I’ve dropped the ball for the past couple of weeks. I’ve been sleeping poorly, over eating often and not exercising as much as I normally do.
Last night I went to an event with some friends and had quite a few drinks. And I woke up this morning determined to get my fitness and physique back on track.
The funny thing is, it’s not that I lack the knowledge of what I need to do. Generally everyone knows how to lose weight and how to be just a little bit healthier–but at times it can feel like you have zero will power to achieve your health and fitness goals.
So while I was driving home this morning, I decided to really dial things in for the next couple months to really improve my physical health and improve my body composition.
What’s In This Post:
- Define What You Eat
- Improve Your Sleep
- Manage Your Stress
- Measure Your Results
- Go Outside and Get Some Sun
- Stay Focused on Your Goals
- Bonus: Make Working Out, Eating Healthy as Effortless as Possible
Here’s how I’m going about getting things dialed in and improving my overall health:
- Define what you eat
- Improve your sleep hygiene
- Manage your stress
- Measure your results
- Go outside and get some sun.
- Stay focused on your goals (don’t get caught in the weeds)
Define What You Eat
I find the simplest way to get results when trying to lose weight or improve your body composition is to pretty much eat the same thing every day. Find your favorite foods for each meal and eat those consistently. This removes as much of the last minute decision making that often leads to falling off your diet.
Maybe allow yourself to go out to eat once a week or something, if you really need to. But don’t allow that one meal to turn into a full day of fucking off on your diet, or derail your diet completely.
Here’s what I eat during the day. Obviously there may be some variation if I end up eating out or something, but generally this is what I eat:
- Black Coffee or Green Tea
- Sparkling Water
Breakfast/Lunch (Typically around noon or 1pm):
- Yogurt or Cottage Cheese
Dinner (Usually around 6-7pm):
- Meat (Steak, Ground Beef, Ground Bison, Ground Turkey, Fish, or Chicken)
- Potatoes (Usually Roasted or Boiled)
I like to keep my diet very simple. I find that the more variation I add in, and the more I eat out, the more likely I am to overeat or lose track of my caloric intake. When you eat the same thing, you can know you’re staying in a caloric deficit without having to track everything you eat.
Improve Your Sleep
I find that when I am well rested and recovered, staying on track with my nutrition is effortless. I don’t feel the need to make up for lack of sleep with extra carbs and junk foods.
In my experience, falling asleep is easiest when I go to bed around the same time every night. I generally shoot for some time between 10pm and 11pm. It just feels like my body is ready to go to sleep in that time window.
To make falling asleep easier I try to minimize my screen time after 9pm, so I’ll opt for reading if I need something to occupy me. I try to turn down the lights in my apartment, switch to warm, red lights in my bedroom to set the mood for sleep.
The optimal environment for sleep is a pretty cool, very dark room. I set my thermostat around 66-67 degrees at night, which helps promote better sleep. I close my blinds to get my apartment as dark as possible, and I also use a sleep mask (I have this one) to block out any light.
I recently moved into an apartment in the city, which means there are some loud noises in my neighborhood at night. I also just ordered a white noise machine to help drown out the noise and to make falling asleep much easier. I first used one of these in New York a couple months ago, and I actually really liked it and found it helped drown out almost all outside noise.
Manage Your Stress
Too much stress has pretty similar results to lack of sleep for me. If I’m overly stressed, I find myself slipping up more often on my diet. To help minimize my stress I’ll do some meditation or yoga, or just go to the gym and get a hard workout in.
I’ve done a little bit of therapy as well. I find that talking to someone can help you feel better about the issues you’re facing.
Everyone tends to have a slightly different approach to coping with stress, so find what works best for you and do that more often.
Here are a few ways you can relax yourself and cope with your specific stress:
- Improve Your Diet
- Get Plenty of Sleep
- Avoid Alcohol, Tobacco and Substance Use in Excess
- Talk To Friends
- Connect with Community or Religious Organizations
- Get a Massage
- Take a Yoga Class
My preferred methods for dealing with stress are exercise, meditation, and spending time with friends and family.
I particularly enjoy walking, so I find that a long walk spent listening to a podcast can help me think through my stressors and decompress a bit.
I try to meditate once a day. For me, I’ll set a timer on my watch (typically around 15 minutes) to just lay on my couch or bed and close my eyes and count my breaths. I find it’s easy to get overwhelmed especially if you’re constantly on your phone or computer, so this time to disconnect can be very refreshing.
Spend Time with Friends and Family
And finally, if I’ve had an especially rough week, I’ll reach out to my friends or family members to see if they want to meet up for brunch or dinner or something. I find that just seeing someone I love helps cheer me up and helps me keep a positive attitude. The act of just getting ready and getting out of the house is also great for my mental health.
Measure Your Results
I’ve gotten the best results when trying to achieve a certain body composition or weight loss goal when I measure my progress consistently.
If your goal is weight loss, get a scale. This will give you a hard, objective indicator of whether or not your efforts are paying off. In my opinion, people who demonize scales are just trying to avoid making you feel bad about being overweight. I get it, there are other metrics that may be more important to track for overall health. However, if your goal is to lose weight you should be monitoring your progress and not just hoping for the best.
I just ordered a Withings Smart Scale which gives me my weight, body fat percentage, and hydration level. I keep track of my weight in my notes app on my phone.
Go Outside and Get Some Sun
Getting exposure to the sun during the day is crucial for having a healthy circadian rhythm and sleep schedule.
Benefits of Sun Exposure:
- Improved Vitamin D Absorption
- Improved Sleep
- Reduced Stress
- Strengthened Immune System
- Improved Mood
Stay Focused on Your Goals
If you’re focused on weight loss, identify what you need to do to lose weight and then do that!
I have found that when I start losing weight, I’ll often see something online about avoiding certain foods, eating at certain times of the day, etc. and I’ll allow that to derail my plan. For example, I may see something about avoiding certain foods and then I’ll focus on just avoiding that food and skip tracking my macros for a day. (Even though tracking macros is what allowed me to make progress in the first place.)
I’d recommend that you find what works for you and then basically put on blinders to anything else about health/nutrition.
Bonus: Make Working Out, Eating Healthy as Effortless as Possible
Do anything to get yourself active and on the path to success. At the end of the day you have to put the work in, work out hard, and eat properly to achieve your fitness goals. However, if there is something you can do to make these things easier or more enticing–do those things.
For example, I just bought a new pair of training shoes even though I probably didn’t need them quite yet. However, spending that $100 is totally worth it to me, because it makes going to the gym just a little bit more exciting. So if you need to buy some new workout gear, or some new earbuds for the gym, to get you fired up about working out again–do it.
When it comes to eating healthier (or at least in line with your plan) it’s worth it for me if I have to spend an extra $100 per week on food to make it as easy as possible to stay on track. Ultimately it’s up to you how much it’s worth to you to be healthy and in shape.