This is the year you’ll transform into one of those homemade organic smoothie drinking moms, the ones who sport a six-pack while they jog around the neighborhood after school, dumbbells in hand. Sound familiar? What may be just as familiar is how easy it is to slide back from the peaks of good intentions, but maybe the key is to scale them properly from the beginning. Check out these handy tips from local experts that can help you stay on the fitness wagon this year.
- Be Realistic. “People say, I’m going to work out seven days a week!” says Jenny Beadle, membership and wellness executive at the Bob Sierra YMCA. That rarely works, and you end up feeling worse about yourself. “Shoot for three, four at the most,” and work your way up.
- Prepare. Beadle suggests putting workout clothes on the bathroom counter the night before, or in the backseat of the car, or in the gym bag by the front door. Not having to take the few extra steps of finding your workout gear will ease the transition to being out the door.
- Find an exercise buddy. “You’re probably more likely to show up if you know someone is waiting for you, particularly someone you like and someone you don’t want to disappoint,” says Beadle.
- Put exercise on your calendar. If you actually have it written down and have a time slot assigned to it, working out becomes as important as other engagements.
- Limit laziness—to just 23 ½ hours a day! From that perspective, a daily workout isn’t quite as daunting. Beadle tells the people she works with that all she’s asking for is 30 minutes of activity. The remaining hours of their day can be spent being as lazy as they want.
- Be your own prep cook. Beadle says she and her husband take out about an hour and a half of their Sunday to boil eggs and chop up vegetables and fruits. They store these in Tupperware containers in the fridge so they can grab them on their way out the door and skip the drive-through.
- Outsource. Check out one of the many food prep companies on the market, such as Fitlife Foods, for options for healthy home cooked foods that are easy to obtain as restaurant or fast food meals.
- Substitute! Incremental changes can go a long way. Cut dairy to low-fat, do egg whites rather than whole eggs, choose frozen yoghurt rather than ice cream and a broth rather than cream-based soup. (For a handy list of substitutes, check out https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/eat/shop_lcal_fat.htm.)
- Buy in bulk. Beadle suggests buying items like brown rice, grains and quinoa in bulk to save time and money. She cooks up a tub of quinoa and keeps it handy in her fridge so she can grab a cup of it and add it to a skillet egg, for example, to make a healthy and filling breakfast.
- Also—think seasonal. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, seasonal fruits and veggies “are fresher and tastier, and nutritional value is optimized. Plus, eating seasonally encourages a diverse diet, is often more economical, and harmonizes with nature’s production cycle.” Some good January veggie choices are avocados, squash, eggplant, bell peppers and snap beans, and for dessert, guavas, passionfruit or carambola.
- Keep a food journal. We often snack mindlessly, and keeping writing down everything we eat can be a real eye opener. Jenni Crafton, owner and instructor of FIT4MOM New Tampa, recommends her clients keep theirs handy at all times, or record their food on their phones.
- Eat real food. Why reach for a supplement when you can munch on the real thing? Crafton says broccoli sprouts have five times the cancer fighting powers as supplements made with them, so stock the freezer with nutrient-rich frozen sprouts.
- Invest in new plates. Cornell University researchers learned that not only do smaller plates and bowls limit the amount of food you serve yourself, the color of your china makes a difference too. A plate that has a high contrast with the food you’re serving means you’ll eat less, so if you want to eat more greens, use green salad plates! If you want to eat less lasagna, serve it on a blue plate rather a red one.
- Brush your teeth immediately after dinner to avoid late-night snacking and let your body know that eating time is done for the day.
- Work out the body but don’t forget the mind: “Many people make poor choices when they are stressed,” says Crafton. Find some proactive ways to manage stress in your life. Meditate, get organized, and do your best to limit stressful situations.
- Stick to water. You should be drinking a minimum of eight 8-oz glasses of water per day–even more if you are exercising, and even more if you are a nursing mom, says Crafton. Try flavoring it with fresh mint, cucumber, lemon or lime.
- Go outside! In just a few months, we’ll be swatting mosquitoes and gasping for breath in the humidity, so take advantage of the gorgeous temperatures to finish the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation District’s Hiking Spree 2017. Complete eight of the featured 19 hikes by March 31 to earn a medallion from the department. Visit hcflgov.net/hikingspree for more information.
“If nothing changes, then nothing changes,” says Crafton. “Try to identify one behavior that might be keeping you from your goal (not eating breakfast, not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water) and commit to changing that long established habit. Things change when we do!”
Originally published in the January 2017 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.