10 Tips to Achieve & Maintain Your 2018 Health and Fitness Goals

 
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Alright you guys, it’s already halfway through January, which means you’re (hopefully) still feeling motivated and inspired to tackle your health and fitness goals for 2018. Quick! Before February gets here, let’s take a minute to figure out how to actually STICK with your resolutions this year. It’s easy to fall back into patterns we’ve developed over the course of our lives, or to get discouraged if we’re not seeing results fast enough. Not this time! Here are some simple, effective tips to help you achieve your wellness goals, and maintain them throughout the year.

(If you find yourself getting off-track, revisit this article to refocus yourself.)

1. Ease yourself into a new exercise routine. I get it. You’re finally feeling motivated, you’ve got new training shoes, and you’ve set your fitness and/or weight loss goals. Fantastic! Just keep in mind, in order to achieve those goals, you need to be CONSISTENT. If you go all out in the first couple weeks, you’re likely to burn out quickly. Start with lighter weights, or a moderately intense class, and work your way up from there.

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2. Bump up your cardio intensity. When you’re doing straight cardio exercise (aerobic activity), your body is burning calories for the duration of your activity. When you lift weights or do resistance training, your body continues to burn calories for 30-60 minutes post workout. If you add 10-20 minutes of high intensity interval cardio before you lift (start off slowly, then increase speed for a couple minutes, then back off to recover, and then ramp up again), it will boost your heart rate and help you burn more calories during the rest of your workout. You can also try 30-60 seconds of high intensity cardio (jumps, run in place, bike, etc.) at the beginning of each round of circuit training to bump up your burn.

3. Vary your exercise so you don’t get bored. Doing the same thing every day, or every week can get monotonous. The more you change up your workout, the more you’ll keep your body guessing (meaning it will have recruit more muscles to work), and you’ll see results more quickly. Try to switch up your exercise as much as possible each week. Maybe try a new class, go for a hike, or participate in a team sport to keep things interesting. 

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4. Remember to take time to STRETCH! I know it’s the last thing you want to make time for, but it’s SO necessary for muscle recovery. Think of it this way, if you’re so sore after exercising that you have to take several days off, you’re more likely to get derailed from your fitness goals. Adding 5-10 minutes of stretching to the end your workout routine will help stave off muscle soreness, allowing you to recover efficiently and stay on track.

5. Sleep is an imperative part of the equation for success. This is as important for fitness, as it is for nutrition. We need sleep to help us recover and feel energized during the day, not to mention exercising will help wear us out, so we’re ready for bed every night. Research shows that the more hours you’re awake, the more likely you are to eat. These are typically calories consumed out of boredom, not hunger. Try to get your 7-9 hours of shut-eye each night, so you have energy for your workout the next day! 

6. More water… MORE! Yes, I know, you fill up your water bottle three or four times per day. Well, let’s aim higher! Drinking more water will help with exercise performance and recovery, replenishes your cells, and decreases bloating. It will also help you determine whether you’re body is actually hungry or just dehydrated when you sit down for a meal, and can help you feel less hungry throughout the day. I like to mix half flavored sparkling water with my regular water to up my H2O intake.

7. Try to allow 12 hours between when you take your last bite of food at night, and your first bite of food in the morning. Fasting is the latest nutrition “trend”. There are a variety of different fasts, but one that researchers are finding to be effective across the board (ad is probably the easiest to implement) is the 12-hour fast. Basically, allow your body to spend 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, to digest, nourish, and process while you sleep.

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8. Start bringing your lunch to work at least three days per week. This might seem like an annoyance, but you’ll realize how much cleaner you can eat when you’re preparing your meals at home. It can be a fun social distraction to eat out during your lunch break, but you’ll save money and calories if you take the extra 10 minutes in the morning to pack your salad, sandwich, or other healthy meal to go. Maybe you’ll even have time for a quick walk with a co-worker, too. 

9. Don’t expect miracles. You won’t see results overnight, but a consistent commitment will deliver. If you can really buckle down with your food choice and exercise for four weeks, you should start to see and feel some changes. Don’t make yourself crazy with the scale, either. If you’re feeling more energized, your clothes are fitting better, and you’re body is functioning well, these are all good gages of a successful start. 

10. When all else fails… eat your Skinny Veggie Soup! This non-starchy vegetable soup is delicious, nourishing, and filling. Make a big batch at the beginning of the week, and eat it for lunch or dinner every day, paired with a protein. Two weeks of that stuff, and your tummy will be flattening out, skin will be glowing, and your gut will be cleansed. (See recipe below.)


Skinny Vegetable Soup Recipe:

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1 sweet potato or yam (optional), cut into bite-sized pieces
½ sweet onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 stalks of celery, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 medium zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
4 green onions (scallions), chopped finely
1 large head or 2 smaller heads of Bok Choy (or preferred leafy green)
1 can organic diced tomatoes (optional)
½ cup chopped cilantro
4-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth/ stock

I like to add a couple dashes of sesame oil if I’m going with the Asian flavors, as well as some crushed red pepper flakes if I’m feeling spicy ;)

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, sauté sweet potato/ yam (if you’re using one) in a drizzle of coconut oil for about 5 minutes.
     
  2. Add in onions and celery.
     
  3. When these harder vegetables start to soften, add in ½ cup of broth, and the zucchini.
     
  4. Allow these to start to soften, then add in remaining ingredients. 

To refresh soup throughout the week, add in fresh herbs.