When I was asked to share my story, I jumped on the opportunity. I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power, and I hope my message will motivate or, at least, spark curiosity to learn what it means to live an “active, healthy lifestyle.” I will share information based upon my life experiences and what I’ve seen work for others as well as myself.
Early in my career I was unaware of the phrase “active, healthy lifestyle.” I had a rude awaking after the first couple of years in corporate America, as I found myself with an extra 50 lbs of body weight. For the first time in my life, I was in a place I had never been before. Growing up as a kid, I wore extra slim pants, mainly because I never sat down; I was always moving around and actively engaged in something throughout high school. I realized my weight gain when someone snapped a picture of me working in the office, and, when I saw the picture, it was an eye opener. I thought my neck looked thick; my face looked swollen – it just wasn’t me. I knew that with weight gain, health complications could follow. I wasn’t happy with myself and knew I needed to make a change. I decided to join a gym to begin my fitness journey.
So, what does it mean to live an active, healthy lifestyle? There isn’t a cut and dry answer. We are ALL different and my goal is to provide some guidance to help you figure out what it means for you. From birth to adulthood, the paths we take and the experiences we live mold and shape us mentally and physically into who we are. If you would like to do something different with your life, you are the only one that can make it happen!
Living an active, healthy lifestyle can have different levels. There are some individuals who eat completely clean, weigh their food, and time their meal intake to complement their pre-, during-, and post-workouts. Walking that line would put us in the best living shape of our life; however, the reality is that type of effort is not feasible for everyone. We can live an active, healthy lifestyle without extreme sacrifices. For example, I enjoy pizza and fried foods. That doesn’t mean that I eat it daily or every other day. I try to balance my meals with my daily activity. I do not weigh food or count calories, but I keep it in mind.
On average, an adult male can burn up to 3,000 calories per day. This does not include a workout. If my breakfast, lunch, and dinner add up to 10,000 calories of greasy, fatty foods, I would have ingested an excess of 7,000 calories. This is when we can start to see weight gain. While this example does not apply to everyone, it’s important to keep calories intake in mind (notice you don’t have to obsess over them).
How we live an active, healthy lifestyle will be different for each of us. Here is some of my advice and information to help get you started.
Where do I begin?
- Start with a self-assessment. Have a conversation with yourself to identify what you want to accomplish. This is a time for you to be honest with yourself. How do you want to make a better you?
Setting and Keeping Your Goal Visible
- Once you know what you want to accomplish, now it’s time to set a goal to get there. When you have a goal, put it on paper to make it visible. Put in on your fridge, dresser mirror, cell phone app, etc.
Planning and Achieving Your Goal
- This step can be difficult, especially if you do not have any experience in this area. There are plenty of trainers and active groups who share the same life goals and could offer advice. Depending on your goal there are also paid, and free workout plans online. Whichever route you go, having a plan is crucial to get you to your goal.
Group Training vs Individual Training vs Family Training
- Maybe group training would be good for you with the accountability aspect. If group training isn’t your thing, try training alone or you could lean into your family members or friends for support.
Give It an Honest Effort
- Whatever the goal is, in order to be successful, you must give it an honest effort. Go in to accomplishing your goal with a positive mindset to help set you up for success.
- Results will not happen overnight. You must commit and be confident that your plan will get you to your goal!
Smart Watches and Devices
- There are many products and devices out there that can help keep track of your workouts and caloric intake to help you align better with your goals. Most of them now a days will integrate directly with Strava, a social network used to track and share workout activities.
Listen and Care for Your Body
- Your body will tell you when something isn’t right. If you feel a burn, pain, or ache during a workout session, it’s time to listen to your body. Those could be signs of pushing too hard, a muscle group may not be ready for the level of effort, or your body simply needs to rest. Your best move is to stop and rest for the day and pay attention to that area of your body.
- Pre-workout dynamics, plyometric movements, and post-workout stretching are important elements to help keep injury-free.
Keys to successful workouts
- A good night’s sleep and proper nutrition will position you for a great workout.
- During Workouts
- For workouts that are under an hour, ensure you are hydrating properly. Once a workout extends past the hour mark, it’s important to start incorporating additional nutrition along with the hydration. Depending on the activity and time of year, your hydration and nutrition will vary.
- Try and refuel with protein the first 60 minutes after your workout. This is also a key time put in some stretching!
As you begin your journey to find that active, healthy lifestyle that works for you, keep in mind it might take a little time to figure it out, so be patient. Whatever your goal is make sure the activity you choose is something you enjoy doing! There are many ways to stay active; go out and explore!
Get up, get active, and train smart!