Minimalism

The Minimalist’s Guide to Diet and Exercise: Two Parts Efficiency, One Part Laziness

I don’t have a bodybuilder’s physique or the body of a supermodel on vacation in Cozumel. My job does not depend on my athletic prowess or how tight and toned my thighs are. That being said, I have still managed to maintain a flat stomach and I can make it through (most of) summer soccer league without feeling like I’m going to die.

Like most people concerned with their weight, I had a health club membership. I ultimately gave it up because of the inconvenience of figuring out how much time I could spend there without feeling like I was neglecting my children. It didn’t hurt that we were going to save $100 a month either.

What I’ve had to do since, is develop a short list of ways I can still look like I have a semblance of a healthy life without the ability to “give 110 percent” to fitness. This year, as I sat watching the Fargo Marathon runners pass my house, I thought out loud, “There is nothing like an elite marathon runner to make you feel like a rusted-out Tin Man,” to which my husband replied, “Just wait around for a couple of hours, then watch and you might feel better.” I did.

The Problem with Lofty Goal Setting

My fitness goals have had to adapt to reality over the years. I’m nearing 40 and I realize that I could start on a goal towards completing an ultramarathon. It’s something I’ve wanted to accomplish since I was 15, poring over an article in Women’s Sports and Fitness magazine. But now is not the time to log the four-plus hour daily training time required of the sport.

So I’m shelving the goal…for now. We live in an age of over-worked, over-stressed, and over-scheduled adults. It’s like we took the steady hum of ambition we were trained towards in youth and then no one informed us there was an exit off the hamster wheel.

This year, I’m going to lose 15 pounds, learn a foreign language, get that promotion at work, make more time for my family, start a side hustle, and get out of debt so that we can travel to Europe next year. All while keeping up with cooking, cleaning, work, kids’ education and athletics and checking in with my spouse to see that we are living our #bestlife and are living in the moment so WE DON’T MISS ANYTHING!

Then, in two weeks time when we are burnt out, we declare ourselves failures and console ourselves over television and comfort food and call it hygge.

There is no way this woman has kids

So what is left once we pare down our health goals to a short list of actions that will lead to a healthier lifestyle with a trim waistline?

The Lazywoman’s Tips for Fitness

Log and Plan Your Calories

I use MyFitnessPal to plan my diet and track my daily calories. I can also check my macros (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) to make sure that I don’t eat bread when I should be eating plant-based protein. This is the most surefire way to reach your weight loss goals. Start with this tip.

Don’t Take in Calories After 8 pm

This is the easiest time to overeat so it makes sense not to even begin to snack in the evening hours. Give your body a chance to burn what it has already consumed.

As an added benefit, you may notice your alcohol consumption go way down if you follow the “no calories after 8” rule.

Breakfast is the Most Overrated Meal of the Day

If I wanted to be famished by 10:30 am, I would eat breakfast at 7. Strangely, if I skip breakfast altogether, I’m only eating at noon out of obligation not to waste the food I brought with.

Here is an article to support my stance for now but I’m sure I’ll write more on this later. Breakfast is Overrated.

Walk Daily and Lift Weights

Fitness expert and model Mike Matthews used to do a lot more cardio until he found the biggest fitness benefits came from walking and weight lifting. Today, he only spends half an hour in the gym for weight training.

If you are against the weight lifting or you don’t have access to a gym, try starting with planks (one a day for a minute each time) and squats (three sets of ten once a day) to start. There are several fitness challenges that brag about the benefits of just doing one of those things for 30 days straight.

Find What Bothers Your Tummy and Avoid It Like the Plague

My father-in-law swears by the power of milk. “Best stuff for you!” he’ll say.

Unless you’re me. My body hates milk. Dairy is not my friend. It doesn’t go right through me, it has almost the opposite effect. The same happens with anything carbonated. I also can’t eat raw apples.

I’ve only realized this over time. I cleaned my entire diet of meat, dairy, and carbonation and found that once I started feeling great, I could have reintroduced meat but I didn’t want to.

One Last Thought

If my list still feels like a lot, take the steps little by little. Start by following one tip for a few weeks before adding another. Slow and steady as they say.

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