Are you in your best shape?
Few of us are.
Our ancestors were hunters and farmers, but we’re not.
And because we no longer chase buffalo and climb trees for fruit, our lives have become too sedentary to be optimally healthy.
To be truly in our best shape, we must move more.
But because of televisions, phones, computers, and cars, it’s not always easy to get up and get moving.
Getting started is often the most challenging part.
In contemporary life, excellent health requires a system – it doesn’t just happen spontaneously on its own.
It can be difficult – at first – to put a self-improvement system in place.
There are solutions.
Here are fifteen tips to help you get into the best shape of your life. Lower within this article, you’ll find a helpful video and a printable list.
1. Understand that Life Improves as Your Health Gets Better
You can prepare yourself for success. You just need to find the system that is uniquely right for you and implement it.
You can implement these tips to help yourself look better and feel better in daily life.
95% of people do not understand how life gets better.
Would you like to be among the 5% who understand?
When you have excellent health, anything is possible. It’s the foundation. When you build a house, you build the foundation first. Start there.
When you truly understand that life improves as your health improves, only then do you begin the journey toward being in your best shape.
2. Cultivate a Mindset for Preparation
Many imagine that the hardest part of being healthy is having to work out at the gym or eat healthy food all the time.
- the more consistently you exercise, the more accustomed you become to exercising until the actual act of exercising becomes rather exhilarating.
- the more you eat healthily, the more accustomed you become to healthier foods until your taste buds evolve and you develop a taste for healthy food – and the taste of “standard” food becomes gradually less appealing.
Changing any habit can be more difficult in the beginning. Eventually, the hardest part of being healthy is not the actual exercising or the actual eating of healthy food because those do get easier with time.
Unquestionably, the hardest part of being healthy is preparation: getting yourself organized while trying to anticipate how you might get in your own way.
People who take the time to prepare are in their best shape.
3. Develop a Joy for Super Salads
Super salads serve as an excellent example of the importance of preparation in helping you get your body into better condition.
Many über-healthy people have super salads for dinner several times a week.
Super salads are not the blah side dish of days yore – no iceberg lettuce with a rubbery wedge of tomato drowning in oil and vinegar.
Super salads are a meal unto themselves – big, satisfying, loaded with protein, fun to eat, and topped with crunchies.
Once you get used to a healthier diet, eating a super salad is a highly enjoyable part of your day that you will actually look forward to.
The hard part is making the salad, not eating it.
The challenging part is washing and drying the vegetables. The dicing and chopping. The shopping for the ingredients. That’s the hard part – eating it is a breeze.
If you wait until the end of the day, when you’re tired and hungry, to decide that you want a super salad yet you haven’t done any preparation or organizing for it, the chances of making a poor food choice are pretty high.
Super salads need to be organized and prepared for:
- when will you find time to do this shopping– and cleaning, drying, and chopping?
- should you do it all once a week, on your Saturday off from work?
- should you do it each morning before starting work, when you still have the bulk of your energy?
4. Do a Different Form of Exercise Each Day
Down the road, what will be the hardest about exercising each day isn’t the actual exercise. Doing a yoga class, going for a long and brisk walk, resistance training at the gym – all of that will become more enjoyable. It’s the preparation that’s challenging:
- should you pack your workout wear and gym shoes the night before?
- can you enlist the cooperation of your family or roommates to leave the living room free so that you can do your exercise DVD that evening undisturbed?
- did you double-check your gym’s class schedule online to see if there were any changes?
- did you email your walking partner to confirm tomorrow’s session?
It’s the sensation of knowing you pushed yourself just hard enough – not to the point of injury or sickness, but hard enough so that you’re confident it will create unquestionably positive results and help you move toward your best shape yet.
Remember, when you are in tip-top condition, a powerful physical feeling goes along with it.
5. Realize that Your Health Improves by Stacking Good Habits
In the movies, life seems comprised of a series of defining, dramatic “Oscar moments.”
Our lives are, in fact, quotidian.
Most of life is built on our everyday little habits.
Replace little bad habits with little good ones daily, and eventually, over time, you will win at life.
