Being physically fit definitely contributes to being mentally fit. A study by Arizona State has proven the positive effects related to mental health, through physical fitness. Findings showed that consistent exercise decreased feelings of anxiety and depression, and increased self-esteem, ability to deal with stressful situations, and contributed to better sleep patters. It is also hypothesized that regular exercise can combat the onset of depression (although further study needed to be done). Today, it is estimated that 1 out of every 5 Americans will suffer from some form of mental illness at least once in their lifetime. Regardless of race, gender, age, or economic background- mental health is something that affects us all and this is even more reason to care for ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. All three factors are imperative to our well-being.
Now, remember this isn't about being skinny, the the key words are PHYSICALLY FIT, which incorporate physical activity and healthy well balanced food selections. When I signed up for my gym membership, my vision of what I wanted to accomplish was pretty simple, I just wanted to get back into "woot woot shape." Simple as that! Yet, somewhere since my time preparing for Miss America (sooo many years ago) and now my body seemed to have forgotten just what that entailed. As I set forth on my fitness journey I embraced the vision of what I wanted my outcome to be. This quickly took a different turn during my physical fitness assessment with the complimentary trainer that came with my new gym membership. So, there I was in my gym attire, hair pulled back, motivated, and ready to go full force and only 30-seconds into my first set of high-knees I was despising the muscled human standing in front of me as he was telling me to give it all I had. Little did he know that I was giving it all I had...to not pass out! Suddenly reality set in again and I was overcome by emotions and guilt for neglecting to properly care for the vessel that gets me through each day, my body. How could I treat it so badly after all it has done for me?
In meeting with the trainer, I was able to see exactly what I was working with in terms of my weight, body fat and overall body mass index (BMI). The results were no bueno, but something I needed to face. The number on the scale didn't bother me as much as knowing what could happen if I didn't start being proactive about my physical health. Unhealthy weight and body-fat, increase chances of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (especially in women).
A long-term goal and plan were set in place to lose 30 lbs overall, tone up, and decrease body fat. I then broke this up into short-term goals of 4 week increments, with the focus on losing 1-lb a week and getting to the gym at least 3 x's a week for no less than 30 minutes. Finding a gym that I liked was important. I made a few rounds and finally decided on the following things 1. location (closer the gym, the more likely I would go) 2. Variety in machines and classes (this meant I wouldn't get bored). The next step was actually more difficult and dealt with nutrition. You can workout for hours, but if you're not eating the right food results will be hard to come by. I signed up for a free online program called "Lose It." It has been one of the greatest tools to keeping me on track and so easy! Everyday I input what I eat and it calculates my calorie intake in relation to what my fitness goals are. In addition, I am able to see if I'm balanced in what I'm eating. From this I realized that there was a SERIOUS need for more vegetables and fruit (vegetables....ewww).
I am currently going on week 7 of my fitness journey to get into "woot woot" shape and feel great! I am down almost 7 lbs, which is right on target with my plan to lose 1 lb a week. I haven't measured myself just yet, but clothes are starting to fit more loose. It has not been easy, but the key is consistency and patience. I have really gotten to know my body better and every time I go to the gym, I view it as my way of giving it thanks. From time to time, I'll be posting updates on my progress and additional tips I learn along the way. Again, I am by no means a professional in this area and if you are going to start a new fitness routine, you should definitely talk to your doctor and someone who is certified in this area. Most importantly, don't be too hard on yourself. Losing weight and getting fit is one of the most difficult tasks I have had to encounter, but being consistent in making good choices- both physical and in what you eat will surely pay off! Good luck on your journey! :)
Tips from Ane's Shiny Locker Room:
- EAT: Yes, you MUST eat. 5-6 small meals throughout the day. My daily routine looks like this. Do what feels best for your body. This is what seems to be working well with me to not feel hungry all the time.
- Breakfast- oatmeal w/ honey handful of almonds and a glass of water
- Snack- banana w/ peanut butter and green tea glass of water
- Lunch- some type of protein (chicken, tuna, salmon), 1 cup of veggies, and a carb such as potato, rice, or pasta and glass of water
- Snack- banana with peanut butter or handful of almonds with yogurt and glass of water
- Pre-gym- I'll have either a protein shake or another banana about an hour before gym
- Dinner- Some type of Protein, and 2 cups of veggies
- Choices, Choices, Choices: Everything we do has a choice. Remember only you have the power to make the right choices that will lead you to succeed. Remember to always think about the choices you're making. Is there something healthier you could have instead of the slice of pie? Instead of watching Tv could you go outside for a walk instead?
