The hardest part about getting into a healthy and fit groove is getting started. And when you’re already trying to maintain your work-life balance, it gets even harder. As you embark upon that journey towards a healthier you, there will be times when you’re not sure what you should and should not do. Keep these 5 dos and donts in mind to stay motivated for good.
1. Don’t Count Calories
Sure, being aware of calories is important for portion control—but you don’t need to do it to lose weight. What’s more important is the nutritional value of your foods. Plus, counting calories isn’t fun, and it might just make you anxious. Instead, focus on having protein and fiber at every meal. I’m talking leafy greens, apples, healthy fats. Enjoy eating five times a day—three meals and two snacks.
2. Don’t Cut Back on Sleep
Skimping on sleep causes numerous problems. Short-term, it impacts your alertness and energy levels, and can even result in weight gain. Longer term, it weakens your immune system, increases anxiety, and increases risk of high blood pressure. To make sure you’re sleeping longer and better, limit caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and computer screen time 4 hours before bedtime. Avoid highly-spiced, heavy and sugary foods late at night. And consider treating yourself to a nice sleep mask. The reduced exposure to light can improve sleep quality and increase REM time. Need some help staying on top of your sleep? Don’t forget to track your Zs with your Fitbit!
3. Do 5 Minutes of Resistance Training Daily
This doesn’t mean you only need to move five minutes per day. But, at the same time, if you’re not into working out, don’t worry about signing up for a gym membership or going on an hour-long run. Research shows short, intense workouts can be more effective than longer workouts, and variation is as essential as intensity for the most efficient workout. Pick one exercise per day—a different body part each day of the week—and get fit gym-free! Don’t worry about overdoing it by exercising it every single day. Just be sure you’re continuing to eat well.
4. Don’t Be Efficient
It makes sense that you would take the elevator or that you would choose the closest parking spot if it’s available. But you’re depriving yourself of effortless ways to add more movement to your day. Instead of setting aside time for an afternoon walk, try little things like parking your car at the end of the lot or walking up two flights of stairs. Make lunch dates at places within walking distance of your office. Or get off the the bus or subway one stop earlier on your commute to and from work.
5. Do Treat Yourself
Feeling deprived has sabotaged many a diet. And there’s nothing worse than forbidding yourself to eat that slice of birthday cake, and then feeling guilty when you eventually cave in and have a portion. Give yourself two guilt-free meals each week where you can splurge a little. Enjoy a scoop of ice cream for dessert, or a hot dog at the ball game!
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This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.