There’s only one road to a healthy lifestyle: Hard work
A true, sustainable lifestyle takes hard work. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s an easy fix you can get in 7 or even 30 days. If you want to look better for a week, do a week long program. If you want to be healthy and look great for the rest of your life, it’s going to require committing to a healthier lifestyle and creating healthy habits.
A life filled with health, happiness and confidence?
I think yes.
You’ve heard people say “the best things in life aren’t free.” Sometimes "not free" means "not easy." The best things in life are worth working for. A healthy lifestyle is absolutely, positively attainable. HOWEVER, if you aren’t willing to work for it, you aren’t ready for it. Yup, I'm getting real in this post.
You don’t have to have all the answers or know exactly how you’re going to accomplish all your goals. You just have to be WILLING TO WORK! You don’t even have to be fully motivated yet – finding your motivation is part of the process. But decide that you’re ready.
Decide that you’re going to do what it takes to get the body, the lifestyle and the confidence you want and deserve. Then take it one step at a time. If you're not sure what steps to take, don't worry, I've got your back. I have lots of free resources for you. My faves are the motivation checklist and the free email course.
You have to motivate yourself!
It's totally fine to use the help of friends and family members to push you along and encourage you, but YOU have to find it deep down inside of yourself to care. You need to care enough that you’re willing to make positive changes. Everyone needs a good support system (no matter what the goal is). However, that support system should supplement your personal goals and motivation.
It’s not fair to completely lean on someone else. And quite frankly, it’s lazy. If you don’t have your own reasons for accomplishing a healthy lifestyle, you’re never going to get there. So you have two options: decide you’ll find that motivation or come to terms with the fact that you don’t care enough to make it happen.
(Or the third option is to just continue lying to yourself thinking fads and diets will work even though you’ve seen them fail time and time again -- and even though you’re not even willing to exercise unless someone drags you kicking and screaming.)
Sorry to get real. (Well, sorry not sorry).
If you want the results, you have to put in the work.
Plain and simple.
So let’s talk about some of the details. (Each of these topics could probably be their own blog post, but I thought I’d cover some of the basics.)
Know your starting point & Count your calories
Before you roll your eyes and skip this section, give it a chance. I think there's some good stuff here, but I am biased.
I talk about this more in my free course, but the longer I’ve worked on my healthy lifestyle and the older I’ve gotten (I just turned 30!), the more I’ve realized that weight is probably 90% diet. And if you don’t know me yet – I say diet in terms of what you’re eating, NOT "what diet you’re trying.” (Don’t even get me started on how polluted that word has become. I hesitate to ever even use it).
The fact is that if you eat too much, you are going to gain weight. If you cut down on what you’re eating, you’re going to lose weight. It's basic math. One pound = 3500 calories. 3500 calories divided by 7 days a week = 500 calories per day. That means if you want to lose one pound per week, you need to cut out an average of 500 calories per day. That could mean skipping a super gulp from 7-11. Totally doable, right?
But here's the thing. Because we're all different, cutting 500 calories from your diet is going to mean something different for each of us. You need to know your starting point. Will cutting 500 calories mean you can now eat 1500, 2000 or 3000 calories? A 2000 calorie diet might be 1000 calories less for Jordan, 500 less for Emma and 500 more for Amy.
Once you know your starting point, you'll be better equipped to cut calories without feeling like you're starving yourself. This is also an easy way to start learning what's in your food which is an important step in creating healthy habits.
That being said, I am NOT a proponent of counting calories every day for the rest of your life. It seems daunting, right? If you’re trying to lose or gain weight, I think counting calories is the best way to go (at least when you're getting started). Once you’ve either hit your goal or gotten into the swing of things, take the lessons learned from meticulously counting calories and transition those into habits. It should look something like this:
In addition to counting calories to hit your goal, it’s a good skill to learn and also fall back on when you need to. If you feel yourself falling off the wagon, track your calories for a week or two. The longer you have your habits in place, the easier this will be. I still track my calories anytime I feel myself slipping out of good habits (and sometimes after I’ve spent a lot of time traveling or eating out). But here’s the thing: I’ve kept a healthy lifestyle for over 5 years now. I don’t count calories very often and when I do, it usually only takes me 1-2 weeks to get myself back on track. Sometimes only a couple days. However long it takes, closely monitoring my food always serves as a good reminder.
If you eat healthy food, you can eat MORE
This is something I LOVE!! Seriously – I love food! I don’t want to eat like a bird or starve myself every day to get the body I want. Aside from the fact that it just sounds miserable, it’s really not healthy. Your body needs food to survive! Isn’t that just beautiful? You love food and you need food. I think it's a win-win relationship.
And what's even better? You can actually create a healthy lifestyle while eating REAL FOOD!
You mean I don't have to live off of pills and shakes in order to get the body I want? (You can breathe a sigh of relief now.) I know. Real food and lots of it? Let me just show you a few examples of different foods so you can get an idea of what 100, 500 & 1000 calories looks like:
[see the sources here]
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I definitely don’t expect you to eat 3.25 cups of broccoli, 13 cups of brussel sprouts or an entire watermelon. I’m just trying to get a point across.
