We wanted to develop 6 Tips to Boost Your Fitness Routine to help you start to exercise or get a jump on a better routine that will keep you more focused. Exercise and eating healthy has always been an important value to us, however we understand life can get in the way. Working, taking care of the kids and house, volunteering, social activities, and other obligations become factors that reduce time we can devote to working out. Read on to see how these tips can help you get into a better fitness routine!
The M &M’s illustrate an outline to do this. Megan and I build these six M&M’s into our weekly planning for exercise; and we are not talking about those chocolate colored candies. We have used the specific M&M’s listed below as best practices to help us develop a healthy fitness regimen and implement consistent habits to stay in shape. As we plan each week, daily exercise is something we make a priority due to the many health benefits that come with working out.
I started with this idea because it is the most important and is the reason we work out. There are so many health benefits to exercise including stress reduction, lowering cholesterol, burning fat and many other reasons as we all know. But you still have to ask yourself, why do I want to work out? It can be difficult to get motivated every day so there have to be “root reasons” to help push us and stay on track.
The main reason I started to exercise as one of my daily habits is my father passed away when he was only 46 from a heart attack. His lack of cardiovascular activity and the combination of eating poorly, drinking, and smoking for many years contributed to diabetes and eventually took his life due to this unhealthy lifestyle. That was a defining moment for me in my last semester in college. I never took exercise seriously enough but when this happened, it definitely impacted my decision to begin a healthier lifestyle and became a strong motivation for me to continue working out. Ever since that event, I have exercised regularly and made it a life habit.
Now, you may not have such a drastic or traumatic reason to get motivated. However, that will be priority number one: determining your motivation and use it to fuel your reason to exercise and eat healthy as part of your daily routine. It has to be something that will motivate you long term such as, I want to be here for my children, grandchildren, contribute to my church, retire in good health with my spouse. Usually motivation to fit into that wedding dress, bikini or new outfit is only a temporary goal. You want to make this lifestyle change permanent and develop the daily habits that will create long lasting changes.
Some of the other reasons we are motivated to exercise is it has become a sense of connection as a married couple. We work out together and fitness walk on the weekends together. Whenever we travel, we get up in the morning and walk on the beach or walk through a community we are visiting. Megan has always been an avid walker. Also, we motivate one another to look the best we can and to stay in shape and attractive for each other. This is a strong motivation to look and feel your best.
Whether you are a stay-at home mom or working 60 hours a week, a key idea to remember is to just move. With all the shows on Netflix and the next sports season starting, it can be challenging not to find ourselves in front of the television and sitting. Also, we sit at work, sit in the car and during other activities. It is important to find ways to move. Even chores are a good place to start, such as vacuuming the house, sweeping the garage, weeding the garden or washing the windows. You might be surprised how many calories you burn when doing simple chores. Harvard Medical School published an interesting chart showing how many calories a person burns in 30 minutes from chores and other daily activities.
Finding a way to move rather than sitting still helps burn metabolism and is also a good way to stay motivated. If we constantly sit still, it can create laziness, keep us tired and energy levels remain low. When we move, it increases heart rate, brain activity and can make us happier. Just try doing 10 jumping jacks in place and see how happy and energized you feel. If you have not been working out or exercising daily, this is a great way to take little steps and get moving. Even if you can walk 5 minutes a day to begin this habit.
Other ways to move are Pilates, yoga, bike riding, swimming, hiking and sports such as basketball/tennis. Just move.
An important part of regular exercise is building muscle or weightlifting. Now you don’t have to become Arnold Schwarzenegger and bench press 400 lbs., however lifting weights can help you with an overall fitness plan. I lift weights an average of three times a week. The primary benefit is that it builds muscle, defines body parts, and burns fat which increases metabolism and calories are burned while even at rest. There are many resources available to adopt various weightlifting programs based on your fitness level and the equipment you have access to.
You can start out weightlifting with either machines or free weights. Use whatever method works best for you and how your body responds. I used to use more free weights, but as I get older I have begun using more machines. For Megan, she prefers free weights for toning and lifting. You can also use a combination of free weights and machines. For example, when working out the biceps, I use the curl machines more because it does not strain my elbows as much as free weights do.
Weightlifting is also complimentary to cardiovascular exercise. While cardio burns calories, the weights help define your muscles and build strength. This can become beneficial especially with large muscle groups like the legs. Once you develop a consistent weight lifting routine, it will pay off as this is will help you lose weight. As I have built my muscle tone, I have seen my metabolism increase to a point where I can maintain a healthy body weight. The muscle burns more calories during recovery periods and on my days off from cardiovascular activity.
