Creating an Active Lifestyle

"A year from now, you will have wished you started today" - Karen Lamb

Most of my life I played sports - softball in elementary school, track and volleyball in middle school, and volleyball in high school. I was never the best player, but never the worst. I was competitive, so I always enjoyed my time on the field or the court. It kept me active and relatively in shape, considering I ate tons of crap and never really gained much weight.

So when I went to college, and I no longer had a sports team to count on to keep me active, I started gaining weight and boy was I gaining it FAST. I gained my freshmen 15 in a few months. And not only was I not active, but my diet sucked. My food staples were sryup-soaked waffles, cinnamon toast crunch, and brown sugar pop-tarts. (Clearly I had a thing for processed breakfast foods). If I wasn't eating breakfast, I was eating cheese, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, or Starbucks white chocolate caramel mocha (yep, caramel + white chocolate). To top it off, we had a McDonalds and a Popeyes close to campus, so I was smashing french fries, bacon and cheese biscuits, and fried shrimp boxes like it was nobody's business. And I was doing all of this while sitting on my futon and rarely going to the gym.

Back then I wasn't interested in changing my eating habits, in my mind that wasn't the problem. The problem was the fact that I wasn't playing a sport anymore. (Do not worry, I eventually realized that my diet needed to change too.) I had to learn how to be active without a sport and I needed to learn quickly. Here are the 4 things that I did to try to introduce activity and create an active lifestyle:

  1. Walk - I know this seems simple. But I started to walk to places I would normally drive to. No need to move my car to walk 5 or 6 blocks. Not only was I getting exercise, but I was getting fresh air and not burning gas. I also started taking the steps instead of the elevator. This was not only to stay active, but I am impatient, and I hate waiting on the elevator. I always felt like I got to my destination quicker, and I burned a few extra calories, #winning. Now, if I am going higher than the 6th floor, I will still hop into an elevator. Showing up to a meeting sweating, not cute.
  2. Running - When I ran track, I ran for speed not distance (I ran the 400). But in the real world, i.e. college, everyone was running around campus miles at a time. No bueno. I wasn't ready. But I knew that some cardio was important, so I set a goal to try to run one-mile everyday for 30 days. If I missed a day, the next day I had to make up for it. And if I got tired, I could walk, but I had to finish the daily mile. By the end of the month, of course, I was always in better shape and I would always drop a few pounds.
  3. Mini-Workouts - I love doing "mini-workouts" throughout the day. When I get up the morning, I will try to do 3 reps of 12 of 4 different exercises. So for example, this morning I did 12 burpbees, 12 jumping jacks, 12 squats, and 12 push-ups. I took a 30 second break in-between, and then I did it again. I did this a total of four times and it took less than 10 minutes. I do not care who you are, you have 10 minutes to carve out before bed, first thing in the morning, or during lunch for a mini-workout.
  4. Fitness Classes -  I love fitness classes! From bootcamps, to spin classes, to barre, to yoga. I have tried it all. I love a structured work-out, with an instructor who corrects my form and holds me accountable. I find that I push myself harder in a class (because I am competitive, and I don't want to be the only one that drops her squat). But most of all, I love the variety. The workout I get from a barre class is different from the workout I get at my hip-hop spin class. With muscle memory, it is important to keep variety in our exercises so that are body never knows what to expect so that you can constantly see improvements. Fitness classes are perfect if you are just getting started or a veteran, just make sure you find one that is on your level. Word of caution, all classes are not created equal. Being in a class that is too easy or too difficult is torture, so try to find a good fit.