6 Ways to Make Exercise a Habit

Exercise.

Habit.

Two words that most people don’t see going in the same sentence. How can exercise be something you “just do”? If you’re not one of those people who enjoy exercise (there are more out there than you may think!) how can it ever not be a forced activity in your day?

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I remember when my workout felt like a chore. It was painful to drag myself to the gym (or in front of a P90X video) and get started. Once I did start it was fine, but getting started was the worst part of my day. I would so rather be sleeping, watching tv, shopping, eating, ANYTHING but working out.

But we all know that exercise is good for us. It’s not necessary to workout 7 days a week but according to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, you should get at least 150 minutes per week (source).

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (18-64 years) #
To achieve health benefits, adults aged 18-64 years should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least 2 days per week.
More daily physical activity provides greater health benefits.

So how can you make this a habit; something you just do without thinking about? Here are my 6 tips for making exercise a non-negotiable part of your day:

1. Have a Clear Vision

There is a difference between a goal to lose weight or be fit vs. losing weight or getting fit to reach your goal. I’m not exercising to lose weight or to look good for a specific event. I’m in it for life. I want to feel sexy and confident every day. I want to have energy and regular sleeping & eating patterns.  I want to live long enough to see my children’s, children have children. And I want to be the best possible version of myself so I can be my best for others.

I think being fit and healthy will allow me to be all of these things.

Having my priorities straight is what keeps me going back to the gym day after day. Shallow goals are too easy to make excuses for. For example, I strength train because I want to have functional strength for everyday activities. If my goal was to be able to squat 100 lbs, it would be a lot easier to put that off for another day, and then another…

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2. Plan Your Week

Every Sunday I take a look at the upcoming week and my work/personal commitments. I schedule my workouts from Monday-Saturday around those plans. For example, on a travel day I may need to work out a little later in the evening or if I have dinner plans with friends, I’ll hit the gym in the morning before work.

I have a to-do list for each day which includes my meals and fitness for that day. It doesn’t always have to be perfect; some nights are busy, canned soup nights (Amy‘s are the best!) and sometimes the best workout I can squeeze in is 30 minutes on the elliptical. Regardless, having a plan keeps me on track.

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3. Prep The Night Before

If I know I’m taking a yoga class the following day, my mat, towel & yoga bag are sitting by the door. If I’m working out in the morning, I’m sure to have an on-the-go breakfast ready like these vegan overnight oats!

Laying everything out the night before saves a lot of time and stress in the morning. Plus, you will be less likely to forget your socks or headphones and you’ll show up with the right gear! I’d prefer not to do BodyAttack in a Free-To-Be bra 😉

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4. Choose Workouts You Enjoy

If you hate spin (like me), don’t spin. Just because it’s amazing cardio doesn’t mean its for everyone. I’d rather do 10,000 burpees. If it’s a gorgeous day out and you’re dreading the gym, go for a run outside. When it comes to exercise, there  is something for everyone. Just to name a few:

  • Organized sports – Join a basketball team or a dance club
  • Casual sports – Have a tennis match with your bestie or go snowshoeing
  • Running/walking – Go solo, with a friend, join a running group, or go all out and start marathon training
  • Group fitness classes – Both Les Mills and the YMCA offer something for everyone who thrives in a group atmosphere
  • The gym – TRX, weight lifting, cardio machines
  • Home workout videos – Beach Body videos (i.e. P90X), Jillian Michaels, TIU
  • Online fitness – BlogilatesYou Tube videos

The list goes on…

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5. Commit to Friends

If you tell someone your going to be there, you probably will. When I was in university I always worked out with my friend Britt. I remember a lot of mornings wishing we hadn’t made plans to be at the gym first thing, but I wasn’t about to be the one to back out. Afterwards, I was always SO glad I dragged myself out of bed. Usually once our weekly schedule was set, we rarely missed a workout.

Meeting friends to workout can be a bit of a social thing too. I love having company for a yoga class or a circuit and you wouldn’t believe the cool people you meet through healthy living 😉

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6. Acknowledge & Celebrate Progress!

Of course doing something over and over will get frustrating if you aren’t seeing any results, but remember your weight is not the only indicator of progress. There are a number of factors that can prove you are making headway:

  • Body measurements
  • Body fat percentage
  • Blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol
  • How your clothes feel
  • Energy levels
  • Strength
  • Endurance

Remember to set realistic, sustainable goals (see #1) and celebrate even the smallest successes! If you beat your 5k time, maybe buy yourself a new pair of running shorts. If you’re at a plateau, reassess your routine and make some changes.

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Exercise needs to be fun and enjoyable or it will never be a habit. It can be all of these things if above all, you want it to be. You need to decide for yourself that you want to live a healthy, active lifestyle; that you want to be fit & healthy and are willing to work for it.

You are the only person who can make those things happen. Not your gym buddy, not your trainer, not Jillian Michaels… YOU! So get out your to-do list, plan your week, and pack your gym bag. There’s no time like the present… 🙂

Here’s to healthy habits!

Liz xo

The One Thing You Need for a Healthy Holiday Season

Sounds too good to be true right? But it really does come down to one thing:

Balance.

You don’t want to overindulge, of course, but you don’t want to over-stress either. That goes food and partying as well as gifting, decorating and all other aspects of the season. Celebrate within your means and you will come out on the other side just as happy as you went in.

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It’s a known statistic that the average person gains 3-5 lbs over the holiday season. If you don’t work that off next year, in two years time that’s 6-10 lbs. That’s enough to stress anyone into a bowl of party mix.

I know there are loads of posts out there like this, but I think when the advice comes from a familiar source, people tend to relate a little more. So for my family, friends, & faithful followers, here are my personal suggestions for finding balance this holiday season; for sticking to your commitment to live a healthy lifestyle and enjoying every minute of it!

* Eat before you eat

Yes, you heard right. It’s better to eat a healthy snack before an event with food than to “save up” all day. Eat lighter foods throughout the day like salads & veggies but don’t allow yourself to arrive at a party starving. Eating beforehand is especially important for vegans & vegetarians because the options may be limited.

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* Balance your plate

Scan the food table before making any selections. Fill the majority of your plate with the healthiest foods available then take a little bit of the limited edition foods. These L.E. foods are those that are only around during the holidays, like your mom’s famous  potato stuffing for example. Think of these foods as being “heavier” so you need less of them to balance your plate. Dessert is always considered an L.E. food.

* Don’t drink your calories

Easier said than done, I know. I’ve learned that I enjoy a “drink” most before my meal, while socializing and waiting for the food to be ready. If you’re one who prefers a drink with food, sip on club soda with lime beforehand. If you know you’re in for more than a one drink, try to have one glass of water for every drink to slow your consumption.

If holiday lattes are your thing, save them for special occasions like parades and tree lightings. Try my healthier candy cane hot chocolate on a regular night, which you may find will substitute for the sugary version just fine 😉

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* Sweat first 

I’m much more likely to get my workout in if I do it first thing in the morning, before the day gets ahead of me. If you don’t have time for a full session, break it up into two smaller workouts or at least aim for a balanced week of both strength training and cardio. Try some of these 30 minute holiday workouts.

* Fuel your body

Start your day with a balanced breakfast: protein, carbs & healthy fats. For a quick breakfast or snack try one of my smoothies of the month from the recipe page. You can add some protein powder or hemp seeds to any recipe for a macronutrient boost!

If you’re heading out for a day of shopping, pack your purse (or girlfriend’s purse) with healthy snacks so you won’t be tempted by the food court; protein bars, fruit, veggie sticks, or my warrior balls are perfect for this. If stopping for lunch is part of the day, plan it so you can eat somewhere with a healthy option.

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* Be mindful

This applies to everything. Savour your limited edition foods, focus on your form in that 30 minute workout, and “be” in each moment with your family & friends. You get the most of out of life when you are truly present in each moment. This one’s tough for me but yoga is a big help! Maybe it’s all of the balance postures?

* Don’t stress!

Seriously. The holidays are supposed to be a happy time. No one expects you to be perfect except you. Give yourself a break and just enjoy the season for what its really about – friends, family, peace, love, and for me, J.C! Stress is the #1 thing that leads to overeating and then we enter that vicious cycle of stress-eat-stress (i.e. no balance at all).

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Stick to your gifting budget.
Don’t strive for perfection.
Skip that visit to your least favourite person’s house.

Last but certainly not least, take some time for yourself to recharge. To give people your best, you need to first take care of YOU!

It’s never going to be easy, and unfortunately I can’t give you willpower in a box for Christmas, but if you strive for balance not only will you have a happier, healthier holiday season, but an enhanced life on all levels.

Take care,

Liz xo

Staying on Track

Happy Sunday 🙂

Where did last week go?! Whenever I travel for work the weeks fly. My team attended an advanced pulp training course in Bangor, ME which was a nice change up from the usual routine.

It’s always a challenge to stay on track on these trips because our breakfast are always provided by the hotel (bagels, croissants, muffins and thankfully fruit) and the group dinners always include an abundance of appetizers, drinks, and pub food of course. I got around it, however..

1. Our group rate included free breakfast from the restaurant – oats and peanut butter for the win!

2.The Sea Dog restaurant in Bangor had a decent vegetarian selection. I request the Mediterranean plate be added to the appetizer spread which had a bean dip, hummus, and taboulli (tabouleh?) with pita chips. For my main I had the sunflower burger (no dill sauce) with a side garden salad. All delicious!

Thankfully I never travel without my running shoes…

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Or my green juice nowadays 😉

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After a week like this which was preceded by the graduation celebrations last weekend and the Victoria day cottage weekend before that…. I feel kinda crappy :S

I did my best to make healthy choices while still enjoying myself – who goes to a microbrewery and doesn’t have a beer?! Or 10 mini samplers?

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Ok so I only drank 6 but I ate enough pita chips to feed a small army 😉

So in lieu of this I thought I would write a post about staying on track! It can be tough but if it were easy then everyone would be on their game all of the time and let’s get real… no one can be perfect all the time.

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1. Be prepared! 

Choose a day to prep some meals and snacks for the upcoming week.  I like to have at least one meal that only requires re-heating (casseroles, curries, soups), one that the boy can get together for us since he gets home from the gym before me (quesadillas,  BBQ, stir fry), and anything else should require minimal effort on the night of the meal. If you want baked potatoes, bake them the night before you plan to eat them while doing other chores or relaxing.
If you will be away for the weekend, keep this in mind the week before so you can have a few things in the fridge/freezer when you come home like frozen burgers, wraps, a few fruits/veggies,  soup. Your produce won’t go bad in a couple of days. Plan to stop at the grocery store on Monday or Tuesday for some easy meal ingredients – spaghetti squash is a good quick one that you can bake on Monday night to enjoy the following day.

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I don’t recommend shopping and cooking in the same day. I do recommend spreading out your prep to avoid an entire day in the kitchen. Browse cookbooks one one day, make some protein bars or green juice on another, and choose something quick and easy to have on meal prep day.

2. Keep healthy snacks on you at all times

If you are leaving for a few days or just for the afternoon, always keep something to snack on in your purse, carry-on, car, whatever! This will keep you from grabbing fast food on the run. Protein bars, nuts,  fruits, veggies, & individual (soy or coconut) yogurt packs, are all easy to throw in your purse when running errands. If your on an overnight trip, luckily most hotel rooms have a mini fridge 😉

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3. Plan ahead when dining out

Check out the menu online. My mom says this takes away from the experience but if you are trying to lose weight or are vegetarian/vegan than you will be excited to know you can dine out AND enjoy a healthy/veg-friendly meal 🙂

4. Keep a food log

I swear by this. This doesn’t mean you need to count calories but writing down what you eat will help you see the type and amount of food you took in at the end of the day. If you find you aren’t making any progress, take a look through the past few weeks and maybe you’ve been overeating or eating too much salty, fatty foods and not enough whole foods. Just the same, you can keep a fitness journal and also try to include your mood that day. This will help you learn what works for you. Remember, you can’t get your dream body on a “diet”. If you do, you’ll only have it for a short time, not to mention you won’t be healthy.

Don’t diet. Live healthfully.

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5. Focus on your goals 

When you are tempted and losing willpower, imagine your end goal. Really focus in on how bad you want it. When I feel weak I pull up Instagram and scroll through the health and fitness inspirations I follow. When I see someone else posting a healthy meal or a post-workout pic it motivates me. Make an inspiration board, post motivational pics in your cupboards (I’ve done this lol), call a friend for support, open up your Women’s Health magazine. Do not sacrifice what you what most for what you want right now.

6. Cheat day is not a free-for-all

I enjoy a treat just as much as the next person. I am a total chocoholic. However… cheat day doesn’t mean as much fries and drinks as you want. Cheat day means one bad meal or maybe a few extra calories on a given day. Do some research on calories in vs. calories out. No matter how hard you work all week, if you have a wild and crazy cheat day you will have a net positive calorie intake for the week. Don’t live week to week and throw caution to the wind on the weekend.

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6. Find support 

A group exercise class, a friend to walk/run/gym with you, books and magazines for information on fitness and nutrition, blogs, Instagram, Pinterst.

Make yourself accountable either to a class that you pay for, a friend that you’ve committed to, or by publicly logging your progress. If  you regularly post on Facebook or Instagram when you make a healthy meal or accomplish a sweaty workout, I bet you’ll feel guilty when you skip!

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7. Get results!

This may sound a bit backwards but there is no better motivation than results. Once you start seeing your progress whether it’s in the mirror, your measurements, your energy levels, or your physical abilities, you will feel SO good about it you won’t want to mess it up.

8. Don’t beat yourself up

Like I said, none of us can be perfect all of the time. If you fall off the wagon, don’t stress out, don’t go crazy and cut your calories to 1200 for the week (actually more ineffective than anything), don’t say “screw it” and continue to eat everything in sight either! Just take a step back, breathe, forgive yourself, and get your head back in the game.

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Hope you’re all thoroughly motivated get get back on or stay on track! Remember, if you can reach your goal, it is so much easier to maintain it! Take a few months to just focus in, quit the junk, commit to your workouts, and JUST DO IT.

Have patience. Be consistent. Do it for YOU because you deserve it! 🙂

Hope you all have a great week. Stay tuned for a light, summer dinner recipe!

E xo