1. Eat a healthy breakfast. Eating breakfast starts your day off on the right foot and gives you fuel for the day that will help you make better food decisions throughout the day.
2. Get moving. Walk where you can, whenever you can. Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending an email. Take a lap around the block. You don’t have to take long or intense walks, but try to add a few more steps to your day.
3. Find a workout buddy. It may not be for everyone, but for a lot of people, having a buddy to meet for workouts helps with accountability and enjoyability. If your friends’ workout schedules don’t work with yours, check out our small group training and group exercise options.
4. Make it easier to get a full night’s sleep. Blocking out unwanted noise, keeping your room cooler and making sure your bedroom is dark enough are all ways to help perfect your sleeping environment.
5. Play with your pet. Your furry friend does a great job of reducing stress in your life, and reducing stress in your life makes it easier to keep your fitness goals. Also, putting effort into playtime with your pet may be a great way to get your MEPs for the day!
6. Spend time with positive people. When getting started with a new habit or lifestyle change, it’s important to surround yourself with people who support you and can give you encouragement. Make plans with your support system this week to absorb some positivity.
7. Review your MYZONE app/emails. Seeing what you have accomplished will keep you motivated, allow you to see your progress and keep you focused on your goals.
8. Make food changes slowly. Don’t try to change everything at once! Instead of making drastic changes all at once, make a few small adjustments every week or month to help you get where you want to be. Try a new food or modify the proportions you eat, and let your body acclimate between changes.
9. Eight (8-ounce) cups of water a day. The amount of water each person needs can vary, but eight cups a day is a good rule of thumb (possibly more depending on your activity level). With all the MYZONE workouts you’ll be completing, be sure to stay hydrated!
10. Start your day off with positive thoughts. What are you looking forward to? What fun or exciting things may happen today? We’re not telling you to forget any negative or worrisome things you are dealing with in your life, just remind yourself of the things that can and do give you a sense of calm or put a smile on your face. For those interested, we also offer meditation classes at the Staenberg Family Complex as part of our group exercise schedule! Join us on Fridays at 7am.
11. Exchange the elevator for the stairs. There’s a reason we have stair climbers at the J – getting those steps in is great exercise. Adding more flights of stairs into your routine can increase your conditioning as well!
12. Meal prep & cook ahead. Resorting to fast food or vending machine snacks is often the result of not having a better option easily available. Making a plan for the week can help you schedule in time to prepare your food while juggling all of your weekly responsibilities. Try to set aside a few hours to make a few meals all at once, and you can start your week off with all your meals ready to go!
13. Fit in a short workout before your shower. Give yourself a few extra minutes before you shower to fit in some bodyweight exercises. Or, do them before you make your bed in the morning or after doing your dinner dishes. Pick a regular moment during your daily routine and commit to a few exercises. Squats, lunges, push-ups, sit-ups and planks are all easy to fit in – no matter the room of your house!
14. Go to bed at the same time every night. Or at least as much as possible. Everyone’s schedule changes, but training your body to begin the sleep process at a similar time each evening can help you fall asleep more quickly and prevent those nights of restless tossing and turning.
15. Try short but intense workouts. Don’t have 45 minutes to spend at the gym every evening? Squeeze in a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout This type of workout alternates short periods of maximum effort with less intense recovery periods. Think jump rope workouts, sprinting intervals on the treadmill, circuit training and more. The J offers HIIT classes as part of our group exercise schedule.
16. Go shopping on a full stomach. Avoid that moment in the grocery store when you watch your favorite unhealthy food make its way into your cart. When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to buy more food than you need and to let those unhealthy foods you crave make their way back to your home.
17. Stop doing anything in your best except for sleep and sex. Make your night’s sleep better by conditioning your body. Scale back your use of devices and TV before you’re in bed.
18. Dine out less frequently. Save money and calories. By making your meals at home, you can monitor what actually goes into your food and the portion size. If you do go out to eat – think about substituting our your sides for steamed vegetables!
19. Make sure you are using proper form. You’ve probably heard this from our trainers before, but this is a super important tip. The lack of proper forms makes you more likely to get injured, less likely to get stronger, and guarantees that you will look silly on the fitness floor. Before starting a new exercise, double check the proper form. And, remember, our trainers are here to help! Inquire at the fitness desk.
