and someone is always watching, whether you’re aware of it or not.
The other day on my way home from work, a face I often see on the Red Line – (I don’t know him personally – well I didn’t know him before that day; he’s just some familiar face I regularly see.) stopped me and mentioned he noticed my weight loss progress. He said he could even see that I was toning up a bit. Well that was funny to me, because when I look in the mirror or when I see myself in the shower, I can’t see any progress at all by looking at my body. If I take measurements or if I get on the scale, surely progress is there. But I can’t actually see any difference.
So, this guy, Anthony, told me he could see a difference, and he asked me my secret. I shared with him the general things I did. I didn’t share with him the tiny little details, for those are irrelevant. It’s the big picture that matters most. There are dozens of different programs out there. Whether you follow Weight Watchers, Herbal Life, Beyond Calories, Adkins, Slimfast, Jenny Craig, or your ‘Aunt Sweetie Pie’s Never Fails’ plan, you have to be faithful and consistent and increase your physical activity, no matter what number you see on the scale. So, let me tell you what I told Anthony. I broke it up into two parts: Eating Healthy and Being More Physical.
Part I: Eating Healthy
– When eating sandwiches or wraps (whether at home or in restaurants or delis) add several vegetables, such as carrots, onions, mushrooms, romaine lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, snow peas, or other vegetables. That can fill you and help deter you from eating unhealthy sides such chips, fries, potato salad, or other high calorie, high fat items.
– Eat a side of a mixed green salad with your lunch or dinner. Be sure to avoid the creamy dressings. Try going for vinegar-based or citrus-based dressings that use small amounts of oil. In restaurants, I always ask for dressing on the side, so I can be sure to use small portions. I tend to use half as much that way.
– Don’t always go for a protein bar or shake to satisfy your hunger between meals. Fruits and vegetables can be some excellent power foods. A serving of nuts (peanuts or almonds for instance) can also do wonders. This can be particularly important after you exercise to give you a boost of energy.
– Pay attention to the contents of the juices you drink. I try to avoid them as much as possible, or I do my own juicing. Commercial juices often are a dieter’s nightmare. Many juice brands on the market are significantly diluted with water and contain a lot of sugar. Not only do they give you too many calories, but they also are not giving you the amount of nutrition that you may think you’re getting. Be sure to read the labels carefully so you know what you’re getting. For optimal health, don’t buy a brand just because it’s on sale. Additionally, invest in a good quality juicer. That will serve you well and pay for itself over time.
– When choosing a baked potato, get creative in garnishing it. Some toping alternatives to butter or sour cream include salsa, grilled vegetables, or stewed tomatoes. I sometimes will eat it plain, or maybe dashing it with a little salt and pepper. In addition, some people are conditioned to having a potato hot; but a cold potato with the right toppings is delicious.
– If you’re like me, then you will love salads; however a salad can get pretty darned boring if you’re not creative. Add green peppers (or use different colored peppers), shredded cabbage or use a variety of different types of lettuce, apple or pear chunks, chunks of eggplant, shredded carrots, shredded butternut squash (yes its delicious raw), avocado, kiwi, chopped celery, and some beans. If you do it right, your salad can be a meal in itself. But like I mentioned earlier, be careful of the type of dressing you use. With the right ingredients, you may not desire any dressing.
Part II: Being More Physical
Finding time for your fitness, health, and exercise program can be difficult even for the disciplined person, and if you are an intermediate or novice, it can be even more of a challenge. For those of you who are like many people juggling a part or full-time job, college classes, a spouse, kids, or more broadly the demands of life, getting to a gym regularly is not an option. You look in the mirror and wonder how someone like you is supposed to maintain a regular exercise program. The answer is by starting a home gym.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that it must be expensive. Well, it definitely can be expensive; however, it doesn’t have to be. There are several effective and low cost pieces of equipment you can get to help you get a great work out at home.
1) Foam hand grips – These can be purchased individually or in sets in various dimensions such as 2lbs, 5lbs, 10lbs, on up. They are available beginning around $10-$15. You can also get them in plastic or metal without protective coverings. But I advise against those, as they can leave your hands with calluses and blisters. I like the foam covers because they offer great protection to your hands.
2) A medicine ball – also called a weighted ball or fitness ball – strengthens your core muscles. These can cost between $10-$20.
3) If you have cable, or if you have a router or other device allowing you to watch movies and other shows (i.e., via Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc), you can find a variety of exercise programs from beginner to advanced and everything in between. There are also many free exercise programs online. Do a search and you’ll find many.
4) A simple and effective exercise is walking. Don’t discount its effectiveness. Walking burns fats and calories quite efficiently, and it’s free.
5) An inexpensive yet full body workout equipment is the stability ball accompanied with resistance bands. These two items (about $25 together) work together to develop your core. There are many ways to incorporate them into your routine. Most come with an instructional guide, or links to website that can help you. You can also search online to find tutorials on your own.
It doesn’t require much to get healthy and into shape. This merely is a sampling of things you can do. I’m by far not an expert. But I have offered you some of the things that I use that have worked. Like I mentioned in the beginning, you have to be consistent. Don’t ever get discouraged and give up. Your healthy diet and physical activity together are preparing your body even when you don’t see it. If you’re creative, you can come up with some other things on your own. So, hop to it, just do it!