The kids are back in school, the weather is cooling down, and all the stay-at-home parents let out a big sigh – some time! All to yourself! What to do with it?

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The start of school is a great time to start a new plan to improve your health. Create a new routine early on, and you’ll be on the straight and narrow to the healthy life you want. Here are 5 simple steps to help you get started.

1. Dream a little. If your life was exactly the way you imagine it to be – if you could be anything, feel any way, and do whatever you dreamed of, what would your life look like? Spend part of this time focusing specifically on your health and fitness. It doesn’t matter how unrealistic your dream may seem, you can address details later. This is time to think BIG.

 

2. Be honest. Now take some time to honestly and realistically assess the current state of affairs. What do your life, health, and fitness look like now? How much time do you devote to your health? Do you worry about your health or does your health limit the things you want to do? Take note of where things are at now. Compare your big dreams to your current reality. What’s different? Ask yourself what would need to change in order to gradually head you in the direction of your dream. Don’t anticipate that you will achieve the dream in weeks or months – the goal is to always be moving toward the dream.

3. Select your long-term goals. Choose some realistic goals (1-2 is usually a good number) to achieve in the next 3 months. Make sure these are designed to head you toward your dream. Give yourself a deadline to complete them! Note: If one of your goals is to lose weight, 1-2 pounds per week is a safe and realistic amount of weight to lose. Losing faster than that can cause some major long-term negative effects on your metabolism, and can cause you to lose muscle.

Examples of long-term goals:

Lose 20 lbs by December 15, 2017.

Play outside with my grandkids for 30 minutes without feeling fatigued by November 15, 2017.

Run 6 miles without stopping by January 1, 2018.

Lower morning blood sugars to less than 120 mg/dL 5 days out of 7 by December 31, 2017.

4. Break it down farther. Time to break the long-term goals into smaller, short-term goals (2-4 is a good number). These are the things that you will do on a daily or weekly basis that will inch you each day a step closer to your dream. Be very specific – instead of making a goal to “eat healthy,” say “eat 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit each day.” That specificity makes it easy to track and gives you a very clear target. Another key piece? Choose things that won’t make you miserable!IMG_3116

Examples of short-term goals:

Use a calorie tracker to eat 1600-1800 calories per day, 5 out of 7 days per week.

Begin walking 10 minutes per day, 3 days per week. Increase by 5 minutes per week to goal of 30 minutes per day.

Complete a Couch to 5K training plan.

Focus on limiting carbohydrate intake to 30-45 grams per meal.

5. Now go get your dream! Be diligent and faithful to complete your short-term goals. Share your goals with a couple of people close to you (or your 500 closest Facebook friends!) to help hold you accountable. If you need extra support, knowledge, or resources to create or meet your goals, find a Registered Dietitian, exercise physiologist, or personal trainer to assist you.

Once you’ve done these five things, lather, rinse, and repeat! The key is to continually create new goals – keep dreaming, keep setting goals, and keep smashing them. If you miss one, make a new one or try again. This is your one and only life and body – don’t give up on them!

Need some help? I’m having a back-to-school special! If you’re interested in getting started with a new healthy routine, call 360.358.3179 during the month of September and schedule an initial appointment, and receive a FREE body composition assessment!


Image from i.huffpost.com

Since my husband and I have met our wellness goals, we are not ready to watch our bodies creep back to where they were, but rather to maintain the progress we’ve made and go even further. How do we avoid becoming another statistic for weight regain or resume our couch-potatoing, Christmas cookie-eating ways? The vital keys to long-term success lie before and after the hard work of reaching your goals.

Key #1: Before you change anything

Decide carefully how you will achieve your goals. For many years, scientists have been studying methods for weight loss to find the “best” way to get pounds off. The surprising result of a lot of this research is that so many methods work. A lot of nutritionists have taken to saying, “diets don’t work.” It might be semantics but in general, if the goal is to lose weight – most fad diets do work. Whether it’s low carb, low fat, low calorie, or portion control – weight typically comes off.1-5  If they didn’t work at all for losing weight, word would get around pretty quickly and they would never become popular.

Here’s the kicker (besides that many fad diets aren’t safe): the statistics for maintaining weight loss after a diet are horrendous. Long-term studies show that five years after short-term diets the result is an average regain to anywhere from a net loss of only 6 lbs to a gain of 10-21% of pre-diet weight.2,6 Yikes!

Many fad diets can be extreme, overly restrictive, or just plain miserable (or option d, all of the above). Most people beginning a diet program are willing to commit to short-term pain for long-term gain. Unfortunately, the reality is that long-term dieting is generally not sustainable, and weight loss from short-term dieting is temporary.

But fear not – all hope is not lost! The National Weight Control Registry is comprised of people who have successfully lost at least 30 lbs and kept it off for at least a year, though most participants have lost an average of 72.6 lbs and kept it off for more than 5 years.7 Their participants report that ongoing, long-term participation in sustainable habit changes has been key to their success, as opposed to radical, short-term dieting. You can read more about their habit changes at the National Weight Control Registry website.

All these studies show that a pivotal ingredient for long-term success with wellness, weight loss, muscle gain, or any habit change is sustainability. One of my favorite quotes sums up the wisdom behind this:

Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you.”

-Charles H. Spurgeon

Some may wonder what the last phrase has to do with wellness, and personally I believe it is vitally important (and apparently so did Spurgeon since he tacked it on there), so I included it. Regardless of how you feel about God, however, the sentiment is to not even begin a habit change that you can’t commit to long-term. Find changes that work with your lifestyle, not against it.

fighting, clawing, and scratching

Recognize that temporary habit changes create temporary results.  You can tweak them, change them, or adjust to the fluidity of life as needed, but if your habit changes disappear completely, so will the fruits of your labors.

Key #2: After you’ve met your goals

You’ve done it, congratulations! You’ve met your goal! You’ve placed a new brick in the healthy foundation upon which you can continue building the life you want. Guess what? You’re not done! If you want to continue to enjoy the benefits of your progress, you must grab hold of the second key to long-term success:

Always have a goal and a sustainable plan to achieve it.

Achieving a goal merits celebration, and also the exciting task of deciding what your next goal will be. It doesn’t have to be intense – your goal could be maintenance and your plan might be walking – but you need to have both or you’ll watch all your hard work and health benefits slip away. Living a healthy life is swimming upstream in our culture – you can not coast into good health.

So what’s next for Charlie and me?

My new goal: Maintain cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Gain strength and muscular endurance (I want to be able to do 10 pull-ups or rock climb for an hour without getting pooped).

My new plan: Mindful, intuitive eating along with 30-40 minutes of cardio twice weekly, strength training 4 times weekly, and 10-20 minutes of yoga 5 days per week.

Charlie’s new goal: Maintain cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Gain strength (he wants to be able to save people from burning buildings and stuff).

Charlie’s new plan: My Fitness Pal (with his calorie and macronutrient needs adjusted since he’s building muscle now), 30-40 minutes of cardio twice weekly, strength training 4 days per week, and 10-15 minutes of yoga before each workout as well as a longer practice twice weekly.

Have a goal of your own but need help finding a sustainable plan that fits your lifestyle? Contact me or schedule an appointment to start building a healthy foundation for the life you want!

  1. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-lookup/doi/10.1210/jc.2002-021480
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2001.134/full
  3. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/412650
  4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2004.61/full
  5. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/53/5/1124.short
  6. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/2613427, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/74/5/579.short
  7. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/222S.short