Welcome to 2016. If you’re like a lot of people out there (present company included!) you’re probably looking in the mirror saying “eh…this could be better”. Instead of making a resolution to “get fit” this year, it’s time to come up with a plan of action that you can stick to. I have three tips here that can help you make fitness an integral part of your 2016. Stick with ‘em and you’ll find a better, fitter you throughout the year.
Tip # 1: make everything you do more active
One of the best ways to find time for fitness is to carve out a chunk of time in your schedule … but not everyone can do that. Personally I’ve devoted 7am Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to time at the gym–but that’s not the only time I’m active. By choosing to make everything you do a little bit more active, you can add fitness into your daily routine without having to devote time to a formalized exercise setting.
What does that look like?
- Take a break every hour to get up from your tasks. Stretch, walk around, get the blood flowing again. A number of fitness trackers, from FitBit to Garmin to Apple Watch, will ask you to get off your butt on an hourly basis. A few things to try: pinch your shoulder blades together ten times during every break; this helps to alleviate the hunched over pose many of us develop at the computer. Reach up and stretch from side to side with your hands over your head, breathing deeply as you do. Take the rest of the time to walk around, getting your heart rate above normal. If you’re like me you’ll find yourself invigorated after you sit back down.
- Be a more active watcher! We all love to binge watch on Netflix (right?) but you can do more than just sit there. Yoga while you watch, crunches, planks, squats, and pushups are all things you can do. A grip-strength trainer is a great watch-related exercise, as are small dumbbells for strengthening your forearms. If you still haven’t cut the cord yet, take the commercial breaks to get some cardio like lunges or jumping jacks in. Just don’t forget to move the coffee table to a safer space, okay?
- Wear a fitness tracker, set a goal, and stick to it. Pedometers are in just above everything nowadays; chances are your phone has one. Personally I’ve had the best results when my fitness tracker is on my wrist and I can see how I’m doing. My FitBit Flex was a constant companion until I got my Apple Watch last year; both do a great job of telling you how many steps you’ve taken in a day, giving you a rough idea of how many calories you’ve burned. Personally I really like the heart rate monitoring that you’ll find in newer fitness trackers; being able to see that you’ve hit your target rate is so rewarding!
There are plenty of other ways to make the things you do more active. Work on your posture while seated, do calf raises while you’re waiting for the elevator, and take the stairs where you can. 30 minutes per day of exercise is easy at the gym, but it’s not the only place where you can “work a set in”.
Tip # 2: find your posse
Holding yourself to a fitness plan takes remarkable discipline…which many of us just don’t have. Finding someone to be accountable to is one great way of making sure that you’ll stick with the program. So how can you do that? Starting with friends or family can seem like a great idea, especially if they’re close, but if you’ve been engaging in bad habits together (“let’s just order pizza…”) it can be hard to break them together.
That’s where the social aspect of many fitness trackers can come in handy: most trackers have a community-based feature that allows you to add friends and strangers, letting you compare and compete with each other. FitBit has a leaderboard that allows you to track steps, while fitness apps like Strava let you compare times for bicycle routes, jogging routes, and more with other people in your area.
You can be constructive with your crew by cheering them on, and asking for cheers when you find yourself challenged.
Tip # 3: plan ahead with better nutrition
Fitness is about more than just the calories you output when you’re running, cycling, lifting, or swimming. An integral part of what you do needs to focus on what you’re putting INTO your body as well.
This isn’t news, but it bears repeating: your total daily energy expenditure (or TDEE) is the number of calories that your body burns as you do what you do every day. If you eat more than you burn, you’ll gain weight. If you eat less than you burn, you’ll lose weight. There are a few calculators out there where you can track what you eat, but the most important step (for me, anyway) was making sure that I wasn’t making my meal choices at the fast food counter. That meant preparing my meals in advance. Here’s what I recommend:
- Get a good blender to start the morning with a healthy shake or smoothie. Tada, you’ve made time for fitness AND you’ll get to work on time.
- Get a slow cooker and prepare enough protein for a weeks worth of meals. Cook it over a lazy Sunday (while you’re busy actively watching Netflix) and then box them up for the week.
- Use a tracker app like MyFitnessPal to log what you’re eating and stick to your calorie and macronutrient goal. These two factors were crucial parts of me shedding 20 pounds…and keeping it off.
Fitness doesn’t need to be something that becomes the focus of your life, but it should be a key part of it. Use the tips above to find time where there is no time…it’s easier than you’d think!
Got a good fitness tip for the Best Buy crowd? Share it in the comments below, I’d love to hear how you’re making fitness a part of YOUR daily routine.