The best program is the one you are going to follow. It is easy to get excited and set extremely high goals for yourself, but fitness is about building good habits. Quite often I tell my clients, I don’t care what you do, I just want you to show up on those three or four days and do something. The first part of making a change is holding yourself accountable.
We often spend lots of time contemplating what we should do instead of actually doing it. That means working out takes 120 minutes instead of 30 minutes. That means working out becomes more exhaustive before it even begins. It all starts with a workout plan. I like to use my whiteboard in my room to set up my schedule so I can physically check mark boxes once I complete them (see below).
Achieving your fitness goals is all about consistency and hard work. Set realistic goals – try filling out the questions below to get yourself started on your fitness journey!
How many times a week do you want to workout?
How long do you want to workout for?
Where will you workout?
When will you workout?
End of Week 1, how did you feel?
If you can answer those questions and complete one week, staying true to yourself, I challenge you to answer those same questions Week 2. They can change, stay the same, increase or decrease in intensity. The point here is that it is important for you to reflect on your goal setting. Take 5 minutes to figure out what worked, what could be changed, or what you liked.
In my experience, most people that try to start their fitness journey do not understand how to set realistic goals for them. Unfortunately, not everyone will have access or the money for personal trainers. If you can master goal setting and planning your workouts in a way that works for you, you will set yourself up for success!
This is a weird time in many peoples lives. With the COVID19 outbreak and state of emergency declared by many major cities and countries all over the world, life seems to be put on hold. Reread the last part of that sentence, “put on hold”. It is more important than ever to have structure in your life right now. Truth is, we don’t know how long social distancing will last so it’s important we continue to live our lives with purpose. Among all the things we have lost control of, I encourage everyone to reflect on what we can control. We can control our interactions with people, our time spent on social media, our physical and mental health, and we can control what we invest our valuable time in. I am aware this can be an extremely anxious time for many people so I’ve created this post as a reminder to keep some routine. Here is my attempt in sending some positive vibes to you during this time!
We complain about not having enough time to do the things we want whether we are caught up with work, running errands or social events. This is the perfect opportunity to sit down and reflect on some of the things (that don’t require you leaving your house – slightly limiting I know) that you have always wanted to do. Have kids? Use this opportunity to teach them essential life skills like cooking, taxes or how to prepare an envelope for mailing. Living in clutter? Use this time to sort through some old clothes or antiques. Is your icloud full? Mine is. Do something about it – these are small projects to keep you preoccupied throughout the day. But wait, the list goes on…learn how to play an instrument, run that 5K you’ve always wanted you, read a new book, start blogging – again (that’s what I’m doing), try some meditation, learn a new language, learn to code… the options are endless. Stick to one thing and do a little bit everyday.
Regardless of what you choose to do in your free time, try to create a routine for yourself from Monday to Friday. Whether it means allotting time for working, studying, working out, meal prepping or socializing (via social media) – keep some consistency. Keeping a routine will hold you accountable. Here are a few tips to keep some structure in your life:
Create a morning routine – shower, coffee, breakfast
Set up your workspace in a clean space and remove distractions
Give yourself breaks throughout your work/study day
Keep consistency with the time of day you work out
Create a To-Do list
Go to bed early – as if you have to get up for work or school everyday
Put a time limit on social media
I speak from experience, this will give you purpose and reduce anxiety. It could be another week of social distancing or it could be months. It’s important to ensure we keep physically active and mentally sane. Give yourself some time away from social media as the constant bombardment of news can be exhausting. Take some time to reach out to loved ones. Most importantly, give yourself some time to self-reflect!
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference” – Winston Churchill
Last year around this time, I was backpacking throughout Europe having the time of my life. After graduating from a five year undergrad program I decided to try something I’ve always wanted to do. I went backpacking, both alone and with friends, and without a doubt it was the best decision I have ever made. Both experiences were totally different, but enjoyable nonetheless. This post will be dedicated towards why you should travel solo and if you’re still contemplating, hopefully I can change your mind.
I am a huge optimist and I am never really thinking about the worst case scenario, but I still found it difficult to click the “book now” button. “What if I don’t meet anyone? What if I get lost? What if I get pick-pocketed?” These are all normal thoughts, but they should never deter you from going to another country alone. There are so many backpackers traveling alone all around the world – believe me when I say you will have no problem meeting people. My cousin gave me the best piece of advice after he came back from his world tour.
