We’re well into the new year. How are those healthy resolutions coming? Feeling overwhelmed? Not seeing as much progress as you’d like? Marathons aren’t run all at once. They’re run one mile at a time. Put one foot in front of the other long enough and you’ll eventually cover 26.2 miles.
Good health should be a lifetime goal, not a seasonal one. So here are a few daily strategies to help you keep putting one foot in front of the other.
First, drink more water. Don't worry about eliminating other drinks for the moment. Just add more water to your daily intake. I aim for 100 ounces per day. I have a 32-ounce mug I try to finish three times. It’s incredible how much more energy I have and how much better I feel overall.
Second, write it down. If you’re starting out on a new fitness journey, you probably have a few expectations. You know the change you want to see. But change happens gradually and in unexpected ways. So write down how you feel each day. Write down your workouts. Log your sleep. Record your eating. Patterns will emerge. You’ll notice changes that don’t register on a scale. Maybe you could only do five push-ups in January. Now you can do 15. That’s change. Now you don’t get drowsy after lunch and your focus has improved. That’s change. It can be a pain to journal everything you eat and do, but it’s the easiest way to track progress. Write it down and you will notice it.
Third, get breakfast right. Diets don’t work, but eating healthy does. That said, change is hard. By starting with one meal at a time, that mountain of change becomes a molehill. Start with breakfast. Toss out the Sugar Smacks and find three healthy options that will work for you. I love breakfast burritos, but don’t have time to make them in the morning. I make a dozen of them all at once, freeze them and heat one in the microwave every morning. I get my protein, fats and carbs all at once. I also get my first victory of the day. It sets the tone for every other food decision I make that day.
Fourth, limit your options. I didn’t say find 10 healthy breakfast options. I said find three. When starting a new healthy lifestyle, start small. As you perfect those options and figure out what works best for you long-term, you’ll save time as well as energy. It doesn't have to be overwhelming.
Fifth, keep it simple. Whether we’re talking workouts or dinner, keep it simple. Fancy and complicated doesn’t equal effective. I know that any recipe that requires more than five ingredients and 15 minutes of prep is more than I’m willing or capable to tackle. So I have 10 dinner recipes that are quick, simple and delicious on my menu rotation. None requires a great deal of time. My favorite recipe is to throw three cans of chicken in a skillet with an entire jar of salsa. Heat. Dish. Top with cheese, guacamole and sour cream. Done.
Sixth, go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. Sleep is underrated. It’s the first thing we sacrifice when we’re burdened with other tasks. The irony is when we’re rested we perform better. We might think we’re getting more done when we borrow time from sleep, but most of us would be more effective at our jobs and daily tasks if we get more sleep. With good sleep, we are sharper and more focused. We can actually get more done in less time and do it better.
Good habits take time. Small change adds up. Be patient and consistent and keep those healthy goals one day at a time.
Kim Cowart is a wife, mother, fitness instructor and marathoner. You can follow her fitness adventures at www.kiminthegym.com.