10 Small Steps for Weight Loss and Better Health
Whether you want to lose weight, be more productive, or be healthier and happier, these simple habits change everything!
Have you ever looked at someone in the gym or the beach and thought, “Wow! I would love to look like that!” Newsflash! It may seem crazy but those who seem to have it all together usually have something they’re working on.
Whether you are practically perfect, have pesky 5 pounds to lose, or have a little further to go, here are 10 small steps that will make you healthier.
1. Here’s one you’ll like! To set the stage for a great day; get your Zs!
Got recovery? Get sleep! Your body always has rejuvenation, repair, and restoring to do, but even more so when you are exercising regularly. Make sleep your priority and get at least 7 hours, preferably 8 to 9 hours per night. Per night. PER NIGHT. Not only will your body be healthier, leaner, and repair/restore better, your mood will be better, and your productivity during the day will soar!
2. Another easy one; Pop up, Drink up!
First thing in the morning, have some water with lemon. Bam! Ditch the coffee if you want a game changer. Add a little lemon juice, and voila! Your body is prepped for the third one:
3. Start the day with a stretch!
Ever wonder why yogis call the most basic flow in yoga “Sun Salutations?” They know this secret: the first order of the day should be to open the body and move in a gentle way. Sun Salutations are great. They are easy to memorize allowing you to go on autopilot and focus on YOU. But any stretch routine will do the trick. Make sure you stretch those hammies and quads, open your chest, and breathe! Email and Internet first thing in the morning takes your focus off yourself and onto other people’s agenda. Start the day caring for YOU.
4. Get real!
Processed foods have added sugars and chemicals to give them a long shelf life and make the palatable. Energy bars are no exception. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to create a healthy day’s menu. If it looks a lot like how it looked on the farm, it’s probably a good choice. Need packable snacks for a bike ride or day on the go? Use a baggie. Eat like the pros; pack bananas, sweet potatoes, homemade bars, and our fav: PB&J sandwiches cut into quarters.
5. Make it fun!
Have you ever been to an event surrounded by people wearing tutus and silly costumes? It is not only fun for the onlookers, but it’s even more fun for the brain-stormers who planned it. Almost any college or professional sporting event has people wearing face-paint, silly masks, hats, matching clothes, and costumes.
You don’t have to dress up to have fun though. Friendliness to those around you goes a long way toward making others happy with the biggest beneficiary: you!
6. Buddy Up!
There is nothing like getting a text, “WHERE ARE YOU???” to help with consistency. According to a 2012 study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, cyclists who rode together exercised twice as long as those who pedaled alone. Many studies confirm that exercising with a buddy or in a small group aids in consistency.
Not only do your homies help you stay at it longer, studies also show that performance increases when you exercise with a group; people try harder. When your buddy is killing it, you are likely to do the same!
Don’t have a workout buddy? Do a friend a favor and invite them to join you. Your invitation could literally save their life. And don’t forget Strava and other social media outlets that allows fitness enthusiasts, cyclists and runners to keep connected.
7. Be quick but don’t hurry
One of the best coaches of all time, John Wooden, coined the term, “Be quick but don’t hurry.” He was teaching his basketball players to stay calm when things got fast and furious. An awesome benefit about sport: what you learn in the mental realm is applicable to all areas of life. Self-calming techniques involving mindful breathing and meditation to slow you down, allowing you to think clearly, calmly, even in the face of stress. Ever hear someone mention they were in “the zone?” With mental practice, you can get there too: that place where time slows down; the faster you go, the more in control you feel.
Practice breathing so that the air travels to the lowest lobes of the lungs, hold the breath a few seconds, then let it out with control.
On that note: studies have shown that cyclists and other endurance athletes can increase performance with breath manipulation. As you get close to your aerobic threshold, manipulate your breath by bringing air in deeper to your lungs, holding it just a split second longer. This gives the lungs more time to transfer oxygen through the alveoli into the blood stream. Studies have shown that this technique can increase performance up to 12%.
8. Fix your Fascia
Foam rollers have become extremely popular in the last decade because of the remodeling they can do for those tight spots and trigger points. When you roll, target your muscles (not bone) and look for areas of tenderness and pain. If there is an area that is very sensitive, stay on that spot, melting into it mindfully until it releases. With time, foam rolling will reap awesome benefits!
9. Posture is King!
Are you building your house on sand or stone? If the foundation is bad, sooner or later the house is bound to fall; weak links usually collapse. Whether you are sitting at work, watching TV, strength training, riding your bike, walking or enjoying a meal, organize optimal posture and make it your first and most important exercise habit. Extra credit benefit: it will engage your abs making them stronger, more functional, with a flatter profile than all the crunches in the world.
10. Sit Less!
Do you sit for a living? The simple fix: get up. Hourly. If you can, invest in an ergonomic desk that allows for sitting and standing, or use triggers to remind you to stand and move. Do you really need to sit for phone calls? How about that email or text to someone down the hall? Get up, walk to your contact and have a conversation.
Cyclists beware. We sit for work, we sit in the car, we sit at home, and then for exercise we sit some more. Granted sitting on a bike is awesome and works your heart, your lungs, and your muscles for starters. But cyclists, all cyclists, would benefit greatly by adding some walking and/or running into their week.
Where did the phrase come from, “Sitting is the new smoking”? From studies showing the detrimental effects of sitting being not unlike the detrimental effects of smoking. Granted, some of the effects of smoking were different than sitting, but the overall mortality rates attributed to both were equal.
So get out there and walk! Get your sleep, start the day with your self-care in mind. Stand tall and find your fun with friends! Little changes make for big sustainable results that have profound effects on your health, longevity, quality of life, and wellness.