12 Habits To Start and Stick to A Fitter Lifestyle

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Posted by Helene

The end of May marks an anniversary for me: at the end of May 1996, I reached my personal goal of losing 50 pounds. Fast forward 11 years, May 2007 and I am still going to blow a candle on that 50 pound weight loss. Yes, you read right, I have managed to keep the weight off. The only difference is the tremendous improvements in my lifestyle over the past 11 years thanks to adding “fitness habits” regarding exercise, nutrition, wellness and motivation. It’s not always fun, it does not go without pain or pushing the envelope but it is worth it.

You have probably been down this road before of starting on a healthier path only to find your walking routine derailed by the rain, a treadmill that broke down a bad day at the office or a birthday party leaving you with enough cake for 3 weeks…One excuse after the next and before you know it you are back to your old routine and you hate it…

1/ If you have a hard time starting or sticking to it (whether eating or exercise), visualize fitness as an appointment. We keep doctors, hair, dentist appointments, all necessary to make us healthier and prettier, do the same for your daily exercise. Schedule exercise into your day and before you know it, it will become second nature for you, like an extra 10 minutes walking the dog or a 20 minute play date with your kids at the park, Schedule to eat 3 healthy salads this week instead of cafeteria meals, schedule 8 glasses of water throughout the day,…little things like that add up toward reaching your goals over the years. Make fitness a non-negotiable part of your life, like brushing your teeth or washing your hair.

2/ Start a journal:
- write down short term and long term goals. Write down your moods, your hurdles, the tips and tricks that helped overcome these obstacles. Write down your planned workouts and what you have actually accomplished. It’s like balancing a checkbook: proper nutrition and exercise are like deposits that enable you to make weekend withdrawals (lounging on the sofa, brunch with friends,…)

3/ Be a body in motion:
- Wake up 15 minutes earlier and go for a walk around the block. It will allow you to visualize your day ahead. I come up with my best dessert creations on my morning jog. During your lunch break, find another 10 minutes to either go get our lunch or just walk to your favorite shop and back. When you get home, put on your tennis shoes and go for another minute walk. It will relax your brain and allow you to shift form work to home mode.
At the end of the day you would have accumulated 30 minutes of easy fitness, add a couple sessions of more strenuous aerobics activity and you are there!

4/ Bring exercise into your house : rent/purchase a stack of exercise videos or record some exercise shows on tv and do them 2-3 times a week. Clip exercises from fitness magazines and start doing them a few times a week.
- When you lean down to reach for a toy or an object, squat down instead: you will firm up your butt muscles and quadriceps and not strain your back.
- Do some leg lifts while you are stirring that sauce on the stove
- Take the stairs as much as possible rather than the elevator. Park you car little further away. Map out routes and pathway to stores nearby that you can walk to. Walk over to the neighbors down the street instead of driving there.

5/ Think like a kid: shoot hoops in your driveway, use a jump rope if you can. Play sports that make you happy like ping pong, badminton. Roll in the hay if you want to!

6/ Develop a buddy system: Meet with a couple of friends and start an exercise routine. The time will fly while you exercise, they will give you motivation and you will keep those friendship bonds strong. It may not be as good as having a trainer or being able to train hardcore, but it is better than what you were already doing…nothing!

7/ Drink water and get good sleep:
- my clients find my car analogies funny, but the thought of driving you car without gas would never cross your mind…same thing with your body. Keeping hydrating is good for your organs, your skin, your digestive and circulatory systems. Flavor it with lemon juice or brew yourself some black or green tea and sip on it throughout the day.
- make sure you get plenty of rest. Starting an exercise program is taxing on your joints, muscles and circulatory system. To prevent injury by working out tired muscles make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep. If you can take a nap while your children are resting go for it. Getting plenty of shut-eye is also beneficial to your serotonin levels and helps regulate your appetite and mindless munching.

8/ Plan your nutrition at home: I never leave my eating to chance. I know if I eat unhealthy, my body suffers. Is it fun to pay attention 80% of the time? No! Is it worth it? Yes!
-Take some extra time on the weekends to plan healthy meals for you and your family. Make a shopping list of all that is needed plus healthy snack and stick to it religiously while at the store. Cook double batches and freeze the leftovers so you can have healthy meals already prepared when you are pressed for time or too tired to cook.
- Bring colors to your plate: add variety and spice when you cook by incorporating all sorts of different colored fruits and vegetables. Don’t know where to start…visit the personal food blogs of my co-administrator and you will fins great suggestions. (mine is for the 20% remaining…when you need a sweet treat)

9/ Plan your nutrition on the go: be as diligent as you are at home, I am known as the pack rat where food is concerned. I always carry an small insulated lunchbox that I fill accordingly so that I am never stranded running errands on a pounding headache because I did not have anything healthy available.
- Pack your lunch the night before: you will find great lunch box suggestions here.
- Stock up on single servings snacks like bay carrots, string cheese, yogurts, unsweetened applesauce, whole wheat crackers. If you save money by buying in bulk, divide the snacks into portions in ziplock type bags and write in bold with a black marker: one serving.
- not sure about portion sizes? Print this handy guide (pdf) and post it on your fridge.

