It feels like every couple of months there’s a whole new dieting and workout craze. I mean sure, a few of them might actually have some merit to them, but they just seem a little too extreme to be able to stick to long-term. Unless you’re an actor, model, athlete, or something else where you literally get paid to be incredibly fit.
The rest of us don’t necessarily have a nutritionist, and personal trainer designing diets and workout regimens tailormade to suit us. I mean, if you’re anything like me, you probably have a hard time fitting the transit time to the gym and back into your schedule.
What’s more, I was a long-term addict and because of that, just about as far from fit as a person can get. I became an alcoholic before I even reached my teens and got hooked to a number of other substances well into my twenties. I was an addict for more than twice the amount of time that I’ve been in recovery.
My life has done a complete 180-degree turn from where it was a decade ago. But I’m not going to lie to you, I stumbled quite a bit on my path to fitness. Sooner or later I found a way to get fit and stay fit, and it wasn’t through following some miracle three-week transformation program. It was through making some key lifestyle changes that did a lot more good for me than just weight loss.
1. Regular exercise
I’m sure you’ve heard it just as much as I have, to stay healthy you’ve got to exercise for at least a half hour, five days a week. The more you sweat and get your heart rate going, the better.
It seems like a tall order, but trust me, it’s completely doable. Like I said, traveling all the way to the gym and back wasn’t really an option for me, but that’s not necessary at all. Nowadays, everything you need is on the World Wide Web. Just go on Youtube and you’ll find thousands of workout routines posted by both physical trainers and everyday people that have found something that works for them. Everything from cardio, weight training, calisthenics, even pilates can be found online.
I found that HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is a great option for those days when I have barely a half hour to spare but still want to get a tough workout in.
You can do your own research and find workouts you can do from the comfort of your own home.
Not only do I feel much more confident and a lot better about how I look, I also have more energy, feel happier, and get some really good sleep, especially on days when I workout.
2. Getting that H2O
I know, everybody and their grandmothers are always preaching about making sure to drink enough water, but they’re not wrong! Our bodies are made up almost entirely of water. The entire human body is about 70% water, while the brain is at around 90%. Ninety percent of our brains are made up of H2O. When you think about that, drinking more water can only help right?
Drinking water also promotes weight loss, cleanse the body of toxins, promotes clear skin, and even helps get rid of headaches.
Headaches and adult acne were just a part of life that I learned to make my peace with but when I started making myself drink as close as I could get to 2L of water every single day, I saw a huge difference. Now, even when I forget to drink that much (it happens to the best of us) I can feel it the very next day.
3. Ditch the Fast Food and Junk Food for Real Food
You knew this was coming. Yes, burgers with fries, a thick, creamy milkshake, Flamin Hot Cheetos, they’re all delicious. There’s nothing like a good, salty (or sweet) carb fest, especially on game days or when you’re watching a movie, but you probably don’t feel all that great once you give it a few minutes. That’s because, besides carbs, they’re not giving your body what it needs.
This was one of the hardest things for me to get in check. As an alcoholic and drug addict, empty carbs were always a welcomed source of false comfort. I hadn’t realized how much damage I was inflicting on my body and heart by maintaining such horrible eating habits.
I started slowly substituting all my favorite junk food with much healthier alternatives (and learned to cook a few things in the process). Then before I knew it I was eating healthy all day every day and didn’t even miss the other stuff. I also have a go-to list of feel good, healthy food that I turn to whenever I have a particularly strenuous day.
Even now, I’m such a fan of natural flavors like the sweetness in fruits, and the subtle complexities of roasted vegetables that whenever I do indulge, I can’t even eat too much because I find the artificial flavors too strong for my palette.
4. Limit the Booze and Drop the Cigs
Since I am an addict I stopped drinking and everything else completely. It made such a difference to my physical health as well as my mental and emotional well being. I’ve never been happier.
A little bit of alcohol every now and then can be a part of a healthy diet, as long as you are able to limit yourself and never drink in excess.
If you have a hard time managing your alcohol intake you should look into trying a detox. Excessive alcohol intake puts you at risk of developing chronic liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and even certain types of cancer. Cleansing your body of the negative effects of long-term alcohol abuse is a crucial step towards becoming a healthier, more fit version of yourself.
Cigarettes are also incredibly detrimental to your health. Not only can they cause various lung diseases for yourself and anyone that receives it secondhand, if you do start to exercise you’ll notice that it becomes very hard for you to breathe. You could even go into coughing fits and get lightheaded. A truly fit lifestyle doesn’t have room for cigarettes.
5. Good Old R&R
Once you really get into a good fitness routine, with solid workouts, you may start to feel some tightness in your muscles, you might even have a hard time lifting regular objects and going upstairs. This is your body telling you that it needs a little bit of time to recover. If you overexert yourself, you can sustain injuries, which is your body’s way of forcing you to rest.
When I first started seeing results, my jeans fitting a little looser and some muscle definition, I got really excited. So excited that I started working out intensely every day of the week, sometimes multiple times a day, and I was exhausting myself. My body was always in pain but in my head, all I could do was picture myself finally being lean and fit. It was actually one of my workout buddies that noticed that I was pushing myself way too hard.
It was when I started listening to my body and giving it the necessary time to recover that I started seeing lasting results.
The secret to leading a fit lifestyle is a balance. Workout, but also make sure you give yourself time to rest. Eat healthily and pig out on a much smaller scale every once in a while. Nothing wrong with enjoying a celebratory drink but just don’t overdo it. The one thing you should always have plenty of is water. There is no such thing as drinking too much water.
Is there anything you’ve found helpful that you’d like to add? Maybe a couple of tips you learned along the way that you’d like to share? Go ahead and leave us a comment!