A Happier, Healthier You This New Year

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your party celebrations, new year’s kisses or popping open a nice bottle of bubbly or sparkling grape juice.

happy how i met your mother GIF

Now that you’ve packed up the Christmas tree, I hope you’ve made a new year’s resolution to help create a fresh start. “New year, new me," am I right?

I think one of the most common questions we ask ourselves when making our new year’s resolution is, “How can I better myself in the upcoming year?”

This can be hard when you think of a balanced diet as a slice of pizza in each hand - Guilty!

adam levine pizza GIF by NBC'S The Voice

This being the case, you may immediately think of losing weight and resorting to a fad diet or burning yourself out at the gym within a few months (or weeks) and then you don’t think about that resolution again until the next New Year’s Eve when you ask yourself, “What was my resolution last year?”

Yikes!

Well, this year is going to be different! I am going to help you make a new year’s resolution that you not only won’t forget, but you will actually keep. “What’s my secret?” you may ask. Fortunately, it is not as crazy as it may seem.

The answer to this popular phenomenon is making your resolution more than a task and goal to complete, but making it a lifestyle change for the long-run.

A little backstory about me…

As an 8 year old, I was a gymnast and since junior high I have been a track athlete. Until senior year of high school, this proved to be a sufficient amount of exercise to not have to count calories. Between the end senior track season and the start of college, however, was something I had not expected. I had gone from a muscular 132 to a “where’s-my-six-pack” 141 in about 3 months. Since I was still going to the gym over the summer, I was in denial and kept telling myself, “It’s all muscle, I’m fine.” Okay, Alex, if you say so… It didn’t really hit me until I moved into college and started pre-season track practice. Yikes! Boy was that an eye opener. I looked down at my stomach and felt embarrassed about my body for one of the first times in my life. I realized I had let myself go over the summer thinking I could coast by on Kettle Cooked Lays and sit on the couch watching movies all day. This was the moment I accepted the fact that I had lost my “good-ol-days” metabolism and had to make a change to my lifestyle in order to maintain the healthy body I desired.

How this can apply to YOU?

I’m so glad you asked! The most important thing to understand is that you don’t have to go on some trendy diet in order to lose weight. There are healthier, cheaper, more effective and highly beneficial ways out there that I tried out and LOVED!

1) “What am I supposed to eat in the caf?”

Yes, I am very aware that the caf food can be quite undesirable to the point where the only good looking things to eat are pizza and french fries. What you can do to help yourself is to focus on finding veggies and protein to fill your plate. 

The caf ALWAYS has at least one type of vegetable available. Go straight to those veggies and fill at least a third of you plate with salad, green beans or broccoli. After that, find a source of protein, this may be chicken, turkey, pulled pork or meatballs and fill the next third of your plate with this. 

Now, we still have a third of our plate left to fill. This third is a “your choice” section. This section could be for french fries, dessert, pasta, applesauce or some sort of fruit. Keep the sweets and carbs to a minimum and really focus on making a beeline to the fruit if you can.

I dare you to go brave the caf with your new healthy eating skills!

eat GIF

2) “Do I have to go to the gym everyday?”

Exercise is unique to each person. We all have different skill sets, lift different amounts and run different speeds. So what advice could I possibly have that would work for anyone? Well, prepare to be amazed!

First and foremost, find something you enjoy doing! If you like cute little Pinterest body circuits, do that. If you like to do a sprint workout with timed recovery, you do you. If you want to run a couple miles around the park, be my guest.

beach go GIFThey will ALL work! But, you have to remain consistent and dedicated. Decide on at least 3 days a week that you are going to go to the gym and set mini goals for yourself to work toward.

Secondly, you CANNOT compare yourself to others. One of my favorite times of the year is the summer because I get to do my own thing since I am out of track season. The goal I set for myself is preparing for a 5k charity run I enjoy participating in. I put in my ear buds, run for as long as I like and not compare my abilities to others.

You must make working out a positive aspect of your life instead of something to dread. Once you make that mental switch, you will enjoy your healthier lifestyle and be counting down the minutes to going to the gym. I mean, look how much fun this guy is having!

gym treadmill GIF

3) “Is that all you got?”

Oh, honey, that was just the warm up! The two topics I addressed first are the building blocks of a healthier lifestyle. Once you can make adjustments to what you eat and how much you work out, there’s one more thing you can try.

This may get a little deep and seem complicated, but I promise you can handle it!

When I faced the truth, my dad and I talked about what else I could be doing to help myself, he introduced me to something he read in one of his science magazines (of all the places!)

This lifestyle change involved monitoring what time during the day I ate. The basic concept of this is that you find about an 8 hour time frame that covers about when your first meal is to when you would finish your last.

For example: I eat lunch around 11 am and finish dinner around 7 pm.

Now this leaves 16 hours of the day unaccounted so far. 

The next bit of this is the important part!

The first 14 hours after you finish eating is your body digesting your food for the day. By eating your last meal by 7ish, you also avoid snacking in the evening. This is good for you because you don’t want to go to bed on a full stomach.

Once your body digests, it has time to go into it’s glycogen reserves which is essentially pulling fat out of storage from your thighs, butt and stomach - whoo hoo!

This will be extremely difficult to get used to because you are going to have to fight the urge to eat when you think you are hungry. The truth is that if you wait 15 minutes after you get that urge to eat and distract yourself for a little bit, you won’t actually be hungry anymore.

After a few weeks of making this transition,  it’ll be...

stop motion easy as pie GIF by Daniel Castro

4) “What else might help me with my new lifestyle?”

I am a strong advocate for using a Fitbit, or some sort of device that monitors your active time during the day and allows you to record and collect information. 

My favorite things that Fitbit tracks are my step count, calories burned and how many hours of sleep I get. I am also able to log the foods I eat so I can make sure I’ve burned enough calories for how much I am eating on a given day.

This process has helped keep me honest for over a year now and I couldn’t be happier. I successfully lost 18 pounds in 2018 which put me at a much healthier weight for my height and age.

I am now working hard to maintain this. It is SO difficult because I want to eat french fries and popcorn every day or eat before 11 and after 7, but I push through to stick to my system. My weight still fluctuates up and down which can get very frustrating, but everyone needs cheat days.

Bottom line, all of this together has been a manageable lifestyle for me that has given me positive results. I feel good about myself and I want to pass this along to all of you!

I hope you all can find at least one take away to start off your new year’s lifestyle :)

Good luck and go live your BEST life!

 

happy happiness GIF

 

Pictures and gifs provided by: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8-mine & 9