Stop being overwhelmed with the everyday struggles to be healthier.
Studio 5 Health and Fitness Contributor, Melanie Douglass shares the five simple fitness changes you should make today.
When it comes down to it, there are three keys to good health: daily exercise; a clean diet; and solid sleep time. All three are equally essential to help you feel your best, look your best and be your best. And all three require motivation to execute on a daily basis. Serious motivation. You can’t buy it or take a pill for it; I can’t give it you. The motivation you need has to come from within… from you! How do you find it? You do small, doable things that prime your mind to think and feel in a healthier state. Those small things put your mind, body and spirit on the right track. A track that plants seeds of motivation that grow stronger with each tiny step you take.
These five changes are very strategic. They are simple. They work together to wake up your muscles, give your metabolism a kick, make you eat a healthier dinner (tonight!) and lower your stress level in that key hour before bed. You’ll find your mind in a successful place that says: “Sweet! I did that… and I think I can do more tomorrow.”
Make these changes, starting right now:
Change #1: Do 10 Chair Stand-ups
These are essentially squats. They rock for firing up all the large muscles in your lower body, like your glutes, quads, hamstrings and core. They also improve your balance and functional strength.
What ever you are sitting on right now is perfect for this exercise. Use your hands to stand up straight. Then with the chair/couch directly behind you, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and toes forward. Push your weight through your heels, keep your chest up, and lower down until your glutes are just above the chair (don’t sit down, just hover). Hold for 4 seconds. Then stand back up. Repeat as often as you like.
Change #2: Lift Something… 5 Extra Times
Chances are you will lift something today: a baby, a bag of groceries, a computer… something. When you find yourself lifting something up, simply repeat the motion at least 5 times. You are doing it anyway! Just do it with more force and intention, at least 5 times.
Change #3: Have a “Go-To” Snack On Hand
At some point today, you are going to be in a hurry… and hungry. These are the moments that spiral into 1000-calorie insta-food choices. If you have a solid 100-300 calorie survival snack on hand, you’ll avoid derailing your entire day over one hurried choice.
It can be anything. An apple, string cheese, 24 almonds, a protein shake. But the rule is it has to be fresh, or full of fiber/protein. The point is have it ready. My current favorite “save-me” snack is a G2G Almond bar. Yummy! I eat a whole bar as a meal, or half a bar as a snack.
Change #4: Make Veggies the Highlight of Dinner
The recipe you need to find tonight is one for veggies. Asparagus? Kale? Squash? Pick a veggie, find a new recipe and you’ll be shocked at how much easier (and lighter) dinner is tonight. Sure you can have meat too, even bread. But if your focus/center is veggies, your side dishes will be simple… and likely cleaner.
My current favorite is Apple Cider Brussels Sprouts. They take a whopping 10 minutes to cook and I can serve with lean chicken, or steak. A big serving of veggies, a little meat and some fruit for dessert. Voila. Delish and easy. Here’s the recipe: http://www.thevintagemixer.com/2010/01/evas-brussels-sprouts/
Change #5: Downward Dog Before Bed
The downward dog is a yoga pose/stretch that is perfect to open your chest, stretch your entire body and clear your head. It will give you some oxygen and help you feel calmer as you climb into bed… leading to better sleep.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend forward and walk your hands out until your body is in a plank position (hands under your shoulders). Curls your toes under and push your hips up toward the ceiling so your body forms an upside down “V” shape. Straighten your arms and push your shoulders toward your knees. Press your heels downward. Elongate your spine and push your weight equally through your hands. Hold this position for 5 deep, opening breaths. Then push back to plank and repeat a few more times, until you feel more relaxed and calm.