I know New Year’s Resolutions are supposed to start on January 1st, but honestly I’ve never really believed in making any.  This year, however, I did decide I would set some personal health and fitness goals for myself.  Note I said “goal” not “resolutions”. For me, there is too much resolve required for a resolution, but a goal allows me to have some room for human error 🙂

So here it is:

Note it is taped to the fridge where I am forced to look at it everyday!

Rather than just leave you with this list, I thought it owed a little explanation as to why these items even made my list. So let’s get started!

1. Eat Clean (no processed foods, veggies at every meal) – this one is pretty self-explanatory, but I think there are many different definitions of eating clean.  For me, the idea is to keep it simple.  Anything that has ingredients I don’t know or can’t pronounce, can’t be good for me. This also includes limiting my sugar and alcohol intake, which while not always fun, I can always tell the difference with my body. And everyone knows upping your veggie intake can do wonders for every aspect of your body.  As far as I’m concerned, eat as many veggies as you want, pretty hard to overdose!

2. Drink half my body weight in ounces of water – water is the fountain of life and has SO many benefits there is no way I could list them all here! If our body’s are made up of mostly water, don’t you think it would be a good idea to drink as much of it as you could?

3. No beef, unless grass fed – there are so many chemicals and hormones injected into our meats these days, beef being one of the biggest offenders.  Unless I personally want to inject myself with these hormones, I’d rather not ingest them.  Not to mention all the possible negative consequences to my health.

4. No alcohol during the week – ok, this one’s a toughie for me, because if you know me, you know how much I enjoy my red wine and the occasional bubbly!  But part of being a stronger me is learning to build stronger willpower, and this is really my biggest test of that.

5. No refined carbohydrates – all those items with white flour, goodbye!  These are the breads, cereals, cookies, cakes and pastas that literally make fat stick to our bodies.  There are so many healthy substitutes, such as sprouted wheat bread, oatmeal, whole grain pasta, sweet potatoes and the candy of nature, fruit, that my body just does not need the bad-for-you versions.

6.No refined sugar – think about all the types of sugar that are naturally made, such as those in fruits or honey for example.  Anything that has been refined in a factory for my consumption, is not for me.

7. Eat more fiber – oatmeal, beans and legumes are going to become my new best friend.  Not only are they great for my body, but they provide a feeling of satiety, so you can eat less and feel full.

8. Practice carb cycling (only eat carbs within a 3 hour window of working out) – I have personally seen the great benefits of practicing carb cycling.  I will not get overly scientific here, but I will say, if you learn to eat your carbohydrates within a 3 hour window, before or after working out, your body will be the most primed to use them as fuel and not store them as fat.  The absolute best time for that bowl of whole grain pasta or sweet potato is in the 3 hour window after you have worked out, when your body can use the carbs for recovery (energy) and can be burned much easier than if you had not worked out.  Obviously, the harder you workout (i.e. more strenuous the workout), the more complex carbs you can consume.  So don’t think that leisurely walk with your dog gives you the allowance to take down that massive bowl of pasta!  Instead always remember, if you work hard, reward yourself.  But try your best to keep your rewards in check….easy to think my 3 hour hike yesterday allowed me a pint of Ben & Jerry’s!

9. Practice portion control – this is the hardest goal for me to strive for, thus why it’s on the list.  I don’t know about you, but I LOVE to eat!!!  And when I really LOVE something, I can eat way more of it than I should!  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! There are lots of rules about portion control, depending on whether you are a man or a woman and if you want to know more about it, I’d be happy to share. Another helpful tip for doing this is to also SLOW DOWN.  Meaning, take your time when you eat.  Chew your food thoroughly, allow your hunger hormone to kick in (it takes 20 mins for your body to register that you are full).  So if you chow down like a starved person, likely you will eat more than you would have had you taken your time!

10. Workout at least 5 days a week (260 workouts for the year) – I am allowing myself to be fairly liberal with this one, as I know things come up in life that get in the way of being active.  So with that said, I am counting a workout, as anytime I spent moving my body with an elevated heart rate, from a brisk 30 minute walk with my dog, and by brisk I mean BRISK, to a 90 minute, kick-my-ass, weight workout!  As long as I am exercising my heart I can reap the benefits! Make it a priority and you will see your life change!

11. Practice Yoga more often – I have always been more of a high-impact workout person.  I grew up playing soccer, get amped to take a spin class and love to see my body respond when I lift weights, but I know there can be massive benefits of slowing down and helping my body become more flexible and recovered.  Yoga is also highly relaxing.  In a busy world of too many responsibilities, it is nice to be able to wind down every once in a while.

So there you have it.  Hopefully what I set out for myself will be achievable and this blog will help me to keep on track and share my experiences, good and bad.

I know all of us have aspects of our health and fitness we would like to improve, why not take that step today!

Lets become healthier, happier and stronger in 2014!