20. Get organized and set priorities and deadlines. Stress makes sticking to your fitness and diet plan even harder, and a lack of organization can add to your stress. So, outline some projects (home, monetary, work, etc.) that can help you organize pieces of your daily life and help you reduce stress.
21. Stop smoking. We’re sure you’ve heard it before, but we have to remind you. Quitting smoking can not only help you increase your fitness level but also your day-to-day health as well. We know this is a challenge, so it’s important to find resources that can support you in this process. Check out these tips from the American Lung Association.
22. Do your grocery shopping with a list in hand. Making a list before getting to the grocery store can help you say no to impulse buys or giving into those snacks that look super tasty. Plan our your meals, make a list of the ingredients needed and stick to your list.
23. Exercise during TV commercials. When a commercial starts, make the most of that downtime. You don’t need to plan anything too intense – set a squat or a pushup goal, walk through your entire house or hold a plank as long as possible. Have a Netflix-only household? Set a timer on your phone to remind you to get up every ten minutes to fit in a short exercise.
24. Take Naps! Sleep deprivation can affect all aspects of your life: your diet, your workouts, your stress, etc. Don’t feel guilty about squeezing in a short nap to help your body recharge. A 30-minute nap or even an extended rest period of laying down (without a nap) have been found to improve alertness and performance.
25. Avoid people and things that stress you out. Identify stressors in your life and try to keep a distance. It’s not always possible to do, but removing anything causing you stress is an improvement. If the stress can’t be removed, can it be improved? Brainstorm ways to reduce these stress points in your day-to-day life. You can always ask for help too! Your friends are good resources to ask about how to approach these issues.
26. Laugh and smile! Celebrate those moments that make you happy. Taking time to express your positive emotions can impact your health and happiness. Laughter helps to cope with stress and can boost your mood (event forced laughter can give you a temporary boost).
27. Balance your carbohydrates, fats, protein, etc. in each meal. There are a lot of different diets out there, but the easiest thing you can do is just monitor how much of each thing you are putting in your body. Eating real, whole foods makes it easier to balance these items. Food tracker apps also help you see the composition of different foods as plan your meals.
28. Warm up before and cool down after your workouts. It’s not a waste of time, it’s the best a way to reduce your risk of injury and improve your performance. Let’s start with the warm-up. Your warm-up is designed to prepare you for the workout ahead. Therefore, the way you warm up will vary depending on what you plan to do in your workout. A warm-up for a jog would involve walking. A warm-up before lifting weights would involve performing some lighter weight sets. Use MYZONE to help your warm-up by working a few minutes in the gray, move up to blue, then to green, and finally yellow/red if desired. Cool down by performing your workout at a lower intensity or walking until your heart rate lowers. And, don’t forget stretching!
29. Don’t add salt to your food. If you’re already eating whole, fresh foods, this isn’t such a big issue, however, most packaged foods already contain high levels of sodium, so adding more only increases your intake. Most Americans consume more than double the recommended level of sodium a day (2,300 mg), which can raise blood pressure and lead to heart disease and stroke.
30. Make dark chocolate your ‘indulgence food.’ In case you haven’t heard, dark chocolate is better for you than milk or white chocolate. One of the biggest benefits of dark chocolate is that it can lead to a decrease in blood pressure (with a healthy diet). Aim for dark chocolate with a cacao percentage of at least 70% to reap these health benefits, and, as with all indulgences, moderation is key.
31. Take a walk. Walking is a calming activity that helps you stay healthy without requiring any equipment. Regular 30-minute walks can help control hypertension and slow the progress of osteoporosis. Take regular walks throughout the week to stay on track!
32. Brush your teeth and floss. Your dentist will be happy about this one, but so will your heart! Periodontitis, or inflammation of the gums, is considered a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. People who rarely brush their teeth have a significantly higher chance of having a cardiovascular event. There’s a reason your dentist tells you to brush twice a day!
33. Follow your passion and do the things you love. People who live their lives with purpose and believe their lives have meaning or purpose report higher life satisfaction and psychological well-being. Find the things you are passionate about and pursue them, it’s worth the effort.
