and finding some healthy options that work for you. If you absolutely must have something and don’t want to give up, have it in moderation or balance it out with more exercise.
Instead of fighting with a client about giving up something they are not ready to give up, I find it easier—and much more effective—to work on creating healthy habits in areas that they are ready and willing to improve on. ESPECIALLY in the early stages! Overtime, as your health and fitness improves, you will naturally make improvements in the areas that you were not ready to initially.
4. Splurge meals. I always say that life—and food—is meant to be enjoyed. When you eat healthy and make smarter choices most of the time, allow yourself to have a splurge meal (not day!!!) every so often with the things you truly enjoy. I don’t like to use the word “cheat” as I feel it has a negative connotation—like something you shouldn’t be doing. Instead think of it as something you have earned and worked hard for or a reward for working out consistently and eating better. This will also avoid cravings which can lead to overeating, late night eating and snacking which add unnecessary calories to your diet and negate an otherwise healthy day.
On days that you have splurge meals make sure you get your workout in (I like to do an extra ½ hour of cardio) and get back on track with your healthy eating habits the day after. Try to space out your splurge meals every few days and avoid stringing multiple days in a row.