I have said it over and over again, getting in shape and staying fit has been paramount to my ability to be a focused and attentive father. From the numerous mental benefits to the obvious physical ones, keeping my body working to the best of it’s ability is one of the most beneficial changes for not only myself, but to those around me. If you are new to a fitness lifestyle you can feel overwhelmed at first, but it really can be a simple process and worth the work. Starting small is certainly better than not starting at all. Here are my top five tips for staying fit that could benefit newbies and seasoned athletes alike.
Modern-day dad’s top five tips for staying fit
Drink more water, less everything else.
The importance of hydration can never be stated enough. The physical and mental effects of not being hydrated can be absolutely debilitating to us. Water really is the source of life. It’s important to stay hydrated as it helps us keep our bodies in optimal shape, working at its full potential, and helps us be able to gauge how we feel regarding hunger, cravings, and so forth. Without water we begin to feel tired, agitated, and our brains get foggy. For as many drinks as we can swap with the water we are better for it. Sugary sodas and even some juices are nothing more than chemical delivery systems that take away from what we really need, hydration. I generally only drink two drinks and that is water and coffee, mainly water. I get my nutrients from the foods I eat. I don’t drink many fortified drinks or smoothies at all and have experienced no loss of vitamins or minerals via diet.
Lift weights at least three days a week.
Lifting weights, though finally picking up in popularity, has become such a vital thing for me to do. The biggest dismissals of weightlifting I hear or that people either don’t have enough time, or they don’t want to look to “bulky.” Both of these are nonsensical excuses. Weightlifting, and by that I mean lifting something heavy, not professional bodybuilding, have A great deal of benefits for humans. In addition to its functionality weight lifting has proven time and time again that not only can I improve how your body looks, but also how you feel mentally, physically, and even internally. In 20 minutes you could do a full body weight lifting routine with just a pair of dumbbells and that is more than enough for the average person. People confuse natural bodybuilders and professional…uhh..chemically created bodybuilders all the time. Genetically you will only get as large as you are destined to be. What people find is that they don’t end up looking bulky at all when they lift weights, but they look exactly how they wanted to; leaner, stronger, and more fit.
Don’t diss cardio, it has physical AND mental benefits.
The physical benefits of cardiovascular health long since been proven. The biggest thing for me is having the endurance necessary to keep up with my kids. I don’t spend much more than 20 to 30 minutes a day on cardiovascular activity but certainly noticed how I feel when I don’t participate in any. My body feels better and my mind is clearer and more present after a good walk, a short run, or a bike ride. This is something you can include your family in as well so if you are short on time maybe take a family walk after dinner, or take the stairs to your job, park further away in the parking lot, or jog down to your favorite restaurant on lunch break instead of driving.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
The majority of our nutrients can be found in fruits and vegetables. Many cultures, Americans especially, have learned to make a centerpiece of their meat and protein with small portions of vegetables, and almost nonexistent portions of fruit. Though many doctors will remark that our ideas about protein are wildly wrong, none will disagree with the fact that we could all use more vegetables in our diet. Try filling your dinner plate with one half to two thirds worth of fruits and vegetables and leaving the rest for your protein. I found this not only helps me feel better and look better but I unable to manage my calorie intake and ignore chemically created supplements to get my dietary requirements.
Only omit food items that make you feel bad, not for a fad.
It’s easy to fall in the trap of a “magic pill.” People think if only they adhered to one magical diet all their physical and metal woes would be over. Unfortunately every type of diet there is has a paid team of scientists giving you information about why it is the perfect one. Many times this information not only conflicts with all the other diets, but directly oppose it is common sense. People go on different diets, and by diets I don’t mean lack of food, I mean the type of food they eat, for various reasons. I have never been able to challenge a diet that people eat for moral or ethical reasons, but as far as health is concerned no one diet really proves to be better then another on every level. No matter if you adhere to a vegan diet, a Paleo diet, a Mediterranean diet, and so on, there are things you could be missing out on and also distinct benefits that you gain. Whichever you choose, one universal truth brings true, “eat real food, mostly plants, not too much.” The closer you can get in to the source, the higher the nutritional value. Highly processed foods become less and less like something our body recognizes and gives us a little benefit. So before you omit something based on a diet you relate to, just consider how your body feels when you eat the food you eat. Is your weight under control? Do you wake up feeling healthy and refreshed? Do you have energy to get you through the day? These are the questions you should ask instead of “which food can I omit and have all my health woes disappear?” Eat the best quality foods you can, no matter the diet and you will see a positive change.
I hope these tips serve you well. For some it will mark a great starting point in feeling better, for others a reminder to maintain their path. Whatever the case, they are simple and really have worked for me. Keep up the good work!
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