34. Have more intimate time with your partner. Most people would say they see why this would boost their happiness, however, (safe) sex can also be good for your health! Benefits include reduced blood pressure, better immune function and a lower risk of heart attack.
35. Eat more spicy foods. Hot peppers contain capsaicin, and the hotter the pepper the more capsaicin it contains (of course, be safe while eating hot peppers). Capsaicin has a number of health benefits, such reducing inflammation, pain relief, congestion relief, improved intestinal health, cardioprotection and increased fat burning.
36. Shop the perimeter. Healthier foods like fruits, vegetables and meats aren’t generally found in the aisles of the grocery store. Try to fill your cart with items found around the perimeter of the store and avoid the aisles as much as possible.
37. Put on your gym clothes. It sounds silly, but just committing to putting on your workout clothes can be enough to convince yourself to head to the gym. You don’t HAVE to workout once you have your gym clothes on, but you’re far more likely to.
38. Watch less TV. It’s tough to admit, but TV watching is a sedentary activity. Can you challenge yourself to replace some of your TV watching with a more active hobby?
39. Meditate. Try to meditate for at least five minutes a day. Close your eyes and bring your attention to one thing (like your breath) for a period of time. When your mind starts to wander (and it will!) just let that go and return to your breath. The J offers meditation classes and yoga classes with meditative qualities as part of our Group Exercise schedule.
40. Skip the cream and sugar in your tea or coffee. And artificial sweeteners, too. Drinking your beverages straight is healthier for you and allows you to maximize their benefits.
41. Take a hike. No shortage of benefits here: the varied terrain makes this workout a little more intense than just walking, you get to absorb vitamin D from the sun, and hiking is generally a longer workout than a short walk around the neighborhood. Take your Myzone MZ3 along to track your workout!
42. Journal. Write about your negative thoughts instead of holding them in. Writing down negative experiences, thoughts and problems helps you process, problem-solve and cope. The simple act of writing things down can make a huge difference.
43. Make veggies your bff. Try to add a serving of vegetables to every meal. Vegetables are among the most nutrient-dense of all foods, and they fill you up faster. This food group is a great source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, so add a variety to your diet!
44. Play. Get involved in sports or games that keep you active and that you enjoy. The J offers a variety of adult sports opportunities, such as drop-in volleyball, basketball leagues and the St. Louis Senior Olympics.
45. Foam roll. Whether you choose a foam roller, tennis balls, muscle sticks or other fitness tools, try to fit in some self-myofascial release into your gym time. This practice helps improve soft tissue health and speeds recovery.
46. Practice gratitude. Positivity is often reflective. Taking time to say “please,” “thank you,” “I appreciate it” and anything else positive throughout your day will often reflect directly back to you and make your days less stressful.
47. Have a morning routine. Implementing a morning routine helps you start your day off on the right foot, every day. You don’t get behind first thing before you even get out the door. Use this time to exercise or to accomplish whatever goals you have set for the day.
48. Improve your posture. Whether for health reasons or just to look more confident, you should be paying attention to your posture. Poor posture can lead to neck and back pain and a list of other health complications. If you want to add a workout to your regime that is great for posture, consider Signature Pilates. Signature Pilates strengthens core stability and is unrivaled in its ability to correct posture.
49. Eat more omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have long been praised for their many possible health benefits, including reducing inflammation, lowering your risk of diseases such as heart disease and arthritis, and their positive impact on brain health. Add more to your diet through fatty fish such as salmon (wild-caught, not farmed), flax seeds and walnuts. Walnuts make a great healthy snack, and try to each fatty fish at least twice per week.
50. Eat real foods. Purchase and eat minimally-processed foods – plants, fruits, meats, nuts, etc. This helps eliminate things like refined grains, sweeteners and the ingredients you can’t pronounce.
51. Create a backup plan. Common obstacles can derail a fitness plan: no time, no motivation, too little knowledge, strapped for funds, etc. All of these roadblocks have a solution, and we’re here to help you find it!
