A great body and life doesn’t happen by accident. They are a direct result of committing to your goals, allocating your time, energy, thoughts, and hard work towards what you wantyour body and life to be. Stop setting yourself up for stress and failure and start setting up your life to support success with ease. A great life is the result of living by certain principles and rules 24/7, not just every once and while. If you want to reach your goals, laying out a game plan and being consist is the key — which is why I put together a list of 11 rules to getting a smokin’ body and fulfilled life.
1. Drink a Green Smoothie Every Day
The fiber in a smoothie has wonderful benefits for your digestive system. Also, for those of you that know me well, I am NOT fan of veggies! So for someone like me, it can be tough to get enough greens in on a daily basis. Making a smoothie with fresh greens and masking the taste with some fresh pineapple or mango really helps me and gives me the opportunity to create a mini-meal.
2. Include Protein with All Your Major Meals
When I decide what I'm going to eat at any time of day, whether I'm at home, in a restaurant, or at the grocery store, the first thing I think about is what protein source I'm going to include. Building the rest of my meal is easy once I figure out the protein. The truth is, I am a meat eater and I would rather have a piece of meat than a carrot. Sorry folks, but many times a carrot, shake, or piece of fruit doesn’t do the job! That's because protein is the foundation of every vital function in our body, and I'm not going to make the mistake of leaving it out!
Eating protein is not going to “bulk you up.” It’s an important nutrient that’s responsible for multiple body functions. It is even more satiating than fat or carbs, and it can boost your metabolic rate while lowering your appetite. If you're constantly craving sugar or sweets, it is important to take a look at the nutrients in your daily dietary intake to see if you're getting enough protein, fat, and complex, wholesome carbohydrates.
3. Properly Prepare and Include the RIGHT Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are basically sugar and starch. Apples, blueberries, sweet potatoes, quinoa, oats ― they're all carbs. So are cookies, pastries, soda, candy, and chips. Your body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose molecules. Those molecules are ideally used as either immediate energy fuel for your muscles and brain or converted to glycogen and stored in the liver and muscles as reserve energy. Your body can store about a half-day supply of glycogen. Being active and exercising means you’re going to go through your reserves faster and will want to replenish them. But overeating — or choosing the wrong kind of carbs — will cause weight gain. If your body has more glucose than it can use as energy or convert to glycogen for storage, the excess is converted to fat.
As a woman over forty, I am a fan of low-carb meal plans, but I do not recommend a no-carb or extremely low-carb diet for any length of time. Long-term carbohydrate deprivation leads to a complete depletion of your body’s stored glycogen levels, depression of your immune system, decrease in metabolic function, and a host of other issues. Making your foundation a good variety of complex and simple carbohydrate foods provides your body with the nutrients, vitamins, and fiber it needs without spiking your blood sugar or overloading your liver. I'm talking about easy stuff like quinoa, brown rice, baked sweet potatoes, sprouted grain bread, and overnight oatmeal. Fruit is a wonderful quick-digesting carbohydrate, but will not give you the same long-lasting energy as oatmeal, for example — so go for variety.
4. Eat Your Good Fats to Stay Lean
If you think you should skip eating fat to lose weight and build muscle, think again, because that way of thinking would be WRONG! Fat is the preferred fuel of muscle tissue at rest (make sure you get plenty of sleep to maximize this benefit), and it protects your muscle's valuable protein stores while being burned for energy along with glucose and glycogen during exercise. Eating fat provides your body with the means to absorb the micro-nutrients in foods like vegetables and greens by shuttling and dissolving their fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals (making it a powerful ally in optimal health). You won't get the maximum benefits from all those green smoothies without the inclusion of fat in your diet.
We lose out when foods are stripped of their natural fat (like making yogurt fat-free for example) because the healthy, fat soluble vitamins they contain are lost along with the fat. I NEVER eat fat free anything! Give me the full healthy (note I said healthy) fat in milk, cheese, coconut & olive oil, nuts, avocados, and proteins! Balance is key in fat consumption; eating enough of the good type of fat promotes weight loss and weight maintenance. Eating too much of the bad stuff (ice cream, cake, pastries, pizza, etc.) promotes weight gain.
