Get committed to working out, whether it’s a 20-minute run or crushing some abs, pushups and skip rope in front of the TV, everything helps. The worst excuse is saying that you don’t have enough time. The busier you are, the more you’ll need a break from the rest of your day. My idea of the perfect break is physical exertion. This will get the blood flowing and clear your head. The release of endorphins that occurs due to physical exertion will leave you with more energy and concentration after your workout. Ultimately the workout will make you more efficient when you have to get back to your busy schedule and it should help you to (a) fall asleep at night and (b) get a good sleep at night. Sacrificing 30 minutes of a subpar overnight sleep in favor of a workout has always helped me – unless I’m sick (very sick, not just a case of the snuffles).
Plan your meals. It’s so much easier to eat healthy when you have an organized pantry and fridge. It starts with grocery shopping – buying a balance of easy prep foods and typical preparation-required meal items. Leftovers are my best friend, especially on those busy days where I don’t have time to prepare a meal from scratch. This also helps my wallet when I bring food to work for lunch instead of paying $12 for a good quality meal downtown. Plan for your cheat meals too! If your friends always go out on Wednesdays for chicken wings, don’t be afraid to join them. It helps to be aware of this however, otherwise you might treat yourself to an ice cream sundae on Tuesday and then find yourself tempted to have wings on Wednesday too with your friends.
Always have healthy snacks ready to go. When you’re hungry in the middle of the day or before bed, choosing cookies, chips, or donuts isn’t the best way to go. These are all quick and they serve to satisfy those salty and sweet cravings, but having these snacks multiple times every day will surely make it harder for you to reach your fitness goals. Healthier options include peanut butter and rice cakes, pre-chopped veggies with humus, an apple, healthy varieties of granola bars (homemade for example!), almonds, cottage cheese, and more.
Don’t be too strict about the definition of “clean” in clean eating. We’re all human and not many people can survive six flawless clean-eating/diet-like days per week with only one cheat day to splurge. I love cheese and chocolate and I rarely go a full day without having one of these treats. My trick? I don’t go overboard. I grab a square or two of Lindt dark chocolate and I’m happy. I melt some white cheddar on my eggs in the morning but I don’t make a giant pot of mac and cheese (unless it’s cheat day, and then I am more likely to grab some cheesy nachos). The other key is working my butt off in the gym, fueling my workout with those calories so that I can go harder and longer on the treadmill or at the squat rack.