How many times has this happened to you?  You go to sleep at night, promising yourself that you will go to the gym in the morning. Eight hou...

Lazy? How To Start A Healthy Lifestyle

How many times has this happened to you? You go to sleep at night, promising yourself that you will go to the gym in the morning. Eight hours later you are still in your bed and do not feel like exercising.

Indeed, this scenario happens to many people. I included! However, it does not mean you should drop the ball altogether and forget about staying fit. What people need to realize is that a healthy lifestyle is critical for long-term health and wellness. In fact, there is a saying for it that goes this way: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Lazy? How To Start A Healthy Lifestyle

If you know how your body responds to your lifestyle choices, the better you can customize a nutrition and exercise plan that is right for you. Whenever you eat well, increase your level of physical activity, and exercise at the proper intensity, these are signals to your body to burn a substantial amount of fuel. This translates to burning fat more efficiently for energy.

In other words, proper eating habits plus exercise equals a fast metabolism.  In turn, this gives you more energy throughout the day allowing you to do more work with less effort.

Exercise sends a repetitive message to the body urging it to improve its metabolism, aerobic capacity, and overall fitness and health. Every time you exercise, your body responds by upgrading its capability to burn fat throughout the day and night. Exercise does not have to mean intense work for you, but it needs to be consistent.

Regular cardiovascular exercise needs to be done four times per week for 20 to 30 minutes per session. Resistance training can be done four times per week for 20 to 25 minutes per session. This balanced approach provides a one-two punch, which incorporates aerobic exercise to burn fat and deliver more oxygen, and resistance training to increase lean body mass and burn more calories.

Here is one example of an exercise program that may work for you:

1. Warm Up – Do light aerobic activity for seven to eight minutes. This will increase blood flow and warm-up your tendons and joints.

2. Resistance Training - Do one to two sets of each exercise then rest for 45 seconds between sets. This is to train all the main muscle groups.

3. Aerobic Exercise - Select two favorite activities, it could be jogging, rowing, biking or cross-country skiing, or whatever fits your lifestyle. Perform the first activity for 12 to 15 minutes then proceed with the second activity for 10 minutes. Cool down during the last five minutes.

4. Stretching Exercise - Wrap up the training session by doing stretching exercises. Breathe deeply and relax.

When starting an exercise program, it is important to have realistic expectations. Depending on your initial fitness level, you should expect the following changes early on:

1. From one to eight weeks – You will feel better and have more energy.

2. From two to six months – You may lose a few inches, as you become leaner. Clothes will begin to fit more loosely. You are gaining muscle and losing fat.

3. After six months – You start losing weight quite rapidly.

A commitment to an improved lifestyle does not stop with exercise. It involves a change in diet and eating habits. Calorie counting or calculating grams and percentages per serving may sound impractical for a busy person. Instead, here are easy-to-follow guidelines:

1. Eat several small meals (four small meals for optimum effect) and a couple of light snacks throughout the day

2. Make use of your hand to ensure that every meal is balanced. Incorporate palm-sized proteins like lean meats, fish, egg whites, and dairy products; fist-sized portions of complex carbohydrates like whole-wheat bread and pasta, wild rice, multigrain cereal and potatoes; and fist-sized portions of vegetable and fruits.

3. Limit your fat intake to only what's necessary for adequate flavor

4. Drink at least eight 8-oz. Glasses of water throughout the day

5. Take a multi-vitamin each day to ensure that you are getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs

More importantly, you should consult with your doctor before starting an exercise and diet program.

Enjoy life, you deserve it!