When it comes to working out and weight loss, many people just don’t know where to start. It’s a common question within the Further Food community and a sentiment that many share when looking to make that first step to lose weight or simply just to live a healthier lifestyle. We spoke to fitness extraordinaire Jenna Wolfe, certified personal trainer, former TODAY show fitness correspondent, mother of two, and author of “Thinner in 30: Small Changes That Add Up To Big Weight Loss In Just 30 Days,” to get her pro tips on exactly where to start when it comes to our health and, more importantly, how to maintain it on top of our busy schedules.
Starting any sort of new fitness or diet regimen is hard. What’s your advice to get over the initial hurdle?
There’s no one perfect answer to that question. The key is just to start. Rip off the bandaid and get your hands dirty by starting. Starting next week or next month (or Monday) just delays the journey. And I’m not asking anyone to jump right into an intense workout. Take the thing you’ve been doing forever and start there. I would start with walking and water. First off, walking is free. It’s easy. And, anyone can do it. Get yourself a pedometer — you don’t even have to get one of those fancy devices, a simple pedometer will work — set your goals (Is it 10,000 steps? Is it 20,000 steps?) for the day and make your steps count. So if you’re 1000 steps short at the end of the night, you better walk around your house a few times to hit that goal!
Next, start drinking plenty of water. First thing in the morning, keep a glass of water at your bedside, and take 20 sips as soon as you wake up. (Wakes the body up, rehydrates you, curbs your morning appetite) Try and do this a few times throughout your day. Over time this will actually reduce your appetite and allow you to make smarter choices at mealtime.
I did this all with my mom. She’s 65 and she came to me and said she wanted to start getting healthier… well, she also said she wanted to get rid of the flab under her arms. So, the first thing we did was focus on walking and water. Her goal is to replace all her juices and sodas and 3rd and 4th cups of coffee with water.
Next we focused on walking. We started with a five-dollar pedometer to get her doing 10,000 steps a day. Walking and water are key. She feels better and she feels like she has more energy.
What is your breakfast routine to have energy throughout the day?
I really try to have something that keeps me filled and fueled throughout the morning. My kids are up by 5:30am. So, my day basically starts yesterday! I always try and work protein into my breakfast. Egg whites with avocado in a wrap are a really great option. I also like to have yogurt with frozen berries (I leave them frozen, as they add a nice crunch). I could also add a handful of slivered almonds to the yogurt. Protein fills me up – and I like to try and choose food over powder for that. A can of tuna or string cheese on toast works better for me than a protein shake.
Working out does not come naturally for many of us. How do you recommend staying active if going to the gym isn’t your thing?
Do whatever the heck is going to get you to move! If you love swimming, swim! If you love the treadmill, start there! If you’re a fan of bootcamps and I try and make you focus only on Zumba, you’ll probably never stick to it. Think back to what you used to do that you really loved – it could be an activity, a sport, a class, a hobby, anything — and start doing it again.
From there, you can make it more challenging. If you like walking, add weights. If you like swimming, try intervals. First, however, you need to figure out what you love. I’m not a runner. I don’t enjoy running. I’m never going to run, but I do love to workout. I do HIIT exercises, where I work for 30 seconds, and rest for 10, then work for 30, and rest – it’s high intensity. Never fear that it’s not a good enough exercise. There are a million things to do out there. Just take a deep breath and go do it!
What is your ultimate motivational mantra?
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
Often times in life our goal is to do as much as possible in as calm a setting as possible. We avoid challenges, confrontations, problems because they’re uncomfortable. But sometimes you have to get your hands dirty, feel a little discomfort, experience a little pain to separate yourself from the rest of the pack. It’s no different with working out. Step outside your comfort zone and see what you could actually do if challenged. You have to challenge yourself to change yourself.
We loved following your story and your life with your two girls, do you have any exercise hacks for all the busy moms out there?
Make household activities more challenging! Have your kids pick a number out of a hat, and run up and down the stairs that many times with you. Or take a deck of cards, assign an exercise to each of the 4 suits and have your kids pick a card. The suit tells you which exercise and the number tells you how many reps to do. Try and get through the deck!
If you’re watching TV with your family, every commercial break, do squats or jog in place. You don’t have to leave your house or even spend money. Try something new and get creative around the house — just be active.
Read more about how to lose weight and live your healthiest life in Jenna Wolfe’s latest book “Thinner in 30: Small Changes That Add Up To Big Weight Loss In Just 30 Days.”