Many people are making resolutions and changes at the beginning of each year, and it feels like just about everyone includes becoming fit and healthy somewhere on the list. Transforming your body is a difficult thing to do, but there are many easy and inexpensive ways to do it. You don’t have to break the bank, or your brain, trying to get into shape.
Before I share my favorite healthy tips and tricks with you, let me share a little bit about how I know about such things…
Weight has always been in issue I have struggled with. I have been on just about every diet, read almost every book out there about weight loss, and even took some questionable medication that has since been pulled by the FDA. But after I had my first baby, I knew I didn’t want to fight with myself anymore to be healthy. If my cute boys wanted to go swimming, I didn’t want to tell them I couldn’t go because I was secretly self conscious. I wanted to be able to run and chase play with them without being tired. And I wanted to be a good example to them – I don’t want my boys to struggle with their body image like I have.
So, each time I’ve had a baby, I’ve made it a point to lose the baby weight in a “reasonable” amount of time (not “celebrity” time…) As my boys have gotten bigger, we try to do healthy family activities so their memories don’t always center around food.
My recent transformation was after I had my second boy. When he was about 7-8 months old, I had lost most of my baby weight but wasn’t quite where I wanted to be.
Using the information and tips I’m about to share with you, I lost 38 lbs. I went from a size 14 to an 8-10. If your New Year’s resolution is to become fit and healthy, then follow some of these tips to aid you in your transformation:
15 Inexpensive Ways to Help You Get Healthy and Fit
1. Write down all the different reasons why you want to be healthy on slips of paper.
This could be anything: “I want to feel confident in a swimsuit.” “I don’t want to untag myself in Facebook pictures.” “I want to be healthy for my family.” “I want to run a 5k this year.” Every morning, grab one slip of paper, and read your goal/reason. Keep it in your pocket to look at throughout the day. Reminding yourself of your goals is especially helpful when you are in situations that could make you fall off the wagon.
2. Do NOT weigh yourself everyday!!
I’d rather poke a fork in my eye than weigh myself while I’m trying to loose pounds. Your body will fluctuate while you loose fat and gain muscle, and the scale doesn’t always reflect your transformation. So choose one day a week, or month, to weigh yourself, and hide the scale until then. You can go back to using it once you’re at your goal weight if that keeps you accountable.
3. Instead of weighing yourself, notice the changes in your body and use that as your weight loss “scale.”
These could include the way your pants fit, using a different notch on your belt, or even your shoes becoming less tight. These changes are positive, and they make you feel good. Good feelings and positive reinforcement boosts your weight loss spirit and keeps you going.
The moment something becomes too big on you, get rid of it. Donate it, burn it, toss it out. There is absolutely no reason to keep it, because I’m pretty sure you don’t want to fit into it again, right? Keeping those items around will only allow you some wiggle room, and if your goal is to be healthy and loose weight, then that is back tracking. If you ever find yourself sliding on your weight loss journey, you can tell almost immediately in your clothes. If things start to get too tight to wear, you can regroup and start again. You wouldn’t go out of the house naked because your clothes don’t fit….you’d do everything you could to fit back into the ones you already own. Sure, pretty soon you’ll only have a couple of things to wear if you toss out your bigger clothes, but that’s okay. If you need to supplement your wardrobe at this time, I highly recommend only buying pieces from thrift stores or garage sales because they don’t cost much. In a few more weeks those thrift store items won’t fit either, and you’ll be glad you didn’t spend a lot of cash on transition items. Save your $ for when you really need to buy new clothes – when you are at your goal size.
5. Pick out a goal outfit and give yourself a due date to fit into it.
This outfit can change throughout the weight loss process, and it can be something you already own. I started out wanting to wear a pair of “almost my size” pants from my own closet to a preplanned Girls Night Out. I hung the pants on the front of the closet door and looked at them everyday for two months. I’m happy to report I fit into them by the big day!! Pretty soon they became too big, so I changed my goal outfit into a swimsuit I already owned that was hidden in the bottom of my dresser. The suit went up on the hanger on the closet door, and it wasn’t long before I was able to wear it to the beach. In front of strangers. Without fear.
6. Drink a green smoothie everyday for breakfast.
I noticed such a difference in this one change alone. HERE is the recipe, and the best part is that you can tailor your smoothie to your own taste. The recipe makes enough smoothie to drink for breakfast, with some leftover to sip on throughout the day if you get snacky. I love it because it is so filling and so good for me.
