Chances are you brought in 2008 with a New Year’s resolution…maybe one to eat better…or one to exercise more…or one that attempts to do it all: to be all around healthier and better balanced. Whatever the case may be, the resolution is a promise…a promise to make a change in your life.
Your resolution is a great first step to creating positive change, but holding yourself to it is even more important. Many of us launch into the New Year with great enthusiasm and lofty goals, potentially expecting too much change too quickly. And when we don’t see results soon enough, we get frustrated, undermining even the best of intentions to stick to our promise. Instead, it is important to set interim goals, taking small steps one day at a time to reach the ultimate goal. You owe it to yourself to keep your promise and if you do, you’ll find that it proves to be very rewarding.
It is our mission at Sheer Balance to help and support you through the changes you hope to see in the New Year, and to do so we have developed a ‘Resolution Road Map’. Focusing on nutrition and fitness, this road map takes small steps every week to help you reach your end goal. The chart below is a quick and easy guide of what you need to be doing, week by week. Explanations can be found further below.
Days per Week
Target Heart Rate during Cardio
Get into the right mindset
Lay Your Foundation
Drink lots of water
Eat 5 to 6 times a day
Take a Multi-Vitamin
Ease into it
20 – 30 minutes
2 to 3
Cut out sugar
Limit or cut-out saturated fats
Cut out Fried Food
Cut out Processed Foods
Clean out your Kitchen Cabinets
25 – 30 minutes
Cardio Core Flexibility
Make Smart Choices
Healthy Starchy Carbohydrates
Eat your Veggies
1% – Non-fat Dairy
Round it out
30 – 45 minutes
3 to 4
Cardio Core Flexibility Strength
65% – 75% THR
Complete the Picture
Calculate your Ideal Caloric Needs and your BMI
Eat balanced and eat often
One day for indulgence
Raising the Bar and Maintenance
45 minutes to 1 hour
4 to 5
Cardio Core Flexibility Strength
70% – 85% THR
Nutrition Focus: Get in the Right Mindset
Stop thinking about diets. The word diet is negative and implies deprivation, starvation, hunger…lots of bad things in general. Instead, focus on the positives of your new lifestyle…your choice. “I’m going to feel great”…”I’m going to look great”…”I’m going to be healthier”…etc. Thinking you are, instead of you have to is a mindset that will start you believing that you really want to be healthy…not something you are being forced to do.
Fitness Focus: Get in the Right Mindset
See yourself as you want to look. If you can visualize yourself in better cardiovascular shape, having more muscle tone and having a leaner physique, you can look that way. Yes, it will take some physical effort as well, but the more you can actively see your goal, the more you will be able to make it a reality. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.
Nutrition: Laying the Foundation
Preparing yourself for a new way of eating is important so that when you start making bigger changes, they don’t feel so extreme. At this time, you want to do what it takes to ensure you are covering the basics.
Drink lots of Water. Yep…a minimum of 64 oz. a day. Technically, you should be drinking your body weight x .66 per day in ounces
Eat Breakfast. If you aren’t already eating breakfast, start. It should be balanced with carbs and proteins and be low in fat
Eat 5 to 6 times a day. Eating smaller portions and more often will boost your metabolism. It will also prevent you from being really hungry really quickly
Multi-Vitamin. Start taking a multi-vitamin. This will help ensure you are getting all the important vitamins and minerals you need every day
Fitness: Ease into it
Start Slow. If you haven’t been exercising, start slow. The last thing you want to do is start off with a bang and burn-out fast. If you get a gym membership, try to go three times a week and spend about 20 to 30 minutes each day. If you are not using a gym, try walking, jogging, running, bike riding or rollerblading. What is most important is that you are active for 20 to 30 minutes a day for three days a week
Experiment. If you haven’t been exercising, this is your time to learn what is out there and what you enjoy. Don’t get bogged down in too much detail, just feel your way through the process and your options
Classes. If you are going to a gym or have a fitness class studio nearby, learn about the classes they offer and try those that interest you most
Equipment. Try equipment you have access to: the bike, the treadmill, the arc trainer, the elliptical trainer, and any other machines that catch your eye. Try it out for 20 to 30 minutes and see how you like it
When our diet includes unhealthy foods, ingredients and chemicals, our digestive system functions less efficiently and has to work overtime to eliminate toxins and waste. Further, the more of these you eat, the more you crave them. Retrain your brain and your stomach by eliminating these from your diet, which in turn will keep you from wanting these healthy diet sabateours.