5. Set Yourself Up for Success
The cornerstone of any successful eating plan is choosing recipes and meals that include all the essential nutrients from the best food sources and setting up an efficient plan. Listen, people — I am Italian and Ecuadorian, and flavor is essential for me. There is nothing I hate more than eating boring and bland food, so I always bring out the best in my meals with tons of yummy seasonings and healthy fats. However, the true key to set yourself up for success is to prepare in advance by meal prepping. You and I both know that many times you have tried to start a diet plan and quickly fell off track because life got in the way. Too many long hours at work, taxiing your kids around town, running errands, or household duties made it impossible for you to cook and prepare a healthy meal. Am I right? Don’t lie! Well, in order to avoid this terrible distractor called life, you have to beat yourself to the punch and set yourself up for success by preparing in advance. This is called … meal prepping.
Choose one day a week when you can cook a few different meals — try using the crockpot, oven, and stove all at once. And then store these meals in containers so you can grab and go throughout the week. Sounds like work, but it is much easier than you think. I know everybody has a day that they are home cleaning or doing laundry, right? Well, make that your meal prep day as well. Not hard, trust me!
6. Create a Morning Routine
One of the biggest game-changers for me has been establishing a morning routine. Being consistent about setting aside time for myself before I pick up my phone and start reading emails or jump into my work day is so important for how productive and balanced I am able to be throughout the day. On days I'm very short on time, I close my eyes and thank God for all that I am thankful for in my life, and then I ask him for help on the things I want to work on to become a better person. Everyone has different beliefs, and I support them all. So, for those of you that have different beliefs, just take a moment to close your eyes and think about what you are thankful for in your life; and then take a moment to reflect on one thing you would like to work on about yourself in order to become a better person with each day.
Affirmations are an awesome daily practice, however you incorporate them — because actively thinking about what you most want the outcome to be for yourself in any given situation helps you take more meaningful action to achieving that goal.
7. Make Time to Exercise 3-6 Times a Week
Did you know that the main reason they get patients up and moving after an accident or injury as soon as possible is because the lymph, the body's immune fluid, doesn't have its own pump like the blood has the heart? The only way to circulate the lymph is to move — so not only does exercise provide you with strong bones and sleek muscles, it also keeps you healthy. I like to use both body-weight and resistance type exercise training styles, but I need music and dance, which is why I created my format — BBX Fitness. Either way, if you are not into choreographed fitness programs, please just make sure you are getting an equal amount of strength and cardio. Too often women make the mistake of doing more cardio than strength training, and then complain that they are not seeing results.
Remember, my friends: muscle burns more than fat, and takes up less space … do the math! The point here is that you need to have a good combo of strength and cardio, preferably six times a week for at least an hour a day, and to do what you enjoy. Because if you are miserable, you won’t stick with it … plain and simple!
8. Hydrate or Die
Stay Hydrated! Why I say this: Many of us are dehydrated, and we don’t even know it. Water is necessary to the function of all our internal organs, our metabolic function, and is vital in every body process. One of the most common causes of digestive problems, lymph congestion (your immune system), and the inability to naturally detoxify is dehydration. If you exercise regularly, it is essential that you stay hydrated. Dehydration causes muscle fatigue and cramping, and the body’s ability to maintain body temperature is decreased. If you find yourself hungry or tired at odd times, it's often because you NEED WATER.
If you are anything like me who thinks room temperature water is a big fat YUCK! Then buy a good water bottle with insulation. That way you can throw in some ice and can keep refilling your bottle throughout the day, and the ice won't melt YAY! A couple of my favorites are SWELL water bottles, which you can get on Amazon, or the Rocky Mountain Tumbler (https://www.buyrockymountain.com).
9. Sleep is Sacred
Studies show that getting enough rest allows you to perform better, regulates your hormones so you actually metabolize fats more efﬁciently, reduces stress, regulates and reduces inﬂammation , and improves focus, creativity, and memory. Getting adequate rest ensures your body has time to perform so many of its necessary functions efficiently and helps reset your mind for the coming day. Plus, having adequate rest will give you the energy to get to a workout at the end of the day (if that’s the only time you can go), get you up and at ’em ﬁrst thing in the morning, and help you manage stressful things that may come up throughout the day.
10. Be Nice to Yourself
One of the least talked about and biggest culprits in why we don't reach our goals is a sneaky saboteur called negative self-talk. It's something that we all have to deal with at one point or another, and something we must all ACTIVELY work to overcome. How we think directly impacts what we say, and what we say is exactly what guides our actions ... and this process has a big impact on ourselves and the people we influence — it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you think it, it will become true. So it is IMPERATIVE that we own and choose our thoughts with intention. I know it's easy to get frustrated with yourself for not doing your workout, for falling off your eating goals, for all the things you tell yourself you need to do more perfectly. But remember that we have to live in balance with ourselves, have fun, feel joy, be in the moment — and life isn't about looking like someone else's version of 'perfect' for five minutes in a bikini.
