This week on ‘Show Us Your Life’, Kelly is having us write about our workout and health tips. Those of you that know me or that have read here for a while know that this is something I often write about, and indeed health is a real interest/preoccupation of mine. As a dieter who has tried and failed a gazillion times and who is far too heavy, I have lots of great tips and experiences to share – having succeeded and failed several times I know what does work and what doesn’t. Truly.
This year I’m approaching things a little differently. I am far, far too good at planning and words and hopes and thinking ahead; and too poor at the nitty gritty day-to-day. I’m very good at being horrible to myself, talking smack, denting my self esteem when it comes to my appearance….but not tough enough on myself in the workouts, or when I’m shopping for food. This year I’ve been working on all of this, because deep down I know that I’m not happy looking and being this way. I’m pretty healthy (thank heavens – this is such a blessing!), but I know realistically I need to drop at least 50 pounds. Ideally, more than that. I’ve written an awful lot on this theme in years gone by (seriously, check the tags – I’m a blatherer!), but this year there’s been a change.
Because I’m rationing my posts. I’m only allowed to write when I reach certain goals. I’ve lost a stone (14 pounds) so far this year, and the next progress post will be at 20 pounds lost, then 25, 30…. I’m finding that spending less time obsessing over what I’m planning to do and more time in the moment, actually working out, making better decisions and trying to get this done is working for me.
Well, enough about me. Here, from a girl who has been a size 14, 16, 18, 20, 22 (US 10-18, if I recall correctly), and who has swooped between walking marathons, dancing on stage in tap costumes and swimming miles per week and being an utter couch potato, is what I’ve found works.
It’s pretty darn simple to write down – but the proof is in the (lack of) pudding!
Note: When I get these right, I am healthier, happier, fitter and lose weight at a good solid 1-2 pounds a week. However, I feel I should stress that these tips are entirely anecdotal and based in my own experiences – I hope you find them useful!
My seven simple steps to being healthy and happy.
This one I got wrong for SO long. I would work out, cut portions, the whole shebang, but just not rest enough. Modern life is the enemy of sleep – planning, distractions, work, fun, the internet all comspire to keep us up late and as a natural night owl it plays completely to my favour. But I now know (through bitter, bitter experience) that I need to prioritise sleep (in my case, 6-9 hours a night) to get the best of my efforts. Luckily, I love to sleep, but it can be hard to leave the party early, switch off the TV, or (my hardest test) put the internet down. It has to be done though!
Water, water, water, people. At my current size, I try to make sure I have about 2-3 litres of water a day – the more I work out the easier it becomes! If I go for a long walk or do an hours cross-training I can drink a litre without even having to think about it. As well as water I try to drink lots of green tea and fruit teas, and I avoid a lot of soda and cut back on alcohol when I’m trying to be more healthful.
For me, this is key. I always tell my students, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail,” and when it comes to me and eating well, ain’t that the truth. I tend to it down on a Sunday evening with my diary and plan (roughly) what I’m going to eat and when. I make sure I have at least 5 portions of fruit and veg, more likely 7, plenty of variety, and as little processed food as possible. I also know what calories I’m aiming for and make sure I keep about three hundred ‘spare’ each day. That way if I want half a birthday cupcake, or I’m starving after a workout, or an occasion calls for a glass of champagne, I can indulge happily without throwing the day at the wall. I also let myself have a meal ‘off’ once in a while – the eating healthily thing is something I intend to do for the rest of my life, and a life without steak, fondue and red wine is not for me.
I am back into the zone, exercise wise, and it feels so good. I do five ‘proper’ workouts a week (30 lengths swimming, 45 minutes cross-training, an hours class, a good long walk), and also try to put smaller workouts into the day – running up and down the stairs at school a couple of times at breaktime, a quick dance for a couple of songs on MTV, hoovering a floor of the house. The thing is, I love being active, but when I couch potato I forget this. I need not to! I think it’s also important to find exercise that works for you. I love dancing, swimming, aerobics, cross-training, boxing, walking, but I find road cycling and step stressful. So I play to my strengths. And when I do, I do so much better!
5. SHOP SMART.
The easiest way to eat smart is to shop smart. I do this by tending to shop the outside aisles of the store (or, when I’m shopping online, sticking to certain categories – fruits, vegetables, meat). If I go to the junk food aisles, I’ll buy that stuck, so instead I make it easier for myself by avoiding. I also budget myself and let myself spend more on good quality fruits and veggies and meats as a trade off for nor buying cookies, ice cream and white bread. I try to choose faster food and restaurants wisely too – Subway, sushi and places with good salad and veggie options make eating well and enjoying company easier! I also aim for a happy plate – half full of veggies, sensible portion of meat, a little grain/carb action.
Keeping a food diary works for me. Whether you just note things down, follow something like Weight Watchers, or use a tool like Sparkpeople, I find having a record helps immensely when it comes to recognising patterns and behaviours.
Being healthy and losing weight is hard work. So rewards are a big part of it for me. It might be a pyjama day, a lie-in, a new book, an evening’s karaoke….whatever works for you, it’s nice to have a treat to say ‘well done’. I also try to note down in my food diary all the little successes. The number on the scale is but one little part of the puzzle – it’s important to celebrate the looser fitting trousers, the quicker lap time, the increased energy level, the week of great eating too!
So those are my common sense, pretty simple steps. When I do all the above, I do well – when I don’t…I don’t! Looking forward to reading everyone elses’ tips!