I’ve seen a concerning trend with friends in real life and in the blogging world. It seems that everyone is on a diet but nobody is dieting ‘right.’ (And I should add, “diets” really shouldn’t be the solution, but many people consider eating healthy to be a “diet.”)
I understand that figuring out how to get fit is hard because most of us are stressed, we are busy, and ordering a pizza is so much easier that cooking. But make the commitment to yourself and to your health to not take shortcuts when it comes to getting healthy!
A lot of people are sticking to the resolutions they made to get fit in the New Year which is awesome, but so many others are going about it all wrong in ways that aren’t healthy or sustainable. While I’m not a nutrition or fitness professional I have been an athlete my entire life and I know a thing or two about healthy living. If you’re going to make major lifestyle changes, I recommend discussing them with your doctor first. This post should simply be taken as advice from a pal.
How not to get fit
- Calorie restriction – nothing infuriates me more than seeing magazines or other blogs advertising ‘low calorie meals’ or ‘how to eat less calories.’ Calories are not the problem when it comes to maintaining weight, it’s eating good calories and making sure to get your body moving to burn a few calories, too. (More on that later!)
- Calorie restriction is scary! We are talking hair loss, infertility, moodiness, insomnia, and other unideal symptoms. Even if starving yourself were the best answer to weight loss – it would hardly be worth it! Eating should be as enjoyable as it is nourishing, and in our society food is the center of many socail events.
- Fad diets – I probably don’t need to go far into this because by now most everyone knows the dangers of fad dieting. If you’re really focused on changing your health for the better and are hoping to see long term results, then you need to commit to a sustainable diet – not something that you have to suffer through every day.
- Hiding from carbs – like calories, carbs take a lot of heat in the media and in magazines directed at women. Carbs don’t make you fat, they give you energy and make you happy! There are good carbs and less healthy carbs (like yummy cookies and cakes that you eat in moderation!), but all in all carbs aren’t the enemy.
With that said…
We can start talking about the things that you should do if you’re trying to get fit. I am going to go over diet, exercise, and healthy habits. This is going to be a long post, full of valuable information so make sure that you bookmark it and pin it for reference!
Eating a healthy diet
So you might know that I’m a veg, but even if you’re not you can still apply these tips into your everyday life and just add meat and other animal products where you see fit if that’s what floats your boat!
- Eat (a good!) breakfast. Don’t roll your eyes, I know everyone has heard this advice a thousand times but I’m here to tell you that not all breakfasts are created equally. You can grab a poptart on the way out the door and call it a day, but in that case you might be better off not having breakfast at all. A good breakfast will fill you up to give you energy throughout the day! Here are some ideas:
- Avocado Toast (with a twist!): Ok, so this brings my two favorite things, avocado and refried beans, together. Top it with so sriracha and I’d be in heaven!
- Overnight Oats: Overnight oats are a great option for the gal on the go! They are so easy to throw together before bed and walk out the door with them in the morning! If you avoid dairy products you can always substitute milk with almond milk and yogurt with coconut cream! Delicious!
- A fruit smoothie: Almost every morning I blend up a bunch of fruits and vegetables and water or non-dairy milk into delicious smoothie concoctions. Smoothies are great for your digestion (TMI?) and you’re starting your day with a healthy dose of fruit sugar. I prefer smoothies to juices because smoothies are fiber rich!
- Unless you are intermittent fasting. It’s OK to skip breakfast if you’re intermittent fasting (consider discussing this as an option with your doctor!) but make sure this fasting doesn’t cause you to under eat.
- Eat carbs. There is a such thing as unhealthy carbs, but that doesn’t make all carbs bad. Carbs are where you get your energy, they fill you up, and boost your mood. I fill up with mostly rice, beans, oats, and potatoes; all of which are good carbs.
- Eat veggies. You wouldn’t believe how many of my friends just don’t eat vegetables. It blows my mind – I feel terrible without my daily dose of veggies, and I have a feeling that my friends just don’t realize how much better they could feel if they weren’t eating a healthy diet. If you aren’t eating veggies every day you are missing out. Everyday you should be aiming to fill up on essential vitamins and minerals, if you’re lost here’s a good place to start.
- Drink water. Another one that plenty of people have heard, but plenty of people ignore. I drink nearly two gallons of water a day if I work out, and a bit closer to a gallon and a half when I don’t. Water is going to keep things moving in your digestive system, fight bloat, and help your body know when it’s full so you don’t overeat. Warning: When you start drinking more water you’re going to have to go to the bathroom a lot and it won’t feel sustainable. Your body adjusts after a week or and the urgency and frequency will quickly improve.
- Consider cutting down on meat and dairy. Ok, hear me out on this one – I used to be the biggest carnivore. A week without steak at my house was basically unheard of. I started having trouble with endometriosis and read eating less animal products would help alleviate my symptoms. I cut back and my health improved in so many ways. For some people, animal products can be trickier to digest, increase inflammation, and trigger underlying health issues. Not everybody has as hard a time eating animal products as I do, but if you feel chronically unwell meat might be the culprit – consider omitting it from your diet for a week and seeing how you feel.
- Even if you don’t want to be a vegetarian or vegan, Meatless Mondays are a great way to start shifting towards a healthier diet!
- Watch your sugar. And I’m talking processed and refined sugar, mind you, fruit sugar is the bomb! You don’t realize how much sugar the average person eats. I did a challenge to eat only 12g or less added sugar each day and it was hard. I still aim to eat as little as possible (eating a lot of whole foods helps!) because no one really needs added sugar in their diets.