- Cheat Day: I allow myself to have one cheat day every week. It's the best day ever and I eat whatever I want without feeling guilty. If I know I'm heading to an event, then I will make that my one cheat day instead so I can enjoy myself. However, what I have found is that on cheat day I usually don't splurge as much as I thought. Also, as time goes on I have found myself craving healthier foods like carrots.
- Events: If I'm going to a party or get together, I already assume there will be unhealthy items on the menu, so I try to eat a little something before and also pack some healthy snacks in my purse like nuts and a banana. Cake is one of my weaknesses, so I just stay away from that side of the room all together. However, if you find yourself about to cave have a small slice to cure your craving and remember that cheat day is just around the corner
- Be Prepared: I always have food of some sort in my purse, whether it's nuts, a protein bar, or apple/banana I am prepared to feed hunger when it strikes, especially if I'm out. I've realized that I make poor food choices when I'm hungry.
- Fruits and Veggies: I am not a fan of vegetables, so I try to find unique ways to incorporate them into my daily diet. Each week I try a new vegetable and/or fruit. I have also found that blending in a cup of Spinach into my protein shakes isn't so bad after all!
- Anther trick that has worked for me is to write the name of each vegetable I have in my fridge on pieces of paper. I put them in a cup, mix the pieces of paper around, select one, and TA DA! That is my vegetable of the day. :) You can do the same thing with fruit.
- H2O aka Water: I am not a big fan of water (hey just being honest), but it is critical to keeping my body and mind healthy. A majority of people are dehydrated and most headaches are caused by not drinking enough water. So here are some tips that have helped me.
- I add some extra helpers to my water such as sliced cucumbers (my favorite), mint leaves, lemon, or oranges. Not only does it taste better, but it looks kinda fancy.
- Soda, coffee, other: If I could survive off of Coca-Cola I'd be one happy gal! I love that stuff! However, with all the sugar there is no way I will reach my goal so I save my soda for cheat day or no more than twice a week if I absolutely cannot handle my cravings. However, as time has gone my cravings have decreased. Coffee is awesome, but the fancier the name the more calories it most likely has. I've traded my caramel machiatto for just plain Folgers hazelnut flavored coffee grinds and a splash of almond milk w/ honey (saves me loads of $ also). Just as with soda, the more time I stay away from it the less I crave it. I noticed this after about 4 weeks, so again be patient with yourself.
- Gym Time=Fun Time: I think of the gym the same way I use to think about going to the playground as a kid. It's fun time! Changing the way I think about my time in the gym has really impacted my attitude. Also, when I'm at the gym it's my time to think about my goals, focus on myself as a person, get stronger physically, and clear my mind. Add in some amazing music and an hour goes by so fast!
- Remember- when you're at the gym it's YOUR time. Do not waste it watching other people or chatting with friends. Focus on YOUR workout.
- Do not be intimidated: If you are not sure about how to use the free weights or a certain machine, then ask. I use to shy away from certain parts of the gym, but if you don't ask then you'll never know. :)
- What to Wear: When I first started going I was not in the best shape, so I needed a little something to help me out, so I picked a cute outfit. However, as time went on I just focused on getting to the gym. Now that I am seeing results I could care less if I'm matching.
- Selective Workout: When starting out I focused on the areas of my body that seem to tone up faster, such as my arms and legs. This helped me to visually see results a little faster and keep me motivated. After about 3 weeks I then started moving inwards from here to target my mid-section (abs), which usually tend to be a problem area for most.
- Cook at Home: I am no Martha Stewart when it comes to being in the kitchen, but healthier eating consists of cooking at home and staying away from restaurant/cafeteria foods. After researching the calories I consume by eating in the cafeteria at work I was in shock to find that just breakfast alone was costing me over 700 calories for a breakfast burrito!!! No wonder all the time in the gym wasn't paying off. I am learning to cook, but most importantly I try to stay away from boxed foods since they are high in sodium. I also found that buying fresh foods such as vegetables and meats means I have to cook or else they'll go bad. The crock pot has become my new best friend! :)
- Stay Positive: Stay positive and surround yourself with people who are supportive of your efforts and goals. Know that as long as you stay consistent in being active and eating right you will soon see results. My first 4 weeks into my routine I actually gained weight at first, but knew that if I stayed consistent I would see results, which I finally did.