Healthy food is more filling. Look at how much food you can eat when you’re choosing healthy options. I for one would rather have a nice big meal than a bag of chips. I would also prefer to have 2 eggs and 2 slices of bacon than a tall mocha frapp. And I’d prefer to have a full steak or fish lunch than just a super gulp of coke.
From my experience, healthy food allows you to actually EAT MORE with less calories, which also gives you more space in your “calorie count” for things like a dark chocolate bar or bowl of ice cream (my two loves). A healthy lifestyle is all about balance. Have you ever measured a ½ cup of ice cream? It’s usually enough to satisfy a craving and is only 290 calories versus an entire pint which is 1160 calories. Big difference.
And again, I want you to count calories so you learn these lessons for yourself. Know what your 500 and 1000 calorie options are. You don't have to count calories relentlessly for the rest of your life (I know I don't!). Just use it as a stepping stone to learn more about the food you're eating.
Read your labels
I swear there's sugar in everything these days. Have you ever read your labels? Ok, it's totally normal not to read your labels. I know I'm the weird one here. This is NOT something I started doing until recently. I think it’s too extreme a place to start.
However, the next time you cook, glance at your labels. Your sauces, your pre-seasoned meats, your canned goods, YOUR SPICES!!! They’re all likely to have added sugar! It’s pretty ridiculous. The better habits I’ve created, the more aware I’ve become of the food I’m consuming. It might not seem like much to have 10 grams of sugar in a single ounce of your BBQ sauce, but when you have a “little bit” of sugar added to everything you’re eating, it adds up. Plus, who only uses an ounce of BBQ sauce?
It can really add up quickly if you’re not paying attention. Cut some of the sugar and see what it does for your waist-line. The majority of the time, you really don’t need it. And if you say “the sugar's not that big of a deal,” then maybe it’s not a big deal to cut it out. Small changes end up going a long way.
Aside from looking for sugar, the more aware I am of my food, the more I look for food without preservatives. I go for food with all ingredients I can both read and understand. If I don't know what an ingredient is, I try to find a better solution. Admittedly, I've spent far more time than I should standing in grocery store aisles looking at every label of every brand. However, once you find the best option, it will make future grocery runs faster. Most good habits have a learning curve. Reading labels and creating a healthy lifestyle are no exception.
The good news is that once you get past that learning curve, it just gets easier.
Hard work is easier in the long run
If you haven’t tried a failed diet, I’m 100% sure you know someone who has. Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. So please tell me why you would continue to try diets if you've seen them fail over and over again.
There are so many reasons why putting in the hard work to create a healthy lifestyle is worth it. The biggest reason: it works!
Seems like a no-brainer, right?
Hard work has to be worth it, otherwise nobody would do it.
Think about it.
If hard work in the office meant you made less money, would you work harder? If hard work at home meant your family relationships got worse, would you keep working on them? If hard work in the kitchen meant you gained weight, would you keep at it? If hard work in the gym meant you got more flabby, would you go?
But let’s turn this around.
If being lazy at the office made you less money or got you fired, would you do it?
If ignoring your family tore apart your relationships with them, would you do it?
If eating junk food made you gain weight, would you eat it?
If not exercising gave you flabby skin, would you keep avoiding it?
BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE DOING!
Why are you still avoiding the work?
You can’t have both. You have to decide what you want more. The consequences are already there. When you're making choices, try thinking of what consequences you're choosing rather than what choice you're making.
Do you care more about being lazy or about making money? Do you care more about your family or yourself? Do you care more about junk food or how you look and feel? Do you care more about watching tv or being healthy and fit?
The choice is yours.
I am a firm believer that if you want something badly enough, you can accomplish it. HOWEVER, it starts with that want. Take a look at your priorities and own your choices. There a lot of clichés like “you decide your choices but can’t decide the consequences.” Those sayings don’t exist because some Joe Shmoe just decided to throw random words together. As obnoxious as some of those sayings are, a lot of them are true.
Sorry to break it to you, but if you’re complaining about your unhealthy lifestyle and the way you look and feel, but aren’t willing to do something about it, nothing is going to change.
If you are willing, but you’re just not sure where to start, let me help you. If you're just plain struggling to find the motivation to get going, but you're willing to put in the work with a little help and direction, download your free motivation checklist and get ready for the step by step course coming in August.
You can also take my free course: Create a Healthy Lifestyle™.
Yes, it's hard to make changes. Yes, it requires hard work to establish healthy habits and turn those habits into a sustainable healthy lifestyle. BUT, you are NOT alone. Not only do you have family and friends who love you and support you, I'm here to help in as many ways as I can. Get the checklist, and register for the free course. I've been hard at work, putting together a bunch of free resources that will help you live a healthier lifestyle and I don't want any of them to go to waste.
Psst. Want to download the charts and resources in this blog post? Click below for instant access.