Do you ever wonder what health experts do to stay healthy and happy? Are health experts just inherently fit and energetic? As it turns out, health experts focus on several key points to keep their lean physiques and energy charging throughout the day. With so much health information out there, sometimes it can be overwhelming to start your fitness and nutrition plan. Here are the top 10 health tips from the trainers at Premier Fitness Camp.
1. Drink water
- Seems simple, right? If you feel thirsty, you could actually already be 1-2% dehydrated! Aim to drink ½ your body weight in ounces daily and add 8 ounces for each cup of coffee you drink.
- Some tips for drinking more water include:
- Use a refillable water bottle to help gauge how much water you consume in a day.
- Start the day with a tall glass of water.
- Drink a glass of water before each meal (sometimes we are actually dehydrated when we reach for a snack).
2. Eat small meals throughout the day
- Eating 5-6 smaller meals instead of 3 large meals keeps your metabolism revving throughout the day. Mini-meals help prevent overeating. Long gaps between meals can cause you to starve and risk eating the first thing in sight (i.e. the entire bread basket at dinner). The body uses what it can for muscle repair and energy and any excess calories get stored as fat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even matter if the overeating is healthy food – the body doesn’t discriminate with excess calories, it all gets stored away for later use.
- Tips for eating more small meals:
- Start the day with a healthy breakfast. Always!
- Aim for a protein, fat and a carb for each snack and meal.
- Pack healthy snacks in your bag or car (nuts, string cheese, carrots and celery, fruit, low sugar energy bar).
- Prep food at the beginning of the week so it’s ready to go when you get busy.
3. Watch out for hidden sugars and drinking your calories
- The recommended amount of added sugar in a day is 5 teaspoons for women and 8 teaspoons for men (this equates to 25 and 40 grams, respectively). The average American has 22 teaspoons in a day (110 grams) and 156 pounds of sugar in a year!!
- Tips for reducing your sugar intake include:
- READ LABELS. Some drinks look health but actually contain a lot of sugar. Vitamin Water has 33 grams of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle! Fruit drinks are loaded with sugar as well (Snapple has 41 grams of sugar). Soda is the ultimate sabotage for a healthy body – a 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew has 77 grams of sugar (roughly 3 days worth of sugar). Diet soda is not a healthy alternative. AVOID ALL SODA. PERIOD!!
- Mixed drinks and fruity cocktails have a ton of extra sugar and calories (sometimes up to 900 calories!) Keep it clean with alcohol – go for the “skinny” option, red or white wine, light beer, or tonic water. Limit to 1-2 drinks and save it for the weekends.
- Coffee is okay by itself but careful of added sugar, sweeteners, and whipped cream. A Starbucks Venti Frappuccino has 400 calories and 60 grams of sugar. Yikes!!
4. Replace the thought, “I can’t” with, “I CAN!!”
- Keep your thoughts positive and be aware of negative thoughts. Debbie Downer thoughts pop into everyone’s mind at some point – learn to swiftly switch out the negative thought with a positive thought. Instead of, “I will never get the body I want,” replace the thought to, “I will continue to make healthy lifestyle choices and work towards having a healthier body.”
- Being optimistic is a learned behavior that requires training. Everyone experiences failure. Those that succeed view the failure as a temporary situation and take it as an opportunity for GROWTH. Change your perspective and view the next failure as a chance to take charge!
- Tips for staying positive:
- Visualize your day and how you want it to go before getting out of bed in the morning.
- Keep a gratitude journal and write down 3 things you are grateful for every night before bed.
- Keep positive quotes and fun pictures of yourself on the fridge.
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5. Move every day
- Increase your physical activity throughout the day by sneaking in extra movement. Examples include: taking the stairs, using the bathroom on a different floor, parking further away, walking or biking places, taking the dog out, doing body weight squats or lunges on a lunch break, dancing when your favorite song comes on, and basically anything that requires a little muscle activity and gets your heart pumping! Ten minutes of exercise is 100% better than no exercise.
- Plan your exercise schedule each week and stick to it! Be realistic and set the amount of time you will need for it. Schedule time for cardio, strength training, and flexibility each week.
- Tips to increase movement each day:
- Enlist a workout partner to join you.
- Wear comfortable shoes to work and keep a pair of running shoes in your car.
- Pack your gym bag before you go to bed.
6. Get the most bang for your buck in your workouts
- Have you ever been guilty of “going to the gym” but spent the time catching up on news while slowly pedaling a recumbent bike? While training at a low intensity, the body does utilize a higher percentage of fat compared to glycogen stores for energy, however increasing the intensity of exercise not only saves time, but increases the health benefits tenfold. Interval training alternates between short bouts of intense activity with lower levels of intensity or rest. The benefits of interval training have been shown to improve aerobic capacity, burn more calories and fat after the workout, increase metabolism, and best of all, keep workouts exciting and challenging. Plus, you don’t even need equipment to do a high intensity interval workout. You can do a quick workout in your living room, down the street, or at the park. All you need is a watch to time yourself (although a heart rate monitor would also be ideal to track your level of intensity). The best part is you can do an intense workout in only 15-20 minutes versus plug away on the treadmill for hours on end and achieve the same benefits. A rule of thumb for intervals is you shouldn’t be able to carry on a normal conversation during the high intensity interval – this is called the “Talk Test.”
- Some tips for interval training:
- Add intervals of sprints, hills, or stairs to your normal jog or walk.
