This post was sponsored by Progresso™ through their partnership POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Progresso™, all opinions are my own.
January is all about stepping up your game. Whether we admit it or not, the beginning of a new year comes hand in hand with new opportunities. Most people use the first couple of months to start fresh while taking a look back at what did and didn’t work for them in the past.
Celebrating a new year gives us a chance to make goals and figure out how to attain them. Each and every year, a lot of people openly say “this is going to be my year”. I love that optimistic outlook, but what we don’t always share is how to actually make it happen.
Maybe your biggest goal for 2015 is getting fit. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s to look your best. Maybe it’s to feel your best. Whatever category you classify your goals under, I have a feeling that a lot of them have to do with getting closer to becoming the best you you can be.
Here are six quick tips on how to look and feel your best this year!
• Don’t make unrealistic or unattainable goals.
Every time I hear someone express a goal that doesn’t make sense for them and their personal journey, it breaks my heart a little. If you just aren’t into running, maybe running a marathon shouldn’t be something you strive for. Instead, opt to stay active with something you have a strong interest in like a CrossFit gym membership or yoga classes.
If you sign up for something you know you’re going to dread, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. In a sense, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. They’re your goals, cater them to what you really want to succeed in!
• Stretch. More than every once in a while.
This is a goal I have on my personal list this year.
I used to be really good at stretching before and after every run or workout. I can’t even tell you the last time I really stretched before going for a run. I’m pretty consistent with stretching after runs, but I need to make my cool down and stretch time a lot longer and more consistent.
Stretching is not only good for your muscles and injury prevention, it’s great for the mind too. Stretching can be very relaxing if you do it enough. If you don’t, however, it might not exactly feel good… but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as important to get through.
Try stretching all the major muscle groups for thirty seconds each, once a day. Before and after every workout is a must, and dedicating ten minutes a day multiple times a week to loosening your muscles could make a world of difference. See my posts on warm-up stretches and cool down exercises to help get you started!
• Skip over the diets and find your healthy eating balance.
When was the last time you tried a diet and the results stuck around for more than a short period of time? Nobody? Bueller?
Diets just aren’t where it’s at, my friends. Instead of depriving your body of food or constantly obsessing over counting calories, aim to have an overall healthier eating style.
I have been what I like to call “eating clean” for as long as I can remember. I chose to quote the term because I personally don’t think eating clean one hundred percent of the time is possible long-term. I don’t put any food off limits, and instead enjoy desserts and treats in moderation.
I strive to fill my plate with nutrients and get full off of fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, and healthy fats first. Yes, I allow myself to eat ice cream and order pizza every now and then, but overall, I have found a healthy balance of eating that really works for me. In no way does eating healthy make me feel like I’m missing out on anything, either.
Yes it’s canned, but it’s a heck of a lot better than going out to a restaurant and ordering their over-portioned Chicken Alfredo dinner for lunch.
Progresso™ does a great job of making better-for-you options of some of my favorite meals. For 100 calories a serving, I’m still getting that creamy taste I’ve always known and loved. Here are some of my favorite savory flavors!
The trick is to find healthier foods you an include into your meals any time, any day… not just on “cheat” days!
• Instead of focusing on weight loss, step up your fitness game.
The scale can be a great tool. At the same time, it can be a major hindrance. Avoid getting wrapped up in the numbers game!
It’s great to have a goal weight, especially if you want to lose it to improve your health. If you aren’t getting the results you hoped for as quickly as you thought you would, maybe the scale isn’t for you. Personally, I haven’t weighed myself in months.
Instead of focusing on how much weight you can lose, aim for the goal of stepping up your fitness level. Gradually go for longer runs, add more resistance to your strength workouts, and make getting to the gym consistently a priority.
• Do more squats and/or lunges.
It might sound crazy, but just trust me on this one. Incorporating two specific type of exercises into my workouts really does affect my lower body shape.
Strength exercises are just as important as cardiovascular training. A great move you can do every workout is a squat and/or lunge. Both exercises engage multiple muscle groups.
Make sure to start and feel comfortable with the basic squat exercise before adding intensity like a jump or resistance to it. For lunges, make sure you have the technique of a reverse lunch down before trying a front, lateral, or jump lunge.
Quick pointers on the squat:
Start with your feet a bit wider than your shoulders. Stand tall, then come down into a squat position with your thighs slightly higher then your knees. Think about getting into a position similar to a toddler picking up a toy off of the floor. Be careful not to lean your body forward, arch, or round your lower back.
Quick pointers on the lunge:
Start standing straight with your feet together. Step backward with your right leg, and lower your body until your left knee is bent at least 90 degrees and your right knee nearly touches the floor. Push yourself back to the starting position by pressing into the floor.
You can repeat the same side and then switch half way through or alternate sides for your reps. Aim to keep your front heel under your knee and avoid leaning forward or back.
You can add dumbbells for resistance or place your hands on your hips and concentrate on your form!
• Straighten up your posture
How are you sitting right now? If you are at the computer or looking at this post on your smartphone, chances are that you are leaning forward and slouched over. Do you often find yourself sitting this way?
Slumping over has always been an issue of mine. I have always had to be very conscious about my posture to not fall into a slouched over position both sitting and standing. It’s important to straighten up to avoid back and neck pain as well as damaging spinal structures!
Here are a few articles on how to improve your posture:
» Better Posture: 6 Ways to Straighten Up via Women’s Health Magazine
» 3 Ways To Improve Your Posture — And Why You Should via Huffington Post
» Ten Tips For Improving Posture and Ergonomics via Spine-health.com
Looking and feeling your best isn’t just skin deep. Incorporating tips like the ones above into your goals this year is important for your heath too. Essentially, the more you do, the better you’ll feel, and who doesn’t want to feel their best this year?
Have some tips of your own? Feel free to share them below!