“Just say hi”
Edinburgh, Scotland was my first stop and the first thought I had when I landed was “what the hell am I doing here alone”. It was a beautiful country, very fairy tale like, but I couldn’t believe I was by myself. I got settled into my hostel and instantly made friends. What was the trick? Every person I saw, I said “hi” to. It is a simple word with no limits. It’s small enough to acknowledge someone’s presence and large enough to start a friendship. The beauty of saying “hi” is that 98% of the time, most people will say something back. I now have friends from all over the world, which is a privilege not many people get!
Two weeks into my travels, I noticed something about myself (no, it wasn’t that life changing moment that people talk about when they go abroad). I started doing things without purpose. I went to museums because it was a “top site to visit”, but I didn’t appreciate it. I enjoy adventure, food and getting to know people. As a solo traveler, you are in control of each decision. You can do what you want, when you want, without having to report to anyone. Sure enough, I stopped visiting places that I didn’t find interesting and went on choosing activities that I enjoyed (hiking, sports stadiums, parks). You can spend 3 hours people watching on a patio and no one will judge you. It’s just you living in the moment.
” Learning how to be comfortably uncomfortable “
This is probably the biggest take away from traveling alone. We all have comfort zones, some bigger than others. The most important tip for traveling alone is knowing when to push yourself so you’re trying new things, but not too far where you’ll want to pack your bag and leave. Remember, you know yourself best. For some, being in a new country alone is a challenge in itself. For others, perhaps a new experience will get you on the edge of your comfort zone. Traveling alone exposed me to the unknown. The idea that I will not always be in control of every situation or that I may not know what I will be doing a week from now. Aside, if that terrifies you, then you also have the option of having everything mapped out. As a result, I became stronger, smarter, and more resilient.
After coming back from my travels, I can confidently say that I am no longer scared to do things alone. When you realize this independence, you find yourself with more options. You can go anywhere you want, whether it be overseas or local. You’ll participate in more events, start chatting with more people, and you’ll have a bunch of cool stories to share. The greatest part of it all is that no one can ever take that independence away from you. Although I have only backpacked throughout Europe, I’m excited to see what’s in store next… South East Asia, South America or maybe Africa. If you’re thinking about a solo backpacking trip, think no more. Clicking that “book now” button will be the best decision of your life!
Moving back home after University has been one of my toughest challenges. After living away for five years, you establish your own routine and lifestyle. As soon as you are back home everything is turned upside down. For the past few months, I’ve walked into my house and felt instantly annoyed. No one has to say or do anything to me, its just the simple act of being at home that agitates me. The most important thing I’ve learned is that it’s completely normal to feel frustrated or restricted. However, there are ways to cope with the changes.
Read below for a few tips on how to keep your sanity during this transition!
1. Ask for space
Its a tough situation to be in. You are back under your parents roof – you need to respect the house rules – but you have also been living alone for the past few years. You’ve got your own groove and established your own routine. As annoying as it can be, its important to realize that your parents are only looking out for you. They miss you and want to cater to you. Be the grown up that you are and have a conversation with them. Let them know how you are feeling and ask for the space that you need. Don’t brush them off and expect them to know how you are feeling. If you give them a chance, you would be surprised at how understanding parents can be.
2. Get involved in the community
If being at home irritates you, don’t be at home! Be active in the community or join a sports club. Unfortunately, this process is not as convenient as college or university. You’ll have to do a bit more research when it comes to finding leagues, clubs, or activities. But, the good news is most activities are seasonal – so once you’ve joined (which is the hardest part) you’ll adopt a routine for the next few months.
3. Be optimistic
Honestly, one day you’ll have your own bills to pay. If you have to do the dishes immediately after you eat or take out the garbage at 7:30 pm every Thursday night, just do it. One day you’ll be doing all those things plus paying every single bill you can imagine. While it seems like the end of the world to be living at home with your parents, just remember to be grateful for what you have.
Realistically, if it were completely unbearable – you would’ve moved out by now. Be nice, respect the parents, and find a way to make ends meets.
Time is our biggest battle. I mentioned in my previous post, the key to living a balanced life is understanding and applying the concept of productivity. I am still figuring out how to capitalize on time… especially in the kitchen. It doesn’t matter how much you enjoy cooking, there are times where it can be daunting!
