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. 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.
What to Focus on for Your Exercise Plan
- 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.
- 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.
Some Types of Exercise
Yoga for All
Keeping up a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise seems to be easy for the fitness enthusiasts, but for me it's a chore. At the end of a day that includes: herding a child to get ready for school, chauffeuring said child to school, sitting in traffic, eight hours of working, sitting in more traffic, picking up the child from school, rushing child to whatever activity is on the schedule that day, making dinner somewhere in there, eating dinner, urging child to eat their dinner (which takes the longest), playing the "getting child ready for bed" game– After all of this, the first thing that DOES NOT come to mind is "Great, now I can exercise!" Does any of this sound familiar?
One of the reasons I lean towards Yoga for regular exercise is because the only energy you need to give is the energy you have. And for me, some days I have more than others. Of course, there are different types of Yoga, but any style can improve strength, flexibility, and balance. If you are new to yoga, webmd.com has a great article that helps you figure out which style of yoga is best for you.
Additional benefits of using yoga as a form of exercise in your life:
- It can be practiced in a class/group setting or privately at home.
- The meditation and breathing techniques used help to reduce stress and anxiety.
- The variety of styles and types makes it more likely to find a style that works for you.
Improve Back Pain
If you are experiencing back pain, your doctor may recommend that you see a Physical Therapist and learn stretches for flexibility and strength. Having a strong core is important for the management and prevention of back pain.
Here is a simple low impact exercise that is great if you have lower back pain and want to strengthen your core, or if you don’t have back pain but want to work your lower abs.
Here’s how it works:
Lie on your back with your legs up at a 90-degree angle, resting them on an exercise ball.
The next step is to dig your heels into the ball and lift the ball just a couple of inches off the ground using your heels to hold the ball against your thighs, and then put it back down. Start off doing this 30 times, and gradually increase the amount as you are able. It should be a slow, controlled motion. You want to make sure your back stays flat on the ground, do not let your hips roll forward or it will put a strain on your lower back. It doesn’t take long before you feel it in your lower abs, and you can tell them their vacation is over!
What Lifestyle Do You Want?
Your lifestyle choices impact your priorities and time, and makes sure both of those things are being spent on the things most important to you. Too often, life throws us responsibilities that, although necessary, not what we prefer to spend our time on. And how we handle those responsibilities and obstacles has a lot to do with how we grew up watching our moms handle them. Let me give you an example:
It's no secret that chores and housecleaning consumes not only a lot of your time, but also a lot of your energy, two things moms could always use more of. I grew up in a household where both parents worked full-time jobs, and to add to it, there were three of us kids contributing more to the mess than to the cleaning. My mom was the one who handled all of the responsibilities that came with having a home and a family, as did her mom before her, and what that looked like to us kids was that she was always cleaning!
I remember, every Saturday morning she was scrubbing the bathrooms, vacuuming the bedrooms, dusting the family rooms. After dinner, we would all gather in the family room to watch a movie we rented and 10 minutes after it starts, she's left to clean the kitchen. Does this story sound a little too familiar?
Well what I know now is that what she really needed was to hire a house cleaning service. The amount of time, energy and stress she put into maintaining a clean house for our family of 5, would never out way the amount of TIME SHE WOULD GAIN, more ENERGY SHE WOULD HAVE and LESS STRESS IN HER LIFE by hiring an affordable, reliable and thorough house cleaning company. A lifestyle change many moms and dads would benefit from.
Helpful Tips for Building a Food Plan
- 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.
Taking Personal Time
Okay, I’ll admit, just saying "take more personal time" is a bit vague. Mostly because what defines "personal time" depends on the person. It can mean something different to everyone. And in some cases, it can even mean something different to the same person depending on their mood.
For example: My personal time might look like walking around the craft store, by myself, or, it could be having a girls night out to the movies with my best friend (without the kids), or it could even be uninterrupted sleep in the morning.
Personal time is something nice that you do for yourself without guilt. Let me say that again, without guilt. The purpose is to give you a break from all the demands and responsibilities you have with others and focus only on you, for fun, for relaxing, for meditating, for remembering that your needs are important too. Because when you are happy, it positively affects all other areas of your life and the people that are in it.
To summarize, health involves many different aspects of your life including your body, your habits, your lifestyle and more. Don’t try to make multiple changes at once to reach your goals, implement just one or two at a time, and you will be more likely to succeed. Here’s to a healthier you!
Why Should You Create an Activity Plan?
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.
Activities Ideas for a Fun Break
This year, instead of spending the day with your kids, why not spend the day outside of your day-to-day routine. Whether you are alone or you need some fun with a loved one, one of these activities might be exactly what you need!
Here are some great ways to spend a day:
- For the Thrill Seekers!
Go to an amusement park. No crying kids and no skipping the roller coasters! Skip the kiddy rides and enjoy the tallest, fastest ride you can find!
- Need Some Quiet?
If you’re seeking some much needed alone time, take yourself out on a dinner and a movie date. Going to the movies alone can be surprisingly refreshing. Then, treat yourself to lunch or dinner at your favorite restaurant afterward!
Don’t want to leave the house? This is a great way to just hang out and relax. You can watch TV, read, whatever you want to do to feel reset and recharged!
Create a Budget
One of the best changes you can make to hit your financial goals in 2015 is for you to learn how to create a budget and stick to it.
One of my favorite quotes from Dave Ramsey is, "A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went."
Do you feel like you're living paycheck to paycheck? Does having any kind of savings seem impossible? Do you constantly find yourself stressing over unexpected expenses? For all these reason, you need to implement a budget in your life.
How much money you make is not what determines how well your money works for you, sticking to a budget does. Budget so that your money is working for you, instead of you working for money.
Check out more tips on budgeting from Dave Ramsey here.