Several years ago, there was a phenomenally successful book on dating, called "The Rules". I thought it was kind of a silly book, actually. But I loved the pure simplicity of it. The whole idea of if you do these specific things and you'll get the results you're after.
In this age of information overload, with so many so-called experts giving so much advice,it is easy to find ourselves in a situation of paralysis by analysis. Its often hard to know what path to follow or how to put all the information together. Understandably, folks want a recipe to follow that will yield results every time.
Rule 1: Only eat when you're hungry. It doesn't matter what time of day it is. Don't eat just because its time to eat. Let your stomach tell you when its time to dig in by reconnecting with your body's nature hunger mechanism. It's very easy to eat (or drink) hundreds of extra calories, that you didn't even want in the first place. Before you eat always ask yourself..."am I actually hungry?". If not, wait until you are ready...not ravenous, but ready.
Rule 2: Always try to make the healthiest food choice available. Play a mental game with yourself to try and identify the absolute best choice in terms of "nutrient density". In other words, given the available choices at that moment what will give you the most health benefit in terms of providing: the least amount of saturated fat the least amount of processed white flour the least amount of simple sugars the least amount of artificial colors or flavors the fewest chemical additives the most fiber the most anti-oxidants foods that are closest to their natural form
Rule 3: Try to workout every single day. Yep...that's what I said...every single day. The reason is that life being what it is, invariably there will be something that will come up and throw your exercise plans out the window. If you plan on working out 3 times a week and your workout gets derailed by some unforeseen circumstance (which it probably will) you'll be down to just twice a week. Which is not enough to meet your fitness goals. Try to set aside some time (20-60 minutes each day) as your designated workout time. Realistically you'll probably end up exercising 3-5 times per week, which is the recommended amount.
Rule 4: Find something that you really enjoy doing. I am always amused by people who say that they "hate" such and such time of exercise, but they know they should because someone told them that its "good" for them. Here's a tip..human beings (even women) are only so masochistic, so if there is an activity that you totally loathe --it is unlikely that you will commit to doing it on a regular basis. Fitness should be fun. You should look forward to your exercise as your private time and your play time. Try to find several things you really like and working out becomes a break from the daily grind, time to clear your head, challenge your body and do something that's just for you.
Rule 5: When Your Fall "Off The Wagon", Dust Yourself Off and Climb Right Back On. Always keep in mind that nobody is perfect -- and fitness is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Too many people give up on their fitness programs because they have a few weeks where their choices (in diet and/or exercise) are less than stellar. Stuff happens. Stuff is gonna happen. That's life. The trick is to not beat yourself up over it, or use it as an excuse to abandon your routine entirely. Just resolve to get back on track before a five pound weight gain becomes a 25 pound one or a month-long lapse in working out becomes a year.
Geralyn Coopersmith, MA, CSCS is the National Director of the Equinox Fitness Training Institute, an educator, exercise physiologist, certified personal trainer and author of Fit and Female: The Complete Fitness & Nutrition Game Plan for Your Unique Body Type.
Geralyn has been featured many TV shows, including: The Dr. Oz Show, The Today Show, CBS Morning Show and Fox and Friends. She has been quoted in:The New York Times, Shape, Self, Fitness, People, Us, Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Oprah.com, Yahoo.com and more.