Making it Easier to Exercise and Eat Well
by Stephanie Nickel
While asking some people to actually love exercising and eating nutritious food may be too much, there are lots of things that can be done to make healthy living more enjoyable.
Running not your thing?
That’s okay. It’s not mine either.
- It’s important to regularly raise your heart rate for a sustained period of time to improve your cardiovascular system, but there are many ways to do so: walking, hiking, and swimming for example.
Do you get bored while doing cardio?
- Listen to your favourite tunes.
- If you’re walking indoors on a treadmill or elliptical machine, watch your favourite TV show.
- Like many things, it’s more fun if you do it with a friend.
Scared of lifting weights?
- It might be a good idea to hire a personal trainer to put together a program custom designed just for you.
- Begin by lifting light weights and pay close attention to your form. As your confidence and strength increase, so can the weights.
- Purchase a beginner’s DVD and follow along.
- Join a group exercise class like BodyPump.
Just plain hate exercising?
- Do a little research and make a list of the benefits of regular exercise. (Achieving and sustaining a healthy weight is just one reason.)
- Try something new. It could be that you just haven’t found the right activity yet. (A recreational sports league. Extreme sports challenges. Tennis. Martial arts. Dance. The list is virtually endless.)
- Talk to an exerciser who used to feel the same way you do—and maybe still does some days.
Addicted to sugar and processed foods?
I won’t lie. There are days I have to deliberately make the healthier choices . . . and some days I don’t even bother.
But I know something . . .
- The more I make the better choices, the more I want to. There is something about even a little knowledge (this food is good for such and so) that makes it very satisfying to eat well. It all starts in the mind.
- Each week, incorporate one more good eating habit.
- If going cold turkey is your best option, get the encouragement and support you need. And remember slipping up and eating that one cookie doesn’t mean you should eat the whole bag—or even the whole row. (You may suffer some detoxing effects at first—headaches and the like. Know this is natural but not the case for everyone.)
- Try fresh fruit to satisfy your sugar craving.
- Prep as many ingredients ahead of time as possible. That way meal prep won’t take near so much time at the end of a busy day. Ordering takeout or popping a frozen pizza in the oven won’t be as tempting.
Never liked veggies?
- When I was growing up we ate canned vegetables and those that we boiled were just shy of mushy. (We did, however, learn about cooking veggies just long enough to make them tender-crisp before I moved out. Much better.)
- Try a variety of vegetables. Check out recipes online and find out how to properly prepare them.
- Keep cut-up veggies available for a quick, nutritious snack. Instead of a high calorie dip, use a little of your favourite salad dressing. (I love toasted sesame myself.)
Think it’s all just too overwhelming?
- Make an itemized list of why you would like to exercise and eat healthy—or why you want to want to. 😉
- Purchase an appealing new cookbook. (My rule of thumb is to flip through the book before buying it. If I would gladly make at least four of the first six recipes I read, I figure it’s a good purchase. Take into account if the ingredients are readily available. Some ethnic cookbooks list things I’ve never heard of.)
- Grab a friend and sign up for a dance or martial arts class. Try something you’ve always wanted to do.
- Don’t try to change everything at once. Choose one or two things to change each week and go for it.
- Find a supportive friend, family member, or online community, someone just a little further along the fitness journey than yourself. Look to them for encouragement—while realizing they may need a cheerleader from time to time as well. Share your victories and your setbacks. Spur one another on.
- If you stumble, get up, brush yourself off, and try again.
Check out Other Articles by Stephanie Nickel