Plan to Get Stronger and Live Healthier

If you are like me, finding the right workout plan for you is probably one of the hardest things in your very busy life.  I think it is important to change your mindset though; that it is not just about losing weight but instead coming up with a plan to get stronger and live healthier. When you change your mindset and develop a routine for healthy living, it is more sustainable for the long term.

But the question remains, where do I start? There are so many different varieties of workouts and advice out there that it is hard to weed through all of it.  During COVID, I finally got myself in shape after a lifetime of bad eating habits.  Unfortunately, life happened in the last year and with a lot of stress those bad habits found their way back into my life.  So, here I am right back at the beginning with you.

There is no magic solution to quickly get more toned and stronger.  It really does come down to consistency and just being patient.  Results will come to those who wait (and put in the work!).

Here is my plan for getting back in shape:

1. Healthy diet

This is truly the hardest part of losing weight for me because I love sweets.  But, the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume.  Your body naturally uses calories just to do its daily functioning, but if you want to lose weight you need to make sure that you are not eating more calories than you can burn in a day.

To do this, I use a calorie counter app like MyFitnessPal.  Yes, you have to take the time to log everything you eat, but it really helps put in perspective how much you are eating.  Plus, all those extra M&Ms you sneak, you actually need to record them, which personally makes me less inclined to take them in the first place.  Calorie counting can be a pain at first, but if you store recipes that you cook frequently, it gets easier to record.

I prefer calorie counting to “dieting” and cutting out whole food groups.  I love to bake so cutting out sweets entirely is just going to make me miserable.  However, I have found healthier ways to enjoy the things I love such as making sugar-free chocolate chip cookies.  If I am counting calories, it also holds me accountable to only eating one or two cookies instead of the whole jar.

If you can get your eating under control, then that is half the battle.  To make it sustainable though, it is important not to be too hard on yourself.  I have seen people try an 80/20 rule, where you eat well 80% of the time and give yourself 20% slack for being human.  It is important to find whatever works for you!

2. Get a fitness tracker

I recommend getting a Fitbit or some sort of exercise and sleep tracker.  This makes a huge difference in keeping me on track and creating a healthy routine that works for me.  It becomes motivation right on your wrist.

The Fitbit reminds me to get up and move every hour.  I can track my water intake and I can pair it easily with MyFitnessPal to track my calories.  The most important thing to me though is the ability to track my sleep.  I always knew that I wasn’t getting enough sleep, but when I see the tracker tell me on average I only sleep five hours, then I know it is a problem!

If you are struggling to meet your goals, a fitness tracker helps you stay on track and can also give you some accountability towards meeting those goals.

3. Get quality sleep

This is the other healthy habit I personally struggle with – there simply isn’t enough time in the day!  By the time I get the kids to bed, finish up some work, clean up, enjoy a little me time, and also spend some quality time with my husband, next thing I know it is 2am in the morning and I have to wake up at 7am to get kids off to school.

At some point though something has got to give.  You can’t do it all and that’s okay!  That means some nights (and by some I mean most) I will go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink or sometimes that work will just have to wait until the morning.  When you prioritize sleep, it gives you more energy for the next day to take care of those things you might not have finished the night before.

Sleep is important as it is your body’s time to reset and heal itself overnight.  It is probably one of the most important things you can do in developing a healthy lifestyle.  I think the easiest way to make sure you get a good amount of sleep is to have a consistent bedtime.  Just as you would for your kids, create a bedtime routine that starts at a certain time and then you get lights out at relatively the same time each night.  Definitely easier said than done, but if you can make it part of your routine, then it becomes a lot easier to succeed.

It can be difficult when your significant other is on a different schedule than you though. My husband is a night owl who stays up until the wee hours of the morning working and likes to keep on the television. To keep all that noise blocked out, I use this face mask with a built-in white noise machine. You can also pair your phone to it via Bluetooth if you want to listen to music. With my Fitbit that monitors my sleep, I found out that I actually get some of the deepest sleep when I use this mask.