7. Play the “How Many Veggies Can I Shove into This Meal?” Game.
For example, I puree veggies into our foods, and my kids have no idea. I tell them there are small orange bits in the mac and cheese because I didn’t stir it well enough (it’s really pureed carrots). Blend white beans in the blender and add them to spaghetti sauce. If you’re making homemade hamburgers, stuff them with spinach or peppers. Use portabello mushrooms as your hamburger buns. When ordering from the drive through, ask for extra veggies – even if it costs 50 cents more. Get the small salad as your side instead of fries. When making eggs, saute spinach or onions or peppers or mushrooms with it.
8. No food is off limits.
The minute I place a food restriction on myself, I want to eat it and only it. All day. Until the end of time. So, I allow myself to eat it, but only one bite or one cookie or one chip – just to satisfy the craving. The key here is moderation. And I don’t have my problem foods in the house. Not even for my kids. You can’t eat what isn’t there.
9. Put down your fork between bites.
It’s pretty crazy how well this step works. If you put down your fork between each bite, completely chew and swallow your food, and then drink a couple of sips of water before picking the fork up again, you slow your eating down enough to let your brain register that you are getting full. There will be plenty of food left on your plate (and not on your thighs) if you follow this one step alone.
10. Designate one place to eat, and only eat there.
Do not eat all over your house – on the couch, in your bed, or at the sink. Do not eat in your car. Find one place to eat – the dining room or kitchen table – and only eat there. This includes snacks and beverages, too. Eating other places leads to a lack of concentration on your part. More calories are consumed when you lack the focus on what you are doing: eating. Late-night-TV-watching binges are almost eliminated when you make this rule because you actually have to get up from the couch and make a conscious effort to sit at the table. Scarfing down food from the drive through, and having no idea what you just ate, becomes a thing of the past.
11. Make a list of YOUR favorite exercise activities.
I HAVE to exercise, even though I hate it. So I pick something I love doing, and I change it up often. One day I sat down and wrote out all of the activities I love to do – swimming, riding my bike, running (at my own pace), chasing my kids through the sprinklers. The list is now on my fridge, and when I need an exercise change, I pick something from there. Exercise is personal, and you won’t do what you don’t like. So choose what you like. Then DO IT!
12. Squeeze in extra exercise where you can.
Sure, you can park you car farther in the parking lot and walk, but what else? Jump on the trampoline with your kids. Go on a family walk around the block a few times after dinner. Pick an amount of push ups and sit ups and do them every hour throughout the day. (This can be 5 push ups and 10 sit ups each hour. Whatever YOU can do.) Run up your stairs and walk down them during commercials throughout your favorite TV show.
13. “Borrow” workout DVDs.
You can rent workout DVDs from the library, trade favorite videos with a girlfriend, or catch one on Hulu. This way you don’t get tired or burned out doing the same routine over and over, and you haven’t wasted money on videos you don’t like.
14. Can’t afford a gym membership? Use a hotel one for free.
I used to work in an office park that was not conducive to working out on my lunch break (the only time I could squeeze in a workout during that period of my life). There was no where to go walking and no where to freshen up afterwards. The closest gym was too far away, so getting a gym membership was pointless. Then I got to thinking…there were hotels all around me. And each of them had a gym. And most people staying there were gone to conferences and meetings during the day. So I asked one of the hotel managers if I could come work out at lunch each day, and they were surprisingly willing to let me. I changed in the main restroom, and I rarely had to share the gym with anyone else. If you try this, don’t get discouraged if the manager says no. You may have to ask a few different hotels before you get a yes, but it’s worth the effort.
15. “Invest” in a race.
This will cost a little bit of $, but signing up for a race is what really kicked things up a notch for me – fitness wise. Some races cost a lot, but there are plenty of small ones that only charge a small fee. Because I put money down, I felt like I couldn’t back out, and I had to do it. I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself, so I made it a point to get my exercise in and prepare. Plus, telling people I was in a race really made me stick to my word. And, seriously, races are so fun! Everyone is cheering each other on. There will be people there in better shape than you and some in worse shape than you. I only try to compete with myself. During my first race, my goal was to finish or live, which ever happened first. At the second race, my goal was to not finish last. Each race has a different goal or meaning for me, but I’ve gotten to the point where I love looking forward to them.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to become fit and healthy, try incorporating some (or all!) of these tips into your lifestyle.
Good luck on your transformation! You can do it!