Check out a few healthy meals you can make in 20 minutes:
Breakfast of Champions
Chop zucchini, mushrooms and spinach
Add olive oil and garlic to the pan
Add veggies: zucchini (until golden brown), then mushrooms and corn. Once cooked, place in a separate bowl.
Prepare eggs in a frying pan. Add salt and pepper. Before flipping the egg, add spinach on top.
Slice apples and add unsalted peanut butter in between slices.
Optional: Add feta to the eggs or hummus to the veggies for extra protein.
Roasted Beets and Chick Pea Cous-Cous Salad
Slice beets about 1 inch thick. Place on a tray and drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven at 425 degrees for 12 minutes, turning beets over midway. While beets are cooking in the oven, prepare salad:
Dice apple into small cubes and put aside in a small bowl.
In a separate bowl, add garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano to the medley beans. Add diced tomatoes, green onions and corn to the salad.
Once beets are complete, dice into squares and
throw it in a pan. Add diced apples, a bit of honey, and cinnamon to taste.
Prepare Cous Cous. Add chickpea salad and roasted beets/apples on top.
Jerk Chicken Stir Fry
Marinade: Prepare in a small bowl
o 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
o 1.5 tablespoons of Coolie Jerk seasoning mix
o Pinch of cinnamon
o 2 Finely chopped hot green chili (can use chili flakes instead)
o 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
o 1 teaspoon of salt
o 1 teaspoon of black pepper
Add marinade to Chicken. On low heat, drizzle some olive oil in a pan. Once oil is heated, add chicken pieces to pan. This process should take about 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium-high. Sear pieces until golden brown on both sides, then lower heat and slightly cover pan (leaving some room for air to escape).
Cook for another 10 minutes. Prepare veggies while the chicken is cooking: mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and onions. Add vegetables into the same pan as that chicken. Fully cover the lid. Turn up the heat. Give it another 5 minutes and you are good to go!
People always ask me, how do you find time to make lunch, go to the gym, learn new things? Don’t you ever get lazy? I’ll let you in a little secret. Before you begin any new routine, you need to understand the concept of productivity. We all seem to be fighting against time and using it as an excuse.
Time management is the most important skill to grasp. Take 10 minutes out of your day and reflect on where you’ve allotted your time. Were you scrolling through social media? Watching TV? Trying to find the perfect picture to post on Instagram? When you become aware of how many functional hours you have in a day, you are able to recognize what you can be doing in these hours.
How to Effectively Manage Time
1. Write a list of small things to do
Everyone says it. Write down a list of what you want to accomplish today. The problem with this statement is that people often write down unrealistic goals. I say SMALL things because a list can easily become overwhelming and discouraging. On a typical day, my list may look like this:
Download an interesting podcast
10 minute journal reflection
Fix blue-tooth in car
You can already see that this list is not exhaustive or impossible to complete. That’s the point. Many of these tasks only take a matter of a couple minutes, but they have compounding effects that will prepare you for your next day. Okay, so you have marinated meat and an interesting podcast? This means you have accessibility. You have access to your next meal when you’re hungry. You also have access to a podcast when you’re heading to work in the morning (and you’re most probably rushed). The first step to productivity is ensuring accessibility.
2. Stop wasting your time on Social Media
I’m not here to tell you social media is bad or a complete waste of time. But, I think it’s fair to say we are all guilty of spending a little too much time on it. Social media is addicting and distracting. We’ve all seen 10 minutes on the phone turn into 45 minutes. Before I left on my two month Backpacking adventure to Europe, I removed all social media apps on my phone and replaced them with eBooks. In the span of two months, I got through three books… something I had been struggling to do for years. What was responsible for the change? I took interest in what I was reading and I started using my time more efficiently.
3. Don’t overthink
I am still learning how to think, but not overthink. As prepared as you want to be, you need to realize there are things that you cannot control. Overthinking can be very counter-productive. While you’re too busy thinking about everything that can go wrong and waiting for the “perfect time” to execute your plan, you start to lose your most valuable asset… TIME. Please do not take this the wrong way. You need to think before you do things, especially if you want to be productive. But don’t be afraid to fail – if there is something you want to do, just give it a try!