Have you found yourself hitting snooze, adding extra rest days, and enjoying more cheat meals lately? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. But you can’t stay in this slump forever.
If you need a little help firing up your fitness, nutrition, and wellness motivation again, try this innovative 30-Day Fit & Healthy Passport. It’s filled with creative alternatives and suggestions for everything from cardio to meal prep to supplements, strength training, and more! The idea is to try one new thing from each of the following six categories every day for the next 30 days. The categories are food, supplements, mental health, mobility, strength workouts, and cardio.
As healthy people, we’ve undoubtedly become familiar with meal prep. We know that tossing rice in the rice cooker, roasting our favorite veggies, and grilling a few proteins can all be completed in an hour. Once we find our favorites, the routine becomes a huge time saver. Efficiency often comes with the tradeoff of decreasing variety. With less variety, however, we may develop food sensitivities that lead to inflammation and fatigue. And, we may miss micronutrients our bodies need to function at peak levels. Instead, try these five strategies to re-inspire your variety and energy:
- Food Swap: Each time you go to the grocery store, trade a favorite food for a different one in the same category. For example, if you always buy chicken, buy turkey instead. If you always get broccoli, then get cauliflower. If you always purchase long-grain brown rice, try wild rice.
- Food Stop: As you rush around the grocery store, stop in a place you haven’t stopped before. Look at what is on the shelf and seek something you have never bought. Then, grab your cell phone and search for a recipe that uses this new food.
- Recipe Trade: Call a friend for a recipe trade. Ask your friend for his or her favorite “go-to healthy recipe,” then try it!
- Google It: Do your own Internet or App search for one of your favorite go-to food staples. Commit to trying a new recipe that uses this favorite food.
- Eat a Rainbow: Each day, challenge yourself to eat fruits and vegetables that complete the entire rainbow. See how many days in a row you can ingest the rainbow.
Supplements have many purposes: elevating energy, improving sleep efficiency, building muscle, and many more. Let’s explore common supplements that may enhance your fitness lifestyle.
- Vitamins: Vitamin C is known for its role in immune system health. It is found in citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and potatoes. Vitamin D3 is a vital building block for bone health and is found in salmon, sardines, and egg yolks. Because many people do not get enough of these foods, they seek vitamin supplements to meet recommended daily requirements.
- Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone made in the body to help regulate sleep and wake cycles. With busy lifestyles today, these cycles lose regularity. Start regaining great sleep by setting a bedtime/wind-down routine. Once you’ve got this down, supplements like melatonin can be used to enhance sleep efficiency.
- Fiber: Fiber is required for digestive system health and regularity. Foods high in fiber include beans, nuts, apples, berries, and citrus fruits. When digestive regularity is difficult, fiber supplements can help.
- Supergreens and Superfruits: Do you get at least 7-9 servings of fruits and veggies each day? Most adults don’t. Supergreens and superfruits powders are tasty additions to your protein shakes or water to help your body get various nutrients for optimal function.
- Protein Powders: Building muscle requires enough protein to support building versus breaking down. With hectic lifestyles, finding enough time to chew all of that protein can be tough. Whey protein, vegan protein, collagen, and casein all offer ways to help supplement your protein needs. If you only consume one type of protein powder regularly, try adding a second type into the rotation, as each offers unique benefits.
Society has trained us to ignore signs of stress, fatigue, worry, and sadness. Instead, we keep going without taking time to refill our own mental health cups. Here are a few ideas to help boost your mental clarity and sense of wellbeing each day.
- Phone Time Out: Each morning, keep your phone in time out until you start your workday. At the end of the workday, put the phone back in time out. While this sounds almost impossible since we are all conditioned to respond immediately, think back to the time we did not have cell phones. We all managed to stay in touch! If you are worried about family not being able to reach you in an emergency, set up a protocol such as “call me three times in a row.” If you hear the phone ring three times in a row, you know to check.
- The Daily Minute: Every day, set a timer for one minute. Close your eyes and focus on breathing. If your mind wanders, simply return to focusing on breathing.
- Mental Dump: Every night before bed, take 5 minutes and write down everything in your head. Just put all of the words and ideas onto a piece of paper without attempting to organize. BONUS: See what happens to your sleep efficiency!
- Speak the Positive: Take inventory of what you talk about during the day. Are you speaking about positive happenings, new learning, and opportunities, or are you complaining about things that aren’t going your way? If you find that you talk more about the things not going well, add a filter. Each time you think these negative thoughts, stop, breathe, and then let the idea go before saying it aloud.
- Walk Outdoors: Breathing, movement, and shifting your focus can all help reduce stress. When you find yourself caught up in overthinking moments, take 2-3 minutes to walk around the block. See how your feelings and productivity change as you return.
