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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Do you REALLY want to be healthier?

I think that being a group fitness instructor allows people to think that I am a wealth of fitness knowledge, overflowing with dietary tips, nutrition facts, random weight loss plans, and quick-and-easy workout routines that I can spout off in less than a minute. Judging by the questions that some people, friends & family included, have asked me and also talking with other folks in the fitness realm, this must be a common perception.
Here are a few examples:
"Sarah, how can I tone up my (insert triceps/belly/butt/thighs/other random body part HERE)?"
"Sarah, how much is a gym membership?"
"If I can't afford a gym membership, or I won't go to the gym, how can I get in shape without it?"
"What should I eat/drink/not eat/not drink to lose weight?"
And my personal favorite which isn't really a question: "Oohhhhh, you don't eat meat? No wonder you stay so thin!" lol.

So though I really don't mind these inquiries for the most part (really, I don't! This isn't a 'stop-asking-me-questions' venting blog post, I promise!) I feel the need to post some easy day-to-day things here that I think can help us all. By posting them here, those who want to take my advice, can and will, and those who don't can just stop wasting their time--and mine--by pretending that they will! And I mean that in the most loving way possible! :)

Also, as a disclaimer--these tips are in no way designed to imply that I ALWAYS do these things or ALWAYS eat right, etc. We all have our splurges and we all have our days where we are not on our game! I just think some of things are easy enough to implement in our everyday lives and really do make a difference in how we look and feel.

Sarah's simple tricks to leading a healthier lifestyle:

* STOP drinking empty calories.
This is not a no-brainer. Diet Coke is NOT good for you. Its not even THAT much better for you than regular Coke. Do I EVER have a Dr.Pepper? Yes! But not even once a week. Maybe once or twice a MONTH. Though tasty and refreshing, carbonated soft drinks are simply empty calories along with juices, sweet tea, sports drinks, etc. If you can cut your daily Diet Coke/sweet Tea/Dr.Pepper out, you will be surprised at the results. Try it for 28 days.

* Choose healthy snacks.
This one is not so easy for me. Cut out snacks? No. Cut out cookies/cupcakes/ice cream/Doritos/buttered popcorn/Quaker granola bars? YES. Moderation is key. I snack all day long, but there is a big difference between having a handful of grapes or even a baggie of Multi-grain Tostitos chips and having 3 chocolate chip cookies. Also, don't think that 100 calorie packs are 'healthy'. They are just smaller portions of our fave snacks. But 100 calories of cheetos are still 100 calories of cheetos and they sho ain't gonna' fill you up! The best advice I can give in this area is to make your own 100 calorie packs of foods that you do like but that you tend to overeat on. I can sit and eat half a bag of Tostitos "Hint of Lime" chips. I've had witnesses. So if I bag these chips up in advance, I'm far less likely to be tipping the bag back and letting all the leftover salty goodness flow into my mouth at the end....sigh.

* Yes you have to exercise.
This is not an option. You CANNOT be healthy without some form of exercise! Does this mean you need a gym membership at the best club in town? I'd like to think so...haha just kidding! NO! You don't! But do you need to have a DOUBLE-DOSE of self-discipline if you don't have a gym to go to? Yep you do! There are free and super cheap classes all over the place! City of Southaven offers them at Snowden House, Brown's M.B. Church and Colonial Hills in Southaven also offer free/donation only classes, plus there are several gyms in the area that are very inexpensive and some are even open 24-hours. Not all of us are runners and can make ourselves run 3-5 days per week to keep fit. But we all have to do some sort of exercise. 3 days a week is a minimum. Find something you enjoy doing, even if its taking your kiddos on a walk or doing a fun video in your den. But DO it. Seriously, this is not an option. Your body can't benefit without exercise and your heart definitely can't hold out forever without cardiovascular 'encouragement' from you. No I will not write you out an exercise program, especially if you aren't really going to use it. But I will encourage you to stay active. So Stay Active! :)

Okay okay so that is all for now. More to come! I assure you that if you make tiny tiny changes in your every day life, those things will add up and make you feel and look much much better!