Taking a holistic approach to fitness and well-being, along with meal plan in off days and on days and other few things, we should also assess how healthy our home is. Aside from investing in hepa-filters, cleaning the carpet to get rid of dust and other irritants, and keeping the bathroom squeaky clean, there are other good habits to make sure that your living situation is conducive to keep you fit to defeat the world of fitness. So, let’s have a look at some must have good habits to lead a sound life.
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Stock up on measuring tools:
Beyond keeping the fridge stocked with fresh, healthy eats, nutrition also starts with the kitchen tools you have to prepare all that excellent produce. Some of the best items come in cup form from measuring cups, that is.
To help ensure that you’re sticking to proper portions, invest in a good set (or two) of measuring cups, spoons, and other implements used to weigh and keep track of how much you’re actually eating. You might not be straight up calorie counting, but you’ll be stacking the odds in your favour by preventing your plate from being overstocked. A good food scale is also a worthwhile investment.
Recycle plastic bottles:
Many plastic water bottles you buy in the supermarket or convenience store are for one-time use. The ingredients in the plastic may begin to degrade, and then what used to be in the bottle can start seeping into the bottle’s contents—ick, right?
Beyond your water earning that plastic-y tastes that’s equally gross, you make end up drinking in potential harmful chemicals, which is obviously worse than a bad taste. If you can, invest in your own stainless steel, glass, or ceramic carrying containers for your food and water.
If you use plastic, look for more environment friendly ones that are BPA-free (the bad chemical stuff you should avoid), and be sure to rinse out any standing water after use. Opt to microwave your food in non-plastic containers as well.
The Living Room:
Mind the distance from the TV:
Remember all that stuff your parents told you about sitting too close to the TV screen? Well, it never really sunk in until I got older and snagged a sweet office job. Job shenanigans aside, staring at a screen, up close, for 8-9 hours at a time is really taxing on the eyes and on the brain.
While we might not be able to change our sitting arrangements relative to the screen at work, we certainly have control over the distance we put between ourselves and our television screens or laptops. The next time you tune in to the boob tube, get used to sitting further back from that pixilated screen.
You may be able to save some strain on those peepers, which, as we know, can potentially help keep them healthy. If you’re laptopping it often, either for work or for school, take frequent break from staring at that screen. Look off into the distance and focus on a point for one or two minutes; see if you can do this every 20-30 minutes. This gives your eyes the chance to adjust and readjust your focus over time.
Consider moving the TV:
Okay, as we all bristle at the thought, hear me out for a second. I love lying down watching a movie as much as the next girl, but having a screen in the bedroom can actually hinder your ability to nod off. Hear me out. As we know, screens, with their sounds, flickering lights, and all their stimuli, keeps your mind active and awake.
Throw that 32 incher into the bedroom, and you’ve got a prostrate body that’s relaxed and ready to sleep paired with a mind that’s saying, nuh-uh. All these mixed signals can make it hard to fall into a solid sleep, so if you’re not ready to move out the flat screen, at least avoid turning it on in the hour before you hit the sack.
Keep it calm:
Much like the previous point, if you make your bedroom your sanctuary, it can actually be that much easier to fall asleep. A messy, cluttered room can be mentally stressful, as the visual disorder can translate into a mind that‘s equally preoccupied at bedtime. For all you neurotic people like me, falling asleep can be hard enough as it is; with all the day’s events and tomorrow’s appointments running through my brain, it’s a wonder I get any sleep as it is. Do yourself a favour and make your bedroom area a place that’s serene, where you can feel comfortable and ready to sleep.
Good Eating Habits:
Now think about eating habits, particularly special eating habits before a game you are going to take part. If you’re like me (as I was in my student life), then you know that it can be pretty tough to go hard at the gym on an empty stomach. Yes, I can’t but talking about gym because I’m dedicated to fitness. So, as promised, now I’ll take you through the ins and outs of prepping for your after-work gym session, of course nutrition wise.
If you’re headed to the gym after spending the afternoon at home, it’s obviously a lot easier to prep your meals and get that whole thing taken care of. For those of you following my experiences, you’ll note that I’m heading over to the gym directly from work.
As such, I need to make sure to have the right foods on hand in the office so I can avoid being sluggish and tired during my post-work workout. In my experience, the biggest complaint I used to have was that I never had enough energy to hit the gym hard, especially if I didn’t have that grace period between work and the meal.
Proper fueling solves a lot of these problems, and here’s how. My personal experiments favour light snacks over hefty foods that tend to sit in your stomach for long periods of time. I know many athletes swear by a big bowl of complex carbs like pasta and chicken prior to the big game, but in my experiences hitting the gym after work, the opposite is actually true.
I prefer “lighter” fare like Greek yogurt and a banana. I find that Greek yogurt, as a great source of protein, digests a lot more easily and quicker, which means fuel faster. The banana gives me some fiber to help sustain me the length of my workout, but neither food makes me feel like a stuffed pig ready for slaughter (this, of course, is what you want to avoid).