– Too busy/no time: Try working out in the morning. Getting up a little earlier and fitting in your workout helps avoid any obstacles that can spring up throughout your day. You can make your workout shorter and still get in your sessions (you just need 10 minutes in the blue zone or above for the 100 Day Challenge!). You can try shorter, more intense workout sessions such as intervals or Tabata training.
– No motivation/lack of knowledge: Try working out with one of our trainers! The J employs many amazing and nationally-certified personal trainers that can not only educate but also motivate you towards your health goals!
– Limited funds: The J offers more than 200 group exercise classes each week with your membership. Check out the schedule!
52. Monitor your caffeine intake. Everyone responds to different levels of caffeine, but we think it’s a good rule to avoid consuming caffeine after dinner. Moderating your caffeine intake can help you get better sleep and feel more alert during the day.
53. Reduce the clutter in your life. All the “stuff” you have in your life can add stress, and you may not even realize it until it’s gone. Try cleaning out that junk drawer, going through those piles of mail or cleaning our your closet. Those small improvements could remove small sources of stress and give you a little more peace.
54. Hang out with friends. Having a supportive social network is important. The strength of your relationships with family, friends and your community supports your well-being and physical health.
55. Start to make your workouts harder. Your workouts are there to improve your fitness, however, if you keep doing the same things over and over, you’ll hit a point where you max out the benefits of that workout. Progressive overload, gradually increasing the amount of stress you put on your body during a workout, helps you to keep challenging your body. Aim to increase the stress of your workout each time to continually progress your fitness. For tips on how to do this, make an appointment with one of our personal trainers.
56. Season your food with healthy spices. Some spices, such as cinnamon, ginger and tumeric, are incredibly nutrient dense and can have positive effects on your health. For example, turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory, ginger contains many antioxidants and cinnamon has been shown to help control blood sugar.
57. Plan healthy meals in advance. Creating a plan for your week helps you limit your impulse buys at the grocery store and helps you stick to your plan (and less likely to eat out at restaurants because you don’t know what to make for dinner).
58. Do your housework. As simple as it sounds, chores can add up to a significant calorie burn. Tasks like sweeping, yard work or cleaning out a closet are all great ways to get a little extra exercise.
59. Try to wake up at the same time every day. Getting your body into a rhythm of getting up and out of bed at the same time every day (weekdays AND weekends) is one of the best things you can do to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. Even if you’re staying up to different hours each night, committing to your wake time helps regulate your sleep schedule and helps your body get up and going in the morning.
60. Don’t eat heavy meals before bed. Making your body try to digest a heavy meal makes it harder to relax and harder to sleep. If you’re hungry, you don’t need to skip your snack, just avoid greasy, spicy and sugary foods.
61. Push through discomfort. That doesn’t mean push through pain. The number one rule of working out is to listen to your body, but don’t avoid a workout just because it makes you uncomfortable. Use your Myzone to help you push through plateaus and increase your intensity, and try those new workouts!
62. Replace your nighttime dessert with fruit or cottage cheese. Fruit is sweet and usually lower in fat and calories than desserts. Cottage cheese contains slow-to-digest proteins that can help your muscles recover from your workouts.
63. Appreciate the beauty around you. Take time to actually focus your attention on the things around you that you enjoy, find beautiful, that calm you, etc. To fully appreciate something, take time to notice the details and reflect on what it is about that specific thing that you enjoy.
64. Replace unhealthy snacks. Instead, try nuts, fruits and veggies. If you live your life on the go (who doesn’t?), try creating pre-packaged baggies of snacks over the weekend that you can just grab on the way out the door. Think cucumber slices, carrots, almonds, berries, etc.
65. Add recovery workouts. By now, you know that rest is important to your workout routine, but we also recommend adding active recovery workouts into your schedule. During these workouts, try to keep your heart rate lower (blue and green zones on your Myzone) by taking a walk, lightly riding a bike or hopping on the elliptical.
66. Work toward your personal goals. Set personal goals that are in alignment with your values and purpose, and then pursue them! Having a specific goal in mind (better health, personal growth, etc.) can help you frame all the effort you are putting in every day. Thinking about your goals daily can demonstrate why that extra weekly workout is worth it!
