Six Tips to Stop Starting Over

So you want to get fit? Lose weight? Tone up? Be healthier? Perform better?

I bet you have tried a few things in the past, some may work for a little while and other methods didn’t work at all. If this sounds like you, I have a few really valuable tips to get you back on track. There is no shortage of diets and exercise plans out there for your viewing pleasure. Lots of people are talking about what to do, but I am going against the grain and talking about what not to do.

Here are 6 of my “never do this” tips for making healthy lifestyle changes.

1. Never start a new change with a deadline for results

No diet or exercise lifestyle change ever survives if the mindset is 30 days, or just to get that beach body. Ditch the physical measurements for a change and focus on the long term goals like heart health, decreased risk for diseases and illnesses, increased energy and decreased stress levels. Those things take time and you have a lifetime to perfect the art. This is the only body you get and the only life you have to use it. The internal health markers are far more important than the physical features, but the good news is that once you ditch your old mindset, the weight control is part of the whole health package. Just don’t rush it and be kind to yourself during the learning curve.

2. Never set unrealistic goals, and NEVER set weight loss goals

Weight goals often lead to disappointment and frustration. There are so many other health benefits involved with healthy lifestyle change that go above and beyond your figure, just like there are a lot of variables that go into weight loss. Some of those variables include water retention, illness, hormone imbalance, genetics, and using multiple or different scales. Instead set realistic performance or behavior goals. Focus on the things that you can realistically control like how many times you will exercise each week, or how many meals you will add vegetables to each week. Try to make all of your goals “SMART” goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). An example of a goal that I love to start my clients out on is this: I will research exercise activities that I would like to try and have a list ready by the next coaching call (usually 2 weeks time). Another example of this kind of goal setting might look like this: I will exercise twice a week for 30 minutes for the next four weeks. Or more specifically, “I will walk for 30 minutes M, W, F of each week for the next four weeks.” These goals are much easier to control than the weight goals and regardless of weight, at the end of the week you know that you have fulfilled your promise to yourself and have made great strides in total health for your heart, lungs, liver and tons of other body organs/systems. That is something that you can always be proud of. Remember to set a new goal each time you achieve a goal in order to continue your healthy lifestyle; like the first tip explains, it is not about a set time, its about a lifetime. think of goal setting as a way to break up your health progress into small steps and to keep you focused; a long term goal of staying healthy broken down into a series of measurable short term performance or behavior goals.

3. Never start lifestyle change with exercise

Most people think getting into shape means more exertion right from the start. I am going to challenge you to think differently. Starting off with exercise while you are nutritionally deficient may be the worst possible idea. Imagine your body is a car. Now imagine that you have been putting a mix of low grade unleaded fuel and mud into your tank. it should be no surprise when the car is sluggish, slow, sputtering, and having all different issues. If you want your car to go faster and perform better, just stepping harder on the gas peddle is not going to get you there. Nothing that you do to push your car will improve quality output better than getting the mud out and replacing it with quality fuel. Here is your challenge; Before you start to exercise, get your body right with quality nutrition and rest. Take a week or two to prepare for an exercise program by slowly eliminating fast foods and processed, refined food items. Replace them with whole nutrition. Go organic if you can and limit your animal product to quality lean cuts (while making sure you get plenty of healthy fats). You will be happy to know that weight loss is actually 80% diet and 20% exercise, o if you do this part right you will likely see some weight reduction, even without the exercise. There is no calorie counting or dieting here. Eat enough, but eat quality fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy fats. Wash it down with 8 glasses of purified water each day, then see how you feel. I bet you will be more than ready to tackle a new exercise activity after that.

4. Never go 2 hours without whole foods

This is a piggy back on the last tip. Nutrition can be hard, the most available food items are nutritional depleted and many should not be considered food at all. Choosing a healthy lifestyle is a daily decision and sometimes even a minute by minute decision. I walk by the vending machine and the coffee pot at my office probably thirty times a week. At least once a day the thought crosses my mind to stop and get something from the vending machine. I have even stopped long enough to consider my options. I would say to myself, “If I were to get something, which I am not, what would I get” and then I feel my hand moving to the buttons and I have to snap out of it! Fortunately for me and my food cravings, I stock my work desk full of healthy options and I try not to let myself get too hungry. I find that I make the most nutrition mistakes when I’m already too hungry and pressed for time or I didn’t plan well enough and don’t have other options. That is why it is very important, for me anyways, never to go more than 2 hours without a meal or healthy snack. I keep an low glycemic fruits, pistachios, almond butter, rice cakes and protein shake mix in my snack drawer just in case!

5. Never go 3 days without exercise

When you get to the point where you want to try an exercise program, I recommend that you start slower than you think you should. It is really easy to do too much too soon and become too sore. That is a surefire way to burn out quick and have a bad experience. You can always add later and keep in mind that soreness does not show up until a day or two after your work out. Some soreness is safe and even rewarding, but too much is not fun and can be prohibitive. If it has been a while since your last exercise program, you really have now idea how your body will react to the stresses of exercise. It is better to be safe than sore and sorry.

Now that you are exercising, a good thing to know is how much and how often to do it. I recommend starting with 3 days a week spread out during the week of light to moderate exercise for 15-30 minutes. Think walking, cycling or swimming. American College of Sports Medicine explains that you start to loose cardiovascular gains after about 72 hours. Your body is a very efficient machine. When you exercise and you put a demand on your cardiovascular system, it responds by laying down more blood vessels to better support the demand. When you go three days without using those new vessels, the body stars to pull them up. No use expending energy on something that won’t be needed. Making a commitment to yourself to exercise at least every third day will prevent you from starting over each time and will help you to progress much better. Going for consistency is the most important part of any exercise program.

6. Never go a week without taking personal time to reflect

This is a good time to assess your current goals and make any adjustments you need. Thank yourself for the hard work and effort. Think about all the positive things you are doing for yourself. Be your own source of encouragement and motivation.