Temptation is everywhere. With that temptation, we get urges: 'I really want to order pizza for dinner.' 'I don't want to work out today; I'll just do it tomorrow.' 'I should go to bed now, but I'd rather watch House of Cards on Netflix all night.' Whatever it is, it shouldn't be a reason or excuse for staying active and healthy with our diets, exercise routines and sleep habits. Below you'll find five ways to stay on course; whether you're a grizzled veteran or a newb when it comes to living an active and healthy life.
1) Reward yourself
When we get that urge to skip a workout, there's not always a ton of incentive to do it anyway. Sure, we're looking to lose weight, get in shape or build muscle, but why do today what we can do it tomorrow? We're sleepy, irritated and just want to zone out for the rest of the day. Don't let yourself become a cautionary tale!
If you feel like playing Assassin's Creed instead of working out, schedule some time to do so post-workout. By rewarding yourself for staying the course and working hard, you're much more likely to keep up with your exercise regimen.
2) Find someone to hold you accountable
Sometimes, an activity partner is the best thing you can find to help you stick to your goals. Want to procrastinate, and possibly skip a day entirely? Not so fast! Select somebody you trust (a significant other, parent, sibling, friend, etc.), and make sure they check in on you on a daily basis. Keep them posted on what you plan on doing for exercise, as well as regarding your diet. Talk to them when you feel the urge to slack; more often than not, they'll pull you back to your senses.
But what if your craving is for sweets or junk food? That's where the next tip comes in...
Following a healthy diet can be meticulous, and at times very boring. We were raised eating pizza, burgers and French fries; the notion of a slab of seasoned meat with vegetables just doesn't seem to cut it. Well, you're in luck!
According to nutrition expert Alan Aragon, impose a 90/10 rule on yourself: stick to a healthy eating regimen 90% of the time, and cheat the other 10%. When's the best time to cheat, though? Well, there are a couple of recommended ways to do it..
For some, scheduling a cheat meal (or day) on the weekends is best for them. It's when we tend to overindulge, and we can then feel included with other friends and family who may not be on nearly as strict a regimen as we are. On workout days where you feel like eating junk, Aragon actually suggests that eating junk foods post-workout might be the best time to do so. With your metabolism revved up, your body is more apt to dispose of the garbage you're likely to ingest during a binge.
4) Ween yourself off of unhealthy food and drink. DON'T QUIT COLD TURKEY!
Going cold turkey when cutting out the grains and soda can be very difficult. According to Dr. David Perlmutter, neurologist and author of the book Grain Brain, food products containing wheat and gluten actually have similar cognitive effects to the use of many illegal narcotics. The result if you ingest these foods regularly can be a bit of an addiction or dependency. If you try to cut these foods out entirely without a gradual dismissal, you'll most likely go through a semblance of withdrawal, which can be very dissuasive towards eating healthier and maintaining those healthy eating patterns.
Rather than throwing every loaf of bread and box of pasta out of your house, cut back your intake. If you find you have a sandwich for lunch every day, perhaps have one once every other day, then every few days, etc. This lessens the likelihood of withdrawal, and will enable you to better adapt to healthier food options.
Oh, and as for the soda and soft drinks: most of these have aspertame and other carcinogenic chemicals listed on the label. Does it really sound that appealing now?
5) Find food substitutes
It's harder for some to ween themselves off of junk than others. A great way to aid in the process is to find food substitutes that taste similar and have a similar texture to the foods you're cutting out. For example, spaghetti squash is a great and healthy substitute for spaghetti and pasta. Afraid your brain will be too stubborn to accept this food as a substitute? No problem. According to Dr. Perlmutter (referenced above), your palate adjusts to the foods you eat (and don't eat) over time. I can personally attest that this statement is true. Half the time I eat junk food, I find I'm overwhelmed with how greasy and nasty these foods truly are. And, in the rare event that this doesn't happen, my stomach surely lets me know about it shortly thereafter.
The Key Lesson Here: Follow the five tips discussed above, and you're more likely to continue to stay the healthy and active path in 2014.
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