The last time I took my car to get a tune-up, I stuck around the garage and watched the mechanics do their thing.
They had a clipboard with several empty boxes, and they would gradually check them off, one by one. Apparently, there is a check list of things that need to be done in order for a car to run well. Just like a car, our bodies can greatly benefit from having a master check list of things we should do daily in order to stay fit and healthy.
Whether you use an app on your phone, keep track on your computer, or use an old school pen and paper, keeping a check list is a way to remind ourselves to pay attention to the major factors that determine your body’s health. I’ve created five daily goals that you should ideally achieve each day, and check them off along the way.
As Nobel Prize laureate Viktor Frankl once said, “Focus on the things you have control over, focus on the process. Then, as a byproduct, you will achieve your goals.” Well, these five daily tasks are the process. As a byproduct of conquering them, you will feel, look, and perform better.
Your Daily Check List
1. DID I MOVE ENOUGH TODAY?
One of the keys to staying fit and healthy is to keep moving from the moment you wake up. A 50 minute-long spin class at the gym can’t make up for spending the rest of the day sitting at your desks, in the car, in front of the TV, etc. Several recent studies have supported this, and many actually found those that do intense cardio actually increase their appetite and end up eating more throughout the day as a result.
Daily success is 10,000 steps! When you consider that the average American manages just over 5,000 steps a day, it seems like quite the task to get those extra 5,000 steps, but really, it’s not. Park your car at the spot furthest away from the mall entrance, walk to lunch nearby instead of driving, take a 10 minute walk after dinner to help you digest and unwind. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work and boom, you’re at 10,000!
I strongly suggest you buy a tiny device called a pedometer. It counts your steps and lets you know if you’ve moved enough. There are tons of pedometer options on the market, ranging form $10 (not too accurate) to $500 (so not worth it). I use a cool pedometer called the FitBit – that actually syncs with my phone and charts my activity not just all day, but all year! You can see which days have been the most active, at what times of day you’re least active, an you can even challenge your friends.
2. DID I EAT FIVE HEALTHY MEALS/SNACKS?
As many of you know, my philosophy is based on eating 5 times a day (three meals and two snacks). Each meal/snack should have (another checklist!)
• A low-fat, high quality protein (like fish, poultry, Greek yogurt)
• A fibrous carbohydrate (fruits, veggies, whole grains)
• A healthy fat (Haas avocado, peanuts, olive oil)
• A calorie-free beverage (water, sparkling water, unsweetened iced tea, Vitamin Water Zero)
Eating meals with these five factors every three hours throughout the day, keeps you full while revving your metabolism and providing you with a steady level of energy. Don’t wait for your body to have hunger pangs. If you get to that point, you’ve gone too long without eating. They point is that you never want your body to go into “starvation” mode.
3. DID I DO RESISTANCE EXERCISE?
I want to squash the popular notion out there that “resistance training” only means pumping iron at the gym. Resistance exercises can include pilates, yoga, or weight training, and can be done without any equipment at all!
Not only does resistance training sculpt and tone our bodies, but it also raises our resting metabolism. This means that the muscle that we’re building through these exercises allows us to burn calories all through the day – including when we’re sleeping! It also strengthens our bones and wards off osteoporosis, reduces our risk of injury by protecting our joints and improving our balance, and has been shown to play a major role in managing chronic conditions from arthritis to depression.
I also want to add that resistance training won’t make you look bulky. Many female clients are concerned about this and I have many of them do exercises using their own weight as resistance. For some of these exercises, check out the simple five-minute resistance circuits in my new book, The Body Reset Diet.
4. DID I GET MY BEST SLEEP?
A few weeks ago I blogged about how lack of sleep can actually contribute to weight gain. But the negative effects of lackluster sleep go way beyond the scale. Lack of sleep has been linked to a myriad of health problems including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and a weakened immune system.
In our fast paced lives, there just aren’t enough hours in a day, and it’s usually our sleep time and quality that suffers. Next time you procrastinate going to sleep, consider this: research suggests that getting just one extra hour of sleep each night could dramatically benefit your health. Scientists from the University of Chicago found study subjects that increased their sleep from 6 to 7 hours had a 33% decreased chance of having clogged arteries!
It’s not just quantity that matters, it’s also quality – especially when it comes to our brains. Sleep quality (undisturbed sleep with significant periods of deep sleep) was more strongly related to feelings of tension, anger, anxiety, fatigue, and confusion. So close those blinds tight and switch those phones off to really get the most from your ZZZs
5. DID I ACT TO MANAGE MY STRESS?
Our lives have become so fast paced with phones, emails, Skype, texts, conference calls, TV shows, and web surfing that we are exposed daily to non-stop stimuli. This all adds up to stress. And stress can affect your immune system, mood, sleep patterns and can even contribute to weight gain.
Try to take 20-30 minutes a day to do something that reduces stress for you, whether it be taking a nap, a walk (exercise is an extra boost of stress reduction!), reading a book, listening to music, meditation or catching up with an old friend. Give yourself some wind-down time as you’re getting ready for bed and try to avoid keeping items that trigger stress (bills, work, unanswered emails on your phone) out of your bedroom so that you can truly relax.
Try hitting these five goals each day for the next month and Tweet me your results. Better yet, I challenge you to make your own checklist. Tweet me @harleypasternak and let me know if you feel/see a difference.
Check back every Wednesday for more insider tips from celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak on Hollywood’s hottest bodies – and learn how to get one yourself! Plus: Follow Harley on Twitter at @harleypasternak