You can only strengthen the ranges you can move through. If your workouts are stuck on a plateau, start adding mobility work. Mobility work comes in many varieties and durations. Give each of the following a try and see how they change your next workout.
- Self-Trigger Point Release: Grab a tennis ball or foam roller. Use the ball or roller on a wall or on the floor. Start by rolling to scan for tight spots. Once you find a tight spot, gently apply pressure and hold for 30-60 seconds. Try to find at least 3 tight spots on each side of the body and release them each day.
- Dynamic Warm-Up: Add a dynamic warm-up for 5-10 minutes before your next workout. Dynamic warm-ups begin with small movements, then add range of motion and speed. For example, you might start with neck and ankle circles, progress to arm circles and marching in place, and end with bodyweight squats and jumping jacks.
- Yoga: Yoga can be an in-depth, formal mind-body study, but it doesn’t have to be. Start with a beginner 10-15 minute yoga video and see if it feels uplifting and helpful for you.
- Stretch: Pick 3-5 stretches to do after your next workout. Hold each one for at least 30 seconds.
- Add Angles: If you are already weight lifting regularly, do all of your warm-up sets at a slightly new angle. This can help increase mobility and develop new muscle fiber strength.
Following a routine can be efficient and effective, but our joints wear down faster than our muscles when we continue with the same lifts for months on end. Try these variations to keep your joints healthy and move past workout plateaus.
- 7s: Split the motion for each lift in half and then perform 7 reps in each half of the motion, followed by 7 reps through the full motion. If you are doing a biceps curl, for example, do the lower half for 7 reps, then the upper half of the motion for 7 reps, then the full motion for 7 reps. It is OK to change weights within the set.
- Drop Sets: Within a set, when your muscles hit fatigue, decrease the weight and keep going to fatigue.
- Pause Sets: When you hit fatigue within a set, pause for 3-5 seconds, then see if you can get a few more reps.
- Add a Finisher: At the end of all of your sets for a given exercise, add a similar exercise at a lighter weight. Perform that exercise with speed until you reach fatigue. If you are performing barbell squats for 4 x 8, for example, finish all 4 sets, then do body-weight squats quickly until you reach fatigue. Adding speed is another way to target muscle fibers responsible for maximal strength and power.
- Add Isometrics: Isometrics can increase strength without moving joints. This cuts back on joint and tendon inflammation from repetitive motion. After you finish all of your sets for an exercise, do an isometric version to fatigue. If you are doing pushups, for example, after your last set, lower halfway down into the pushup and hold to fatigue.
When doing cardio, habit brings us back to the same heart rate zones of comfort. Real performance gains are made when we challenge ourselves outside of our comfort zones. Try each of these 5 cardio variations to teach your body fat-burning efficiency and performance.
- Long-Slow Duration: Long-slow duration doesn’t have to be a boring treadmill jog. Instead, try a 30-60 minute session of Vinyasa Yoga, Barre, low impact aerobics, or “musical machines” (change aerobic machines every 5-10 minutes), keeping your heart rate generally under anaerobic threshold. You can estimate the anaerobic threshold by 180-age.
- Cardio strength: Turn your next weight lifting or kettlebell session into cardio conditioning. Make a list of 6-8 exercises that include the major muscle groups of the upper body, lower body, and core. Drop your loads into ranges where you can perform 15-20 reps of each exercise. Circuit through your entire list 2-4 times with minimal rest.
- HIIT: High-intensity interval training doesn’t need to be what you see on TV. You can scale both intensity and duration for your abilities. Whether you pick running or circuit training, try going “all out” for 20 seconds, followed by a less intense exercise for 40 seconds. Repeat for 10-20 rounds, adding rests as needed.
- Step It Up: Find a set of stairs, Stairmaster, a hill, or incline on the treadmill. The added effort to go upward will challenge your heart rate and cardio strength.
- Dance: Whether you do a home dance workout video or attend a group fitness dance jam, the movement variety will bring you a load of sweaty fun!
Now that we’ve explored 30 different ways to reignite your motivation, let’s get started on your Fit & Healthy Passport! Save the chart below and aim for one new thing each of the next 30 days. See how many you can achieve! Share your discoveries and progress with us (tag us on Instagram @NutrishopUSA) as we love celebrating your success!
About the Author: Dr. Meredith Butulis, creator of the ISSA Fitness Comeback Coach Certification (online), is a Sports Medicine Physical Therapist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and Precision Nutrition Certified Nutrition Coach in practice since 2002. She consistently walks the talk as a fitness, physique, and OCR world level competitor and lifestyle transformer since 2006, celebrating many wins along the way. Want more total fitness lifestyle inspiration and interaction? Follow Dr. Meredith on Instagram @Dr.MeredithButulis or join the free “Fitness Focus Fuel” Facebook Group.