Becoming Healthier & Fitter For Life

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha

As we reached the last month of the year, it is the perfect time to reflect upon what we’ve accomplished the past 11 months as well as to set ourselves goals for the coming year. Chances are, shedding a few extra pounds is one of your top goals. If you happen to have had that particular goal on your list of resolutions for the past few years and have yet to succeed in making it happen, it is likely that you’re starting to feel a little bit jaded and wondering whether you should just give up on the goal altogether.

It’s always crucial to remind ourselves that nothing worth having is ever easy to come by. This certainly applies to losing weight and making it stick. Having had my weight fluctuate for most of my adult life, I understand first-hand the frustration you may have experienced and struggled with. Strangely enough, over the years, I have come to realize that the most effective way of losing weight and not having to gain it all back again (and then some..) is actually not to make losing weight your goal.

This may sound contradictory, but hear me out.

We’ve all seen countless companies advertising their so-called miracle pills and fast crash diets that promise instant weight loss without us having to invest much time or effort to do so. If you’ve  tried out any of these products or diet plans, it is likely that you probably find yourself either not losing the weight or having gained the weight back as soon as you stopped the diet or stopped taking the pills.

Deep down we all know that the only sane, effective and lasting way to lose weight and have it last a lifetime is to eat healthy and exercise. The truth is, if you truly desire to be in the best health and shape of your life,  it would require a lifestyle change and this would require your commitment of time and effort. With that said, believe that your health and fitness is worth the investment because even if we were to have all the wealth and riches in the world, if we do not have our health, we would not be able to live and to enjoy our lives to the best of our abilities.

Ask yourself the following  question: “Do I want to live as long and happy as I could possible can and wake up each morning with more energy to make the most out of life?”

If your answer is a resounding “Yes!“, it is time to shift your focus on getting skinny or losing the weight to focusing on making healthier choices, eating well and getting active. You’ll find that when you do this, astonishingly, the weight will take care of itself.

Carl Sandburg, a celebrated poet and author, once wisely said “It’s not that some people have will power and some don’t, it’s that some people are ready to change and others are not“. Everyone has will power and this certainly includes you. However, in order to become healthy and fit for life, we must be willing and ready to make a lifestyle change.

Should you feel confident that you are ready for this life changing commitment, here are some simple tips I personally have found to be effective. Who knows? They may just help you to be in your best shape and health for the rest of your life!

1. Do Not Deprive Yourself.

Most of us are familiar with the concept of reverse psychology: when one is told to NOT do something, more often than not, that person will do the very thing that he/she had been prohibited to do. So when we tell ourselves NOT to have a slice of that chocolate cake, NOT have that piece of chocolate or NOT to indulge on a steak dinner, chances are, we will end up contradicting ourselves and bingeing on the food that we were not supposed to have in the first place.

Whilst it is true that we must make healthier choices, in order to lead a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable, do occasionally cut yourself some slack and let yourself eat anything you want with a caveat that you must do so moderately.  This way , you won’t feel as if you are being deprived of the food you love and have your efforts backfire.

Be sure to also keep in mind of portion control – for example,  if you previously used to eating a whole bag of chips in one sitting as a snack, take out 1/3 to 1/2 of the bag of chips out and place it in a bowl and put the rest away for your next snack time.

2. Practice Mindful Eating.

Research shows that when one consume their meal while being distracted with other tasks such as eating while watching television or eating while working on the computer, he/she tends to have larger meal portions than if they were to focus on enjoying the meal itself. During your meals, focus your attention on the food and give your taste buds time to enjoy the burst of flavor of your meal and savor every delicious bite.

3. Prepare Your Own Meals.

I adore food and I absolutely love checking out restaurants but I found that it makes it harder to apply portion control and be mindful of what I eat. Though I don’t exactly restrict myself from eating out, I’ve made a point to prepare meals more often. This way, not only am I able to determine the ingredients to the meals I’m preparing, portion control becomes much easier to apply. As a bonus, cooking often can be therapeutic and it gives you a chance to try out new, delicious recipes and sharpen off your cooking skills. It truly is a win-win situation.

4. Share it or Doggy Bag it, Please.

When eating  out, it is still very much possible for you to keep practicing portion control. Restaurant portions do tend to be significantly larger than what would be considered as a reasonable portion. So if you feel that your meal’s portion is far too large, don’t hesitate to either share it with others you’re dining with or to doggy bag it (take it home) for your next meal.

5. Juice It Up!

For those of you who aren’t too keen of fruits and vegetables or finding it a hassle in ensuring that you consume enough of it regularly, juicing may be a great alternative. Pick your own juice recipes (countless recipes available on the web) or make your own concoction, either way, juicing can be an effective and delicious way of getting all the goodness you get from fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.

6. Drink More H2O.

Our body consists of about 60% water, so it makes sense that we need to make sure we consume plenty of water to keep ourselves fully hydrated. “Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day,” says Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute, an industry group.

While water doesn’t have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help. As a 100% all natural liquid, water provides a bevy of health benefits and not to mention helps to keep your skin hydrated and healthy.The ideal amount of water one should consume is about 8 glasses (2 liters) per day.

For those who prefer their beverages with a hint of flavor, why not add lemon, lime and/or cucumber to give it your daily water intake a little zest.

7. Get Active!

Getting a fitter (and healthier) body becomes more effortless when you adopt an active lifestyle. However, if you happen to have desk job which makes it difficult you to move around much during the work days, you may have to make a bit of an extra effort to make the most of every movement. You can do so by using the stairs instead of taking the elevator, taking a walk after your having lunch, or hitting the gym before or after work.

Either way, it’s important to get your heart pumping for a min of 30 minutes a day at least 3 times a week but be sure that you enjoy your cardio activity of choice. Nothing spoils a fitness regimen than you feeling that it’s an obligation rather than an enjoyment. Hence, if you are the type who gets bored easily, choose to mix up your activities. Try out different kinds of activities,  whether it is different types of dance, sports or yoga, the key is to get your body moving and to have fun while doing so.

8. Get on Board with Weight Training.

You are probably already aware that developing muscles is one of the best ways to increase your rate of metabolism. With regular weight training, you may be able to significantly boost your body’s ability to burn fat and calories. Though most males often include weight training as their fitness regimen, females often opt out of weight training for the fear that it may make their body appearing masculine.

Contrary to most beliefs, women can easily sculpt muscles and become leaner through weight training. The key here is to use light weights and focus on repetition. Nevertheless, if you find that weight training isn’t quite your thing, regular practice of yoga and/or Pilates are also effective ways to achieve a leaner and fitter body.

Interested in yoga? whether you are a beginner or an advance yogi, head on over to BookYogaRetreats.com for a wealth of resources on yoga as well as to find, compare and book great yoga focused retreats available all over the globe.

Well, there you have it – a couple of simple yet effective tips to get you in the best shape of your life. As always, take what resonates with you and leave the rest. But always keep in mind that change starts and ends with YOU.  Make a conscious decision to commit the time and effort necessary to get where you want to be once and for all. With that, I shall leave you with a little reminder..

It's about *Making* time…

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