A good exercise and diet routine starts with one person: you. You're the one who has to weigh the cost of eating a doughnut or skipping the gym. You’re the one who has to decide if you’re going to lace up your sneakers and break a sweat or glue yourself to the couch and zone out. You're the one who has to live with your choices, whether they're good or bad.
The good news is that once you get started and reap the rewards of a healthier lifestyle including more energy, a mood boost, and clothes that fit better than before, you’ll want to stick with it. So how can you get started?
First, you have to understand what these healthy lifestyle changes are not. Eating well doesn’t mean you have to steer clear of your favorite foods. You can eat anything you want in moderation and learn healthier ways to prepare your favorite recipes.
Exercising doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym, do anything boring or adopt a “no pain, no gain” mindset. The options for exercise seem endless so it’s likely you’ll find something you enjoy and include everything from walking to workout DVDs to group exercise classes.
Second, think about the benefits of a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Doing so can help you control your weight and lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Start with small, simple goals. These are less intimidating than big goals and achieving them helps boost your faith in yourself. For example, “I’ll exercise three times this week” or “I won’t eat the doughnuts at the office.” Then move on to long-range goals, which give you something to aim for down the road. Reward yourself with healthy, non-food related treats (think a hot bath, manicure or new book.)
Have fun with it. It’s a no brainer that when you enjoy something, you're more likely to stick with it. Regularly try new types of exercise and activities and test out new, healthy recipes. This gives you a nice change of pace and helps you discover new favorite workouts and foods.
Sneak exercise in. If you can't find a set time to workout, sneak it in on yourself. For example, park farther away, take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk to a coworkers desk rather than emailing. Little bits of exercise add up.
Write it down! This helps you plan your workouts and healthy meals so you’re less likely to skip them. It also lets you see where you made or missed your goals.
Make it a social thing. Invite your friends or coworkers to join you for a walk, exercise class or healthy cooking lesson rather than happy hour or dinner out.
Don't be too hard on yourself. If you're hurt or sore, don't force yourself to exercise. You might need a break. If you’ve eaten too much or indulged in something unhealthy, just get back on track at your next meal.