January 17, 2015

New Year Health Goals: Getting Started

It’s that time of year again…the time of year when everyone sets new goals for themselves. Most likely, the most popular goal among adults (I know I’m guilty) is to improve our health in some way. If this wasn’t true, then we wouldn’t see a slew of weight loss advertisements everywhere we look at the first of every year!

Whether you are looking to improve your health because you have an important event coming up (wedding, reunion, vacation, etc.), your medical needs require it or you just want to look and feel better when summer rolls around, chances are that you are going to have to address your daily diet and exercise routine.

At Kids Formal, we actually see a lot of people come through our doors who are in the process of achieving their health goals. After all, why do people come and buy formal wear for their children? Usually, it’s because there is a special event coming up and they need to look their best. And, when the kids need to look their best, a lot of time so do the parents. Special events have a tendency to give people the motivation they need to start focusing on their health.

While it’s great to set a goal to improve your health, even if it’s just because you want to look better, you aren’t going to be able to accomplish anything if you don’t have a plan in place before you start. Below are a few things you can do to ensure you start on the “right foot.”

1. Consult with a professional. While a lot of people go out and hire a personal trainer to help them accomplish their fitness goals, that isn’t necessary when you’re just getting started. Please don’t misunderstand me, if you prefer to work with a personal trainer, then go for it because these are professionals who will be able to help you. However, if you aren’t wanting to spend $90+ an hour, per week, for personal training, you can still consult a professional and get the help you need.

The health and fitness industry is one that’s full of easily accessible information! Take a little time to Google personal trainers, bodybuilders, fitness competitors, etc. to find a professional who has accomplished what you are trying to accomplish. Read through various forums and online articles because you will find some of them mention names of people who helped them achieve their goals.

If you are pressed for time, a great place to start is with Bill Phillips. He has two books out that will help you tremendously: Body for Life and Eating for Life. Both of these books will help you develop an immediate plan for achieving your health goals through diet and exercise.

2. Buy a food scale. You might think it’s a little obsessive to weigh your food before you eat it, but if you want to accurately measure your macros (protein, carbs and fat) then you have to have a food scale so you know the right amount of macros. You can find a good food scale for around $25, but you can definitely find them for over $50 if you want to get one with all the “bells and whistles.” Regardless of how much you spend on one, you will need it.

3. Plan your meals. You aren’t going to be able to get away with eating whenever the urge strikes you anymore. This can lead to overeating and, believe it or not, not eating enough – both will hinder your fitness goals. So, take the time to plan out when you will eat your meals the night before the day in question. You should be eating something at least every 2-3 hours to ensure your metabolism is running at its best.

4. Cook ahead. Obviously, if you are going to plan your meals ahead of time you will need to start cooking ahead of time too! I like to set aside an evening on the weekend (usually Sunday) for cooking. I will cook all the meat and veggies I need for the week. It probably seems like this will take up a lot of time, but the truth is that it actually saves time during the week because I spend about 5 minutes preparing my dinner (and my family’s) each night. And, before I head out for the day, I simply pack a lunch with enough food so that I can eat every 2-3 hours. The best benefit for cooking and preparing meals in advance is that I don’t give in to cravings or make bad choices nearly as often (I’m human, so it does happen occasionally) when I’ve got my food ready to go!

5. Find a great protein powder. If you do the math and figure eating every 2-3 hours a day, then you realize that you will be eating about six small meals a day. Not every one of these meals needs to be a traditional meal. You just need a healthy blend of protein and carbs. This is why two or three of my meals every day are protein shakes/smoothies. All you need to do is find a great protein powder. I prefer to mix mine in plain almond milk, but some people use water and others use low-fat milk – it’s really what works best for you.

Hopefully, you’ve found these tips helpful and feel like you are a little closer to achieving your health goals then you were when you started reading it. Just remember, you’ve got to have a plan in place before you can expect to reach your goals (this is true in anything, not just health and fitness).

Good luck in achieving your health and fitness goals in 2015!