- Ramp up the level on the treadmill/elliptical/bike for 20 seconds and bring it down for 40 seconds; repeat every minute.
- Run fast for one minute, walk for two; repeat the 3-minute cycle 5 times for a total of 15 minutes.
- Do calisthenics (jumping jacks, push-ups, squats) after every two minutes of cardio.
7. Try something NEW
- Don’t underestimate your strength! Challenging your body in new ways helps recruit more muscle fibers and improves your fitness. Have you tried a pull-up yet? Get after it! You are stronger and more capable than you think. Have you played a sport in awhile? Join a kickball league or pick up basketball in the park. Have you ever tried to surf? Take a surf lesson or rent a board. Mixing gym workouts with sports and other activities is a great way to spice up your exercise routine. You can do it! Believe in your strength and determination.
- GET OUTSIDE. Studies reveal that most people are low in vitamin D. Take your workout outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Just 10-15 minutes a day of sun exposure can provide the recommended dose of vitamin D. (More time than that and you want to start layering on the sunscreen.) Studies have shown that vitamin D reduces risks of chronic disease and depression. So, just taking a walk around the block at lunchtime can recharge the battery AND improve your mood and boost your health.
- Tips for trying new activities and getting outside:
- Write down a bucket list of activities you want to try and start checking them off.
- Look up local sports teams to join.
- Take lunch outside.
8. Get to bed on time
- Sleep is SO important! Sleep deprivation actually causes us to eat more and feel less satisfied. Bummer, right?! The hormones leptin and grehlin control feelings of hunger and fullness and are altered with lack of sleep. Altered sleep cycles cause leptin levels to drop, which decreases satisfaction after eating. In contrast, grehlin levels increase, which stimulates appetite, and can cause overeating. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep and stick to a regular bedtime. Control your stress by focusing on your breath at bedtime and take some deep belly breaths to slow everything down. Try relaxing music and a good book to get your mind and body ready for sleep. If you find your mind racing at bedtime, jot down your thoughts and your to-do list to allow your mind to quiet down.
- Tips for getting more zzz’s:
- Gradually go to bed 10 minutes earlier from your usual bedtime until you reach the desired new bedtime.
- Wake up at the same time every morning to stay in a normal routine.
- Prepare for sleep one hour before bed by dimming lights, turning off electronics, and setting a relaxing atmosphere.
9. Set SMART goals
- Goal setting is a powerful tool to inspire change and stay motivated. Goal setting is not only important to move forward in a career but is extremely valuable for health and fitness goals. Writing goals down on paper is a key part of goal setting, as it helps commit to the goal.
- SMART goals include:
- SPECIFIC – write a detailed goal rather than a broad goal. Example: I will reduce soda intake to one a week vs. I will reduce sugar
- MEASURABLE – include an accountable element to the goal to keep track of progress. Example: I will eat 5 veggies a day vs. I will eat more veggies.
- ATTAINABLE – make goals that are challenging yet in reach of your abilities. If you accomplish all your goals easily, make them more challenging! Break up long-term goals in to short-term goals to facilitate the progression towards reaching the bigger, life-changing goals.
- REALISTIC – write a goal that is relevant to you, inspires you, and is practical for your lifestyle. However, don’t be afraid to write down your wildest dreams as well!
- TIMELY – setting a date to the desired time of completion is essential, otherwise your well-thought out goals might float around for years. Set a date you wish to achieve the goal and do your best to stick to it. Example: I will be able to do 5 pull-ups by December 31st, 2013.
- Lastly, allow your goals to be adjustable. Sometimes life gets in the way of our goals. A sprained ankle, a work trip, a sick kid, you get the idea. Allow for flexibility within your goals, as you may need to extend the date of the goal or get back on track after a lapse.
10. Balance and moderation is key
- CALORIES IN = CALORIES OUT. How long does it take to eat a 500-calorie piece of cake? 30 seconds maybe? How long will it take to burn it off? On average, around 60 minutes of moderate-intense exercise! It’s okay to splurge every once in awhile but be aware of the calorie intake and keep your splurges to a minimum. Sometimes the best alternative is to allow a small serving of something sweet (dark chocolate covered almonds are a great treat because they provide protein as well) and satisfy that sweet tooth. Just ration out the serving ahead of time to avoid overindulging!
- Do the best you can most of the time. Nobody is perfect. Eat as healthy as you can during the week and allow fun and variation on the weekends. Focus on eating natural foods and limiting processed foods. An easy way to do this is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store for most of your items (this is where all the whole, natural foods are found). Everything processed is packaged and propped in snazzy false health claims in the middle of the store. Aim for a colorful variety of veggies and fruits. Diets rich in color provide the nutrients your body needs and antioxidants to repair damage and aging.
- Tips for living a balanced life:
- If your exercise routine falls by the wayside recognize that YOU are in control, pick yourself up and get back on the plan.
- Make time for family and friends.
- Allow for rest, so your body can repair and rejuvenate itself.
- Be kind to yourself. You are on your way to perfect health!
Remember, health and happiness is a lifestyle. It is your CHOICE to adopt a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and a positive attitude. Follow these Top 10 Tips and you will be on the road to a healthier you!
-Casey McFarland, MPH, NASM – CPT
–Health tips from PFC experts: Jessica Janc, Diana Salom, Todd Bassler, Dejinira Lee, Wendy Sallin, & Ryan Gutierrez