67. Avoid bright light before bed. Light affects how your body prepares for sleep, so keeping your screens on before bed can interrupt your sleep cycle. Light can prevent your body from secreting melatonin – the hormone that makes you tired and helps keep you asleep. Try putting your devices down and turning off your TV two hours before you fall asleep – we know it can be difficult!
68. Cut out the soda. No really. Soda contains a lot of calories from high fructose corn syrup that can easily be removed from your daily intake – just by eliminating soda consumption. Also, avoid diet soda due to the artificial sweeteners they contain, which may actually stimulate your appetite.
69. Limit isolation exercises. For the most part, most of us aren’t bodybuilders, so we don’t have the need to focus attention on very specific muscles. Exercises, like bicep curls, help sculpt specific parts of your body instead of working on total body fitness. While useful for rehab, they aren’t necessarily the best exercises to have in your routine by themselves.
70. Prepare for the next day before bed. Set aside a few minutes before getting into bed to write your to-do list for the next day, set your clothes aside, pack your gym bag, etc. Eliminate anything you can that may keep your mind going to help yourself have a better night sleep.
71. Eat until you’re 80% full. It takes about 20 minutes after you’re finished eating to actually ‘feel’ full (your brain needs to catch up). Try to finish your meal before you feel completely full and let your body catch up.
72. Take a 30-minute walk. This simple habit is a great way to improve your health. Walking can help you avoid workout burnout, help control hypertension, slow the progress of osteoporosis, produce a calming effect and much more!
73. Exercise your mind. Lifelong learning is necessary for a balanced lifestyle. Playing games, reading, puzzles, etc. are all great ways to exercise your mind and de-stress.
74. Forgive others (and yourself). Forgiveness has been found to improve the body’s response to stress (lower blood pressure, heart rate and quicker recovery from stressors). Of course, every situation is different, and you know your life best, but if you can, work on forgiveness – your body may thank you.
75. Learn about workout nutrition. Different types of workouts and fitness goals take different types of fuel. For example, for weight loss, you may want to make sure that you increase your intake of quality protein to avoid muscle loss. Take the time to research and learn about what type of nutrition is right for your goals. (Ask us if you have questions!)
76. Use more mustard. Mayo contains trans fats, and BBQ sauce and ketchup contain a lot of sugar. In contrast, mustard is low calorie and is a good source of several beneficial minerals and nutrients.
77. Practice good hygiene. It may seem like we’re stating the obvious, but being mindful of your cleanliness is good for you. Daily showers, proper food handling, hand washing and regularly cleaning help stop the spreading of germs and infections (and just makes everything smell better).
78. Stop buying “healthy” foods. Don’t believe the packaging, because a lot of time those healthy foods are hiding a lot of unhealthy things. Spend your time educating yourself about what actually makes food “healthy” and focusing on the good stuff.
79. Focus on compound exercises. Compound exercises engage more than one muscle group, and they are functional (they train your nervous system along with your individual muscles). Make sure to add a variety of these exercises to your routine:
– legs (lunges, step-ups, squats, deadlifts)
– upper body push (bench press, overhead pressing, push-ups)
– upper body pull (dumbbell rows, chin-ups)
80. Take a break when you’re stressed. When you’re overwhelmed, take a step back. A simple breathing exercise can help you feel calmer. For each breath, count to four as you inhale, hold it for a four count and exhale for another four.
81. Add in probiotics. Probiotics can improve your digestion and help fight off ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut, leading to improved immune function. There is also evidence that probiotics may play a role in relieving anxiety. You can find probiotics in foods like yogurt (unpasteurized) and fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso soup, pickles, kimchi and tempeh. You can also add probiotics via supplements.
82. Assume that other people have good intentions – Finding the positive qualities in others can help improve your social life and, studies prove that being trusting can increase your well-being. Finding the positive qualities in others may help you see the best qualities in yourself as well!
83. Eat your sandwiches open-faced. Lose some of the bread (and the calories and carbs) and focus on what’s inside the sandwich – especially the protein and veggies!
84. Use progressive muscle relaxation. While laying in bed, try to relax your whole body. Go through each muscle group one at a time. Make each one as tense as possible and then relax it before moving on to the next one. Start from the top of your head and move down to your toes. When you’ve finished, listen to your body to see what muscles are still tense. For these areas, repeat the process up to four times.
