You may have heard of the old adage, plan your work and work your plan, but have you ever applied it to your health and fitness? Regular exercise and good nutrition should be researched, prepared, and planned. Here are some tips to help you plan your workout and your meals in the year ahead. Once you are prepared, work your plan to achieve your health and fitness goals.
Begin by examining your personal and work schedules to identify the days and times you will dedicate to exercise. Be careful here to set a realistic goal that you can maintain without compromising your family or your job. More is not better if it leads to stress. Next, select a cardiovascular exercise that you enjoy, or prefer, over another. This can be walking, running, cycling, swimming, using the elliptical or taking an aerobics class. Choosing an exercise that you like will increase your compliance. In addition to aerobic exercise, you will want to add some weight training to your plan to increase your bone density and strengthen your muscles. If you are not familiar with the gym, perform calisthenics using your body weight or invest in a personal trainer to teach you how to perform safe and effective exercises using weights.
Plan your meals as well. Research has shown that selecting a meal from a few good choices, leads to improved weight management. For example, limit your breakfast to one of three meals: cereal and skim milk, Greek yogurt and a banana, or an egg with whole grain toast. Research your ingredients in advance by selecting cereals and breads with at least five grams of fiber per serving. Protein satiates you, so include low fat protein with each meal. Prepare by keeping your kitchen stocked with healthy choices.
Use the same principals to prepare and plan for your lunch. Include a lean protein source such as yogurt, eggs, or lean meats. Add a colorful array of vegetables and some whole grains. Limit your choices: a broth based soup, a salad, or a sandwich of lean meat and vegetables on whole grain bread.
Dinner can be the most challenging meal for many families in today’s fast paced life of work, school, and extra-curricular activities. Take extra care in planning your meals for dinner. If you are getting home late from work, select items that can be prepared ahead of time and frozen or foods that cook quickly. A fish entrée is an excellent choice as it requires a short cooking time. Breakfast foods, such as a frittata, also make healthy and easy dinner choices. Shop ahead of time for your vegetables and leave them cleaned and chopped in storage containers in the refrigerator so they are ready to cook. Frozen vegetables are also convenient and nutritious.
As you review your exercise and meal plan that you have so diligently prepared, keep in mind that you will want that special treat at times and prepare for that as well. Fresh fruit contains natural sugar and is a great sweet treat or between meal snack. Cheese, in moderation as it is high in fat, can satisfy a salt craving. If you are looking for crunch, snack on some peanuts or almonds, but not out of the jar. Pour about ¼ cup into a bowl to maintain portion control.
Lastly, work your plan to achieve your health and fitness goals in the year ahead. Happy New Year!