As a young professional, it may seem like a daunting task to manage your career, personal life, and social life. After a long day, it may seem easier to pull up to a drive-thru grab some food, read some more emails, then head to bed. You may want to start a fitness journey but can’t seem to find the time between meetings, making sure you call your mom back, date night, etc. Whatever you’re doing, these 5 tips to start your fitness journey will help you get back on track and find a routine that fits your hectic lifestyle.
1.) Develop a Schedule
When starting a fitness journey, the biggest hurdle is incorporating your normal everyday routine with your new gym/meal prep schedule. This is probably 60% of the battle because it forces you to break down the barriers of complacency and step outside of your normal. This is very important because it will determine whether you will be successful in your journey or if you rather stay in your comfort zone. Do remember that nothing beautiful flourishes in the comfort zone.
Developing a schedule requires discipline and realistic expectations. Discipline to keep up with your schedule and the reality to develop one that you will actually stick with. I am not a morning person so incorporating a morning workout as part of my routine is not realistic and is unsustainable because it is a lifestyle that I will not commit to. I also know that when I get home from work, I like to lounge and I do not like to leave my home. So what’s my middle ground? I pack a gym bag every day and commit to going to the gym straight from the office. To make this more realistic and attainable, I chose a gym geographically close to my work office and home. Finding a schedule that works is the most important tip for starting your fitness journey.
2.) Find an Accountability Partner
A lot of us lack self-motivation especially if it is something we are not passionate about. Fitness and healthy eating may not be your passion but living a healthy lifestyle is beneficial to whatever your passion is. This correlation may not make sense immediately but eventually you may see the full picture. In the interim, find an accountability partner to give yourself that extra push to keep going or to simply show up. Think of your accountability partner as that extra boost you feel right after your morning coffee. Your partner should be motivating but not pushy. Understanding but also effective.
3. ) Understand your Goals
What are your goals? Do you want to be healthier, is there a certain amount of weight you want to loose, or do you want to tone? Whatever it is, understand what your goal is and develop an action plan to achieve it. Stay away from fad diets and fad fitness trends and focus on long team sustainable solutions. Develop a healthy relationship with food that focuses on nutrients. If you want to tone or build muscle and have no gym background, find a trainer or take a class. Flex dieting, portion control, and focusing on nutrient rich foods is a sustainable way of eating for me. I like to think of food as fuel that my body needs rather than indulging in guilty pleasures that may have adverse health consequences. Your fitness journey is a journey and should be tailored for long term sustainability.
4.) Meal Prep Sunday!
As cliche as it may sound, preparation really is the key to success. When you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, you may not be disciplined enough to make good food decisions. I would suggest downloading the Myfitnesspal App and meal prepping all of your meals. The app keeps you honest and accountable. It requires you to log in everything you eat. It also helps you see what it’ll take to achieve your goals. An alternative is a food diary.
The app ask questions about your current body weight and measurements and then ask you to input your goals. Based off of your profile, it will generate how many calories you will need to reach your goals. Hack: turn off the activity tracker and do not input your workouts. This will keep you from overeating and thinking you can reward yourself with bad meals because you did 30 minutes of cardio.
My go to meal prep meals from breakfast to dinner:
Option A: pre boiled eggs and avocado toast.
Option B: Instant Oatmeal and a protein shake. I like to drink the GNC AMP 7 blend protein shake.
Oikos Protein Crunch — Coconut blend flavor. or Dannon Light & Fit Strawberry Cheesecake Greek Crunch
Homemade tuna salad made with low fat mayonnaise and served on whole wheat bread.
One protein bar in cookie dough flavor or a snack from Sugar Smart Box. I Like to buy my One Protein Bar in bulk from Amazon.
Chicken Teriyaki Bowl with brown rice and mixed vegetables (broccoli, carrots, snap peas). Portioned out within marco-nutrients.
Having a good nutritious diet that is sustainable is far more important than the time spend on the treadmill or weight foot.
5.) Frozen meals (I know, I know taboo).
With a busy lifestyle, sometimes you rather spend your Sunday playing catch up or simply relaxing. In times like this, I rely on frozen meals. Frozen meals get a bad rap and for most brands the reputation is accurate. However, there are some good brands that provide good alternatives to meal prepping. The only issue is you’ll have to pay attention to the sodium content. Some of my favorite brands are Evol, Luvo, Healthy Choice, and there are others. This should not be your primary source but this will help you stay consistent and focused when you’re on the go and super busy.
Similarly, fast-food chains can offer surprisingly healthy alternatives. My go to is chipotle. I get a salad base and I add: brown rice (one scoop), black beans, fajita vegetables, chicken (double if needed), corn (on the side), pico (on the side), and shredded cheese (on the side). I get the side items to make sure that I am in control of my portions. As I said above, having a balanced diet is going to be the most important part of your fitness journey.
As busy young professionals, we are not always going to have the luxury of preparing home-cooked meals, so we must have alternatives that will not be counter-productive to our fitness journey and goals. Other options are meal delivery services such as Home Chef and Hello Fresh.
I have tried both HomeChef and Hello Fresh and have had great experiences with both. I found all meals to be extremely tasty, easy to follow, and quick. Also, each meal is available on my fitnesspal so you can log your meal!
Until Next time,
— Esquire in Love.