Day two of my 30 Day Blogging Challenge!
I often have friends or family members tell me that they really want to start eating healthier and getting back in shape, but they aren't sure where to start, or that it all seems so overwhelming. I can always understand where they are coming from because that is exactly how I felt when I first got started! Although I had been an athlete for most of my life, after I had my first son and gained over 60lbs, and I felt so lost on where to even start. I thought I would share with you guys the exact same tips I would give to my friends or family when I get asked this question.
For me, I always see the biggest changes when I take a serious look at my diet. If you want to get started making changes with your diet, I would begin by using MyFitnessPal (it's free and you can download the app on your smartphone) and track everything you eat for a few days. You don't have to track forever, but do it for 3-5 days to get a feel for where you are currently at with your calories and macros (macros means micronutrients so how many carbs, fats amd protein you are taking in daily). Be honest with yourself too! Don't just log down the healthy meals, make sure you are logging everything you eat and drink. Once you have tracked for a few days and can see what a 'typical' day might look like for you, I would slowly start making some changes based on the goals you want. I usually aim for a ratio of somewhere between 40/40/20 and 40/30/30 (% of carbs/protein/fat), but you will need to play around with those numbers and see what works best for you. If you go a week or two and have been consistent with your nutrition, but aren't seeing any changes then play around with your numbers until you start to see a loss. Remember, weight lost slowly is usually weight that stays off the longest, so I wouldn't suggest doing anything drastic. My general rule of thumb is that you don't really want to go below 11-12x your current body weight in calories or you can start to mess with your metabolism (I am currently eating 14-15x my current body weight and still losing weight, so that's not a hard rule, just a general rule of thumb). Remember, you will see much faster changes from focusing on your diet than you will from your workouts. Even if you are doing a great job working out, you won't see the big changes you want until you really focus in on your nutrition and what you are fueling your body with.
Next, I would take a look at the foods in your house and the items you put on your grocery lists. For me, if I have junk food or too many unhealthy snack foods in the house I have a really hard time staying on track, so I have to keep pretty much all junk food out of the house. However, that means hubs and kids need to be on the same page with eating healthier too. If they aren't on the same page yet, it's ok too, but I always mention it because it helps me so much when I don't have those temptations in the cupboard. Tosca Reno has a really awesome grocery list that you can download for free (click here to download the printable .PDF: the-eat-clean-diet-grocery-list) and that is the guide I would use when grocery shopping.
Ultimately, at the end of the day, weight loss is about calories in vs. calories out, but I view food as fuel for my body and always perform and feel the best when I am eating nutrient dense, clean foods. So, that's where I would start first before focusing on workouts. You will see results the quickest by keeping your nutrition on track.
Then as for workouts....
I like using a gym because I have a hard time staying motivated when I workout at home. But, sometimes getting to the gym just isn't in the cards for some people. So, if that isn't possible I totally understand. After my second child was born I had a really hard time making it to the gym because my husband was out of town for work for a month and the baby wasn't old enough to bring to the gym daycare yet. I had to get creative with home workouts, and when I was working out at home I was doing Insanity workouts. They are tough but that's what I was doing after the baby came on days I couldn't get to the gym and I was losing weight. Sometime it was too hard and I had to take breaks or modify the exercises and that's ok too!
I know there are also some great home workout videos out there, and if you look on Bodybuilding.com's website they have a bunch of home workout ideas (click here for some of their articles). I really like the www.bodybuilding.com website, and don't worry, you don't have to be a bodybuilder to find helpful information on there! When I was trying to lose the baby weight after my first child was born, I used Jamie Eason's LiveFit program (a free 12-week online trainer).
I saw great results, it helped me get in awesome shape and taught me the foundations of what I know now regarding nutrition and training. If you can make it to a gym, I would definitely recommend her program, and Jamie has videos showing you how to do every exercise and a lot of recipe videos too. I will forever be grateful to Bodybuilding.com and Jamie Eason Middleton for providing so much helpful information on their website that is completely free. I felt a little nervous being in the weight room when I first did it, but after about two weeks felt a lot more comfortable and lifting weights is the only thing that gave me that nice toned look.
I know that was a lot of information, but it was a very basic overview of where I would begin if I were just getting started in making a healthy lifestyle change. I would also recommend getting either a workout partner, or finding a fitness group online that you can connect with. Having support, a place to share struggles and achievements, and someone to hold you accountable can really make a huge difference! Remember, the most important thing is making a change that works for you in your lifestyle. That might mean working out at the gym some days, and working out at home some days. That might mean just going on daily walks with your family at night. That might mean starting off by just changing one or two meals a day to make them healthier. Regardless of where you start, make sure to recognize and celebrate your achievements. It's a combination of all the small decisions you make each day that will make a big difference in the end.
Is there anything I am missing here? What advice would you give to someone wanting to start making some healthy changes in their life?