These words may mean different things to different people. Actually, I am sure that they do, as well all have our own frames of reference. Here’s what I’m referring to here in the context of this article. Fit and healthy means having the physical ability to do the things you want to do without getting out of breath. It means being able to open a heavy door, carry bags of groceries, go up and down stairs. (By the way-this is the definition according to Erin-this is not Webster’s by any stretch of the imagination.) It means being able to play with your kids-really play with them, not lie down on the floor and let them climb on you because you don’t have the energy or ability to do anything else. It is the ability to live your life and do what you want to do, without self-imposed, changeable physical limitations. Are we straight? OK, here we go!
1-I have to exercise a lot.
This is not true. Actually, I should clarify. It depends on what you call “a lot.” If 30 minutes daily or at least 6 times a week is ” a lot”, then maybe yes. However, you do not have to do all structured exercise-meaning going to the gym, lifting weights, or doing cardio. It can be activity-take the dog for a walk, throw the football, play frisbee, whatever. The most important thing is to get off your duff and move. Don’t sit when you can stand, don’t stand when you can walk. Get up and walk around the house or office every 20-30 minutes. Go window shop. Clean the house-talk about getting immediate gratification and burning a bunch of calories. I wanted a cleaning service until I wore the Bodybugg and cleaned the house. (My fiance was very happy, because I dropped asking about getting a cleaning service after I learned that.) Cleaning house can easily burn 200-300 calories-depending on the size of the house and exactly what you do, of course. Pace while you’re on the phone. The moral of the story is just move.
2-I have to eat 6 times a day.
Nope. You can if you want to, but you don’t have to. Research has shown that a isocaloric diet (same amount of calories and composition) shows no “metabolic advantage” as far as calorie burn goes, to eating more often. You don’t have to “stoke the metabolic fire.” Some people find that they feel better eating smaller meals more often. Some like a few larger meals. Some like meals and small snacks. Have at it! Any of it! Whatever will help you eat consistently well, and fits into your lifestyle, is what you should do.
3-I don’t have time to exercise.
Really? Now this is not going to win me any fans, but would you ever say you don’t have time to brush your teeth? Take a shower? You find time to do the things that are important to you. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, we all have responsibilities and things we have to do. If something is important-you figure it out and make it happen. If someone said they’d give you a million dollars if you exercised, I bet you’d find a way to get it done. And again-it doesn’t have to be organized exercise, although it can be. It early in the morning, before the day gets crazy, before the kids/husband/wife/significant other/dog gets up is the only time-do it! If you can get out at lunchtime-do it! To quote Nike-just do it. Pick a time, and do it. Go. NOW! (just kidding.)
4-I don’t have time to cook.
See number 3. Also, cooking can be much less expensive, as well as much better for you. If you shop smart, buying sale items, stocking up, you can eat healthfully for a reasonable expenditure. You can also cook large amounts of staple items so you have good food ready to go. Click here for a post on planning ahead. Make good friends with your slow cooker. And again-you make time for what is important to you.
5-People that are fit are just lucky/genetically gifted/freaks of nature.
This, personally, drives me insane. If someone says to me-“You’re so lucky” I tell them-“Actually, luck has nothing to do with it. Time, consistency, and a lot a hard work and good nutrition do.” Yes, we all have different and unique genetics. However, that does not limit you from becoming the most healthy and fit person you can be. If you have concerns, see your doctor to rule out health issues. Then get moving!
6-I don’t want to get bulky.
This comes from women. I promise you, you will not get bulky. You can-but it would be very intentional, and wouldn’t happen overnight, and may require exogenous hormones. I hate to say it, but what many people refer to as “bulky” is most of the time just fat. If you got leaner, you wouldn’t think you had too much muscle on your thighs anymore, I can almost guarantee it. When fat covers muscle, that is when the perception of bulky occurs. For the most part. There are very few women who are genetically blessed to put on muscle easily. This is NOT the majority. Chances are very good it’s not you. I promise you, I life as hard and as heavy as I possibly can, and I am not bulky. Unless I’m carrying too much fat. Then I could be bulky-but it’s fat-not muscle, and when I lean down viola-not bulky.
7-I don’t like healthy food.
Nobody really likes boiled chicken and broccoli. However, that is not what you have to eat. You do not have to suffer to lose weight and/or get fit/be healthy. There’s a big wide world of food variety to try! You can add flavor to foods with spices, herbs, citrus, marinades, rubs, various preparation methods-the world is your oyster (or clam, or shrimp, or salmon-get it?) Branch out, read food magazines or sites, wander around the farmers market or grocery and try something new. There are a metric ton of wonderful resources-and many food blogs that are specifically gluten free. If you see a recipe you like-take a look and see how it can be modified, if necessary, to meet your nutrition goals. After you do this a few times it becomes very easy and second nature. I get ideas from the Food Network, and then modify as needed for gluten free and healthy. There’s no reason for you to eat anything you don’t like. There are many options.
8-I can’t live without ____________ (chocolate ice cream, bacon, deep fried onions, candy etc.)
You don’t have to.
Just make an indulgence just that-an occasional indulgence. Set aside a Saturday dinner to eat what you want or what you’ve been craving. When you’ve been eating well all week, you can have that bit of indulgence with no guilt and no repercussions. If you haven’t been eating well all week, then you may want to reconsider. Figure if you eat well 80-90% of the time, take that remaining percentage and have a little bit of an indulgence. That doesn’t mean a whole bag of Pamela’s Chocolate Chip Simplebites (been there.) Have a few, enjoy them, put them away. In the freezer if necessary. Then enjoy guilt free again the following week.
9-I have to get in shape before I start going to the gym.
Nope, just go. No one there cares, they are all too busy worrying about themselves. Just start, give yourself permission to begin. I am always inspired to see people who are new to exercise and the gym, or who are coming back from a layoff. It takes a big decision to make that first step. Little bits at a time, but start. Just begin. Preferably today. Go for a walk. The article will be here when you get back.
10-It’s too hard.
Well, I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy. But what is harder-making a change, or staying the way you are? Changing behavior first requires a change in perspective. Are you truly satisfied and content with your currrent health and fitness status, your appearance and weight? If so-then stay the same, that’s awesome. If not-make a change. Choosing to make a change is probably the hardest part. Actually taking the first few steps to change is pretty hard too. But then it’s like a snowball effect-you start to feel/look better, you have more energy, so you want to do more to improve your life. Inertia is very powerful. You can’t escape physics-a body in motion tends to stay in motion, a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Get in motion, and give it time to have inertia kick in.
So for today-take 1 step, make 1 choice to help you achieve your goals. Don’t give in to the misconceptions and poor information that is so pervasive. Get educated, make your own decisions. Move forward.