Three small changes I’m making in my health and fitness this year
Three small changes I’m making in my health and fitness this year!
I already shared a little bit about my goals for 2023, and what’s totally different about my goals for 2023 is that many of them are not specific like they’ve always been in the past.
Rather than coming up with a bunch of “end/outcome goals” for the year, I’ve decided instead to come up with process changes to my health and fitness.
Why? Because I know that the very habits we keep are what determine the changes we make in our lives. If I keep my habits and routines the same, I stay the same. And this post will detail the process changes I’m making in the health and fitness category this year in 2023.
I need to start this post by saying that I currently feel energetic, healthy and fine, but I’ve been “fine” for quite some time, mostly unchanged. And I feel like I want to be better than fine. I want to be even stronger. I want to be able to do more and more. And I want to feel like I’m improving in all the things I do rather than just always maintaining. And to get there, I know I need to modify/improve some of my habits — especially in the health and fitness category.
While my gut tells me to keep this process to myself and work quietly on it — in case I mess up, in case I fall off the wagon, or in case nothing changes — that seems like the easy route.
Today, I’m sharing my process with hopes it keeps me honest and perhaps it is valuable for you to know in case it relates to your unique situation. But remember, we’re all different people with different goals, and we’re always evolving. These are my current process changes, but they’re just experiments, and they may not last forever.
Here we go …
Here are the three changes I’m making in my health and fitness this year …
Eating more meat and eating more than 120 grams of protein per day.
I’ve talked in the past about trying to get in more protein, and for a while, I tried to loosely get 100 grams of protein. I did okay with that, much of the time. But I’ve known and decided to declare that that’s not enough for me.
As an active mom, who is 5 feet and 7.5 inches tall, 145 pounds, who works out several hours a week, plays tennis and teaches group fitness classes, I’ve had my protein goal too low for too long.
While I’m not willing to meticulously track my food or use a food tracker, I’m willing to estimate the protein in each of my meals a day and always shoot to get at least 120 grams of protein. Most days, I’d like to get even more than that (ideally reaching my bodyweight in grams of protein per day — 145 grams). But because I’m not a huge protein eater naturally, this goal is hard for me.
(As a side note about tracking: Real fitness buffs will tell you that you have to track all of your calorie and macronutrient intake, and I do agree that’s the fastest and most strategic route to body composition changes. But, it’s not for everyone. I don’t like to feel restricted by numbers each day, and I’m not willing to take that step. If you’re into it, good for you, but it’s not for me — thus the protein goal stands alone, without addressing carbs or fats.)
How have I been doing this process change so far just two months into the year? This year, I’ve been good about never skipping my protein-filled snacks. I have one protein shake almost every day of the week, I have a protein bar or a protein yogurt most days too. With these two snacks alone, I’m getting about 40 grams of protein per day. Then, I can split up the other protein mostly evenly throughout my other three meals, and it’s usually 20-30-30. I know I could do better at breakfast and lunch, but once again — this is a small process change, and it’s a step in the right direction.
Now to the second point: When I say that I’m eating more meat these days, I don’t mean I’m eating meat for all three meals. But I’m having meat maybe five or six days a week now, when I used to only have it once a month or so. I stopped eating chicken for many years after an aversion during pregnancy, but I’ve reintroduced it — and I’m liking it.
Honestly, I have nothing against eating meat (I’m not a vegetarian), but I just don’t cook it often, and I don’t always crave it. But it’s hard to eat a million eggs a day, and hands down — meat is the best protein source. Dave has enjoyed the re-addition of more meat into our lives too, because he’s our main chef, so he’s eating it more now too.
Also, even when we go out to eat (which is a couple times a week), I try to order meat in my meal. I used to always choose the plant-based meals, and now when I get those, I add meat or fish. When possible, I choose the best available meat option, which is grass-fed beef or organic chicken, but that’s not always the case. It’s been only two months of this, and I think I feel a little difference in my muscle growth, so clearly I needed the additional protein.
