I just turned 34. I thought I would have a lot more figured out by now but I've also done one thing better than I ever imagined; I'm my fittest right now. Everyone always told me that the older you get, the less fit you become - especially as a woman. But they were dead wrong.
The truth is that it is harder to stay fit than at 24 but it's much less challenging than I thought it would be. That's because I practice a few healthy habits and healthy tips that make all the difference. Try these and you'll find a healthy you too!
These six things, collectively, have brought me more focus, strength and flexibility than I've had my entire life. I am more fit now because of these healthy habits than I ever was when running x6 a week, calorie counting and training in gym for hours. I am also the most pain-free I've ever been (no back, knee or shoulder pain) and that is priceless. So here they are....my top healthy tips for feeling strong, fit and pain-free at any age!
The wellness world of today likes to talk about Mindful Drinking like it's a new trend but in fact those of us who have been healthy for a few years have always practiced this healthy habit.
Similar to Mindful Eating, Mindful Drinking is about consuming in a responsible way for your body. It allows you to find both balance and enjoyment with alcohol. Mindful drinking involves drinking what you like (vs. choosing just based on calories,) being present as you drink (e.g. avoiding screens or guzzling down shots) and stopping yourself at a reasonable number of drinks for YOU and the current situation.
Overly restrictive diets don't work long-term because a) we don't have control over every single eating situation we find ourselves in and b) we rebel and throw them off once we get to a breaking point. As challenging as a restrictive diet is, maintaining it is MUCH MUCH harder.
The good news is that being healthy and fit do not require that you follow a restrictive diet. Instead, you can make smart, balanced choices. Smart choices include strategic food cuts.
Certain foods are higher in nutrients than other (healthy vs. unhealthy.) If you can mostly eat the highest nutrient foods per calorie, you'll find it easy to maintain or improve your health. This means that it's often helpful to cut out certain foods. You're not cutting them forever or all the time - just strategically.
The biggest cuts that I've made in my daily diet are cheese, fried foods, pasta, white rice and sugary drinks. These cuts have improved my muscular definition (tone), skin quality, digestion and energy levels.
Now, as a certified nutrition specialist, I'm not saying these same cuts will necessarily be for you. However, these are often culprits of energy lag, skin issues and indigestion in many individuals. Cutting them out from your daily diet (not forever or always) can make a big difference.
For many years, I was both an emotional eater and a restrictive eater; I severely restricted my calories and I went to food to help with boredom, stress, etc. A byproduct of being this way is that I always felt food guilt if I indulged. I could never just eat something unhealthy and forget about it. I would obsess about it, cut my calories even further the next day or exercise like a maniac. This was a vicious, unsustainable and unhappy cycle.
As I got older, I gradually removed the calorie restrictions and emotions that I had associated with food. Instead, I began to just eat healthy most of the time and indulge occasionally.
Once you remove the restrictions from your diet or the need to be 100% perfect, you'll gradually see emotions around food disappear too. It takes time but this is the single best healthy tip I can give you. There is nothing like occasionally indulging in less healthy food and feeling ZERO guilt about it afterwards.
I have a naturally curvy body with thick thighs, wide hips and a big old bum. For years I wanted to be different though, I wanted to be narrow and slim. Now, I'm very happy with my shape and because of that I choose workouts and exercises that accentuate what I already have naturally.
As a personal trainer, I've found that this is the best approach for clients as well. If you can accept your natural shape, instead of trying to make it radically different, you can get that body confidence that makes a healthy lifestyle easier and less of a depressing chore.
I experience much more fitness gains doing workouts that help define my lower body (e.g. barre) rather than killing myself with workouts to strip it down (e.g. excessive amounts of cardio.)
I may never get a thigh gap but that's ok because this is my natural body shape and I'm giving it what it needs. If you do this as well, you'll find that your fitness gains accelerate.
After years of running x6 a week and killing myself with heavy machines in the gym, I finally switched to lower resistance, lower impact workouts. This switch allows me to train and NEVER feel muscles cramps, lower back pain or reduced flexibility. I am still as strong as I ever was but it's just accomplished in a different way.
Consistent (aka regular) functional movement is essential for your health. Whether you prefer to lift heavier weights, run or do other high impact training, it doesn't matter. Functional movement must be a part of your weekly training in order to keep your flexibility, to avoid injury and to reduce joint or muscular pain.
Similar to functional training, flexibility training is essential to your health. Unfortunately, this is often the aspect of fitness that is so often pushed to the side or reduced to two minute stretches after a workout. Flexibility is critical because it allows you to not only avoid injury but also to work out more effectively; your lunges will be deeper, your squats will use the right muscles, etc. The ideal is to do five to ten minutes EVERY day of stretching or yoga in order to keep your muscles moving well and performing at the highest level.
As you train the body, so too should you train the mind. Meditation is not only helpful with stress (a common culprit of persistent weight gain or loss) but also critical in developing deeper focus. Deeper focus, in turn, will keep you disciplined in your goals and habits. Meditation is the healthy tip that unites everything else you do - from healthier eating to smarter movement.
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