Stress is a horrible thing and can really have an impact on both your physical and mental health. Raised cortisol (a stress hormone) has been linked to excess belly fat and impacts other health conditions. Stress = The Enemy. To reduce stress as you work towards your fitness goals, focus on the things you can control and that will give you the most benefits. Eliminate the others and don’t worry about them.
If it may make a minor difference, it isn’t worth your time. You want those heavy hitters that are proven to make an impact. The more of these you include the better, and the faster they add up. The faster the changes come, the more motivated you are. The more your motivation increases, the more you want to continue. See how this works? Whoooooo, it’s the opposite of a vicious stress cycle.
Here are some of the heavy hitters that should be at the top of your To Do List:
- Compound lifts like bench presses, squats, rows, and deadlifts should make up the majority of your workouts with a few isolation moves thrown in if you have the time or you want to focus on a lagging part. The newer you are to lifting, the fewer isolation moves you need. Really.
- Make mostly whole food choices focusing on calories for your physique goals, proteins, healthy fats, and carbs. Ignore meal timing, no carbs after dark, carbs only around workouts, protein shakes immediately following your workout, low carb, and other myths. Some may make a teeny difference but you want to spend your time on the big ones.
- Move in some way daily. Walk, dance, lift, yoga, and so on. You don’t have to and shouldn’t do HIIT daily, or intense circuit training, or exhausting workouts that make you drag yourself out of the gym. Focus on moving with enjoyment and improving how you feel and your performance. Physical changes will follow.
- Eat when you are hungry and stop when you’ve had enough but aren’t overfull. This is a big one. Doing this keeps you in tune with the signals of your body on things like hunger and fullness, and it greatly reduces the food related guilt cycle that often accompanies stuffing yourself.
- Stop the cheat meals or cheat days! If you are making mostly whole food choices in your eating, there is room in your day for favorite foods or foods you crave. Fit them in and stop idea that you have to wait until cheat day for them. Cheat days often undo all of the progress that you’ve made so it’s better to use moderation instead of planned binges. If a food is so bad for you that you have to resist it, why is it OK to consume mass quantities of it because it’s cheat day?
- Don’t let the scale rule your mood. The scale is up and down on a daily basis and can be several pounds different from morning to night. Step back and look at the trend over time instead of freaking out that you weigh 2 pounds more today than yesterday. Plateaus don’t happen in a day. Judge your weight over a 2 – 3 week span of time and see if it’s headed in the direction you want. If not, then adjust. Don’t try to keep ahead of it with daily or weekly tweaks.
Even if your health is a disaster right now, a shotgun approach won’t improve it any faster and could actually slow you down with too many variables. Control what you can and remember to breathe. Little changes add up. There is so much information out there that it can be hard to weed through it all. By focusing on what really makes an impact, you’ll have more time for yourself, your passions (like creating new recipes) and to warm up with a bowl of soup. 😉
Winter Kimchi Soup with Pork Tenderloin
- 1/4 cup (33g) yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 16 oz pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup kimchi
- 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes until the onion softens. Stir in the pork cubes, ginger, broth and kimchi. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes or so until the pork is cooked thoroughly. Remove from heat and stir in the sesame oil.
Makes 4 servings at approximately 150 calories – 20g protein, 4g carbs, and 6g fat.