We all want the perks of a healthy lifestyle – whether it’s the six pack abs, low cholesterol, high stamina, or the ultimate summer body. But not everyone is willing to put in the work. A big reason for this is that many of us think it’s more work than it actually is.
Being healthy doesn’t mean cutting off dessert forever and hitting the gym every day for the rest of your life. It’s about making small lifestyle changes that add up over time.
Here are ten tips to help you get started.
1. Drink More Water.
Wanna know how important water is? If you don’t drink it you’ll die. Lucky for us, water is a component of many other things we eat and drink like fruits, vegetables, and even sodas. But to truly get the benefits of water, we need to drink the real deal.
Some of the benefits of water include cancer prevention, natural detoxing, better moods, better performance at the gym, less joint pains, clearer skin, and of course, weight loss.
Try substituting sodas, teas, and juices with water as much as possible to cut down on calorie intake. And be sure to hydrate on days that are especially hot, as well as days you plan to get your workout in.
2. Join a Gym.
There is a gym membership for virtually any budget – if you know where to look. Often times, colleges and apartment complexes include gym access as a free perk. Be sure to check if yours do before signing up for a paid gym membership. Your college may also have partnerships with gyms to provide you a student discount.
If you do join a gym but can’t afford a personal trainer, the staff should still be able to assist you with choosing the right machines, based on your fitness goals and current body type. In fact, from personal experience, even other people at the gym will usually step in to lend a hand or offer a word of advice in good faith.
Ladies, while it’s definitely a possibility, don’t assume every guy who comes over to help is flirting with you. Men love seeing women at the gym, whether they have the opportunity to ask them out on a date or not.
3. Put on Some Muscle.
Most men already have this goal in mind, but women tend to think of muscles as purely masculine. This is a myth more women need to push past in order to get the full benefits of a fit body, as a little muscle can go a long way.
When we put on muscle, it tones our bodies and increases our metabolic rate. Muscle provides the privilege of worrying a little less about watching calories, carbs, and sugars. Some other benefits include increased strength, better definition, and building stronger bones.
4. Get Out There and Explore.
Supplement the gym with other things. It’s not enough to run for an hour while staring at a screen. It’s important to get out there and explore. Options include hiking, paddle boarding, running, walking, dancing, climbing, cycling, tennis, volley ball, skating, Wii Sport, even hop scotch…
Find something fun that you can look forward to and be passionate about – something you won’t think of as merely exercise.
Eat as much as you like of whatever you like, but learn to like healthy things, and to eat on time. Don’t skip meals.
If you know you can’t commit to eating grass and crackers for the rest of your life, don’t do it for a week either. Strict diets lower your metabolism, and once you start eating regularly again, you will stack on more pounds than you otherwise would have in the past.
Try to substitute starch/carbohydrates with vegetables when you can, and to have fruits when you want to snack. Some people can go through a whole cheesecake without putting on a pound and some people will gain ten from sniffing it. You will have to find what works best for you.
6. Drink More Coffee.
Drinking coffee with breakfast in the morning helps many people last longer before needing lunch, and reduces the desire to snack in-between meals. Other benefits of coffee include increased energy, higher metabolic rate, performance boost, fighting depression, and decreased likelihood of getting cancer.
However, try not to drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages after 4PM, or you can count on being up all night, tossing and turning.
It may seem like an unlikely way to get fit, but when we don’t sleep, our body is forced to recover energy from eating and snacking. The less I sleep, the more I want to stuff my face. Some benefits of sleep include better heart health, lower obesity rates, better sex life, pain relief, and better mood.
Try to get at least 6-8 hours each night. Sleeping for longer than this might actually make you feel more tired due to the side effects of over-sleeping.
Stress and boredom are two main causes of snacking and eating when we shouldn’t. Exercise already helps to boost your mood by increasing the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins.
However, we can’t always make time for exercise just because we’re feeling blue. Find other things to occupy your time. Find a hobby that keeps your brain active, or do something like yoga, that helps you to meditate and relax.
However, don’t use your hobbies as a distraction. Tackle your problems head on; not by overindulging in a pity-party, but by creating a plan to effect change or to accept and adjust to an unchangeable situation.
9. Stop Watching the Scales.
Stop watching the numbers on a scale and comparing yourself to other people. Embrace what you are and what you’re capable of becoming, and work on being that happier, sexier you. If you need numbers to measure your success, measure the size of your waist, thighs, or arms, and the sizes in clothes you have slimmed down to.
10. Take a Break!
Don’t work out every single day. Your body needs time to recover and repair itself from the strain of exercise. This will help you to do more with greater enthusiasm your next time around, and subsequently, get more out of your workout sessions because you can push yourself a little harder.
Best of luck on your fitness journey and toning up for the summer!
About the Author
Alexis Chateau is the Founder of College Mage and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.
Originally written for and published on Alexis Chateau, but later re-purposed and moved here during site restructuring.