No Excuses: Whittle your waist without whittling away your wallet or your time
Every year millions of Americans pledge to lose weight and live healthier lifestyles, but those resolutions usually fall to the wayside, and we succumb to the fast-paced reality of full-time jobs, family commitments and active social lives — leaving little room for daily visits to the gym or for cooking healthy meals.
Makes sense, right? Wrong, says Angie Atkinson, Kansas City-area personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, exercise therapy and youth fitness.
“When someone claims they don’t have the time or money, I say those are just excuses,” Atkinson says. “I did it all without both. Through five years of hard work I lost 108 pounds, keeping it off now for over 10 years. Since then, I have become bound and determined to help others reach their goals the best way I can, but also in the most economical and easiest ways.”
Kri Chay, trainer and owner of Urban HIIT FITT, doesn’t sugar coat his reaction to those who claim time or money as hindrances to a healthy lifestyle.
“Do you know how many times I have heard that excuse? People use the excuse of the economy, or family, or whatever. But you know what? I see people still wasting money on fast food, overpriced coffee, shopping, eating out and other ‘things’ that honestly push them away from hitting their fitness goals,” he says. “You can invest that money either in a quality fitness program or on quality food that will actually lead you to your fitness goals that month.”
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. As the medical costs associated with obesity continue to rise, it’s obvious that many of us can no longer afford excuses. How can you cut through the excuses and make real changes in your own life? The key, Atkinson says, is baby steps.
“I give my clients homework that ‘baby steps’ them into a healthy lifestyle over the course of six to eight weeks,” Atkinson says. “My biggest suggestion for newbies in a health and fitness journey is to get a solid nutrition plan in place before adding exercise. Organize your kitchen and make a list of go-to healthy foods you do like. Find quick and easy meal staples and pre-plan your meals in order to have leftovers. Purchase some great cookbooks for ideas, such as Tosca Reno’s ‘The Eat-Clean Diet’ series.”
Once your food intake is under control, Atkinson suggests incorporating exercise. She recommends starting with activities that require little or no equipment, such as walking or swimming in your neighborhood pool.
“Start adding anything that you like to do in order to keep moving,” she says. “Then build from there. Get out and play like a kid. That’s how I run my boot camps; I take my clients back to childhood and make them play. Some other suggestions are inexpensive home workout DVDs, light weights, stretch bands or even your own body weight” for both cardio and strength training.
There’s an app for that
The latest Nielson data estimates that 48 percent of Americans have smartphones. Turn the device into a tool for your new, healthy lifestyle by downloading free apps for exercise and meal tracking.
My Fitness Pal is a free online calorie counter and diet plan personalized for each user. By inputting your current weight, goal weight, height, gender and age, My Fitness Pal provides you with a daily calorie goal broken down by carbohydrates, fat and protein. You’re also able to track your daily exercise. And with mobile applications, tracking your food and exercise has never been easier.
Body Fitness is another popular smartphone app. Featuring hundreds of exercises with detailed instructions, you can view your personal exercise plan by day or by month. You can also search for exercises by the body area you wish to target.
Don’t have a smartphone? Access one of several free online weight loss and healthy lifestyle communities such as Spark People, 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet! and Weight Loss Buddy.
Spend time on social media
Facebook is estimated to hit the 1 billion user mark this month, so it’s likely there’s someone online with similar goals and struggles as you. You can begin by following famous weight-loss experts, such as The Biggest Loser’s Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels, who regularly post diet and exercise tips for their followers. Or better yet, grab some girlfriends and create Facebook groups for accountability — or even some friendly competition.
Using Facebook for health and wellness keeps you accountable, says Sandy Hill, a Gladstone resident. “It helps you reach out to like-minded people you wouldn’t normally meet. Right now, I’m in a 90-day challenge where we have to post our food and the nutrition information, the exercises we’re doing each day, and pictures of where we work out. It’s a small group, and we’re all over the country, so it’s very interesting to hear what others do for exercise.”
Hill has participated in several Facebook-based weight loss challenges, both free and fee-based.
“If you’re honest with yourself and others, the groups can help you,” Hill says. “You know throughout the day you need to report back to a group — do you want to show them you’re a slacker or that you’re really interested in getting healthier?”
With beautiful photos of healthy, delicious foods and images outlining quick and effective workouts, social media site Pinterest is another smart and savvy ally in your quest to live a healthy lifestyle. The virtual pin board allows you to organize by subject the inspirational photos you find and to browse pin boards created by others who share your interests.
Score deals on gym memberships
Sites such as Groupon and Living Social feature daily deals on the best stuff to see, do and experience in your city — including gym memberships and other fitness-related activities at up to 90 percent off regular price.
Kansas City resident Sandra Davis scored a Groupon to a kickboxing gym in the Northland. After sampling the classes for a month at half the usual price, she decided to join as a regular member. “The Groupon let me experience the kickboxing classes at a great price and without any commitment,” she says. “I loved it so much I decided to join in February, and I’ve had great results since then.”
Recent deals include coupons to River Market CrossFit, Greater Kansas City YMCA, Chay’s Urban HIIT FITT, New Day Yoga Studio and indoor rock-climbing centers. Chances are there’s a deal that appeals to your fitness and healthy living interests, so sign up for free accounts and watch for emails touting the day’s deals. Also check out Crowd Savings and Kansas City Dealsaver for more local fitness deals.
How bad do you want it?
Time and money can present legitimate challenges to leading a healthy lifestyle, but a little planning and commitment can go a long way toward preventing those challenges from becoming excuses that hold you back. It can be done, just ask Atkinson.
“It all depends on how bad you want it,” she says. “Yes, the upfront costs may seem steep, but usually the long-term health care and medication costs will outweigh the initial investments. In other words, would you rather pay upfront to get healthy, or would you rather wait and pay for higher insurance premiums, medical bills and prescription drugs?”