The portion size is really key here as well; you shouldn’t feel like you’re shoveling in a huge meal then letting it sit in your stomach before the gym. This can lead you to feel sleepy and ultimately unmotivated to work out. No matter what you’re eating, keep the fare light and the portion size conductible. Think of a snack size serving of whatever you’re taking.
I’ve also experimented with consuming beans about 2 to 2.5 hours ahead of schedule. To expand, the timing of your pre-game fueling is an equally important consideration. In order to optimize your performance at the gym or on the bike paths, you need to make sure you eat at least an hour to two hours ahead of time.
This way, you have ample time to digest your food and prevent side stitches. If I’m planning on gymming at 6 pm, I schedule a mid-afternoon snack around 4 pm. Depending on what I’m eating, I allow myself ample time to digest and get that energy flowing through my system. As I noted, when having a kidney and black bean salad in the afternoon, I’ll usually chow down around at least 3:30 pm if I’m jogging at 6 pm.
How should YOU optimize your pre-gym fueling in the office:
Don’t just bring lunch period. Make sure to bring enough healthy snacks to keep your metabolism revved and ready, and to maintain a steady blood sugar level. For an 8-hour shift for example, you should be eating between 2 and 3 times throughout your day. I bring an apple, some plain nuts, and some low-fat cheese strings for a mid-morning snack, in addition to my lunch and pre-game snack.
Don’t take a massive lunch. Eating really heavily, at any point of your day in fact, will throw off your eating schedule for the rest of your afternoon or evening. Ever taken one of those extended company lunches around 12 or 1, only to be so stuffed that you literally couldn’t pick up a fork until later on that evening? Try to avoid this. It’s going to make moving, nevermind running, a lot harder, and as such you might not be motivated to go to the gym.
Pace your meals. If you know you’re having your pre-game meal around and then schedule your lunch accordingly, maybe 3 hours ahead of that. You want to be spacing your snacks and meals out appropriately so that you’re never so stuffed nor so starved that your blood sugar levels are thrown out of whack.
For my 9-hour shift, beginning at 9 am, I have a snack around 10 or 11 am, then take lunch at about 1 or 2 pm-ish, depending. If you’re consuming smaller portions of the good stuff, you can totally afford to eat “more often,” say every 2 or 2.5 hours. Eventually you’ll work out a system where you won’t really be looking at the clock, rather going by what your body tells you.
Until then, just work backwards from the time you’re exercising to the time you’re consuming your pre-workout snack, and so forth. Nutrition in the office can be a touchy subject, especially when you work in close quarters or don’t have a closed cubicle.
Memos tend to blaze about avoiding loud or aromatic snacks at your desk (also, it’s potentially distracting for both your colleagues and yourself), so light fare is particularly useful in these situations. Fruit, veggies, and the like are usually welcome in any office workplace, so take advantage of these foods and incorporate them into your workday meal plans. As I continue in my fitness journey.
Eating Habits In Off Days:
At times, you also enjoy off days. I recently spoke with one of our fellow Fitness Lovers about a key issue likely facing most of you out there, and myself included. How do you manage to stick to good habits while taking an “off day” or cheat day? This is an excellent question, and I thought I’d take a moment to share my impressions with the rest of you as well. So, now I’ll discuss fashioning a solid approach to your general eating and activity during those off days.
This is probably the best advice I can give you with respect to your fitness goals, but it’s as effective as it is straightforward. Having at least an outline of what you think you’ll be eating during your day off will help you stick to all those good habits you’ve picked up, including eating the right foods in regular intervals and avoiding the dreaded mindless munching.
It sounds really counterintuitive to put structure to an off day. After all, isn’t that the point of being “off”? Well, yes and no. At the risk of hammering it home one too many times, what you’re involved in is a lifestyle change, and not a diet.
So, from that point of view, an off day doesn’t mean you’re going to quit all the guidelines you’ve previously established for the rest of the week. However, if you’ve been good during the week and you’re totally looking forward to that off day as the time when you can actually eat pizza guilt-free, hey, who am I to take that away from you?
Actually what I like to suggest you is that you should be strategic about your cheats. If you want that Sunday (your off day) as the day you get to eat pizza, do it, but be reasonable about it. Spending the entire day going through slice after slice of extra large pizzas will make you feel sick, and it can’t do your waistline much good, either.
Instead, try scheduling a couple slices for dinner or another specific time, rather than just thinking of your off day in terms of an all-out eating bonanza. That way, you can enjoy your favorite greasy food, but in a way that gives you control over your eating. This is what I mean by planning ahead; give yourself back the control over what you eat and when.
Log Your Meals – Make Time for the Mess Hall:
We tend to plan nicely for those times when we’re busy and on a tight schedule. After all, this is totally necessary in order to be able to fit healthy eating, work, love, and life into the same sentence. During your off day, it’s different, since you could be watching TV for a few hours, going for a walk, hitting the mall, you name it. In other words, you’re free from the typical 9-5 schedule and are officially “off the grid.”