6. Expose Yourself to Daily Inspiration and Accountability
Suppose you’d like to experience more great workouts. In that case, you must understand that achieving your fitness goals is not just about having access to new information about the latest exercise moves. Excellent fitness results hinge on your having access to:
- daily inspiration
I’ll use anything for inspiration – sometimes, you need to seek motivation to get that extra oomph for an intense workout. The best workouts have real motivation behind them.
I’m not talking about the kind of motivation that comes from a pre-workout coffee or watching your favorite TV show while walking on the treadmill.
Regarding accountability, it can be helpful to have a workout buddy or even a fitness coach sometimes.
An accountability partner is someone who helps to shake things up, breathe new life into your workouts, make things more fun and more challenging, and – most importantly – someone with whom to share your goals out loud.
7. Appreciate that Your Brain Needs a Dependable Gatekeeper
What you think, feel, and believe makes a difference in your health.
I strongly encourage you to be careful what you watch on television, who you speak to, and what you speak about.
Your brain is nothing short of miraculous, it will manifest more of what you’re already focused on.
Also, it matters who you hang out with.
If you are serious about getting healthier, you need to surround yourself with as many fit, positive people around your age as you can.
8. Use Positive Imagery to Realize Your Best Shape
Visualization is helpful to athletes and health enthusiasts of any age, but it is even more helpful for people over 50.
When I turned 40 (almost a decade ago) and went online to learn about the physiological changes that happen to men as they age and how best to deal with those changes, I couldn’t find the information I needed. I couldn’t even find many images of fit men over 40.
All the fitness magazines had images of guys in their 20s and 30s, but very few images of men in their 50s, 60s, and beyond.
I recommend positive visualization techniques to remedy the media’s lack of positive imagery.
I encourage you to give yourself a few moments alone in a quiet room, to sit calmly, breathe slowly and deeply, and visualize yourself as the person you most want to become.
Imagine, first, what you want, and then consider how much you want it – say, on a scale of one to ten:
- if you’re at 8 or above, you’re ready.
- if you’re 7 or below, come back another time – it’s not important enough to you yet.
Next, imagine how you might get in your way.
What circumstances will prevent you from becoming that future, healthier person you see in your mind’s eye?
These are your potential obstacles.
Imagine what you will do when you encounter these obstacles.
How will you sidestep them?
When you visualize for the joy of visualizing rather than with the intention of correcting some deficiency, your thoughts are more pure and, therefore, more powerful.” – Abraham-Hicks
9. Create a Healthy Calendar Template
Like many people these days, I use digital calendaring to track my appointments. However, when you need to take a fresh look at your typical week, creating a separate calendar of standing appointments can help you make objective decisions about your overall time management.
A template is a preset format for a document (that helps prevent having to recreate the format each time it is used.)
Think of it as a “time makeover.”
The best way to do this is to start with a blank slate – this is more of a mental breakthrough than anything else.
You can keep the primary rhythms of your week intact (you don’t have to quit your job or relocate to a new city), but it’s just easier to start from zero with a blank calendar and then, from there, block out pieces of time for key activities.
Action Step: print out a blank calendar week.
You can use Google calendar or simply use the calendar that came with your computer.
If time management is a severe problem for you at this point in your life – and by “severe,” I mean that you feel stressed out and overwhelmed by all you have to do each week, then you might enjoy Laura Vanderkam’s excellent book You Have More Time Than You Think.
Just set aside that one piece of paper – a blank calendar week. You’ll l use it periodically throughout the next few weeks. It’s a simple tool that will help you achieve big results. This blank calendar week will be used eventually to create your Ideal Week.
10. Psych-Up Your Mind for Beneficial Changes and a Better Shape
You can prepare psychologically for change (this is the most important step on this list).
Which of these three lifestyle habits is most important: good nutrition, regular exercise, or low-stress living?
It’s a question I enjoy asking when I interview health experts and medical doctors because it’s fascinating to hear their opinions.
What my life experience has taught me is that these three lifestyle habits hold nearly equal importance because:
- I have known individuals who eat healthily but do not exercise regularly and then experience a significant health challenge.
- I have known individuals who exercise regularly but do not eat well consistently and experience a significant wellness setback.
- I have known individuals who exercise regularly and eat well consistently but whose daily lives are stressful and experience significant health challenges.
The people I have known, however, who do all three enjoy nearly perfect health and live joyfully.