10/ Download fast food menus and circle or highlight their healthy options.Write them or copy them on an index card that you put in your wallet. This has become a lifesaver when traveling and eating out with a group. This site has tons of listings for restaurants and convenience shops.

11/ Don’t eat when you are not hungry:
- I always look at children for inspiration on that subject. Have you ever notice how they sit down at the dinner table and eat according to their appetite and not because there is food in front if them…we usually end up forcing them to finish their plate.
- What about the mini meals (5-6) theory? Well, to do it successfully you kinda have to plan well. Lay out on a piece of paper all the foods you should eat for the day (1800-2000 calories) and spread them out in 5-6 meals. Most people take this principle upside down and end up eating 5-6 normal sized meal.
- Think European: 3 meals, maybe an afternoon snack if necessary to tie up over until dinner time. Never skip breakfast as it jump starts your body functions and brain cells. Make lunch a sizeable one, enough to replenish your energy level and carry you until the end of your workday. If you plan on hitting the gym before going home, make sure to have a small snack (granola bar/fruit/piece of cheese). Try not to have your main meal at dinner…most of us sit down and relax and do not burn the extra calories provided by too rich a meal.

12/ Stop the voices in your head:
- only you can take the decision to start a fitness plan, but here’s the catch: you can’t say “I’ll try”, you either do or you don’t. Remember that this is not a huge mountain to climb but a series of stones to put down in order for you to reach the summit. Never listen to nagging coworkers or family members, they are just jealous that you are doing something towards improving your quality of life.
- once again, think like a kid: no fear, no self-doubts, no negative self talk, no self-criticism, no worries, no destructive anxieties or thoughts of failure.

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Helen from


Very good posting.
Thank you - Have a good day!!!

Professor Howdy said...
June 2, 2007 at 5:18:00 AM GMT+2  

Yay! Well done. I will read your hints & tips avidly now as could do with losing a few lbs myself.

June 2, 2007 at 11:23:00 AM GMT+2  

Another excellent article where I really learned a thing or two that I hadn't known before. I'm so glad you are writing these articles, Helene!


Lis said...
June 2, 2007 at 11:58:00 AM GMT+2  

Hi !
That's very informative and motivating!!!!!

ushaprashanth said...
June 2, 2007 at 3:42:00 PM GMT+2  

Great article, Helene! Although it's 10 years later, I want to congratulate you on such a tremendous accomplishment of losing 50lbs! And of course, even more impressive - keeping it off! Your tips are small, simple things that are easy for anyone to keep in mind - thanks!

Anonymous said...
June 2, 2007 at 4:08:00 PM GMT+2  

Helene, this is good - really good. You know I am currently in this phase right now and there are so many fantastic little tips here that I love and find valuable. Especially the journal - this will help me not only physically but also mentally. Thanks!

Meeta K. Wolff said...
June 2, 2007 at 10:23:00 PM GMT+2  

well said, I found it very hard to exercise and used to hate it, but once I broke the jinx now I hate it if I don't exercise.

Very informative and well written

Sreelu said...
June 2, 2007 at 11:12:00 PM GMT+2  

Thank you everybody for the feedback! I am passionate about what I do whether it be my cooking or my training. We can do it!

Helene said...
June 3, 2007 at 12:55:00 AM GMT+2  

Ok, how do you do this when you work a rotating shift pattern? i.e. earlies, lates, nights, 2 of each then 4 days off.


Lucretia9 said...
June 3, 2007 at 8:59:00 PM GMT+2  

Lucretia: I work with nurses on rotating shift patterns and we sit down everyweek and figure out a schedule. If you want, email me at marinette1ATcomcastDOTnet and we can talk more about this.

Helene said...
June 4, 2007 at 7:38:00 AM GMT+2  

Great Blog.

Linking it on http://www.bestofindya.com.

Post/Share links to your articles BestOfIndya.

Vote for this article on BestOfIndya.


Indya said...
June 4, 2007 at 5:08:00 PM GMT+2  

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