4. Drink more water

I hardly ever took this healthy habit seriously in the past, but ever since my husband bought me this time tracking water bottle, it has made this goal pretty easy to meet every day.  This water bottle has time stamps on the side which encourages you to drink so much every hour throughout the day. When figuring out how much water to drink every day, there are a lot of different answers all over the internet.  With my water bottle, it has you drinking a total of 64 oz per day so I aim to drink two complete bottles at a bare minimum and if I can get in a third then that is a really good day.

There are a lot of health benefits to drinking water, but let me tell you the ones I actually notice in my daily life.

Frequent bathroom trips.

This one I noticed almost immediately.  While more annoying than anything, it tells you that your body is flushing out all the bad toxins and you are staying hydrated throughout the day.

Less cravings.

Because I am filling up on water regularly throughout the day, I notice a lot less need to snack.  If I find myself feeling hungry, I reach for my water bottle first to make sure I am on track to meet my time markers.  Typically drinking water will slow me down enough to realize I wasn’t really hungry.

Smaller portion sizes.

Simply put, I get full faster after having a stomach that is filled with mostly water.  If you are looking to lose fat and are tracking calories, then regularly drinking water can help you cut back on portion sizes.

Healthier skin.

People rave about how good their skin looks after drinking water consistently.  It is true that water helps keep your skin hydrated and therefore less ashy and have more elasticity.  However, for me, it isn’t quite what I expected.  I expected to see this huge transformation with glowing skin reminding me of how things looked when I was 20, which definitely didn’t happen.

What I do notice is that my skin looks brighter, but I attribute that more to all the other healthy changes I am making in conjunction with drinking water.  Getting enough sleep reduces the dark circles under my eyes and drinking water helps my skin look less sunken.  My acne also has cleared up but that has been more because I’ve significantly cut back on the amount of sugar I consume.  Lastly, I believe my skin is glowing more simply because I am happier.  When you choose to live a healthy lifestyle, it gives you energy and a level of happiness that drinking water alone will not achieve.

5. Workout routine

Some people absolutely love the idea of working out.  They say it gives them endorphins and helps them start the day off right.  I, however, am not one of those people.  It takes a lot of effort to get me to the gym, but I find it is all about creating a system that works for you.

When my kids were younger, I joined a local women’s fitness center that offered numerous group classes.  I felt that having to actually preregister and show up to class held me accountable when I could think of a million excuses not to go.  Now that my kids are slightly older, I am able to find more time to myself to fit in a workout at home.

Switching up my routine is actually what helps keep me consistent.  Some days I might lift weights, other days I do yoga, some days I walk on the treadmill, and other days when I don’t want to think I just follow a YouTube video.  It is important to practice mindfulness though and find an exercise that compliments whatever your body is needing that day.  Some days you might feel stressed by work so a calming yoga class might suit you.  Other days you might be really angry so lifting weights and running will help you blow off steam.

Whatever it is, keep moving!  I had an instructor tell me that a body in motion stays in motion.  It is easier to keep up any sort of routine versus constantly stopping and trying to start back up again.

6. Be consistent

Being consistent for the long term can be tricky if you are constantly looking for fast results.  It simply won’t happen and if it does, it won’t be sustainable.  It is about creating lifelong healthy habits and routines that fit in with your schedule and needs.

It helps me to use a calendar where I can check off each day and make notes about how the day went.  While your ultimate goal might be to lose twenty pounds, focus on shorter milestones that are attainable.  For example, instead of saying I want to lose 2 pounds this week, your goal could be doing 5 days of intense work out.  Completing a set number of work outs is greatly in your control and achievable. At the end of the week, you should then reward yourself with something small whether that be a hot bath or your favorite meal. Use the below calendar to help you stay on track! 

Do you have any other tips for helping establish your workout routine?  I would love to hear them!

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