At this time of year, many people start thinking to themselves, “I need to lose some weight and I need to get in better shape.” So I wanted to share some very practical suggestions on how to achieve both of those goals.
Start with 20 minutes of exercise as your minimum and do it every day. Choose anything that you like that can be defined as: a physical activity that is done in order to become stronger and healthier. (credit: Merriam-Webster)
I love CrossFit, but you can do any activity you like. Especially in the beginning, it’s really important that it’s something you enjoy or find interesting. This will really help to get you past the initial learning curve of something new or the pain of sore muscles. Here are ten ideas to consider:
- weight training
- dance class
- biking (outdoor)
Once you’ve chosen what you’re going to do—do it! If you chose to run, get your shoes on and go outside for a run. Run ten minutes away from home, then ten minutes back. If you need to walk some of the way, then walk. It’s no big deal. Soon enough you’ll be able to run the whole thing and you’ll find that you got further in the first ten minutes than when you started. That’s a great sign of progress!
Even if you chose running as your primary activity, that doesn’t mean you have to run every day. You can also change up what you do each day. You could run 3 times, do yoga twice from a video in your living room, and go to spin class twice.
Here’s a typical week for me:
- CrossFit workout 3x
- run 2x
- weight train 2x
This is a weekly routine that I enjoy, that makes me feel good, and gets good results. Experiment and find what works for you.
Now that you are honing in on an exercise plan, let’s talk about eating. I named my original business Blackjack Fitness because I found that there were many misconceptions about the effect people’s eating habits had on their weight. The tendency was for people to think that their weight issue was caused by specific instances; the pizza they ate last weekend or the brownie they couldn’t say no to. Again and again, I would share with people that it’s not any one thing that made them gain weight. It’s a culmination of all the choices they make throughout the week that really sets the stage for weight loss or weight gain. For years I have been recommending 3 meals a day (plus two snacks). If you eat 3 meals a day for 7 days that equals 21 meals. That means you have 21 opportunities per week to make good choices; choices that support your health and your physical goals. Eventually, my business became Blackjack Fitness because 21 opportunities to eat well equals Blackjack!
If at this point you’re convinced, then your next question is: “Okay, but what should I eat?”
I’d really prefer to answer with what not to eat. If there is one single thing that I’ve found to make the biggest difference, it’s limiting added sugar. Following a sugar budget will get you more results than any other recommendation I can make.
Here’s what a sugar budget looks like:
- women 25g or (6 teaspoons per day)
- men 36g (9 teaspoons per day)
- children 12g (3 teaspoons per day)
For perspective, if a woman eats one LUNA Bar (15g sugar) and one Chobani Fruit on the Bottom 0% fat Greek yogurt (17g of sugar) she’s already over her budget by 7 grams! These are both common food items that we see as “healthy.” Beware of what you’re really eating, it could be what’s keeping you from your goals.
As for the question of what to eat, I won’t leave you hanging. I follow the basic principles of clean eating and that’s what I recommend. That mostly means foods that are not processed and directly support and fuel your body. There are some great books that explain this concept. My favorite is The Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno.