Oh the scale. We've all used it to gauge progress at one point or another. Maybe you're still using it. Although the scale can have its time and place, the roller coaster of emotion it often brings with its ups and downs can be discouraging, especially when you feel like you've been "good" all week. For many of us, what that number says can have a major impact on our self-esteem, and letting some silly number dictate our mood for the day is not a way to live life.
Fortunately, there are many other ways to track progress, and other "non-scale goals" to focus on and celebrate through our pursuit to better health and well-being — and much of it has nothing to do with how much you weigh! We understand it's not January 1st, however you can start goals at any time. And if you have yet to do so, here's your opportunity! Toss the scale aside, and let's dive into 10 non-scale goals worth setting this year.
Water makes up about two-thirds of our body mass, and contributes to 100% of the processes in our body. From increasing workout performance, boosting your metabolism and keeping hunger at bay - water may be the most underrated nutrient you're overlooking for better results. For those motivated by numbers: aim to consume half your body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, a 200 pound person would aim to drink 100 ounces of water per day. For non math lovers, here’s a good rule of thumb: drink enough water throughout the day so your urine is clear or light yellow. Also, remember that the higher your activity level is, the more water you should drink.
If you really want to improve your health and fitness, sleep should be one of your highest priorities.
Even if you workout religiously, without proper sleep, you won’t get the results you want. What's more, poor sleep has also been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
If you want to make 2018 your healthiest year yet (and maximize muscle growth and fat loss), aim for 7-9 hours of deep, restful sleep every night.
“You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” We've all heard it before, with good reason. Nutrition will make or break your progress. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your pizza, ice cream, and happy hour with friends. Set a goal to eat healthy, whole, nutrient-dense foods 80% of the time.
For those meals, choose lean meats (chicken breast, turkey, white fish, lean ground beef), a variety of vegetables (leafy greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, squash, etc.), healthy fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil, whole eggs, fatty fish, dark chocolate) and complex carbohydrates (beans, peas, and whole grains like oats and brown rice).
This will lead to more muscle gain, fat loss, satiety and overall health improvements. It will also hit all of your "nutritional bases" (adequate protein requirements, fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc.) allowing you room to enjoy your "fun foods" in moderation so you can still have your cake and eat it too.
Cardio can be a great way to get started with your goals. However, lifting weights will do more for you than cardio can as it helps you add muscle, burn fat, improve your body composition and boost your metabolism. Sounds pretty good, right? A good goal to shoot for is to lift weights 2–3 times a week and utilize free weights, barbells, and resistance machines.
The most 'bang for your buck' exercises are traditional strength moves and compound exercises such as deadlifts, bench presses, squats, rows, pullups and lunges. This is because they recruit and require more muscles to be worked with each movement as compared to a bicep curl, for example, where just one muscle group (the bicep) is being worked.
Are you running your schedule or is it running you? How much time this week have you planned to do what makes you happy? We all have responsibilities in life that keeps us on our feet. However if we don't prioritize what we enjoy doing most, it's us who will fall flat on our face. We can be quite hard on ourselves at times by thinking we must struggle first in order to deserve or reward ourselves with some happy time.
But this can't be further from the truth. Just because we are adults with responsibilities, doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't prioritize joy in our lives. Schedule joy into your week by going to events, socializing with family or friends, taking care of your body, or relaxing and unwinding in the best way you know how. You will be glad you did.
Research shows up to 70% of our self talk is negative or self-critical. How is it that we can easily give compliments and support to others, yet are so quick to doubt and demean ourselves? Would you talk to a friend the same way you talk to yourself at these times? If not, then you certainly don't deserve to be spoken to in that way either. An insightful activity to practice, is: every time you find yourself saying a negative thought to yourself, write it down. Writing it down with a pen and paper is a great way to slow down and it gives you a visual on the absurdity of how your thoughts may be derailing your health and well-being. Once you write it down, ask yourself: "Do I really think that?"
Most likely, the answer will be, "No." Negative self talk is like using your imagination to create thoughts you don't want. Instead, combat the negative thought with an affirmation. Positive affirmations are extraordinary tools to counteract negative beliefs and thoughts. To do this, simply think of a thought to shift your mindset in a positive manner.
For example, if you find yourself saying "Ugh, I can't do this."
Write this down. Then, counteract this negative thought with a positive spin by saying (and writing down) something like, "I can do this. I trust in myself and I am capable and strong."