These two things combined — #1 more meat and #2 more protein — are a process change. I hope that over an entire year of keeping up with them, I see more muscle changes, better recovery and even better performance, but time will tell. I know that this is the right direction today, and I’m going to stick with it for as long as it feels right.
Lifting heavier weights by myself once a week outside of the classes I teach.
Once again, this isn’t an end-goal, this is a process change.
And for the last seven weeks, I’ve done one solo weights workout a week. This may seem so simple, but it’s not that easy for me to spend more time in the gym and do more movement, when I already get so much movement while practicing for classes, teaching classes and playing tennis. But I need this one workout a week for many reasons.
First of all, I’ve been making it through my classes just fine for a long time. But because I’m focused on teaching, coaching and leading others — my own movement can be a bit of an afterthought. It’s important for me to take time to work on exactly what I need to work on.
Also, most of the classes I teach are more about endurance work — more repetition with lighter weights — and that’s so beneficial and the everyday person can get fit and stay fit with the type of workouts we’re doing in the group fitness studio without anything else. But, I’ve been doing these type of workouts for so long, I need a little something extra to give me that edge.
That being said, my one solo workout a week is focused on less repetitions, heavier weights and foundational movement patterns that are simple, but effective. I’ve been doing barbell deadlifts, barbell squats, barbell hip thrusts and push-ups. I should probably add pull-ups in there too, but I haven’t been doing them (thus they won’t improve, until I work on them). These movement patterns will likely stay the same for months, because I want to keep improving and progressing in them with perfect form and more weight.
I’ve been doing this in my neighborhood gym mostly, in Life Time a couple times, and when I can’t do either of those — I’ve resorted to Les Mills Strength Development on Les Mills+ (which is an awesome on-demand option through Les Mills+, and you can get a free 30-day trial here with my referral link, and well as a 5 percent discount on Les Mills Smart Tech equipment here with the code SMARTTECH5).
While I don’t exactly look forward to my one solo workout a week, it has been a chance for me to slow things down, listen to a podcast, focus on me and keep my commitment to myself. I hope I can keep it up! I really do feel like it’s making a difference already, even just seven weeks into this new habit.
Drinking 120 ounces of sea-salt infused water a day by 7 p.m.
Okay, so it’s no secret that being hydrated matters. But it matters even more when you sweat a lot, like I do. I’ve always been pretty good at drinking water, but this year, I wanted to see how I would feel if I really stepped it up. But just chugging plain water all day isn’t always the answer.
My first 80 ounces of water a day has some pink Himalayan sea salt sprinkled in there for extra electrolytes. When you add a trace of sea salt to your water, the taste is only slightly altered (and I love the taste of the salt), and this gives your water more structure so your system absorbs the minerals better than water alone.
What has helped my hydration this year? My Stanley cup, which I got at the end of 2022. I know I’ve talked about this cup over and over again, but I’m back doing it again, because it’s that good. I always have this cup with me, it holds 40 ounces of water at a time, and it has a handle and an easily cleanable straw, which makes sipping on the go super convenient.
I finish my first 40 ounces of water before I leave the house each morning at 8:45 a.m., then I have my second 40 ounces finished by the time I get home again at 1 p.m. I try to finish the third 40 ounces by 7 p.m., so that I’m not up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom more than once. That’s three full Stanley cups a day.
Drinking a lot of water (with sea salt) is nothing new to me, but being a little bit more strategic and purposeful with how much I drink it and by when I drink it is the process change. And that’s why I’m sharing it with you. Also, it feels really good to be fully hydrated all the time, and I would certainly recommend it.
And those are the three changes in my health and fitness!
No, they aren’t extreme, no, they aren’t ground-breaking, no, they aren’t innovative … but that’s the thing about health and fitness, it’s the simple little stuff you do each day that adds up to make the big picture. I hope these things help my big picture.
Thanks for coming by the blog today. Have a wonderful week! And please, if you have anything you’re working on, I’d love to hear it in the comments.
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Question of the day for you
What’s one process change you’re hoping to incorporate into your life this year?