Today's post is all about BALANCE.
It's one of the most important (& difficult) topics to master, but it's crucial to living a well balanced life. I am in my fourth year of dental school and finding a balance between professional school, studying, family, friends, eating healthy, & finding the time to work out was absolutely necessary. I've attempted to sit down and explain the bullet point "essentials" of adapting healthy habits and how to make them work with a busy life.
Trust me, no one is going to say the following topics are easy to conquer, but all you need to do is put your best foot forward and strive for progress!
Contrary to what you might have heard in the past, my experiences -- & science -- have taught me there is NO NEED to spend hours in the gym everyday to get results. By changing the way you work out and manage your time, you can actually achieve more efficient ways to improve your health. My workouts tend to range from 30min to an 1 hour and I typically workout about 4 times a week. Helpful hint: Plan...plan... plan!
When are you going to work out? In the morning? On your lunch break? Right after class? In the evening? This is something I cannot tell you. You have to decide what works for your busy life. Personally, my days start pretty early anyway so waking up any earlier than I need just does not work. So I find the best time to workout out is RIGHT after I'm finished for the day and before I hit play on my DVR. I will pack my gym bag & leave it in my car so I can head to the gym straight from school. From personal experience, when I try to convince myself that mayyyyybe sitting on the couch for an hour after class will give me some rest & energy before sweating it out, I find my workout for the day is in the dust.
What are you going to do when you actually get to the gym? This part of planning will be based on what your personal fitness goals are! Do you want to build muscle, shed fat, increase your endurance, train for a marathon, look better in your clothes, have a total body transformation? Do some research about what it will take to achieve your goals...
But my advise for you is to ALWAYS walk into the gym with a plan....
Know how you're going to warm up, exercise, and cool down. The past year I followed Kayla Itsienes Bikini Body Guide. This workout plan helped create a structured habit to help improve my health and confidence. I love following this guide because I know exactly what my workout is going to be for that day.
Trust me, make it easy on yourself & you will be more likely to stick to whichever fitness program you decide to partake in. Now, I enjoy creating my own circuits + finding free workouts on bodybuilding.combecause I wanted to incorporate more machines & weights into my gym time. (Take a peek at "circuits" under GET FIT WITH X to preview these!)
Prioritize & Make Sacrifices:
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you read "make sacrifices?!?" For me, I think of food & nutrition. Our society has made it so difficult to eat healthy. In school, we have various lunch meetings and food is normally provided. For someone who currently does not have a paycheck, paying an enormous amount in tuition & always on a budge, I should be thinking YES! Free lunch! Well unfortunately, this is where I have to prioritize and say "no" to the free pizza.
It fundamental to understand proper nutrition is the key to living a healthy life. Ever wonder why your progress might not be visible? Take a step back & take a look at nutrition. This is what's fueling your body. Are you fueling it with nutritious, clean, unprocessed foods? Or does it look more like McDonalds drive through, Oreo packs, and nightly takeout? In an analysis of 33 clinical trials, researchers determined that diet controls approximately 75% of weight loss (Men’s Health, April 2008).
Attempting to lose weight by adapting a "temporary diet fix" aka relying on low-calorie foods or restrictive eating plans to help slim down is often the biggest mistake people make nutritionally. This strategy generally backfires leading to a slower metabolism and increased cravings, which is a vicious cycle. DO IT THE RIGHT WAY. THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS TO FITNESS.
I eat clean about 80% of the time. How do I do this? Discipline.... and MEAL PLANNING! I use the Myfitnesspal app to estimate and hit my calorie & macro intake goals. I use this as a guide to make my weekly meal plans, grocery shop, and educate myself. When I first started logging it was an eye opener to visualize how certain "healthy" foods were well, not so healthy.
I do allow myself to have treat meals on the weekend but I make sure to not overindulge. This is a personal option and I know many people who don't allow themselves treat meals. My husband and I enjoy date night on Friday's, and football tailgating on Saturdays during the fall. Maybe counting calories isn't for you & that's okay! I'm a very analytical person and pay close attention to detail so it works for me & definitely keeps me on track.
Find out how to prioritize & know what sacrifices you will need to create in your day to day life. Ask yourself.... is your health worth it?
Find Motivation & Use It:
At first, I would browse through Instagram & find #abspiration pics from women who have perfectly toned midsections. I used this as my motivation, but quickly stopped because I was constantly feeling like I didn't measure up. Instead of motivation me it actually demotivated me.
Today, my motivation is myself. I know how good it feels to improve. The satisfaction I get from nourishing my body with nutrient dense food instead of filling with junk is way better than looking at another woman's washboard abs. Gaining strength + endurance in the gym is also motivation for me. I couldn't even do one push-up prior to my fitness journey! The scale is NOT the only way to measure progress. Learn how to become more in tune with your body! Progress will be evident.
There are no two identical fitness journeys. We all have a different starting point, different body types, different goals, & different ways to achieve these goals.
You can look at thousands of fit girl's photos, buy into countless quick fix diets & exercise programs, invest in pricey gym memberships, but until you take actions, all the above is pointless. NOBODY can do it for you! Invest in yourself & become your own motivation!