Starting on a path toward a healthier lifestyle can be a daunting task. With so much information out there, it’s hard to know where to begin. For many of us, this isn't our first, second, or even third attempt at making healthier choices.
In the past, you may have tried to stick to a plan only to give up because you weren’t seeing results, or you pushed yourself too hard and couldn't keep up with the changes you made.
So the question is, where do you start?
Assess Your Current Habits
At this point, you are probably highly motivated to get started. You may be ready to throw out all the processed food or buy that new trendy exercise bike, and while both will help you get closer to your health goals, it's important to know what you are already doing first.
By taking a look at your current habits, you will be able to assess what habits are working for you and which ones are working against you. Get a sense of your baseline by keeping a log of the following:
Use a journal, a meal-tracking app, or even take pictures of everything you eat and drink. This way, you will have an accurate account of what you are eating and how much.
One of the biggest ways we undermine our health goals is by guessing how much we eat and drink. Studies show that people underestimate how much they are eating by up to 50%, so having an accurate account of what we are consuming is a huge portion of our health success.
Staying hydrated is a relatively simple way to support our health. Not only is drinking enough water vital to the proper function of our bodies but staying hydrated helps reduce hunger cravings and how much we eat.
The standard equation to determine how much water you should be drinking is half of your body weight in ounces of water a day. This means that if you weigh 160 lbs, you should try to drink 80 oz of water. If you aren't a water drinker, that can seem overwhelming! But start easy…the simplest way to start drinking more water is to keep a water bottle with you.
If you have a 24 oz water bottle you just have to drink 3.5 of them and you've met your goal! It's important to listen to your body, though, and remember that while the standard equation is a good baseline, your individual needs may require you to drink more or less than the standard amount.
Having an exercise log is the best way to have an accurate view of how much movement you are getting in your day. You can have a separate journal for exercise or combine it with your food journal!
Many meal-tracking apps also allow you to record things like steps and exercise so you can keep all your data in one convenient location. Having a smartwatch or wearable tracker is another way to help you keep track of your movement without having to stop and write things down.
Whether we like it or not, sleep plays a huge role in our physical and mental health. Not getting enough sleep can actually block your body from losing weight, as this is the time that your body recovers from the day.
Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep a night, try to stay of technology 30-60 minutes before bed, and keep your room cool and dark (aim for 68-70 degrees).
Weight and body measurements:
Whether it's once a day, once a week, or once a month, decide when you want to take measurements of yourself. You may decide to use your home scale, a flexible measuring tape, or both to monitor your progress.
How you keep track doesn't matter nearly as much as staying consistent does! If you are tracking your body weight, make sure to use the same scale every time and try to weigh yourself around the same time of day.
This will help avoid issues like discrepancies in scales and body weight fluctuations that happen naturally throughout the day.
If you are using a measuring tape, make sure you are staying consistent with where on your body you measure each time.
For example, if you are measuring your arms and your first measurement is right below your armpit, and your next measurement is taken halfway down your bicep, you will get wildly different numbers leading to an inaccurate account of your progress.
Keep it Simple
Use the same notebook to track everything in one spot – you can buy a designated exercise and meal tracking journal that makes it simple for you to stay on top of tracking.
Try to track things as they happen, or have a set time each day that you sit down and log it all, either after your last meal and workout or in the morning as you reflect on the previous day.
Another option is to invest in a smartwatch or wearable fitness tracker. This takes the burden of tracking everything off of you by automating some or all of the data you want to track.
These usually monitor your steps, workouts, and sleep patterns, and many of their apps allow you to track your food and water intake.
Some of the devices will even sync with meal-tracking platforms so you can keep all your data in one place without having to record it all manually.
Set Realistic Goals
Once you've assessed your habits, it's time to set some realistic goals. Start small and focus on making one or two changes at a time.
For example, if you're not getting enough exercise, start by committing to a workout once or twice a week, or even by going for a walk once per day.
If you are trying to make changes to your nutrition, start with one meal at a time, focusing on breakfast until you build the habit you want and work your way through the rest of your diet.
As you start to build good habits, you can add more goals.
Focus on Your Mindset
Whether this is your first time trying to take control of your health or your 50th, remember to be kind to yourself. Changing habits takes time, and everyone’s body is different.
Comparing yourself to the progress of others or beating yourself up for not following your plan will only discourage you and make you less likely to stick to your goals.
Not only does having a positive mindset make you more likely to reach your goals, but having an “all or nothing” mindset” can lead to burnout and abandoning your goals altogether.
Remember that changing your habits will take time, and you will probably slip up here and there, but one of the most important tenets of changing your habits is not giving up, even if you miss a day, or week, or even longer!
Ask for Help
If you are struggling to know what exactly to do, or what changes are right for you, that is where we can help.
When you train with us, you will not only get a customized workout program, you will also get the nutrition support you need to reach your health and fitness goals.
Our 28-Day Kickstart Program is a great way to get started at working toward your goals without having to do it all yourself!
In this program you will get:
- Full fitness and goals assessment
- Personalized fitness coaching to teach you the exact exercises you need to safely and effectively build lean muscle
- A simple meal plan to help you burn fat and balance hormones
- 1-on-1 success coaching to help guide you as you work to change your diet, exercise, and lifestyle
You can take charge of your health and wellness; you just need a program that can show you how to build the habits needed to reach your goals!
Click here to learn more and take back control of your health and fitness today!
Mint Condition Fitness empowers purpose-driven men and women to lose weight, get out of pain, and do more of the things that make life meaningful.