There are many, many ways to organize or plan your meals and workouts. I, myself, am a very organized and planned-out person. Even if you aren’t all that neat, there are some simple tips that can help you out too.
Tip 1: Download the app MyFitnessPal (or sign up on their website). This is my number one tip for staying on track. Basically, it adds up what you eat every day. Fats, proteins, carbs, calories, etc. When you first sign up, it asks you a bunch of personalized questioned to alter the app to you. For example, “How much exercise do you get in a day?” and you would pick an answer, anywhere from “little/no exercise” to “very active.” You enter your weight and height, and it gives you an estimated calorie goal per day. You can alter this to your liking, or keep what they recommend. You set a goal to either lose, gain, or maintain weight. For me personally, I have it set to lose 1.5 lbs per week, and at the end of everyday you submit everything you ate and it tells you “If every day were like today, you’d weigh __ lbs in five weeks.” Not only does it count your meals, but it also logs your exercise!
Photo credit: MacTrast
Tip 2: Pay attention to Nutrition Facts. This is an easy tip, considering all you have to do is flip over the food item and read the information. However, you do have to know what you’re looking for. Just because an item says “Low fat” or “25% less sugar” doesn’t mean it’s the better option. They may lower the sugar, but up the carbs. It may have less fat, but also less protein. Altering a food item always comes with a price. Generally, you want to purchase foods that don’t come in a box. Prepackaged foods are the worst; however, I know it’s hard to stay away from them. So just pay attention to the facts. If you need foods high in carbs and low in fat, look at the different brands and see which one best fits your diet. If you need low carbs and low sugar, then the “25% less sugar” items may work for you. By doing this every time you go food shopping, you will figure out and become more accustomed to what is best for you. It’s amazing how many things we think are “healthy” for us until you read and pay attention to the facts.
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Tip 3: It’s 80% food, 20% exercise (or 70/30). This is probably the most important tip to remember, as you may have heard “abs are made in the kitchen.” You would be surprised how many people believe that if you exercise enough, it doesn’t matter what you eat. I know some people have great metabolism and that might be the case for a small percentage, but just because someone is skinny does NOT mean they are healthy. Focus on what you are eating, think about the food pyramid, make sure you aren’t overeating, and exercise will come later. I’m not saying working out isn’t important; I am saying that food comes first. Knowing this is very helpful because many people will give excuses for not being healthy by ‘not having time to exercise,’ but if you focus on food and manage a couple 30 or 60 minute workouts in your week, you will be fine. (Granted, if you are trying to gain or strengthen muscle and not just maintain or lose weight, your lifestyle would focus on more exercise.)
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Tip 4: Drink water! I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times in your life, and I could go on and on about the benefits and reasons why this is so important. I’ll spare you the lecture, so long as you get up and go drink some water! But before you skip to the last tip, please note that the recommended eight cups of water per day has been proven to be no longer correct. For a better estimation of how much water you should drink in a day, look at the chart below.
Photo credit: (top) pinterest (bottom) mrhealthylife
Tip 5: Find your reason. It’s hard to stay on track or stay motivated if you don’t know why you want to. It sounds simple; you want to be healthy because it’s good for you, but many times this isn’t enough to keep you motivated. Whatever your reason is, do it for you and ONLY you. Wanting to look good to impress someone is probably the worst reason. Beneficial for a short period of time? Sure. In the long run? Probably not.