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Make a Plan For a Healthier You in 2015

There are many different goals one may consider when making a plan to live healthier. Begin by prioritizing your goals and determining which areas of your life you feel the least amount of satisfaction. Examples could be fitness, health, relationships, financial, spiritual, etc. Here is a sample of how to make a plan for a healthier you focusing on a few of the areas mentioned above, but organized under two categories: Physical Health and Mental Health. By focusing on your goals for each category and the specific steps on how to accomplish each goal, you will be on your way to a healthier (and happier) you.

Part One of this entry with focus on the Physical Health category, and we will include how to make an Exercise Plan, a Food Plan and an Activity Plan that works for you. Later, Pa rt Two will cover Mental Health. In this category, we will provide tips on how to make a plan to improve your lifestyle, finances, and increase your personal time.

Let’s Begin!

  • Don't focus your goal to be losing weight, but about getting healthy. If you focus on the healthy choices you make for your body, you have a better chance of naturally reaching or maintain your ideal body weight, instead of getting frustrated and discouraged when you don’t see the number on the scale drop as much as you expected.
  • Design your exercise plan to include strength, cardio, and flexibility, and alternate between them.
  • If it’s been awhile since you last exercised regularly, ease into your new routine and listen to your body, even though you may have drive to push it hard right out of the gate. You don't want to risk injuring yourself by suddenly starting up your old workout where you last left off. It will also help keep you motivated for a longer period of time if there is a gradual increase back to your usual (or new) routine.
  • Don't neglect the warm-ups and cool-downs. Again, this will help prevent injuries and may also minimize soreness.
  • Schedule your exercises. (Especially if you are a parent.) Your busy schedule and routines will require you to schedule into your calendar your exercise time, just like you schedule everything else. Don't plan to do it "when you feel like it" because, if you're like me, I'll "feel like" sleeping before I ever "feel like" exercising.
  • Speaking of sleeping... Also schedule your own bedtime. If kids don’t go to bed on-time, parents know they are guaranteed grumpy whiney kids the next day. As adults, we’ve learned to overcome the miserable, groggy feeling of “not enough sleep.” I overcome lack of sleep with the help of a lot of caffeine, but still, it minimizes my activity and motivation. Having a regular and consistent sleep schedule is just as important for adults as it is for children.
  • Use different resources and build an exercise plan that works for you and your personality. (One that you will most likely stick to for the long-term.) For example, you can find a lot of workout tips on Pinterest, providing you with a variety too so you don't get bored.
  • Write it down. Having your goals and plan written down is important, but so is documenting what you do as you go. In addition, document how you feel mentally and physically. Often you will notice mental improvements such as increased self-confidence and motivation before you recognize the physical improvements of tighter skin or stronger muscles. Recognizing ALL of the benefits as you go and not just weight loss will help you stay committed to your goals longer.

  • Plan your meals ahead of time. Now, for busy parents, this is easier said than done. But as you know, some of the most convenient foods are also the least healthy. Take away the convenient temptation by planning ahead and making healthy choices also conveniently available. For example, separate carrots, grapes or other fruits into sandwich bags, so they are ready to grab and go!
  • Count the calories. It's easy to constantly overeat (By "overeat" I am referring to when someone consumes more energy than what their body exerts. So, consuming more calories than what your body is burning.) There is a calculation that considers your weight and age to help determine how many daily calories you should consume to maintain your current weight, or to lose weight. By educating yourself and keeping track of your actual calorie intake, you will be able to make healthier food choices in the process.
  • Try healthier alternatives to some of your favorite foods, you may surprise yourself! For example, make your own fries and baked them. Even frozen fries bought at the grocery store that you bake at home are a healthier choice than the fast food fried version. Another example is to eat turkey hotdogs instead of beef hotdogs. You can still include all of your favorite toppings, but have healthier results.
  • Use an app, if you prefer digital tracking. The app Lose It!,for example, allows you to scan the barcode of whatever food you ate and generate the calories consumed automatically. Another feature is that it tracks how many calories you have consumed that day in respect of your goal, so you know how much you have left and so you are less likely to overeat.

  • Integrate a fun, but still physical, activity into your life. Activities like ice skating, roller skating, rock climbing, swimming, riding bikes, playing tennis, or join a recreational sport, to name a few. Try activities the whole family can enjoy so everyone will have fun, benefit from the activity without sacrificing any family time. Including a fun and regular activity will help keep you motivated for your workouts as you begin to feel your exercise and food plan benefits also improve your ability during your fun activity.

Get started today and make a plan to be a Healthier You in 2015! Look for the upcoming blog entry, Part Two: Mental Health, to include tips on improving your lifestyle, your finances, and increase your personal time. Happy New Year!

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