I’ve never personally known a person who did all three and then experienced a significant health challenge (of course, it does happen; there are always exceptions, and sometimes events occur – or our past habits catch up to us, no matter how well we might be living in the present).
Though all three are essential, stress-free living is the most underestimated. Everyone already knows it’s important to eat right and exercise often, but many people still don’t fully realize that chronic, low-level stress can erode health.
All the relentless daily distractions and noise of modern life can take their toll. A medical doctor specializing in healthy aging recently told me that stress and aging are the same and that those two words can be used interchangeably.
Stress is a culprit. Every day, with every step and every breath, we are assaulted by various germs, viruses, bacteria, and parasites. However, with stress-free living, our immune systems can usually handle all that brilliantly.
11. Live within the Full Circle of Wellness
Outside Magazine reported how genetics may not play as significant a role in our shape and longevity as previously thought. Newer research indicates that our lifestyle choices and daily habits determine how long we live and the quality of our years after age 50.
Together with good nutrition, regular exercise, and low-stress daily living, form the full circle of wellness and serve as an excellent paradigm through which we can look at our lives to determine where to make improvements.
Longevity researcher and author of The Blue Zones, Dan Buettner discovered that the easiest and most effective way to become super healthy is to live within an “ecosystem” that is already super healthy. This way, you’re not always swimming against the current; when your environment – be that your friends, your job, your community, your spouse, or your culture – intrinsically and habitually support your endeavors, then creating and maintaining excellent health becomes much more straightforward:
“For people to adopt a healthful lifestyle, I have become convinced, they need to live in an ecosystem, so to speak, that makes it possible. As soon as you take culture, belonging, purpose or religion out of the picture, the foundation for long healthy lives collapses. The power of such an environment lies in the mutually reinforcing relationships among lots of small nudges and default choices.”— Dan Buettner / NY Times
Today, I invite you to consider the moments of your daily life as they pertain to either nutrition, exercise, or a low-stress lifestyle.
As you go about your day, recognize where each of your daily habits falls on the full circle of wellness. Also, try to determine when it’s you getting in your way or when your environment seems to be making good self-care especially difficult.
Of course, as you do this, I recommend not doing it in a blaming-and-shaming way but with a light heart, a good-natured curiosity, and a sense of humor!
Seeing your typical day in this way will become very helpful to you down the road as you begin to tune up your daily life and make holistic improvements.
12. Shave 200 Calories from Your Average Day for a Better Shape
People who are physically active for 30 or more hours a week – such as professional athletes or construction workers – need to fuel their bodies to match the intensity of their typical day. But for most of us, our lifestyles are much more sedentary than our ancestors. Therefore, many of us require fewer calories.
Resisting the temptation to consume more calories than you burn in a typical day is key to getting into your best shape.
If you’re eating the standard number of calories a day for someone in a first-world country, you can experiment with lessening your calories by 200 from your daily average diet and see how it makes your body feel (200 is not that much; you’ll notice it, but it won’t be painful).
There is also mounting evidence that low-calorie intake extends lifespan.
Digesting food is a significant effort for the human body. I’ve always wondered if giving the body a rest from digesting frees up its energies to work on healing in other parts of the body. My hunch is that the less healthy food we eat – much of the food found currently in the standard modern diet – the more effort it requires of our bodies.
13. Burn 300 Extra Calories a Day by Moving Your Body
Science has proven that running reduces the mutations in our body’s mitochondria. However, it doesn’t take a lot of running to get into your best shape.
…three times a week — not a lot of exercise — caused a complete reversal or arrest of all the symptoms of aging.” — OutsideOnline.com
We’ve always known that exercise is good for you, but new research reveals that working out consistently helps the human body to better heal and replicate its own cells. This means exercise (not nutrition alone) must be a part of getting into the best shape of our lives.
Alternate the types of exercise you do, and you’ll be more likely to workout daily – with improved results to your shape and less chance of injury.
So it seems that running can have a significant impact on the way we age. But running isn’t for everyone. And even if running would be a good choice for you, you might have to build up to it gradually.
No matter what the modality, you can exercise daily to the point where you burn at least 300 calories from each day’s workout.