85. Start doing Yoga. Yoga is a form of exercise that blends body movement with breath. There are many benefits of incorporating a Yoga practice as part of your exercise routine, including improved flexibility and balance, decreased stress, and increased strength, focus and self-awareness. Yoga is offered as part of the J’s group exercise schedule and is included in all J memberships. Learn more about our Yoga classes.
86. Skip the salad dressing. Many salad dressings pile on the calories, sugar and refined vegetable oils negating the benefit of the salad you so carefully made. Opt for extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon and lime juice instead.
87. Follow the two-minute rule. If there is something on your to-do list that you can complete in less than two minutes, do it immediately. Getting things crossed off your life (and off your mind) can help reduce stress from your life.
88. Add more organic foods. Not everything you eat needs to be organic (we get it, organic can be expensive), but focusing on more organic produce can eliminate any possible pesticides or other chemicals that non-organic produce is sprayed with.
89. Spend more time in the sun for more vitamin D. Try getting 10 minutes of daily sun exposure when it’s nice out. Vitamin D, which the sun can help your body produce, can help prevent weakness and many other diseases. Important note: don’t forget your sunscreen for prolonged exposure to the sun.
90. Use healthier cooking methods instead of frying. Fried foods absorb a lot of fat in the cooking process (depending on the oil, these can be unhealthy fats), and vegetables lose part of their nutritional value when fried. Instead, think about roasting, baking, steaming, etc.
91. Consider your sleep cycles. Instead of focusing on how long you sleep, think about how many 90-minute sleep cycles you are able to complete. The best time to wake up is at the end of a cycle, so start with the time you need to get up and count back in 90-minute increments to find the best time to close your eyes at night. Everyone’s cycles and sleep needs a different, but a good rule of thumb is trying to go to bed 6, 7.5 or 9 hours before you need to wake up.
92. Get creative with your exercise. Your body adapts to the workouts you put it through, so it’s important to change things up. Try new group exercise classes, enlist the help of a trainer or try our Signature Training program for new ideas!
93. Marinate before grilling. Marinades may provide a barrier between the direct flame/heat of the grill and your meat entree preventing the buildup of possibly harmful chemicals created by cooking meat at high temperatures. Soaking meat in a marinade of alcohol (from wine or beer) and herbs for at least four hours can decrease the formation of these chemicals.
94. Spend more time in nature. Spring is the perfect chance to head outdoors. Spending time outside is a great way to de-stress, reduce levels of hostility and depression and to increase feelings of liveliness.
95. Just say “no.” FOMO, guilt, duty – all of these are reasons that we agree to plans, favors and other things that we really don’t want to do. Remind yourself that it’s okay to decline requests and invitations when you need more time for yourself. Respect yourself and your own time.
96. Eat responsibly-raised fish, meat and eggs. Wild-caught fish, grass-fed meat and free-range eggs can make a difference in the quality of food you eat. When animals are raised in their natural habitats on their natural diets, they tend to be healthier and better for us.
97. Reframe your thoughts. Sometimes it’s easy to see the negative parts of events rather than the positive. “I only lost two pounds this week instead of four!” But, remember, you still lost two pounds! When appropriate, learn to recognize your negative thoughts and focus on ways to frame them in a positive light instead.
98. Use healthier oils. Look for oils that have a high smoke point (such as coconut and avocado oil) so that they don’t break down while you are cooking. Olive oil is a great choice for adding to foods, sauces and dressings, but avoid using it for high-temperature cooking. And, in general, try to avoid highly processed vegetable oils in your diet.
99. Substitute whole wheat for “white” carbs. Look for products that list “wheat flour” on their ingredients list – not “whole wheat flour” or “100% whole wheat flour.” Or – substitute quinoa in your sides, wraps and more!
100. Make the most of your J membership and Myzone! We like seeing you at the J, and we want to do whatever we can to help you stay healthy and happy. Make sure to plan your weekly visits to the J, and if you hit a roadblock on your journey, reach out to our fitness staff! They’re here to help – and they love doing it!