10 things you can do today to activate your lifestyle
You don’t need to run a marathon but you do need to get off the couch or out of your chair. You may laugh at people who wear a pedometer but the 10,000 steps they are striding for each day isn’t a joke to their body. From long days at the office to relaxing nights at home, we tend to live a sedentary life. The easiest change you can make today is to get up and move more. Take the stairs over the elevator; don’t park in the closest parking space; get out of your chair more often to talk to coworkers, get a drink, or just walk around. Take the dog for a walk instead of just letting it outside or, go for an after dinner stroll with the family. Better yet, DVR that favorite hour long show and spend the 20 minutes you save in commercial time going for a walk.
Run a marathon! Just kidding. What motivates you? Is it setting and reaching a goal? Or, perhaps it’s conquering a new challenge. Whatever it is, find and use that motivation to make changes to your daily routine. There are two key things to remember, 1. be realistic and 2. take baby steps. We all want to be stronger, faster and skinner, unfortunately it’s unlikely any of those will happen overnight. Set realistic, long term goals for yourself. If you’ve never run before, sign up for a 5K, not a marathon. Successfully completing a goal feels better than falling short because you became frustrated by setting an unrealistic goal. Also, give yourself milestones—baby steps– to achieving that goal. If your goal is to loose 10lbs, then work towards loosing the first pound, then three pounds, etc. Or, set a goal to do something active for 10 minutes each day. Reaching each milestone is a reason to celebrate and, will keep you motivated to reaching the bigger goal. It also gives you a chance to avoid potential frustration and adjust your goal/plan should life get in the away.
Enjoy the outdoors
The frigid north is thawing out and it’s not too hot in the south. Now is the time to be active and enjoy the outdoors. Take a hike, stroll through a park, go for a swim or bike ride. Once a week pick something that you enjoy doing outdoors and do it. The sun and fresh air are good for you and I promise you that whatever you choose to do, you will feel better afterwards.
Spend time with friends and family
If you are setting a goal or registering for an event, find a friend or family member to do it with you. This doesn’t mean that they have to be at your side during every workout, but, on the days that you aren’t feeling motivated, you’ll have somebody there to give you the encouragement you need. If you aren’t working towards a goal, try to pick one day a week to do something active with a close friend or family member. A scheduled 30-minute walk, run or bike will keep you both active and is an easy way to spend time quality time with one another.
Eat more (often)
There is a very important caveat to this and it’s covered in the next topic. But, yes, eating more, balanced, meals is good for the body. Instead of eating a large breakfast and then waiting until you are starving at lunch to eat another large meal and starving again by the time dinner rolls around, try balancing your food consumption throughout the day. Aim for five meals, a hearty breakfast (it is the most important meal of the day), a mid morning snack, a healthy lunch, mid afternoon snack and a light dinner. This approach will stabilize your body’s energy levels, manage your hunger and cravings and, make you feel better; unless, of course, you don’t make great food choices which brings me to the next thing you should do.
If moving is the most important and easiest thing you can do, eating right is the second most important and easiest thing you can do. I could write an entire article on what you should do to overhaul your diet but, to keep it simple, there are two things you can start doing today. 1. Make smart choices and 2. Manage your portions. Just as I discussed above, start small. Keep track of what you eat in a week and then swap out some of the less healthy choices with healthier choices. Swap chips with crackers or veggies; soda with flavored water or tea; candy or other sugary treats with fruits or yogurt. Next, manage your portions. I wont get into the mathematics but you need to be mindful of what your body needs vs. what you are putting in to it. Going out to dinner? Don’t feel obligated to eat everything on your plate. Want dessert? It’s ok, but share it with a friend. Switching to five meals per day? Reduce the portion sizes of your other meals.
Change it up, try something new
If your current routine is getting stale or you are struggling to get motivated, try something new. Change your route, sign up for a new fitness class at the gym, find group activities or, go solo. Try yoga, cross fit, obstacle course challenges or, even new hobbies, kayaking, roller blading, team sports (kickball, softball). The options are endless. Pick something and try committing to it on a regular basis. Remember, thirty minutes of any activity is better than thirty minutes of no activity.
Spending money on something that will encourage you to be active is a good investment in yourself. I’m not advocating that you spend your life savings overhauling your equipment with top of the line items, but I am suggesting that every once in a while, especially when you find your motivation dipping, you buy yourself something small for your activity of choice. If you have the means, it can be that new gadget you’ve been eyeing or, it can be as simple as a new outfit or even a few new songs to add to your playlist. You’ll be surprised how adding something “new” to your routine will reinvigorate your motivation.
Make time, not sacrifices
I said it before and I’ll say it again, 30 minutes of any activity is better than 30 minutes of no activity. Life will get in the way but when there’s a will, there’s a way. The key is to not associate being active as having to make a sacrifice. Making that negative association is a demotivator. Instead, schedule your activity as you would any other part of your day and commit to it as you would any other appointment. If you can, schedule it early in the day, this will give you a great boost of energy for the day and, there’s less of a chance something will cause you to skip it. If life gets in the way, look at what other options you have. Instead of an hour, can you do 15 or 30 minutes? If you can’t make it to the gym, what about a short walk after dinner? Stuck indoors? What about yoga or other non-equipment exercises. Can’t make anything happen? Don’t stress over it or get frustrated tyring to “force” something to happen. Remain committed and know that tomorrow is another day.
Unless you are training for something specific, there are too many options out there for you to frustrate yourself doing something you don’t enjoy doing just to be active. Explore the options, you’ll have fun trying new things and will eventually find that activity that excites and motivates you to live a healthier, active lifestyle. You may even find several!