The middle section of our body is one of the hardest areas to keep trim but it is one of the most important areas to focus on. When we have excess pounds in our mid-section, it can place extra weight on the back, knees and feet that causes many problems. Additionally, many studies have linked health problems to the excess visceral fat that is stored around the organs in the midsection. Therefore, the abdominal area is so important to keep toned and slim. However, it can be a challenging area to maintain because when we eat too much sugar found in soft drinks, alcohol, desserts and white carbs, this is where the fat is mainly stored and is so hard to eliminate. What we consume is such an important factor and we will address in our next M (meals).
There are many people who have not completed a sit-up in years. This is critical addition to an exercise plan. Megan and I incorporate sit-ups daily so we can strengthen our core and work the abdominal muscles. Just like the muscles in our arms and legs, the abdomen must be strengthened as well. There are a number of core exercise work out plans on line for both beginners and advanced. The exercises can be done with the addition of hand weights or without. I focus on the three areas: obliques, upper and lower abdomen. I like to rotate the exercises to cover a different muscle group each day. The key is not to do them too fast but stop and concentrate (hold) movement when you complete a repetition. Once you begin working your abs, you will feel them get stronger, don’t forget to move. It is very critical to include cardiovascular into your routine to burn fat or your abs will be hidden under the fat.
As I have discussed the importance of physical activity, what we put into our bodies is more of a factor. Now with that being said, cardiovascular exercise and weightlifting should be a part of your overall plan. However, eating less and moving more will create faster results and more long-lasting effects on health. If you have high level of activity and create a high metabolism, then you can eat more. On the flip side, if you have less physical exercise to burn the calories, then it is wise to reduce the calories you eat. Intermittent Fasting is a great way to cut back on calories.
An important point to a healthy eating plan is not to skip breakfast. It provides fuel for your body at the start of the day and prevents you from being hungry and snacking later. We eat six small meals, including three main meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner and a morning and evening snack. Fruit and veggies are a good snack option because they are low in calories and high fiber, which fills you up. Keeping hydrated also helps you not overeat by mistaking thirst for hunger. I know it sounds basic, but when we’re working or just busy, we forget to drink water. The recommended amount of water is eight 8 oz. glasses per day. Another way to healthy eating is to eliminate snacks all together from the pantry. We don’t keep cookies, potato chips, or candy in our home. If you don’t have it, you can’t eat it.
Eating healthy meals has become a life habit and one of the main reasons for this blog. Megan has become a meal planning pro and organizes our food daily, weekly and monthly. This not only helps with our economical shopping and efficiency by not overbuying groceries, it also maintains healthy eating to support our lifestyle. We have made meal planning a habit where Megan preps and cooks the meals, and I do the grocery shopping and the dish and kitchen clean up. It helps if each family member can help out in some way- try assigning duties to each person to share the responsibilities.
Watching your calorie intake is so important both in what you drink and what you eat (that old saying you are what you eat). We watch what we put in our bodies because we learned quickly through trial and error that it makes a huge difference in our work outs and can undo all the hard work you put forth in physical exercise. Meals are the most important M principle!
We found that it is pretty easy to start working out or to lose a few pounds. But if we want to continue the goal weight we desire, then we figured out you need to maintain a consistent habit of regular exercise and eating healthy. More importantly, if we want to feel good, stay in shape and be the best person we can be to our family, friends, and colleagues, then we have to maintain our good habits.
Making time for what is important and what you value is how you maintain that daily routine. If health is not important and you are not making it a priority, ask yourself what obstacles are holding me back? If you don’t like working out then try to find some other physical activity you enjoy. If you like watching tv then do watch it while on the treadmill or elliptical. Once you start to do this for a few weeks you will have a new habit. You have to find the motivation from within to change your attitude and ask yourself if I don’t eat well and exercise, then what will happen? Potentially: heart disease, high cholesterol/blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and a shorter life span. To become healthy and in-shape, you have to reach a level of routine and maintain it over time.
In order to do this with our busy schedules, planning is the main factor. We plan what exercises we will do and what muscle groups we want to focus on that week. We also have our meal planning in place for the month and see what meals we will be eating out and plan to eat less around those events. It’s not always easy to keep these consistent habits of exercise, eating well and watching calorie intake. But the M’s are a resource for you to practice and use day in and day out to remind yourself that although it is not easy to do, you can make it a priority to motivate yourself. Learn to keep moving, build muscle, work on that mid-section, and eat healthy. This will help you to achieve the best results you want to see in your body and in your health.