Diet and exercise aren’t something we only do to lose weight, but for most of us, that’s how we get started on our healthy new lifestyles. So it’s a good thing to know how to do them, and do them right! While there’s no way to do diet and exercise wrong, per se, there are a lot of ways to be more effective at them, and I’d love to share some with you! Here are 20 diet and exercise tips that work.
1. Don’t Skip One (or the Other)
Diet and exercise go hand I hand in a healthy lifestyle, so don’t think of one without the other! And, more important still, don’t ever skimp or skip one and leave the other out completely, or you’re missing the entire point of changing to a healthier lifestyle.
2. Do Both, Together, Every Day!
If you’re serious about making a lifestyle change, hen it’s important to know that you’re not just dieting or just exercising a few days a week. You’re doing both, every day! Am I saying that you have to count calories every day, and live on the treadmill? No, but incorporating good diet and exercise habits into your regular everyday life is key.
3. Consider It a Lifestyle Change
Do I sound like a broken record yet? I know I keep stressing this but it’s really important. You’re not just on a diet, and you’re not just exercising to be trim and lose weight. You’re making an overall lifestyle change for the better, and that means a whole new mind-set and relationship with food, your body, and fitness in general.
4. Avoid the Word “diet,” in Fact!
In fact, you know what? Let’s just nix the word “diet” from your new vocabulary, right? Because the word “diet” has so much baggage attached to it. It implies something entirely goal-oriented. It implies torture and denial. So strike that word from your dictionary and let’s move on!
5. Get Support
When you’re starting on your path to a healthier diet and exercise lifestyle, it’s not going to be easy. You’re going to need support. So find like-minded friends and family and recruit them as your advice and support staff. They love you! They want to help you have a new, healthier lifestyle… let them help! You might end up influencing a healthy change in one of them, too!
6. Get the Tools!
Before you start any improvement project, step one is almost always to gather the right tools. Well, this is a YOU improvement project, so let’s get all the tools you need to be successful with diet and exercise! You’ll need a good pair of shoes, comfortable workout clothes, a gym membership (or the right workout equipment at home), a journal or notebook to track your progress, and cookware, since you’ll be cooking delicious, nutritious meals at home!
7. Have a Goal
Again, for success in any improvement project, you need a goal. I’m not just talking a weight goal or a dress size. I mean a really good, lifelong goal. Maybe you want to run a marathon, climb a mountain, do a cross-country mountain bike event. Pick a good goal, something that makes you excited about long-term diet and exercise in your lifestyle… then go for it!
8. Have a Plan!
And yes, you’ll also need a plan! And you don’t have to develop it yourself, either. There are loads of helpful websites (especially this one!) and DVDs and books galore. Tune in to a few and see what you think, then work out a plan.
9. Watch How You Shop
Did you know that most of the healthiest diet choices in the supermarket are on the outer edges of the interior? The fresh produce, breads, and lean proteins (meats) are all around the edge of the store. The calorie, sodium, and fat-laden prepared food, in boxes and cans, are all on the inside aisles. Stick to the outside sections, and you’ll find yourself making much healthier dietary choices!
10. Join the Gym
I would love to be able to work out at home, but it just never seems to happen. But I have found that if I’ve joined a gym, I’m much more likely to work out. There are three reasons why: no home distractions, they have the best equipment, and the other gym regulars make me feel a slight twinge of guilt when they haven’t seen me for a few days. Also, I’m cheap, so if I’m paying for a gym membership, you better believe I’m going to use it!
11. Take a Class
While I certainly do know a lot about diet and exercise, I don’t know everything, or close to it. That’s why I enjoy taking classes, about fitness at the gym or a studio, and about diet from my local community center. It’s also a great way to change things up a bit when you’re getting bored with your old routine.
12. Keep a Journal
Remember when I was listing the tools you would need for diet and exercise success? One of them was a notebook. Let’s talk more about that. You’ll want a notebook to track lots of things. First, use it to record your work out. Second, use it to keep track of what you’re eating. And last, use it to record questions you have, or little epiphanies that strike you along the way. Use it religiously at first, and every once in a while, peek back at it to see how much progress you’ve made.
13. Know Your Calories (and Serving Sizes, Too!)
What sort of things should you be tracking in the diet portion of your notebook? At first, record everything you eat, with the calorie count and everything. It might help you detect poor eating habits, but it will also help you be more conscious of serving sizes, portions, and the like. This is the time to find a good calorie-counting tool or app.
14. Take Small Steps
Sweetie, when you’re making a giant lifestyle change, especially with diet and exercise, don’t think about miracles happening overnight. Yes, some changes will be earth-shatteringly big. But don’t discount the smaller steps or successes. If you’ve just gone a week without any Pepsi, that’s a small step, but an important one. Recognize it!
15. Avoid Negativity
This is huge! You’re not going to be successful if you’re being negative, or if you’re letting someone else be a negative influence. Girl, you can do this, but only if you believe in yourself!
16. Avoid the Scale
Speaking of negative influences, the worst one of all could be lurking in your bathroom right now — the dreaded scale. Since a hard weight isn’t the best or most accurate way to gauge diet and exercise success, why are we all so attached to these horrible things? Get rid of it, or, if you just can’t part with it, at least restrict yourself to weigh ins no more than once a week.
17. Expect a Plateau
After a few months of extraordinary change with your new health diet and exercise lifestyle, you may notice a frustrating slow-down. That’s a plateau, and it’s perfectly normal. We all have them. It’s actually a positive sign that your body is adjusting! It may last a couple of weeks or more, but use this time to try something new, and don’t fret! You’re still on track, and you’re still doing a marvelous job.
18. Look for Inspiration
What, or who, inspires you? Is there a celebrity of just a regular person in your life that makes you feel excited about diet and exercise? Someone who you consider to be a success? They keep them in mind as you’re struggling… it will really help! I’m old-school: I still adore Lance Armstrong.
19. Remember, No One’s Perfect!
We all have set-backs and we all make mistakes. This is especially true when you’re making a big lifestyle change through diet and exercise. Expect that you’re going to make a mistake or two. Learn from them, don’t beat yourself up move them, and move on.
20. Talk to a Pro
Chances are, someone in your life you consider to have a healthy lifestyle has a personal trainer or a nutritionist or someone else who has helped them. If you’re at a tough spot in your diet and exercise program, consult a pro! That’s what they’re there for… and they are absolutely worth the money. What better investment is there than your health?
With so many good diet and exercise tips to help you on your way, you’ll be on the road to success, and reaping the benefits of your new healthy lifestyle in no time! Because that’s what diet and exercise are, right? Which of these tips do you think is most helpful, and why? Or do you have another effective diet and exercise tip to share?
Top Photo Credit: Edson Hong