“We first make our habits, then our habits make us.” – John Dryden
Two questions we get asked often when we are first beginning with our clients are “what should I do for exercise?” and “what should I eat?” These questions go hand in hand with the new year as we all are working toward becoming better versions of ourselves. Now, every client is different. We all have different bodies, injury histories, goals and the list goes on. This blog goes out to thousands of individuals so specific advice is not useful here. However, specific advice is all based upon certain principals that can apply to all of us. I’ve chosen 3 principals today that can apply to both exercise and food. So as we build our better habits, let’s keep these in mind. I challenge you to then apply these more specifically to your life and day to day routine.
Keep it simple
Exercise – most people begin exercising too complicated and too aggressive. Start smart, start simple and then gradually progress. Remember, progress takes time. Find a coach or a routine that is easy to begin and doesn’t put you in discomfort the next day. If you have any movement imbalances (like a tight ankle) make sure you take care of these first so you feel good when you move. We have plenty of videos in our mobility section to help you with this.
Food – to me, simple in terms of food means two things: 1) The best food for you has the least amount of ingredients. They should also be ingredients you can pronounce. Keeping the ingredient list simple helps you eliminate a lot of processed food from your every day food choices which puts you wayyy ahead of the average American and on the right path to feeling better. This “rule” also makes it easy to choose between different options at the grocery store. 2) Keep the prep simple. The fewer steps you have between you and healthy food the more likely you are to eat it. So give yourself options – have fresh, frozen food choices than can be heated up when you have less time, buy cut up veggies so a salad can be made in two minutes for lunch, and keep dinners to 7 ingredients so they are easy to prepare and cook. Diets are complicated and too restrictive to be successful long term. Follow the above advice for 85% of your day or more and enjoy the occasional cookie.
Keep a variety
Exercise – variety is very important in conditioning for a few reasons: 1) Injury prevention – ex. most runners do nothing but run, so they are prone to overuse injuries 2) Plateau – if you are doing the same thing over and over it becomes much easier for progress to stall 3) Health – If you only do strength training you are missing the benefits for your heart and lungs from metabolic (cardio) conditioning. This is why our app has Mobility, Strength, Metabolic and Power workouts. We need a mix of all of these to maximize the health benefits.
Food – similar to exercise if you eat the same foods all of the time you are missing key nutrients from the others you are not eating. For example, with vegetables we recommend to our clients to “eat the rainbow.” By eating all of the different color veggies they are taking advantage of all of the nutrients each different color has to offer. Further, make sure your plate has a mix of healthy proteins, carbs, fats and veggies to take advantage of the benefits of each macronutrient (scary word – but not so scary – just look at the label to see which food is which type. Ex. 32g Carb, 2g Protein, 5g Fat means the food is mainly a carbohydrate).
Keep it enjoyable (don’t laugh, exercise and healthy food can be enjoyable)
Exercise – I often tell my clients the best type of exercise is the one you enjoy. If you enjoy it, you are more likely to repeat it. And that’s the whole game. There are different ways to approach this: doing exercise with friends, finding a recreational sport you love, trying new activities, fun workout videos on our app and so much more.
Food – STOP making healthy food boring!! It’s the quickest way to fall back into bad habits. There are so many options to keep food fun. Here’s two ways I do: 1) I trade like-foods for like-foods – instead of having a banana at breakfast every day each week I have bananas one week, oranges the next, blackberries the next and so on. The variety keeps it fun. Same with olives in my salad – I choose a different kind every week. It makes shopping fun too because I’m grabbing and trying new things every week that I wouldn’t normally try. 2) The American Heart Association recommends following the Mediterranean lifestyle way of eating and also notes a vegetarian or plant-based lifestyle are healthy ways to live and eat. My wife and I bought cook books from each of these styles and choose two simple recipes to make each week. The books have recipes that are a lot more creative and flavorful meals than I could ever come up with and it keeps the meals fun and provide plenty of leftovers to keep future meals easy. We write the date next to each one we try and over time we will try and complete the whole book. It’s like a challenge and forces us to choose recipes we normally wouldn’t.
Now, how can you apply at least one of these principles to your every day routine?
You got this!
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