As 2020 comes into focus, no doubt you’ve seen countless health and fitness articles to encourage a healthier, happier you in the new year.
For those of us in midlife, getting fit after 40 can be a challenge.
If, like me, you are committing to healthy lifestyle choices in the new year, these are the best calorie tracker and fitness tips I know!
- Take the first step! If you never walk further than from the couch to the fridge, add a few steps. Walk the opposite direction, tag the wall, then go to the fridge. Once that’s easy, go outside and walk around the house. Once that’s easy, walk the block. Adding a few steps every day over a whole year really adds up. When I started, I could easily walk a mile, but not much more and not fast. I added distance for a while, and then picked up the speed. Now, I walk three to five miles every day! Well, not when it rains!
- Make healthy swaps! Every healthy food swap you make improves your overall health. It might not show up on a scale right away, but keep making changes and it eventually adds up. Start with one food you know is bad for you and choose to eliminate it (soda, sweet tea, sugary coffee drinks are a great place to start — swap out for water, unsweet tea, and regular coffee without the flavored syrups). Once you get past that craving, swap out the next one (switch from white bread to whole grain bread, swap out sugary cereal for oatmeal, cut out the potato chips or whatever).
- Cut calories. There’s really no way around it. You can’t lose weight if you don’t cut calories (and increase activity). It’s simple science. We need a certain number of calories to function. Eat more than your body needs to sustain its current weight and you’ll get bigger. Eat less than your body needs to sustain its current weight and you’ll get smaller. Simple, right? Add in the slower metabolism that comes in midlife and the balance gets complicated. A slower metabolism (no matter its cause) means your body burns fewer calories than it used to, so you have to decrease the amount you eat to not gain weight. That’s why we seem to gain five pounds a year once we hit the mid-30s. Instead of trying to lose 50 pounds by summer, which many of us set as goals, why not aim for 3-5 pounds per month over the course of a year? Use the best calorie tracker to figure out how much you eat, then cut calories by 10% the first week, then another 5% the second week, etc. until the weight starts coming off. You don’t have to go from 3,000 calories a day to 1,500 calories a day. Just cut it gradually and learn healthy eating for your midlife body.
- Add protein. We’re tired. We want quick energy. We crave carbs. Unfortunately, in midlife, we NEED protein to maintain muscle mass. The couch potatoes among us need even more protein to build muscle that has been lost. Add white beans to soup for a protein boost. Eat protein at each meal. Choose a high protein snack at bedtime. More protein means more nutrients to build strong muscles with the added walking. More muscles means a better running body. A better running body has more energy.
- Schedule a physical. If you haven’t had a physical in a while, it’s time. I hadn’t had a physical in three years, but my new doctor required one last year. As it turns out, I had hyperparathyroid disease, which required surgery to stop sabotaging my health. If you, like me, have out of whack blood work, discuss the issue with your doctor and develop a plan for better health. Mine started with surgery, strength training to rebuild lost bone density, and a change of diet. My doctor was a great partner in that.
- Track your progress. One thing I learned in my quest for better health is I don’t realize what I’m doing (or not doing) unless I write it down. And when I say write it down, I mean every. single. bite! Using the best calorie tracker for you, count those chips — and record them. Your body knows whether you ate 25 or 15, so don’t lie on paper. Tracking progress can help you see patterns in your life. I found that when I skip breakfast, I crave sugar and carbs in the midafternoon. Eating a balanced breakfast of oatmeal and yogurt led to fewer carb cravings later in the day. Other patterns showed up as well, allowing me to make healthy changes to improve overall health.
Best Calorie Tracker and Fitness Journals to get Fit after 40
I’ve tried tracking my health with a phone app. It worked okay, but I found it hard to compare things day to day. For me, a good, old-fashioned paper journal is the way to go. That visual reminder helps me make better choices every day. I’m not opposed to fitness trackers — whatever works for you is great! But, if you prefer visuals, check out these journals, the best calorie tracker and fitness journals you can find:
- Today is the Day, a 90 Day Food and Fitness Journal. This journal is great for beginners because it’s not complicated. Keep track of what you eat at each meal, snacks, water (YAY) and exercise. It also has a goal page and a “What’s Your Why” page to help you think about your goals and motivation for improving your health.
- Hello New Me. This 90 day journal helps you set goals and track progress toward building healthy new habits. Whether you set a weight loss goal, exercise goal or improved diet goal, this 90 day tracker helps you identify successes while also providing space to reflect on those things that make you stumble. It’s a lot easier to set 90 day goals than try to focus on 12 months!
- Detailed Fitness Journal. For those ready to go a bit further, this fitness journal provides a great layout to track your fitness progress through the year. Keep track of cardio and strength training as you focus on building a stronger you. There is space to make nutrition notes — to help you see how what you eat correlates to how much energy you have — and workout self-evaluations to help you discover what works best for your body.
- Daily Gratitude Food Journal and Fitness Diary. Are you guilty of negative self-talk? Then, I recommend this journal. It’s a food tracker, meal planner, exercise log and gratitude journal all rolled into one. At the time of this post, your purchase includes access to several complementary e-books as well, providing a host of tools to help you succeed at living your best life this year.
- Bodyminder Workout and Exercise Log. If you don’t understand the relationship between calories in and calories out, this is a great journal. It helps you track cardio and strength training exercises, calories and nutrition, water intake, as you set goals for your life. For those who like a clear reward for investment, you can also track how much your healthy living is costing you. I know I hate wasting money, so that’s a big help for me!
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Getting fit is even easier with a friend alongside. Share this post with someone who can motivate you to make healthy changes no matter what your age or goals might be!
As we step into 2020, I hope these healthy tips and calorie tracker and fitness journals inspire you to not just make goals for a better life, but take the steps to achieve them. Let’s make it happen!