“Health is a path I take one day at a time. Every day, I wake with a blank slate to fill with choices that either bolster or burden my well-being.”
I repeat those words to myself from time to time when I am struggling with feeling motivated to keep on “fighting the fight” of eating right and staying active. This perspective helps me stay focused on the here and now; the small choices that I will make in a given day to either support or stifle my health. So I’m writing this to encourage you to focus on the small stuff — the little tweaks you can make today. It doesn’t have to be perfect — it doesn’t have to be 100 percent. Simply focus on feeling good about what you can make doable now.
Make it fun
When it comes to physical activity, don’t try to force yourself to do something you detest. In time, your willpower is bound to wear off. Figure out something that feels doable (perhaps even pleasurable) and DO IT — often. What do you love to do? Now figure out a way to make it exercise. Love to shop? Speed-walk the mall. Enjoy biking? Find a bike path near your home.
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We are fortunate that the Boise area is full of outdoor options. Take a walk by the river, hike the Foothills, do some mountain biking or take a ride on the Greenbelt. It doesn’t have to be a marathon: Just be active. You don’t have to love weights, treadmills or even the gym. Especially now that the weather is nice, try to get outside. If you have little ones, use the playground equipment at the park as your gym. (For ideas on a park workout, check out www.boisestrongmom.com; go to “videos” and click on the park circuit.)
Start where you are
If you’re just beginning to explore your path in fitness, try to extend kindness to yourself. Take small steps toward your goal and remind yourself that regardless of how slow you may be moving, you’re still lapping anyone on their couch.
On your plate
As for food intake, you don’t necessarily need to overhaul your entire diet or eat things that you don’t like. Pick a few areas and tweak them a little. Think of little substitutions: Have half a cup of pasta rather than a whole cup; drink club soda rather than cola. These small changes add up to big changes in the long term. Ditching a mere 100 calories a meal (300 calories a day) adds up to more than 30 pounds lost in a year.
Simple ways to cut 100 calories (or more):
• Use a low-fat vinaigrette on your salad rather than ranch or Caesar.
• Have one cup of air-popped popcorn rather than chips.
• Have your sandwich open-faced or skip half the bun.
• Skip the croutons and bacon bits on your salad.
• Pass on the mayo and/or butter on your sandwich; use mustard instead.
• Use nonfat Greek yogurt on your baked potato instead of sour cream or butter.
Most of all, believe
Part of the challenge of making these small tweaks comes down to your beliefs. Do you have faith that the small changes will add up? And our habits do add up, whether for good or ill. Choose to believe that the little choices you make today to invest in your health will pay big dividends in the long term. It’s similar to compound interest: It doesn’t look like much over the course of a week or a month, but in one, two or 10 years the payoff is significant.
What healthy choice can you make today? Believe that in time, today’s small decisions will form the basis of your health.
Maggie Williamson is a health coach, NASM-certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist and weight-loss specialist. She holds a master’s degree in social work and a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Her business, BoiseStrongMom.com, specializes in working with women seeking to improve their overall health and well-being.