How to get fit: Physical fitness
You guys, I’m the weirdo who thinks that exercise is fun. Maybe I’m just channeling my inner Elle Woods (we’re both gemini vegetarians, after all) but I totally ride on endorphins to get me through rough mornings.
I do understand that there are a ton of people who hate exercising. But no worries, not all hope is lost. Here are a few tips that will help you get fit designed for those who can’t stand going to the gym:
- Walk to class, work, or the grocery store. Depending on where you live this might not be an option, but if it is take full advantage! My college apartment was about a ten minute walk from the quad and I loved using that time to put my earbuds in and start thinking about the day ahead. In New York I lived fifteen blocks from work and the walk home each evening was often the most relaxing part of my day. Even small changes like parking further away or an evening walk around the block can make a big difference.
- Sit on the floor. If you’re watching TV or just hanging around opt to sit on the floor instead of sprawling out on the couch. Sitting upright (with decent posture!) engages your abs and helps burn more calories! It’s not going to tone your body or help you lose significant weight, but it’s a baby step in transitioning to a more physical lifestyle.
- Stretch before bed. Ok, stretching isn’t going to give you six pack abs or buns of steel either, but just a bit of extra motion in your day can improve cardio health and help you relax before bed. Plus, if you’re beginning to incorporate movement into your lifestyle it’ll help you wake up less sore.
- Wear ankle weights. Ok, I’m making fun of myself for you so you don’t even have to. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I’m crazy about my ankle weights. I strap them on when I’m cleaning the house and I’m sore the next day. They also are great for sculpting your legs.
Those options seem to be a bit lacking to you? If you’re more serious about getting fit (but not quite ready to commit to working out in public then I’ve got some options for you, too!
- Watch workout videos. This is my chosen method of working out. I usually opt for a blogilates video or ballet beautiful (when I really want to torture myself) and I’ve seen some great results! In just two or three videos I can guarantee that I’ll be sore the next morning!
- Buy some weights. My brother got me a pair of five pound weights for my birthday a few years back and I still use them all the time. I’ve really been working on strengthening my back and shoulders, and most of the workouts I find require weights! I prefer to lift heavy and use low reps (I haven’t gained any “bulk” at all – I know a lot of ladies in particular worry about that with lifting heavy) but I’ll share links to weights you can order, though I recommend trying to buy them from the Facebook Marketplaces for a few bucks a piece because weights are expensive.
- Squat it out. Squats are great because you can do them anywhere with no equipment, and they’re effective. Make sure you’re varying the kind of squats you’re doing to work different muscles.
Ready to really commit to getting fit? These options require a bit more dedication, but you are going to see greater results and you’ll be stronger for it!
- Pick up running. Whether you are doing sprints or long distance, running is a great way to slim down, tone up, and get fit. It’s great cardio and I think being a good runner is one of the most impressive physical feats.
- Go to the gym. So many people get way intimidated by the gym – but no worries! The gym actually isn’t so bad, and if you don’t go at peak times there won’t even be a crowd! If you’re looking to get fit in college, chances are there is already a gym membership included in your tuition, so don’t let that go to waste!
- Take a group fitness class. You guys, group fitness classes are so fun. Whether it’s zumba, or yoga, or belly dance, or anything in between you are sure to get a great workout. I recently went to my first hot yoga class, and it was amazing. Whereas all of the yoga classes I’d done before had been low intensity and relaxing hot yoga is a workout. I highly recommend!
Other healthy habits.
Being fit and healthy goes much further than what you eat and how much you workout. I so wish that a healthy diet and 20 minutes of cardio was all it took for good health, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
There are so many healthy habits that can make a big difference in your life, adopting just a few can make you healthier!
- Sleep. If you aren’t sleeping everything your body is supposed to do is going to be sluggish and inefficient. I remember hearing so many of my peers in college bragging about how tired they are or how little sleep they got the night before like it was a competition – that’s a bad thing! Take care of your body by giving it the rest it needs. Taking care of yourself is something to brag about 😉
- Get organized. Being disorganized can lead to stress and stress is something that we want to stay away from. Whether you need an intense planner system or just a todo list in the morning, get your days in order to stay stress free!
- Carry a water bottle. This is piggybacking off of my ‘stay hydrated’ tip. But the easiest way to guarantee that you’re going to keep hydrated is if you ensure that you have a water bottle on hand. My water bottle comes with me wherever I go – people notice when I don’t have it!
- Wear sunscreen. I’ve lectured here before about sunscreen dozens of times (it’s so important, folks!) so I won’t get on my high horse this time. But by simply wearing a moisturizer with SPF in it you’re saving yourself from early aging at the very least, but potentially from a nasty fight with skin cancer, too.
- Don’t stare at the scale. I used to judge my fitness progress via scale. But I weigh 20 pounds more now than I did 2 years ago, and I look and feel so much better. I wear the same size clothes, but because I’m stronger and muscle weighs more than fat the number on the scale would have me think I’m “failing” my fitness goals. With that said, I do weigh myself every so often with the knowledge that the number on the scale isn’t a reflection of anything important.
If you really want to get fit it’s important that you take time every day to do something for yourself. Whether you’re cooking a nutritious meal or going on a walk every little thing counts. Eventually the steps that you’re taking to get fit are going to work themselves into your life and become second nature – so push along for now and you’ll see great results in the future!
If you’re looking to build an at home gym, here are some products I’ve found and curated for you.