Rather than bash yourself, why don't you focus on the things that make you unique? What if you tried to love yourself just as you are, the way you love your best friends and family members? Think about this: you deserve to enjoy yourself — exactly as you are, right at this moment. Yes, it's okay to have goals and to strive to be healthier! Yes, it's okay to take pride in your appearance and want to look your best. But you are amazing. You are beautiful. Right now. And you MUST begin to talk to yourself inside like you talk to your friends.
And If you have little ones, believe me when I say they pick up on how you talk about yourself, so give them an example you want them to model. It’s far easier for children to value themselves when they see you doing it. Part of what helped me make that shift was becoming aware when I started with negative self-talk, immediately stopping myself and saying something positive instead. It didn't take too long to completely re-frame that pattern. And then I took it farther by doing a daily affirmations. Every day I write down the things I believe I am, and the things I am in progress of becoming.
If you spent just two minutes writing down "I am patient and loving," "I am beautiful," "I am successful," or whatever is unique to you and what makes YOU special, eventually you will make those words and beliefs the landscape of your mind and life. And there really wouldn't be room for the negativity any longer. It's natural for things to pop up! But if you have an alternative, you can quickly catch them and purposefully choose something that feels a whole lot better.
11. Do Not Measure Your Progress By Your Weight on the Scale
I have said it time and time again, but weight is a terrible indicator of body composition. Your weight is simply a number that tells you how much the combined tissues in your body weigh — but it doesn’t tell you the far more important thing, which is what those tissues are actually composed of.
Muscle and fat are very different creatures in your body. A pound of fat and a pound of muscle weigh exactly the same, but they take up very different amounts of space in your body. So if you are adding muscle to your body because you’re following a consistent exercise program and eating in a way that supports muscle and burns fat, you’re going to be gaining a little lean muscle and burning body fat. This is what you were after in the first place, but what we sometimes forget is that this awesome change our body is going through doesn’t mean we're going to suddenly lose 20-30lbs in 2-3 weeks.
What usually happens is that you’ll initially lose weight your body was holding onto from inflammation created from the junk in your diet, and then you’ll experience a more gradual weight reduction over the coming weeks as you stick to your healthy eating plan. This is the healthiest and most sustainable way to change your body. When you combine that approach with an exercise program like the ones I create, you accelerate your results exponentially.
The mistakes I see people make are the following:
1. Getting discouraged because they feel they aren’t losing enough weight.
2. Getting discouraged because they are comparing their body or results to other people’s — whose health history and full story (like what happens 2-3 weeks after a rapid weight loss from taking diet pills or crash dieting) are completely unknown.
3. Switching programs after a week or two because they don’t think they’re getting fast enough results, which often causes an adverse physiological response and can increase weight gain as there is often a lag period in which the individual gives up before starting over — known as the bottom of the roller coaster.
4. Getting stressed about the expected results and how fast they’re going to happen causes stress hormones to rise, which promotes storage of more belly fat, decreases our ability to get good rest (another way to pack on more fat), and decreases quality of life and life enjoyment.
If any of these examples sound like you, or has ever been you, what I want you to know is that YOUR body is on its own schedule. It’s changing. Every choice you make creates a chain reaction that reverberates throughout your cells, organs, tissues, and brain.
Remember that you may be dealing with a fatigued system, a system that has been inflamed for a while, a system with some hormone imbalances, a system that’s been under siege for possibly years with the chemical byproducts of processed foods that have short circuited your metabolism, screwed up your hormones, and put you in a constant state of fat storing. You can’t expect it to bounce back over night.
That’s why it’s important to pace yourself. LEARN the actual nutrition information that will help you make and stick to the kind of changes that are needed to produce long-lasting results.
If you make these 11 simple rules part of your everyday life, I promise you will achieve the body of your dreams, learn to love yourself more, and live a fulfilled and balanced life. In fact, print these rules and post a copy on your bathroom mirror, the fridge, your desk — anywhere and everywhere to help remind you of what you need to do to reach your goals.
Practice makes perfect and the more you put these rules to work in your life, the more it will become part of who you are naturally. And when you don't even have to think about it anymore, when you don't have to be reminded because it’s just the way you live … then you have found the secret to becoming the perfect you.
At that point, it will now be your responsibility to pass along the Yoda knowledge bestowed unto you. May the force be with you!