Cut out sugar. Sugar is one of your biggest enemies. In any form: raw, as part of a food, processed, etc.
If you put sugar in your coffee or tea, cut back. Instead of 4 heaping teaspoons, make it 3 level teaspoons. Continue to cut back until you need no more than 1 teaspoon at a maximum or optimally, none
Don’t drink soda, and if you do, start drinking diet until you can stop drinking it all together. Soda has tons of empty calories and artificial ingredients
Look at your nutrition labels. If the first ingredient listed is sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, corn-syrup, dextrose, sucrose, fructose, it is bad news
Cut-out Saturated Fats. Saturated fat is ‘bad fat’. You want to have as little of these in your diet as possible. Cut these bad guys out for good and think about healthier alternatives:
Coconut oil, milk, cream and Palm oil
Limit Alcohol. You probably had your fair share of alcohol this holiday season. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, which is 3 more calories than both carbohydrates and protein per gram. These calories add up fast. Further, alcohol takes a toll on your skin, causing dryness, dilation of small blood vessels and redness. Try to limit yourself to no more than 1 drink per day.
Fried Food. Fried food, no matter what it is fried in, is bad. Whether it is fried a little, fried a lot or deep fried, it is bad. Bad, bad, bad. It causes clogged arteries, bad skin, heart disease, constipation…need we say more? Just stop eating it. Look for other tasty alternatives that are baked, grilled or poached. Pan-seared is ok too.
Processed Foods. Processed foods are up there with fried food. The more processes a food has to go through, the higher the chance it is loaded with chemicals, preservatives and unhealthy ingredients. All of which you want to avoid. Look for foods that are whole…from the ground or naturally from an animal. This doesn’t mean it can’t be packaged, but if the food takes a form, shape or look of something other than how it would be naturally found, it is processed. Ex: Chicken Nuggets (Highly processed) vs. Chicken Breast (very little if at all processed)
Limit Caffeine. Caffeine is a chemical that causes your body to have ups and downs in energy, and is a diuretic, causing water-loss. Try to limit yourself to no more than one cup a day, preferably in the morning.
Clean out Your Closets. Go through your kitchen cabinets and throw away foods that are obviously bad for you. Anything that has a lot of sugar, is processed, has a lot of fat, etc. deep six
Fitness: Ramp Up
Raise that Heart Rate! Make sure you are raising your heart rate enough to get the most out of your workout. Each week, you should aim to exercise in a slightly higher Target Heart Rate Zone
Increase your Duration and Frequency. Each week, you should aim to exercise for a little longer and a little more often, working up to 4 to 5 days a week for 45 minutes to an hour each day.
Nutrition: Making Smart Choices
Once you have eliminated excess toxins and chemicals from your body, you are now ready to start fresh and eat the foods that your body really needs to be nourished and function properly.
Healthy Starchy Carbohydrates. If you like bread, pasta and cereals, that is ok, just stop eating those made with bleached flour or non-whole grains. Whole grain pasta and whole grain breads taste really yummy and offer you a lot of healthful benefits, such as fiber and lower amounts of sugar (which we learned from week 2 is an enemy). Regular pasta and white bread have very little nutritional value and pack on pounds. Any time you want bread or pasta, reach for whole wheat, whole grain, multi-grain, grain, grain, and um…grain…
Eat your Veggies. Hands down, vegetables are vital to a healthy diet. Find the ones you like the most and eat them. Eat lots of them. Eat so much that you can’t eat anymore. Why? They are loaded with vitamins and minerals and provide you with much needed fiber. Further, they fill you up, causing you to eat less of the bad stuff. If you start your lunch and dinner off with a salad, you will be filling yourself up with healthy stuff, curbing your appetite and interest in eating unhealthy stuff. Be careful though, use dressings sparingly, and think twice before loading nuts and cheese on, for these add a lot of fat to the otherwise healthy salad
1% – Non-fat Dairy. Dairy can be your friend, but only if they are low-fat to non-fat options. If you are drinking full-fat milk or 2%, knock it down a % notch. Eventually, you should aim for 1% at a maximum with Skim milk being optimal.
Lean Protein. Protein is essential to a healthy diet. That said, you want it to be lean: White meat poultry, fish, beans, low to non-fat dairy, egg whites. Try to avoid red meat, or limit your intake to no more than once a week.
Fitness: Rounding it Out
More than Cardio. Now that you have a feel for what you should be doing for cardio, start looking at your other training types and working on incorporating them into your work-out