I just posted my intro post to my 30-day healthy lifestyle challenge this past Wednesday, but — psyche! I’m already done with week one. I actually started the challenge last week, so I’m more than a week into my commitment to eat healthy and exercise. It has been much easier to stay on track than I imagined, all because a little preparation has gone a long way. Meal planning and grocery shopping have been my keys to eating fresh, whole foods. Also, scheduling my workouts has held me accountable and made sure I get my butt to the gym. It’s true that the first step is always the hardest. I was nervous about going back to the gym after such a long absence. Would I look out of place? Would I know what to do? But now that I’ve gone for several days in a row, guess what? Not so scary.
The best result of week one has been increased energy and mental clarity. I’m not exhausted when I get home from work. I don’t get a 2 p.m. hunger headache. I’m getting more done at work and after work, because I feel more energized, and I think my cleaner diet has played a major role in that new-found feeling.
I’m starting to feel more confident, more refreshed, and stronger, and I know those feelings are only going to improve from here on out.
Week 1 Tips & Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks that helped me succeed in the first week of my challenge:
Create a gym-class schedule that’s easy to access on your phone and computer at anytime. My gym membership allows me to attend any of the club’s four locations and unlimited group fitness classes. The problem? Each group fitness schedule was listed separately by location on the website, and the interface was not user-friendly for quick reference. I knew to stay on track I would need to quickly reference a weekly schedule of all the group fitness classes I could attend — so I made my own Google sheet. I looked at all the group fitness classes and made note of the ones that interested me, then I looked at the times and cut out any that were during work hours. I listed each day’s class options with gym location and start times in a Google sheet that I saved in my Google Drive. Now I can quickly check it on my work computer or on my iPhone using the Google Sheets app. It has made planning out my workouts much easier. There is just one thing to check now, and I know that everything on the list interests me and is held at a time when I can attend.
If it’s not in your pantry or fridge, you won’t eat it. If I don’t buy my beloved goldfish crackers or tortilla chips, then I won’t have the option to snack on them when a craving strikes. It’s that simple. If you don’t want to drink Diet Coke, don’t buy it. Stick to outer rim of the grocery store where the produce and fresh meats are stocked.
Portion out snack bags immediately upon getting home from the grocery store. This has been a lifesaver for me. My go-to has been grapes. I get a big bag of red grapes at the grocery store, and immediately wash them and divvy up the grapes into snack-sized baggies that I put in the fridge. When hungry strikes, I can now quickly reach for a pre-portioned and convenient healthy snack. It also speeds up packing my lunches in the mornings. Without this instant option at hand, my laziness may have driven me right to the McDonald’s drive-thru.
Keep a reusable straw and cup at work to drink water throughout the day. I struggle with drinking enough water, not because I don’t like water, but because I get busy throughout the day and don’t think about drinking anything. To encourage myself to drink more water, I’ve kept a reusable cup with a straw on my desk. I drink more when using a straw, and it’s easier for me to drink through a straw while working.
Sign up for gym classes in advance. If your gym allows you to sign up and reserve your spot in group fitness classes in advance, do it. It holds you accountable and helps you schedule your workouts so you fit fitness into your day. This has helped me a lot this week.
Make batches of protein in advance. A couple days this week, I cooked skinless chicken breast in a Crockpot or made an extra large helping of meat, like ground turkey. This allowed me to have extra protein on hand for quick and easy meals. I found cooking a couple chicken breasts with organic chicken stock in a Crockpot on low for three to four hours was the easiest way to have delicious, shredded chicken available that could be used in a variety of dishes.
Week 1 Stats
Gym classes attended: 4 (Studio Barre x 3 and BodyPump)
Number of Diet Cokes consumed: 0
Typical Breakfasts: Overnight steel oats with chia seeds, almond milk, organic peanut butter, and cinnamon; a cup of grapes; black coffee with a splash of almond milk; turkey bacon and scrambled egg beaters
Typical Lunches: Shredded chicken breast with black bean salsa and avocado; scrambled egg whites with lean ground turkey; shredded chicken with hot sauce and steamed veggies
Typical Dinners: Grilled salmon with steamed green beans; shrimp with cauliflower rice and vegetables; shredded chicken and steamed broccoli
Typical Snacks: Humus with organic baby carrots; a cup of grapes; apple with organic almond butter
For week two, I’m hoping to step up my workouts and get even cleaner with my diet. This week I allowed small treats — like a glass of wine, a Girl Scout cookie, or a Bud Light — as long as they fit with my daily calorie and macro goals, but going forward, I’d like to cut back on those. In five weeks, we’ll be on our way to Florida for a long weekend, and I want to look and feel my best.