This is part 2 of Allison Peryea’s life-changing series on improving your health and fitness in 2014. Read Part 1 and share your tips for staying healthy in the comments.
Try the buddy system.
I firmly believe in fitness classes. I have tried kickboxing, yoga, barre, spin, boot camp, and just about everything else. Even when I am tired or distracted, they keep me moving and focused. They lock me into a scheduled exercise time and duration and keep me accountable. They are fun and social, in a weird way. Finally, they are far more cost-effective than a personal trainer, without the one-on-one attention that would stress me out. Whenever I change gyms, I always make sure that the cost of classes is included in the membership.
And while I have never had trouble getting into an exercise groove, I have never been good at eating a balanced diet. I finally figured it out when I joined a “Biggest Loser”-type fitness competition to prepare for a beach vacation. Just knowing others were out there working to stick to a healthy eating plan made it much easier for me to stay committed to avoiding junk food.
Eat out smarter.
Whenever I eat out, my brain decides that it is a special occasion that warrants ordering unhealthy stuff and eating everything on my plate. The best option for me is to avoid eating out when there are healthier options at home. But eating out is a common social activity in the legal profession, and I love not having to clean up after myself. Here are some rules of thumb:
- Split an entrée with a friend and order a side salad.
- Pick a meal that includes vegetables and fill up on them first.
- Leave a decent amount on your plate for leftovers. (Two meals in one!)
- Order an appetizer or soup if you are not especially hungry.
- If you are craving something (for me, always French fries), steal a few from your friend’s plate.
Be a weekend (and vacation) workout warrior.
I used to skip exercise during the weekend because I felt like I “deserved it” after a long workweek. But I noticed a big increase in my fitness level when I started making an effort to work out on the weekends. Plus, our busy schedules sometimes prevent regular exercise during the workweek. When the weather is bad, I like to do a morning class to start a weekend day productively. When it is nice out, my friends and I go hiking (try the Washington Trails Association “hikefinder map” for options). In winter, I like to go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Also try incorporating exercise into your vacations. (And I don’t mean the hotel gym. Too depressing.) For weekend trips, you can go online and find nearby hiking trails, or rent bikes or kayaks. Or pick trips that specifically include physical activities. Two of my favorite vacations ever were a kayaking trip on Lake Powell in Utah and a trip to Belize with my dad with an “adventure” tour group.
Lock yourself in.
I am more likely to work out when I am already committed to be there. That’s why I am a member of a soccer team that plays every Thursday (it is part of a Seattle recreational league). Also consider signing up for classes and activities that you have to book in advance. (My gym charges a small fee when you do not show up for a class you have signed up for. That $2.50 has a strangely persuasive effect.) If it helps you, schedule your gym time as a “meeting” on your calendar and plan your day around it to make sure you get there.
Change things up.
Being healthy can get monotonous, especially if you are picky like me. But the effort to eat healthy without dying of food boredom has pushed me to try new healthy foods (including Brussels sprouts, which are good but take way too long to cook). Roasted butternut squash takes like vegetable candy without having to really add anything to it. (I buy it pre-cut at Costco.) Another tactic to keep things interesting is to purchase workout class packs or short-term memberships from deal sites like Groupon or LivingSocial for nearby yoga and fitness studios to supplement your usual exercise routine. While it is great to stick with what works, keeping things fresh keeps things interesting.