Friends, it has been a rough summer of health and fitness for me. I don't know about anyone else, but when it's 85 and sunny, the last thing I want to do is sweat it out in a gym...and cocktails and ice cream treats sound more and more delicious as it gets hotter outside. Couple that with the fallout from an April breakup, and I had no problem justifying girls' night drinks or snacking on mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in front of marathons of "The Office" instead of sessions with Jillian Michaels.
With September here, though, the weather's already starting to cool off and i'm getting into that weird, residual "back to school" feeling, only without a school to go back to. Instead, I'm channeling that desire for change into a "back to the gym" initiative. That said, all my bad habits and self-justifications for not working out, or for having that second helping, are still getting in my way. It's hard to turn down a social outing with friends, or deny myself an extra bit of time relaxing, when I'm as busy as I have been lately. I have been doing better though! I've only missed one day in the gym in September so far, I'm eating better, moving more, and still seeing friends...and it's due in large part to these tips.
--Prep in advance.
I am not a morning person, and with my wakeup call these days around 5:45am, my morning routine tends to be even more spastic and scatterbrained than usual. I pack my gym bag every night before bed with everything I need for a workout, including headphones and my gym ID, and put it right by my bedroom door so I don't forget it. To be as efficient as possible once I get to the gym, I make sure my contacts are in, hair is up and jewelry is off and safely stowed in my purse before I even leave work--that way, it's just change-and-go once I get there.
--Make it social.
One of my laments over making it to the gym every day is how much extra time it cuts out of my schedule. My gym is a 20 minute drive from my house, so factoring in around an hour of working out, getting there and back, and getting shower-clean after, and you're looking at losing out on nearly 2 hours of potential time with friends and family (or, let's be real, with a book on our deck). It's harder during the week with everyone's busy schedules, but my friends are social butterflies on the weekends...and I can take advantage of that to be more active. Instead of (or in addition to) a weekend brunch, why not walk laps around the Lakes in Uptown? Hannah took sunrise yoga at Lake Harriet all summer and raved about it. Alyssa's been hitting HauteBarre like it's her job. All I need to do is invite myself to join, and bam! Socializing and sweating all at once.
--Track it, track it, track it.
Like I mentioned way back when, I use a variety of apps on a semi-regular basis to track my food and fitness efforts. I've picked Couch to 5k back up and combine one of their runs with half an hour on a Precor elliptical 3 times a week at the gym, and it's fostered my competitive self to beat my distance every workout. I'm also trying to be super-diligent about MyFitnessPal, both to celebrate when I've had a great day and to hold myself accountable when I've eaten like crap. It's a huge eye-opener for me to see when I log something in MFP and then convert the calories mentally to "minutes on the Precor." Usually the number sounds too high to make me happy, so I reconsider poor food choices.
--Drink 'til you drop...
...your pants in the bathroom ten times a day to pee, that is. One of my guiltiest habits at work has always been convincing myself that I need a snack, or that I'm hungry, when in truth, half the time "hunger" is just dehydration. When trying to lose weight, most experts recommend drinking half your body weight in oz. of water daily...and staying hydrated also has amazing benefits for skin, prevents headaches, flushes out toxins and keeps you regular. MyFitnessPal has an option to track daily water intake, which I use religiously. Some ways I like to up my water consumption: I always always drink 16oz right when I wake up while getting ready for work...I add a Crystal Lite lemonade powder pack to my midmorning bottle...and I keep a cute stainless steel water bottle handy at all times at work! I've been sticking around 10-12 glasses of water a day and it genuinely does make me feel better.
--Take a break.
I, like 90% of my twentysomething social circle, have a desk job. I sit. All day. That's terrible for you, according to every study ever. While it's great that I move before and after work, sitting still for eight hours in a cube saps my energy and has bad health side effects. I take several breaks during the day and take a walk. My parking ramp is half a mile from my office, so I get a mile in just walking to and from the car every day! I also like to take two 10-12 minute breaks (one in the morning, one in the afternoon) and walk a lap outside around my building's campus. The two-block footprint is about .6 miles around, so that's another 1.2 miles right there. It's a great excuse to step away, re-energize, and get a little exercise in too.
So that's what's been running through my head as I've been running my butt on the treadmill! I'm taking small but positive steps in the right direction, and feeling better about my choices and the trajectory I'm on these days. Progress reports and more tips and tricks to follow as I continue on my healthy-living marathon!