In our culture of quick fixes and immediate gratification, we all love a clear-cut solution to our problems. This is especially true when it comes to weight loss, diet, and exercise. We are either "on" or "off" the wagon; it's either "all or nothing", because, come on, there is no "in between." The problem with this "all or nothing" approach is it sucks us into setting extremely high standards for ourselves, that unfortunately aren't always realistic. The truth is, there is a grey area between the "black and white" thinking, and at some point we must find our way there in order to see and maintain sustainable results.
The grey area is called consistency.
As you continue your health and fitness goals this year, here's your reminder that being consistent will always trump trying to be perfect. Accept where you are currently, then plan out a realistic goal that you believe you can commit to.
For example, if your goal right away is to exercise 5 days per week, but you're currently struggling to get to the gym even 3 days, make 3 days your goal. Once you can manage 3 days per week and do it consistently for this month, then you can look at moving up to 4 days, and so on.
When it comes to nutrition, if your diet is all over the place, consider a simple approach by having three meals per day consisting of protein and veggies, and maybe 1-2 snacks of fresh fruit, instead of trying to stick to a rigid meal plan that's too hard to stick to for more than a week.
You can have the perfect workout routine and perfect diet set up, but if you can't stick to it, then it's not going to work for you. More is not always better; better is better. Fine-tune your goals and set yourself up for success by creating goals you can realistically commit, adhere and comply to. Work smarter, not hard. Because at the end of the day, being consistently good is greater than being occasionally perfect!
Lacking motivation? Sick and tired of the same old exercise routine? Not seeing the results you want, despite the effort, dedication, and time you've been putting in? We hear you. It can be frustrating to not see progress, and we know you're working hard!
Our bodies like to be efficient, which can work against us at times as they adapt rather quickly to our current exercise routine. If you've hit a plateau, it's time to mix it up! The truth is, if you change nothing, nothing changes. Push through your plateau by trying something new.
Living mindfully not only lets you soak up each and every moment, but, according to the National Institutes of Health, being more mindful may boost your memory, reduce anxiety and depression, lead to better self-esteem, and fight stress. Mindfulness for the win.
Whether we are obsessing with what happened an hour ago, thinking about our next meeting, or stressing over what we need to do next week - finding time to sit down to enjoy a meal may be the last thing on your mind. But, once you begin to practice eating more mindfully, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much of a positive impact it can have on your health and your life. Here are three ways you can practice being more mindful today:
1. Eat off of a plate on a table, not out of a bag in the car. You’re less likely to appreciate your food when you are multi-tasking. It’s also difficult to keep track of how much you are eating when you snack on the go - which can easily translate into eating more than you intended to. Instead, resist eating straight from a bag or a box. Not only is it easier to overeat when you can’t see how much you’ve had, but it's also harder to fully appreciate your food when it's hidden from view.
2. Chew 30 times before swallowing. Take the time to enjoy the flavors and textures in your mouth before you swallow. This is a rough guide, considering it might be difficult to get even 10 chews out of mouthful oatmeal or yogurt. Chewing is great for your digestion as it helps your stomach process and metabolize your food efficiently, and may also help prevent overeating by giving your gut time to send messages to the brain to say, "Hey you, you’re full now!" It's a win-win!
3. Put down your utensil between bites. So often we are already preparing our next bite while still chewing our previous bite. Slow down, put the fork down, chew 30 times, and take time to enjoy each bite. You'll find you're much more satisfied and satiated during and after your meal when putting this into practice.
While working towards your health goals, managing your diet will be an important component to success. But when times get busy, we tend to rely on convenience foods which most of the time aren't going to be the healthiest choice for our goals. We tend to snack on foods that we have easy access to. So if chips are in the cupboard, then chips it is!
If we surround ourselves with junk food, it's no wonder why we eat more of it. If our food environment is full of temptation and highly palatable foods, we're going to have a much tougher time making healthy choices. However, we can use this strategy to our advantage by setting up our food environment to support our goals. Take control of your food environment so the healthy choices are easy to make and unhealthy choices are more difficult. There are many ways we can do this. Here are a few examples to get you started:
Stay focused on your goals when grocery shopping and remind yourself that "if it's in the kitchen, I'm going to eat it." Let that be your guide to the choices you make. Because, at the end of the day, you are what you eat!
Remember, wanting to look better or lose weight is perfectly fine. But if you are constantly focused with the number on the scale going down, you may be missing out on opportunities of other improvements, wins and "non-scale victories" you may be experiencing along your journey. Give a few of these goals a try this year, and you may find the weight coming off without even noticing it!