To avoid taking some of the exhilaration out of your off day, at least anticipate that you’ll still be getting hungry about every 2-3 hours. After all, your brain may be shut down for the day, but your body will still remember its hunger. In terms of planning ahead, what I like to do is to roughly anticipate what I’ll be eating for most of my meals.
I might leave myself more leeway in terms of being creative in the kitchen, but I’ll still remember to eat regularly to keep my metabolism up. Just because I’m “off,” doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll do away with all the healthy rules I’ve learned to live by. I’ll stick to clean ingredients, but not feel bad about whipping things up as I go along. As such, I might not have a lunch prepared in the fridge like I would if I were actually at work, away from the kitchen, but I’ll keep it in the back of my mind that I have to have some protein and veggies around x time.
Sometimes I like to mentally plan out the core meals for my day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, leaving those healthy in-between snacks/meals as undecided. Or, conversely, I’ll make sure to have ideas in mind for what to eat for those between meal snacks, and leave dinner up to my creative genius.
Either way works, but the idea is to loosely plan your meals as you would any normal workday or day on the grid. Too many times we fall off the bandwagon because we leave eating to chance. If you know you work better with a solid eating schedule, then feel free to draw up a concrete plan for this off day.
It’s going to benefit you in the long run, and it certainly won’t interfere with that Mad Men marathon. You’ll just be eating hummus and veggies instead of chips and dip. There’s nothing wrong with mentally anticipating the next time you’re going to eat; this is just smart noshing.
Keep a Healthy Arsenal Handy:
If there’s no cookies in the house, you won’t be snacking on them, period. If your off day is spent hanging out at home, no doubt you’ll get hungry in between episodes during your Mad Men marathon. Because you’re in such close proximity to the kitchen, there’s a lot more added temptation to just nibble here and there on whatever’s handy, until the entire bag of flour is gone.
If you haven’t done this already, junk the junk. This will ensure that the only things you could be caught with red-handed are stuff that you’re already “allowed” to eat. The worst thing in my kitchen? Kraft peanut butter, which is, I’ll admit, temptation enough in itself (I can usually just eat it right out of the jar).
However, I’ve done away with loose candy (which is THE WORST for you since it’s so small and you won’t notice how much you’ve eaten ’till it’s too late), as well as chips, anything fried or packaged, and even bread. Bread is, of course, kosher so long as it’s whole grain, but to stay on topic, my kitchen is kept pretty snack-friendly. If I’m tempted to munch, the worst I can do is have a piece of fruit or plain nuts, and that’s no problem at all.
If you can, prepare some easy snackables for your off day. Grapes, apples, or other fruit, low-fat cheese portions, Greek Yogurt cups, plain nuts, hummus, whole grain pita wedges, and so forth are great examples of healthy choices. Keep your pantry or fridge stocked with these easy-to-eat items so that if and when you’re tempted to munch mindlessly, at least you’ll be doing so relatively guilt-free.
Recon Away From the Fridge:
If you’re looking to keep the calories down, the subconscious munching, whether on the healthy stuff or not, can be a potential hurdle. I think the reason why we do it, especially at home, is because we’re now surrounded by food. If we’re in the office, we’re occupied with work and only have a set amount of food available to us in our lunch boxes. At home during our off days, there’s a big ol’ fridge over there, and you’ve got nothing but time on your hands.
Even if you’re planning on spending the evening watching 90210, do whatever you can to limit your time spent near or in the kitchen. Watch TV in the upstairs den, take your laptop somewhere else, etc. The closer you are to the pantry, the more likely you’ll be to end up scrounging through it for eats.
Defend Your Weaknesses:
I always like to understand the reasons why we do what we do, why we slip up, and why we binge. It helps preventing a similar event from occurring, and also lets us plan a fallback strategy during hard times.
In this case, know your weaknesses. If you tend to fall off the wagon when watching TV, try turning on the tube after you’ve eaten a healthy meal and are feeling satisfied. That way, you’re not likely to get hungry again during your TV surfing. Even if you’re bored, you’re unlikely to eat more after you’ve just eaten and are no longer hungry.
TV is a funny thing. It seems like it’s never enough to just be vegging out, mind and body on automatic; rather, it turns out we also need our taste buds to be stimulated at the same time. I’m not sure if if it’s the fact that we’re so sedentary that makes us crave the food for excitement, but this is where the “boredom eating” kicks in.
If this is the case (and it usually is), seek alternative stimulation. Avoid the oral fixation and instead, continue to keep your hands busy while watching your program. If you’d normally be throwing chips down the pie hole, having a mug of hot tea or coffee will prevent you from seeking snacks instead. You can also opt to chew gum, or even just drink water throughout your program if you think you need to keep your mouth busy.
If you can achieve and maintain these good habits, it will be easy for you to maintain your weight. And again, f you are just like me, if you love fitness, if you hate overweight, then I’m sure that you will love the above tips and will try to follow them at your best. Have a happy journey to the Fitness.