So instead of giving yourself a set of hard and fast rules to make or break in the New Year, how about giving yourself a “to-do” list using my favorite fitness hacks?
Think of them as hot tips for living. No dieting and deprivation here, just some gentle suggestions that will make you a healthier and happier human being in 2015 and beyond.
- Can’t get started? Visualize the finish. As you lie in bed procrastinating about going to the gym, remember how good you’ll feel when you’re done. Visualize the payoff, not the pain, and you’re half way there.
- Think of exercise as personal upkeep. Just like flossing your teeth or tweezing stray nose hairs, exercise needs to be part of your daily routine. Your body requires upkeep of all kinds; exercise is just one more thing you do to maintain it.
- Take a group fitness class. Support can be beautiful, especially if you hate exercise. A group setting provides extra motivation, structure, and camaraderie when you need it most. Remember, misery loves company – especially when you’re suffering through a 6:30 a.m. boot camp class.
Trainers aren’t just for rich people anymore; they’re for anyone looking for more discipline, accountability, and better results from their workouts.
- Hire a trainer. Trainers aren’t just for rich people anymore; they’re for anyone looking for more discipline, accountability, and better results from their workouts. Whether you’re an elite athlete or don’t have an athletic bone in your body, hiring a trainer can take your fitness to the next level.
- Exercise in the morning. Research shows that an early morning workout is best for establishing – and sticking to – an exercise routine. An early blast of exercise endorphins before work can do wonders for your productivity and wellbeing. That, and a double espresso.
- Afternoon delight anyone? If you’re not a morning person, then get it on at lunchtime. A midday spinning class, power walk, or any kind of cardio will get your heart rate up, burn calories for the rest of the day, and prevent that 4pm work slump.
- Get more sleep. Studies show a good night’s sleep can improve learning and problem-solving skills, boost creativity, and keep the senses sharp. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and perpetual bitchiness.
- Practice meditation. I can’t say enough about the power of unplugging – if even for just a few minutes a day. Mindfulness courses like MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) and apps like Headspace teach techniques to find stillness and awareness through sitting and breathing.
- Don’t be afraid to do the work. Whether it’s working on your health, your relationships, or your life, go deep and go hard. Fixing what’s broken is the hardest and best work you’ll ever do. When it comes to self-improvement, be ruthless.
- Push yourself, but don’t kill yourself – especially when it comes to exercise. Be tough, but listen to your body. Playing with pain, not respecting your limits, or being stubborn, vain or overly competitive can only lead to one thing: a trip to the orthopedist.
- Take your workout to the great outdoors. Or at least down the block. No gym? No problem. Find a local park for your workout. Park benches are perfect for push-ups, dips, and legwork. Grassy areas are great for sit-ups, stretching, and other exercises that use your own bodyweight.
- Throw out your scale. Every time you step on your scale you become a prisoner to your weight, and a hostage to the numbers. Never allow your weight to determine your worth, your value, or your self-image. It’s unhealthy, counterproductive, and totally self-defeating.
- Exercise for your body, and your head, too. So much has been said about the effects of exercise on your body, but what about your head? Working out is the single greatest cure for depression, anxiety, and stress. Don’t believe me? Run two miles and call me in the morning.
- Find an activity you love and stick with it. If you despise the gym, don’t despair. There’s a hiking club, tennis court, running group, or bike path near you. You’ve got no excuses, so get your ass up and out.
- Practice moderation. Drink great wine and eat great food, just do it slowly and with moderation. Stop scarfing down your meals and start savoring them; taste every little flavor and texture. Food is life, and life is too short not to enjoy great food. So eat, drink, and be merry, just make sure you don’t step on a scale after.
Treva Brandon Scharf