Please keep in mind I am by no means a professional, licensed nutritionist or trainer, or even a guru. I have been active for about 5 years now, and I have done my own research and know what works for me!
I'll be incorporating more fitness posts in the near future -- These tips are more general and focus on easy tips for your day-to-day life. Here are a few of my tips on how to maintain your figure, gain lean muscle, and not letting yourself go even when you're feeling lazy/not your best:
- Eat breakfast: This is a big one, and this is something that I've done since I was a kid. Even before I knew the benefits of eating breakfast, I was always a morning eater. I wake up hungry, and I've realized that this is because of a boosted metabolism. Eating breakfast kick-starts your day, gets your metabolism going, and fuels your body with the energy it needs to function. No, you probably shouldn't eat a dozen donuts everyday to hit your breakfast requirement, but here's a tip: If you do crave some sugary sweets, eat them in the morning! Your body will burn them off more efficiently throughout the day. Some healthy breakfast options I enjoy are avocado on toast, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, peanut butter on toast, and I also like to make a fruit smoothie with spinach for the road.
- Snack throughout the day: Speaking of metabolism, snacking will ensure that you don't get too hungry throughout the day. If you are sedentary for the majority of the day (like myself), make it a point to pack healthy snacks with you every day. I get mine ready the night before so that when I'm in zombie mode the next morning, all I have to do is grab my bag. I like to bring apples, bananas, almonds, a nectarine, or some carrots. Bring a variety of fruits, proteins, and fats: this will keep you fuller longer!
- Take the stairs: This makes a difference, trust me. When you aren't doing much activity, make sure you take the stairs when you can! Walk as much as you can throughout your day. If you work in an office building, take the stairs to your office (ok, maybe if you're on the 20th floor you can take the elevator)...but even if you walk up a few floors first, you'll be amazed at long-term results!
- Drink water: At least a gallon a day. I like to keep my Camelback Eddy with me at work and aim to fill it at least 3 times a day. Drinking water flushes the toxins from your body, keeps you fuller, and helps regulate your metabolism daily. Choose water over any other drink as often as you can. I love my morning coffee, but I always make sure to down a glass of water first!
- Prepare your food: When I'm hungry, I'm hungry. I want to eat as soon as I can. Preparing my food in advance allows me to know what I'm putting into my body and also lets me bring my lunch a few days a week. Make leftovers and put it into to-go containers for work. I bring my lunch to work as often as I can, and I use my lunch break for other things on my to-do list. Preparing food also makes sure that you are using your groceries and not letting your healthy foods go to waste!
- Only cut things from your diet that you can comfortably be without: I don't believe in fad diets. I'm a huge advocate of balance - Eat carbs, protein, fat, and sugar. I cut soda out of my diet years ago, and I only miss it occasionally. I have a coke about 4 times a year, and I can live comfortably without it. But I love my cheesecake and chocolate, and I know that if I cut this from my diet, I'd crack. I limit myself and know that if I eat it everyday, I'll gain weight. But if I'm training and keeping my diet in balance, I don't feel guilty eating a slice every couple of weeks! Know what your vices are modify your diet accordingly.
- HIIT: I hate cardio, especially on an idle machine. Incorporating HIIT (high intensity interval training) is perfect for anyone wanting to stay in shape, burn fat, and get your cardio over and done with. Try changing up the incline on the treadmill, incorporating sprints, or switching the resistance on the elliptical/stair master. When doing HIIT, try to go for about 10-20 minutes. The goal of HIIT is to bring your heart rate up and back down in short time periods.
- Lift weights: This is a no-brainer. Lean muscle is developed through weight training. No, you won't get bulky, big, or look like a man. If you're still worried about that, please go read any fitness article or talk to a professional. Incorporating light weights in your workouts will increase your strength, stamina, burn fat, and create lean muscle mass. I like to add weights to my basic squats, lunges, sit-ups, etc.
- Be realistic: At the end of the day, our bodies highly reflect our genetics. We have a natural body shape, and the aim of your fitness should be to make your own body the best it can be. I'll never be a size 2 - It just won't happen. My legs are bigger, and I have a wider frame. If I had goals to be a size 2, I would constantly be disappointed and would become discouraged. Create goals that are aligned with your natural body shape, overall health, and that you know you can reach.
- Love yourself: My last tip is cheesy but so true - If you maintain a negative outlook on your body, you'll be unhappy. Everything in fitness and health is a cycle, and it starts with our mindset. Feed yourself positive thoughts, and associate with people who encourage you to be healthy. Know that you are not going to be in your optimal fitness state all the time, and love yourself even when you don't have the same abs you may have had last summer. Life happens, and we are pulled in a million different directions sometimes. Get to know your body, your schedule, and what works best for you!
I also like to stay motivated by looking at other fitness accounts. Don't over-do it by following handfuls of accounts that you don't understand, and also don't follow a page on social media if you find it makes you feel bad about yourself.
I'll be doing more posts to detail some of my favorite workouts and their benefits. Please comment with your favorite workouts, any tips you may have, or any questions!