by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
By now, your new-year motivation may be dropping with the temperatures. Here’s how the tough stay going when the going gets tough …
With the best intentions, you arrive home from work determined to change clothes and head to the Center. This sounded like a good idea an hour ago when you closed your office door. Alas, your stomach rumbles with hunger, kids plead for homework help, the dog is begging for a walk, and the couch looks awfully inviting. Your cell phone rings. It’s a work emergency, carpool request, fill-in-the-blank.
As the night spins out of control, your workout seems unlikely– as does a healthy meal and decent bedtime. You plan to try again tomorrow for a healthier day. Tomorrow arrives with wintery weather, not the inspiration or convenience needed to hit the Center and fix a hearty salad. And so it goes.
A little planning goes a long way. To accomplish any goal, specify the steps needed to get there. The best intentions failed in the previous too-familiar scenario due to a lack of planning. Here’s the fix for overcoming life’s interruptions on your journey to better health.
Schedule your workout for a convenient time. Sure, you’re busy. However, there must be some time when your day slows. This may be early morning before the world knows you are awake. It may be after the dinner rush when things quiet down and obligations (including to hunger pangs) are met. Perhaps you notice a lull around lunchtime when a quick fitness session or abbreviated class is possible.
Eat at regular intervals. When time finally permits, you don’t want to delay your workout because you haven’t eaten in 9 hours. Enjoy a healthy snack, packed with protein and fiber, at least every three to four hours. Keep your energy level steady so you don’t need to eat in place of a workout. (Besides, replacing a workout with a meal can decrease self-confidence for those trying to lose weight, regardless of hunger). Also, stay hydrated throughout the day.
Get enough sleep. It’s tempting to stay up late when you finally get time to yourself. Indulge on the weekends with a later bedtime, or limit yourself to a half-hour to unwind with a relaxing hobby. Stay disciplined. Seven to eight hours of sleep allows you to function effectively and efficiently all day long. It also makes you less tempted to skip your workout for lazier pursuits (like caffeinated coffee and social-media surfing).
Identify aches and avoid injuries. At the first sign of a sore muscle or stiff joint, many break from their fitness routine for fear of hurting worse. Often, the opposite can be true. A gentle workout, complete with stretching, may improve everyday aches and pains.
Speak with a personal trainer or fitness instructor about any issues you are experiencing. A simple adjustment in form or intensity may be a quick-fix. Perhaps they can suggest specific exercises to help, and ones to avoid, while you have a flare-up. Find a safe way to work through the episode or risk feeling your body isn’t fitness-capable, which is never true. (Just ask the exerciser in a wheelchair.)
Involve family and friends. Motivate action! Share your fitness goals and help each other achieve them. (Kids especially love to “police” their parents to stay on track.) Your teen may want to improve his baseball pitch, your middle-schooler might want to reach a new goal in daily steps (requires an inexpensive pedometer), your spouse may want to decrease stress, and you may want to improve your golf swing.
Join a parent-and-me fitness class, attend Family Swim at the Aquatics center, or register your child for FitKids during times when you can work out. Park at one end of the strip mall and walk from store to store, with purchase drop-offs back to the car (more walking), during errands.
Plan healthy meals and snacks together. Allow family members to make food decisions. This element of control may be what is needed to convert a picky eater. Keep health snacks easily available and at eye-level (for kids and adults).
Start a healthy competition with a friend or coworker. Challenge each other to increase reps, workouts, and workout duration or intensity. Share your individual baselines and proceed. You should not be expected to stay on the treadmill as long as your triathlete friend. Instead, determine what would qualify as an equivalent challenge for you personally.
Be workout-ready. Have your plan, sleep and eat well, and create a support system. And always have a Plan B, and maybe even a C for commitment.
Alarm clock: pixabay.com/en/time-timer-clock-watch-hour-371226
Healthy snack: pixabay.com/en/fruit-yogurt-grain-flakes-314260/
Plan C: pixabay.com/en/planning-plan-adjusting-aspirations-620299/