14. Walk Yourself into Your Best Shape
Your body can quickly become fatigued and asymmetrical, often without you even realizing it.
Ample energy and symmetry are keys to getting into your best shape.
For example, even when working on your computer for a mere ten minutes (a seemingly innocuous activity), it begins to over-stretch your posterior deltoids while shortening the muscles in your arms and pectorals – and, over time, that modern-day “slump” we see in many people’s posture is created.
The human body, however, is brilliant and has a built-in solution for nearly every challenge. Perhaps the most underestimated, overlooked, and simple solution is: walking.
Walking is a way for the body to achieve homeostasis – to return balance to the mind and body (in fact, walking is a way to restore the spirit in many traditions).
“Walking stimulates the frontal lobe – the brain’s happiness center,” reports Pilates trainer and movement specialist Josi Riley. “Walking is designed by nature to uplift you and to stimulate hormones and other neurochemicals. Being an ‘upright animal’ has helped humans develop cognition because our visual field has needed to be out in front (not just straight down, like a quadruped). It’s a metaphor: our ability to look out at the horizon has inspired us to reflect more about what the ‘horizon’ really means, which, in turn, has developed our brains.”
There’s something multi-dimensionally therapeutic that happens to us on a long walk.
Walking is recalibration.
In some essential and primal way, it allows the body to reorganize itself.
Action Step: I invite you to rediscover what walking can do for you. At some point today, go outdoors for a walk. If the weather is unpleasant, consider a shorter walk around the block. Most important here is to check in with how you feel before the walk and then check in again after the walk.
Did the essence of your body, mind, spirit, and energy feel better before or after the walk?
Also: remember that blank calendar week that you printed up (see Step 1, above). It’s time to block out one hour during that week and label it: “Walk.”
15. Boost Your Metabolism with Health Interventions
There is a calmness of mind that often occurs after age 50. You can leverage that into becoming your best shape if you choose to.
If you do each of the tips listed above, it is entirely possible that at the end of a year, you could have lost 52 pounds of body fat. And – depending on what kind of exercise you do each day – your muscle tone, posture, and complexion will significantly improve.
It’s challenging to create one weight loss formula that applies to everybody because of many variables.
For instance, I’ve found over decades in my work as a professional fitness coach that the healthier someone is, the better their metabolism works and the easier they lose fat.
So, it’s not just about counting calories; it’s also about listening to what your body needs – holistically – to be healthier.
I recently interviewed a prominent healthy-aging medical doctor to find out how to boost metabolism:
Life after age 50 can be fantastic! Ask your medical doctor what he or she believes will help you get into your best shape yet.
You can be healthier than you are at this moment. The solutions are within your reach if you know how to position yourself for success.
Action Step: as you go about the rest of your day today, I invite you to notice the vital role that preparation plays in your life and the greater role it could play in your life moving forward as you get into your best shape.
Look for moments in your day when better preparation could have made a positive difference and produced a more desirable outcome.
Increasing your awareness this way will come in handy later when you begin to experiment with new ways of preparing for healthier weekly habits and improving your shape and conditioning.
Today is a good day to get excited about your life.
Health protocols help make you better from the inside out. The more health protocols you engage in, the stronger you become – and the more younger-feeling and younger-looking you become.
One year from today, will you be in your best shape?
- Understand that life improves as your health gets better.
- Cultivate a mindset for preparation.
- Develop a joy for super salads.
- Do a different form of exercise each day.
- Realize that your health improves by stacking good habits.
- Expose yourself to daily inspiration and accountability.
- Appreciate that your brain needs a dependable gatekeeper.
- Use positive imagery.
- Create a calendar template.
- Pysch-up your mind for beneficial changes.
- Live within the full circle of wellness.
- Shave 200 calories from your average day.
- Burn 300 extra calories a day by moving your body.
- Walk yourself into your best shape.
- Boost your metabolism with health interventions.
Today is a good day to get excited about your life.
Health protocols help make you better from the inside-out. The more health protocols you engage in, the stronger you become.
Additional Sources about Getting into Your Best Shape Yet:
Where People Live a Long Time – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-forget-to-die.html?_r=1
Research Verifies Specific Protein Molecule for Fat Breakdown – http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/newsroom/news-releases/year-2016/august/fat-metabolism-bickel.html