Are you headed to the beach for spring break—awesome, except you’re worried about the skinny, ripped friend sitting next to you that you love to hate. Maybe you have a grad party, high school reunion or wedding you want to look your best for and you’re contemplating what latest ‘challenge’ is going to give you buff arms and washboard abs quickly.
I know there are a lot of fitness and eating ‘challenges’ going on and they are tempting! As a health coach and fitness trainer, I know that ‘30 days’ of crunches or squats is probably not going to get you where you want to be. And ‘challenges’ which require you to pick a month in which you are expected to eliminate every edible pleasure imaginable has it’s consequences: when the April challenge is over, May 1st you might find yourself devouring the bag of Oreos and the bottle of Chardonnay!
On the other hand, people often let their health fall to the very bottom of the pyramid and they need a very disciplined, personal ‘challenge’ to make some headway fast to increase their motivation or to jump start some healthy habits. So I do find myself very conflicted when my friends or clients tell me about their next great ‘challenge’!
Last week my son reminded me of what happens to many of us. He’s worked himself to the bone for the last year at a demanding, new job—no time to prepare decent meals, exercise, socialize and barely had enough time to sleep and get his clothes washed, not to mention the stress, ravaging his body.
He finally had had enough! He recently resigned from this unhealthy lifestyle by having the courage to examine his priorities, and dig deep to really figure out what’s important for his future, going forward—something valuable to do at any age and phase in your life. Since then, I’ve been watching him dive into his very own ‘Jump Start to Health and Happiness’ without any suggestion from me—miraculous, right? Well, they do grow up and it’s so fun to watch!
He’s regularly hitting the gym, sleeping eight hours a night and paying close attention to his diet. Sunday nights he’s been cooking simple combinations of lean protein (chicken or salmon sautéed in olive oil) with brown rice and veggies. He packages each meal individually, labels them and he’s ready for his busy week, not to mention the money and calories he saves by avoiding fast food restaurants.
Whether you make simple, repetitive meals for yourself to individually package ahead of time, or plan a variety of healthy, delicious meals for your family; it’s worth the time and essential to maintaining a healthy weight!
My son’s fitness and body composition goals may be different from yours or mine, but many of the habits we are striving for are the same. So many things we do in life require planning. If we don’t prepare for a meeting or a speech, we may embarrass ourselves. If we don’t plan our party out, it doesn’t go smoothly. If we don’t plan our vacation well, it’s not as enjoyable. It’s no different when it comes to meal and exercise planning. If the healthy food isn’t available, we will grab for whatever is! If the exercise isn’t on the calendar, something better is going to come along.
When it comes to ‘challenges’ do what’s safe and motivates you, but taking things to the extreme for a short period of time rarely promotes sustained success. Here is one of my favorite formulas to weight loss. Try this ‘challenge’:
Make goals that are attainable
Determine the type of exercise you enjoy
Put your workouts on the calendar
Learn relaxation techniques to reduce stress
Get enough sleep
Plan healthy meals
Don’t skip meals
Most importantly, make every effort to change or modify any work environment or situation that is preventing you from making your own health a priority. Trust me, I have learned first hand there are devastating effects when you combine stress and sleep deprivation with lack of exercise and a poor diet. There are times where situations are beyond our control, but the hope and goal is to keep those periods of time to a minimum!
Try my formula and this summer your clothes will fit better, you will feel awesome both physically and mentally, and you will reduce your likelihood of disease and illness. And then if you want to add that ‘Ab Challenge’, it’s just icing on the cake or shall we say spice on the veggies!
Download my FREE eGuide, 10 Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You and email me with any questions!
Personal Fitness Trainer & Health Coach
Author of College Basic Training: strengthen your mind and body to leap any college hurdle