Small Changes That Make A Big Difference

We’ve probably all seen the dramatic before-and-after television shows and commercials that feature people who have completely transformed their bodies. We’ve also probably all seen the pictures of celebrities with their chiseled appearances. Often, the truth is that the night-and-day transformations are carefully hand-selected success stories that are not representative of the vast majority of people who use a certain fitness machine or follow a certain diet, and those celebrities have high-priced coaches that keep them looking like that.

So, what does being in shape look like for the rest of us?

The first thing we must do is set realistic goals and manage our expectations. Chances are, the most diligent exercise or diet program in the world will not land you on the cover of a fitness or fashion magazine. That realization leads to step two, which is to focus on small lifestyle changes that can have a big impact.

Information

Almost all good decisions are based on solid data, and lifestyle choices are no exception. Accurate blood pressure and weight measurement are usually the best two bits of information to have, because they indicate progress in a wellness routine and also serve as early warning indicators about many serious health conditions.

In many cases, the only time we check our blood pressure is before the doctor sees us for a checkup. At best, these checks only provide a one-time snapshot, and this lack of information hampers both the doctor’s efforts to diagnose and treat any adverse conditions as well as your efforts to live a healthier lifestyle.

A better option is one of the best blood pressure monitors for home use. Many of these gadgets are Bluetooth-enabled, making it easy to share this information with your doctor and also look at long-developing trends.

Somewhat similarly, measuring weight by stepping on a bathroom scale results in an incomplete picture, mostly because there is no context. Body Mass Index is not a perfect metric (about half of NBA players are overweight strictly according to their BMI), but it does provide a frame of reference. So, a BMI scale is probably a better option, in terms of fitness information.

Physical Exercise

Here again, managed expectations are very important, because radical transformations almost never occur without spending hours in the gym and/or using risky dietary supplements.

On the other hand, a 30-minute exercise routine will produce noticeable results, in terms of weight loss and increased muscle mass. Try something like this:

Aerobic Exercise: Running burns calories, and it’s easy to do. Stairmasters and other low-impact fitness machines may be even better.

Stretching: Start with a very basic yoga pose, like standing up straight and breathing deep, then move on to some that are a little more advanced. The goal is to get your body moving, not lead a class on the Internet.

Strength Training: A few pushups a day are usually enough to eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, that hanging fat under your arms.

Moderate exercise has significant emotional benefits as well, mostly because of the endorphins that such activity releases.

Physical Activity

Physical exercise is, well, exercise. Physical activity is moving around during the day, and it’s a necessary supplement to physical exercise if one is to obtain all the benefits.

There are lots of opportunities for small changes. On the way to your office, park towards the back of the parking lot or take the stairs up. During the day, use the bathroom down the hall instead of the one right next to your desk. Furthermore, on a pretty day, a quick walk around the block is a great way to spend a coffee break or part of a lunch hour.

Keep the momentum going evenings and weekends. Go an extra lap while walking the dog and pop over to see the neighbors.

Diet

Once more, small changes make a difference, and sugary drinks are a good example. Ideally for our health, we’d eliminate them from our diets altogether, but most of us are not going to take such a radical step, at least not for very long. The good news is that eliminating just one sugary drink a day significantly reduces the chances of developing a chronic illness.

While you pick up some extra water or tea at the grocery store, try to avoid as many refined “white” foods as well, such as table sugar, white bread, white flour, white rice, and so on. Unrefined foods are better for your body and also better for the environment.

These small changes all add up over time to dramatically increase your wellness.

 

Image courtesy of [pandpstock001] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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