There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re investing in your health and getting no returns. If you’re making every second of your workout count and eating well, you should be seeing results, right? But if you’re not, perhaps it’s time to revamp your regimen. For starters, learn how to get healthier.
1. Eat better
Sorry, y’all. This has to be number one. In order to get the body you want, you must nourish it with the right foods. Start here: Eliminate processed foods. Eat in more, eat out less. Cut back on sugar, bread, sweets and juice. A good rule of thumb is to make 90-95 percent of your diet fresh and unboxed. That means a lot of fruits, vegetables and lean meats. If you are vegetarian or vegan that means fresh fruit and vegetables with protein substitutes such as quinoa.
2. Fuel your workouts
Eating pre-workout isn’t for everyone. But if you do decide to do it, go for a small-sized, carbohydrate and protein combination. Even a citrusy-fruit could give you a little energy. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you eat at least one hour before your morning workout. Most of the energy you got from dinner the previous night is gone by the morning, and your blood sugar might be low. Hydrate with fluids before, during and after a workout to avoid dehydration and to enhance your performance.
3. Plan ahead
Know what you’re going to do before you get to the gym, before you wake up, even. Your time is too valuable. Have a plan on paper or in your head of what kind of cardio and resistance training you’ll do. Cardio or weights first? How long? How many reps? How many sets?
4. Go to bed
With our busy lifestyles and lack of time for anything, most of us get less than the recommended 7.5 hours of sleep per day. Experts say sleep deprivation and low energy can lead to a bad diet. The immediate result? Unwanted pounds as poor food choices and lack of exercise set the stage for obesity and further sleep loss. GET YOUR SLEEP!
5. Find your best workout time, schedule it
Some women love 5 am workouts, but you may not be a morning person. If your ideal time is at lunch or after work, then put it on your calendar and commit to it. It’s all about being consistent. Pick your time, and don’t let anything keep you from it.
6. Shake it up
Keep your body guessing. Doing the same routine over and over yields results in the beginning, but then the plateau comes and you start to get discouraged. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) routines deliver constant results. These workouts burn a lot of calories and fat in a short amount of time. Your workouts don’t have to be long if you put the energy and effort into it. Run one day. Go to a fitness class another. Work different parts of your body as well. Work on upper and lower body one day and then core another day.
7. Perfect your form
Nail the fundamentals: Squat, lunge, bicep curl, shoulder press, plank and push ups. Ask an expert for help. Watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you know what your body feels like when it’s in proper alignment. When you’re form is correct, it means you’re working all the muscles you should be working. Check out some of our “Master the Move” features for help.
8. Be accountable to someone
Even if you don’t want a workout partner, make sure someone out in the world knows your fitness goals. Check-in with a friend or family member. Not only will you inspire someone else, but it will help keep you on your toes!
Joslyn Murphy is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, NY.