13 Fitness Hacks by Steph Beth Nickel
The following fitness hacks have worked for my husband and me. However, before changing your activity level and/or eating habits, consult your health care professional. What is safe and beneficial for one person can be harmful for another.
Is there someone in your life who motivates you to make healthier choices? My hubby has become that person in my life over the last few months.
What has he done that has inspired me?
1. Identify your motivation.
Because we were planning a vacation to Jasper, Alberta, Dave was determined to build his cardio endurance so we could go hiking. Visiting Jasper with me was something he’d wanted to do since we were married 35 years ago, and this year it happened.
2. Set a specific goal.
Not only did Dave want to show me some of his favourite spots, he wanted to hike the Palisades, something he would have to do on his own because I’m asthmatic. He was thrilled that he was able to make the climb in less time than he’d anticipated, two-and-a-half hours up and two hours down.
3. Join the gym.
Because Dave began preparing in the winter, when it wasn’t nice enough to walk outdoors, he asked me to sign him up for the gym. While I did cardio and resistance training, he stuck with the cardio—and saw amazing results.
4. Increase your cardio.
Cardio is not my thing. I realize there are many benefits of walking, running, and rowing, but I bore easily. (Maybe I should take headphones to the gym and watch a TV show.)
At any rate, Dave is far more committed than I am and he built up his endurance a great deal over the months we attended the gym.
5. Walk outdoors.
And then the weather got nicer. We began to walk in the evenings. I enjoyed that far more. And even when I was in the midst of a rush editing job, he continued to walk. In fact, he repeatedly walked the steepest hill in town in preparation for our trip west.
We also found a hill in Port Stanley that we conquered time and again. I was pleased with how much progress I saw in my own endurance.
6. Make a date with the Wii Fit.
Dave hadn’t used the Wii Fit in many months. You can only deal with a “sweet little voice” calling you obese so many times. However, as he began to lose weight, he went from obese to overweight. And now he weighs less than he has since we were married. (The Wii Fit uses your BMI, which isn’t the best gauge as to what you should weigh, but it does give you a ballpark goal to aim for.)
7. Make friends with the scales.
Not only did Dave use the Wii Fit most mornings, he also weighed himself daily. While I thought this would do nothing but discourage me, I began to do the same and found that it was great motivation. Who knew?
8. Eat more vegetables … lots more vegetables.
We have taken to eating salad with added protein several times a week. And now that the cooler weather is upon us, I am going to look up soup and stew recipes that contain lots of vegetables. Thankfully, we both enjoy vegetables. Plus, the more we eat, the more fond of them we become.
9. Cut your portion sizes.
When people ask Dave how he lost over 40 pounds, he simply says he began walking more and cut his portions in half. He doesn’t go back for seconds and rarely eats sweets. I am not quite as disciplined as he is, but I am doing better—much better.
10. Factor in your “cheats.”
Speaking of desserts … While we haven’t become obsessive and certainly haven’t cut out sugar altogether—although there are several good reasons to do so—we are much more conscientious of the treats we choose. And we watch our portion sizes. For instance, instead of eating the entire piece of orange creamsicle cheesecake, we split it—though, trust me, I could easily have eaten the whole thing.
11. Go it alone when necessary.
There were times I was swamped with work—or quite frankly, just wasn’t up to going to the gym or walking around the neighbourhood. Still, because he was determined to get in shape, Dave went on his own. Kudos to him!
12. Stick with it.
We had a goal in mind and achieved that goal. Yet, we are determined not to lose the progress we’ve made and are continuing to walk far more than we used to and are seeking to make healthy food choices as well.
13. Listen to your body.
Last month Dave had two hernia surgeries. While walking is one of the best ways to heal and recover his strength, he tires extremely easily when working around the house. It’s important to heed instruction from health care professionals—and to listen to your body.
What are some fitness hacks that have worked for you?
Steph Beth Nickel is an author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer.