Changing To A Healthy Lifestyle
This is hard and I’m mad about it. I suppose I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to eating healthy. It’s been sooo easy to drive right past the gym where I haven’t been in about 18 months. Yet I’ve continued to allow the monthly, automatic gym payment to be deducted from my bank account. As if any minute I would turn things around and get back to my regimen. It’s been too easy to eat whatever I want as if I’m still as active now as I was 7 years ago when I burned the calories that I consumed.
The realization struck me that when your lifestyle changes, so should your eating habits. It used to be that I parked four blocks from my job and had to walk to and from my building daily, uphill in one direction. I did lots of music rehearsals and performances that gave a good aerobic workout in 45 minute segments. Basically, my exercise was built into my daily routine so I didn’t need a gym membership or to carve out additional time in my day to work out. I now work a desk job and sit for 8 hours a day. When I’m off work, I’m usually heading to my home office to compose music and surf the web. This has led to a few extra pounds and my physical conditioning ebbing away. While I’m not quite in a casket, I can feel the effects of a sedintary lifestyle. It doesn’t feel great.
CONCLUSION: Create an exercise routine and find a way to consistently work it into my day. Change up my diet to include fewer calories, retain some semblance of flavor in my meals, incorporate portion control and, hardest of all, curb my sweet tooth.
That all flows well when you type it. Living it, however, is a different story. I’m slowly getting my system in place but exercise and eating properly requires some foresight and organization.
My changes are things I suggest for anyone transitioning to a healthier lifestyle. I haven’t perfected them yet but I know they will help me if I stick with them...
a) Go to bed earlier. Exercise in the morning. No more staying up till 2A and sleeping 4 hours a night. Realistically I don’t have time to work out in the evenings with helping with homework, operating my side business, occasionally cooking dinner, etc. It’s not an option I want to explore late into the evening. Instead, I’ve been waking up 45 minutes earlier and getting a better jump start on my day with a workout.
b) Don’t put myself in a fast food situation. I’ve added more (skinless) chicken thighs to my shopping list. Seasoning and baking or grilling 4-5 on Sunday night, and cutting them up fajita style gives me a quick addition to a salad or quick recipe. I try to keep salad fixings on hand at home and in the fridge at work so that I can conveniently bring my portable chicken add-in from home and have a light lunch midday. It helps in keeping my calorie count down and saves a little money I’d otherwise spend on lunch.
c) Break my bi-weekly grocery budget up into pieces so that I can buy perishables like fresh veggies and fruit between major shopping trips. That helps me keep organic ingredients on hand for smoothies, or just an alternative to its frozen or canned counterpart.
d) Write down what I eat during the day. That speaks for itself. I used to keep tabs on what I ate by reviewing the number of fast food wrappers on the floor of my car. Too many Wendy’s or Taco Bell or PayDay wrappers was a red flag. Now, seeing what you eat in the course of a day, including casual snacks, the ‘somebody brought doughnuts’ pit stop and all may surprise you at the end of a week. This helps with eliminating empty calories that really add up.
e) Drink water, drink water, drink water. I’ve replaced the soda with dinner and/or lunch with water. I give myself the pee test throughout the day. I may be wrong but I tell myself that when I’m drinking enough water, my pee has less of a yellow tint to it and is usually almost clear. TMI?? It’s a bad sign to me when its darker that either I’m not drinking enough water or I’m drinking too much of other stuff instead of water. I’ll do an orange, grapefruit or Cranberry-Apple juice here and there. But sodas, Sobe, and those iterations of sports drinks, I bypass. You don’t have to wonder if it’s good for you if it’s water.
f) Work isolated areas of my body at a time. Change up the exercise routine to focus on different muscle groups. A good concept for overall fitness. Don’t be the guy or girl with supertoned legs from 200 squats a day and a beer belly. This phase is where I’m focusing now since my transition is fairly new. I’ve been mainly focusing on cardio for the time being with a little core conditioning thrown in. I will start my circuit workouts soon. I’m sure they will be a slow progression because the workouts HURT when you’ve been off for as long as I have. But start slow so you don’t blow yourself out or hurt yourself. Don’t give yourself a reason to abandon your transition all together
g) Lastly, try my diet plan. I call it "The Mirror Diet". Strip down butt naked and stand in a mirror that gives you a stark look at yourself. Be honest and don’t let yourself off the hook. Figure out what you want to work on and make up your mind to get to work on it. This works for me. Every time I start to think ‘maybe I’ll just skip today and get back to it tomorrow’ I work my way to that mirror and remind myself of what I want to accomplish. I’ve hit a couple of two-fers after a visit to the mirror.
For the record, I’m doing all this at home. I dropped my gym membership and am determined to make this work. I have partnered up with a friend that is a health and fitness buff to bounce ideas and my progress (or lack thereof) off of so… so far so good. I’d love to hear from some of you on how you are working in working out. Especially those of you who have kids.
Let’s blog about it. Stay tuned..
Vernon R. Heard