There are days I wake up at 6am, hit the snooze button twice (just being honest) and crawl out of my warm flannel sheets, ready to take on the day. Put on the workout clothes, grab a coffee and get outside on a run. Come back, shower, have another coffee, and get to work feeling accomplished, energetic and proud that I got my nasty workout out of the way.
Then, there are days that alarm goes off at 6am. I hit snooze. Twice. Then when it goes off the last time, I fall back asleep. I jump out of bed at 745am, run down to have a cup of coffee, feed the dog and head into the office in my pajamas. Sit down at the desk, still sort of bleary eyed and immediately get down to business. Slowly, the guilt creeps in. The wasted time I could have used to get things done. The idea that the workout is still ahead of me.
I’d much prefer the first day, but some days, the second day occurs.
I am Donna, and I am not a morning person.
Thing is, in order to drop these 18 pounds, I need more of the first day and less of the second. Sleeping in sometimes is important and necessary, but I’d rather save it for Sundays and re-gain those two hours of productive time by getting up after the alarm goes off at 6am.
That’s all just one part of it all. I want to be healthy but sometimes, it takes baby steps to stay fit in a busy world. Sometimes those steps are teeny-tiny baby steps, but a step forward is a step forward, so don’t knock it. There are days where I’m running from meeting to meeting to lunch to writing deadline to grocery shopping to kid doctor appointment to press event to making dinner. I spend hours in the car without moving anything but my Sirius XM-pushing finger and my right big toe..it’s pretty capable at hitting the gas and brake in my Challenger. (A car with that much power doesn’t really need a full foot or I’d be getting tickets. I’ve only gotten one in a very long time. I was speeding, just a little, in the Charger on the way home from a salon appointment and I was feeling hangry. $400. Ouch. Lesson learned. Hopefully.)
So how do we take those baby steps to stay fit when your schedule is non-stop? Don’t look at the big picture. Look at what you can do throughout the day to get in more exercise than the day before. Consider where you can cut back on consumption — safely, talk to your doctor as I am NOT one and this is not medical advice. Play a game with yourself, and try to make each day a little better until you hit that tipping point between comfort and realism. We all have one, that spot where we want to do better but we know it’ll make us miserable. Being healthy and fit doesn’t need to make us miserable, because then we’re not healthy, right?
Here are some other baby steps to stay fit, things you can really do every day:
- Track your workouts. Use a site like SparkCentral.com. It’s free and allows you to notate how much of each type of activity you get per day. There are also apps you can put on your phone. (More on those in another post!)
- Tabulate your calories. It doesn’t need to be all-consuming. (See what I did there? Ha. Long day here.) I also SparkCentral for this task, not just for my running and yoga minutes. I enter my coffee, my creamer, my Greek yogurt, those greens and tuna for lunch…I enter it all. It takes just a few minutes per day and I can see patterns to enable me to know where to cut back and how to fix those weak spots. (Bread. That’s a weak spot. I have a serious interest in carbs.)
- Park your car further from the door. Not only does this lessen the chance of losers dinging your car with their doors, but you tend to walk faster to get that trek to the door out of the way. Win-win.
- Work out as soon as you can in the morning. It gives you a mood lift so you are happier, you are more alert to deal with the boss, co-worker and kids, and you are less likely to make bad food choices that negate all that early-morning workout you put in.
- Squeeze in toning exercises throughout the day. If you have a desk job, you may get stiff when you suddenly realize you’ve been sitting at your desk for four hours straight. Stand up and take your next phone call while doing a plank. Obviously, if you don’t have a private office, you won’t be able to do that…unless you have really cool co-workers. But you get the idea. I do squats while I brush my teeth at night. It helps me be sure I’m brushing long enough and gets just a few more big muscle toning exercises done before bed. Did you know that keeping your big muscles in better shape ultimately helps your metabolism to go faster?
- Set your fitness tracker or other app to go off every hour to prevent those long periods of inactivity. Get up and refill your water bottle. Hydration helps you feel less hungry and has many health benefits, including ridding yourself of bloat, salt and helping your skin glow.
- Swap out a glass of white wine for red. You may find you really like it, it’s really pretty in a sparkly glass and it’s reportedly better for you than white wine. It’s also definitely better for you than stronger things like tequila..and we all know what tequila does. Don’t be that person.
- Look into smoothies or juicing to help fill some nutritional gaps as opposed to cutting back on your food too much. This book has given me fantastic, easy recipes on how to do that. I’m picky, I want my healthy food to taste good, and this Guide to Fasting recipe book (written by Cherie Calborn) does not disappoint! (Available here on Amazon. That’s an affiliate link, fyi, so if you order it, I may get a slice. It’s around $10-$11 and way worth it.)
- Make tiny dietary changes. Season with spices rather than sauces. Use almond or coconut milk instead of creamer. Too much sugar in your coffee? It all adds up. I refuse to remove a creamer of sorts from my diet entirely; I know it’s not the best for me but I’ve cut back rather than cut it out. I like coffee. It really is moderation. Life’s too short to not enjoy it. I’d rather live a year or two less than be miserable.
- We haven’t had ground beef as a part of our regular diet in over 16 years now. It doesn’t like me, so we use ground turkey in its place. We really don’t tell the difference and it clogs up your insides less. Intestines work harder on beef, so if you tend to get bloaty or sluggish, do some homework on nutrition and where you can make some substitutions.
- Relax daily with some yoga. Practice peace. (That shirt was a Christmas gift from Core Power Yoga. Thank you so much for the soft cover when I’m getting all bendy and flexible!) I find it to be simultaneously relaxing and energizing. I also can feel it the next day, if I really put the effort into it that I should. Yoga tones, helps you improve your posture and balance, and if you’re able to focus, you can really clear your mind of negativity. (We all need that right now, right?) I love that for an hour 1-2x per week at the gym, it’s just about me. I love my instructor and find the peace of the studio much needed. I also do more yoga at home during the week, usually in shorter periods. I lay out my zebra-striped mat, light a candle, put on yoga music and start the flow. Ahhhhh, it’s so nice. The only disruption is that sometimes the Yorkie is worried about me, and the service dog checks on me to make sure I’m not dead when I lay down. When you’re laying on your back to relax at the end, it can be a bit of a shocker to open your eyes and have the jowels of an 80 pound white licking dog in your face.
- Turn on that Wii or Xbox! Boxing, skiing, whatever game you want to play, it gets you moving and you can do it while playing with your family. Tomorrow night we’re hosting Mario Party game night at the house. There will be a lot of laughing and yelling and calorie-burning!
What baby steps to stay fit will you be taking? There is no ‘wrong’ way to get active. It has to work for you, so where will you start?