When I decided my health was the most important aspect of my life, that was the day that changed everything. It was February 4, 2013. Although, there are many things that I know now that would have been very beneficial when starting out. So here are my words of wisdom to be more efficient with your health and fitness, especially when first starting out!
This is probably the most important one. And seems so obvious. But it is often forgotten because hey, I've started working out now. That means I can eat whatever I want because I'm burning off the calories of that cookie. Right? Unfortunately not. Yes you may be burning more calories than you're consuming, but that isn't the healthy way to do it. Here's a little education and ideas for you:
~There are 6 classes of nutrients: carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water. Carbs, fats, and proteins are your energy nutrients which allow us to function and do muscular work. These are your "macros" if you've ever heard that term before. Some examples of some good carbs are oats, brown rice, and sweet potatoes. Chicken, fish such as tilapia and tuna, and eggs are some good protein ideas. And some healthy fats include nuts, avocados, peanut butter (also good for protein!), and oils. Water is SO IMPORTANT! Your body is mostly made up of water. Even your muscles are more than 70% water. So you need to replenish! And you need it to help transfer stuff around in your body to function properly.
It is important to stretch an already warmed-up muscle. If you're doing activities where flexibility is important, such as dancing or running, it is recommended that you stretch before you perform the sport but after the warmup phase. For example, if I am going for a run, I will walk for 10 minutes, stretch, and then start my run. Yes, this takes more time, but you will be able to do so much more in the long run. Now if you are doing lifting or any sport that focuses on strength, like muscular strength, power, and endurance, then research suggests you stretch after performing the activity. This is because you need those tighter muscles. So you would do your warmup, activity, then cooldown and stretching.
Finding your motivation that is unique to you will help you stick to the healthier lifestyle. Not everyone has the same motivation so you need to find what works for you. The best motivations are the intrinsic motivations, or the ones in you. These can be for the feeling of accomplishment, enjoyment, or even a challenge. There are also extrinsic motivations. These are great and they will help get you into a healthy lifestyle, but they tend to not stick with you as much as if it were internal and you really enjoyed doing the activity. Examples of extrinsic motivations are wanting to wear a certain pant size or look good in a dress for your friend's wedding. You hit the date of the wedding and you may have reached your goal, but then you stop because you were only there for the external motivation.
One great motivation is your own health. As long as your doctor gives you the thumbs-up to workout, then that is a great motivation. Dig deep inside you for your motivation.