How can I change my habits to improve my fitness?

Anne Spicker
Ask yourself what aspects of your fitness you want to improve.  If it includes weight loss (fat loss) review your eating habits and look for ways to make your daily food intake more healthy:

1. How many meals do you eat out each week? If it's lunch every day, start by committing to pack a healthy lunch a couple days each week. If it's dinner out several days a week, commit to preparing more healthy meals at home.

2. Begin to add more vegetables to your meals. Vegetables add fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are lacking in fast food and packaged foods. Fresh is best, frozen is a good substitute, canned is ok for convenience. Salads count as vegetables and when you choose dark leafy greens a large salad packs a big healthy punch.  Be aware of additives in salads that add calories and fat and can lower the health value. 

3. Substitute fresh fruit for dessert rather than reaching for sweet treats that are full of sugar and fat and have little nutritive value.  

4.  Use good quality extra virgin olive oil and a good vinegar such as balsamic, champagne vinegar, or wine vinegars to dress your salads in place of manufactured salad dressings. And drizzle rather than slosh your salads with your dressing.

5. Try roasting, grilling, or sauteing your meat rather than breading and deep frying. 

6. Eat a small amount of protein at every meal.  Protein provides amino acids necessary to not only build and maintain muscle mass, but for maintenance of all our cells and tissues. A palm-sized serving of protein at every meal is adequate to meet your daily needs for the average exerciser. Protein also helps to keep blood sugar levels steady so our energy levels remain steady throughout the day.

7.  Reduce or limit servings of refined carbohydrates. These include processed baked goods, white bread, white rice and pasta, and white potatoes. These often contain higher levels of sugar, salt and fat. The refining process strips fiber and nutrients. When possible look for minimally processed whole grains that contain more fiber and nutrients.

Make one change at a time.  Trying to change too much at a time can become daunting and overwhelming.  Think about making changes that are life style habits and sustainable over the long term. 
You can do a lot to improve your fitness by simply changing a few habits. Here are some ideas:
  • Take the stairs, not the elevator.
  • Walk whenever you can, instead of driving.
  • Get off the bus a stop early.
  • Stand up while talking on the phone.
  • Lose your TV remote control -- get up to change channels. Or, get up and move during commercials.
  • At work, use lunch hours and coffee breaks to take a walk around the building.
  • Make social occasions more active -- instead of dining out, go dancing!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.