Nearly 170 million Americans are overweight or obese? That is almost 42 percent of the adult population. If you are not yourself overweight or obese you probably have a family member know someone who is. For as long as I can remember health and fitness has been a great challenge and frustration in our society as we grapple with all of the stress and anxiety inducing demands on our attention and time.

When I grew up my mom was constantly fighting to keep her weight at a healthy level. I remember the many diets and weight loss programs like Weight Watchers that she would try again and again with little to no success in finding something that would stick. My mom was always gregarious and was loved as the ever-present life of the party, but she carried the inner turmoil of her low self-esteem and inner demons to an early grave.

Helping others overcome their stresses and anxiety through stress relief and fitness coaching is a big part of my life mission. To see others thrive physically as they lose weight and become more fit is a great part of my mission fulfilled. But perhaps more importantly to see them recognize their intrinsic natural beauty and power and to see them actively step into that mindset is reward greater than all the gold in heaven.

The solutions to these physical and mental challenges are sometimes very simple, yet anything but easy. The straight-forward answers that are sometimes so obvious that they seem unbelievable. Hopefully this post will help you shift how you feel about tackling the challenges of weight loss and fitness by offering you two very desirable, straight forward keys to implementing your next and hopefully long lasting health and fitness routine. One that ideally leads you to a sustainable healthy lifestyle that leaves you feeling better about your choices, your progress, your outlook and your life!

There are two powerful drivers to help us succeed over the long haul in developing and sustaining a fit and healthy lifestyle. They are so fundamental that they are available to each of us. For most people I know, these two aspects of fitness are perhaps the most desirable aspects of life in general. These are two things we just can’t seem to get enough of. Perhaps best of all, we usually can obtain both without spending a dime. Affordability and accessibility is never an issue in gaining access to these two keys. Master these two factors and you are on the path to sustained weight loss (until you reach your goal of course) and a fit, vibrant healthy life.

1) Sleep

Like many of you out there–I love to nap!

Moreover, especially with fully booked busy days I love and value my sleep at night as well. But sometimes with all of the time commitments, creative projects, family responsibilities and heavy client load, sometimes sleep gets shoved to the side and sacrificed. Nevertheless, I am diligent in my commitment to getting 7 – 8 solid hours of sleep per night.

The effects of how sleep effects weight loss is well documented. A recent study by University of Chicago showed that dieters lost 55% less fat when logging less than 6 hours of sleep than those participants who slept an average of 7.5 hours over a 14-day period. This is just a more recent study. There are indeed numerous studies conducted on this topic and the results over the years lead us to accept this as scientific fact.  Fact—operate on a sleep deficit and your ability to lose weight of keep it off decreases.

The reasons lack of sleep impacts weight loss are varied. From the effects of sleep deprivation on our appetites to how it also induces a greater craving for unhealthy high fat and carbohydrate snacks. Also consider, how lack of sleep saps energy and leaves us without the inspiration, initiative and energy to be active. I could really go into a scientific rabbit hole of how all of this works but for now my goal is to simply give you the easiest path to health and fitness possible and simply imploring you to design your life so that you get enough sleep is the first of our two steps to that end.

So with that said—Get enough sleep. 7 – 9 hours per night will do just fine!

2) Fun

Surprisingly, only 23% of Americans get enough exercise. For those of us who are not math majors that is less than 1 In 4 are getting the minimal amount of cardiovascular and strength training to live a healthy lifestyle. This number is based on the recommended 30 minutes of vigorous exercise 5-days per week. This directly impacts the overweight and obesity numbers as much as our sleep deprived cravings and subsequent unhealthy snacking and overeating.

Simply put our ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle and our resulting weight and physical composition comes down to a simple formula. Calories in vs Calories out, which dictates whether our weight is moving up, down or staying neutral (more on calorie quality in a future post). AND just as important, the amount and type of MOVEMENT we initiate and experience determines how much and how fast we burn through those calories. Once again there are volumes of research and text on this topic but for the purposes of this I am trying to keep it simple.

Notice in the previous paragraph I highlighted the term MOVEMENT. Also notice that I didn’t use the term exercise. Because for many the term exercise conjures up visions of torture, gloom, body aches, forced discipline and various other undesirable expressions and experiences. What I am conveying to you is that any movement regardless of intensity will begin to elevate your metabolism and help you to shed pounds. And since we are talking about movement we are at the perfect segue into FUN!

I have found through the experiences of many clients, as well as with myself, that the more fun you can make your movement the more likely you are to sustain your “exercise” routine over time. Would you rather “workout” or go dancing? There is a reason ZUMBA has become an international billion-dollar phenomena. Would you rather go do your “exercise routine” of go play? For most of us these are easy answers. PLAY!

For some, the gym becomes drudgery. But not so for a walk in the park or an easy hike along the lakeshore or in the foothills. Whether your thing is friendly game of basketball (or whatever your sport) in the back yard, yoga, jump rope, swimming, or simply splashing around in the water, golf, riding a bike, playing tag with the kids, throwing the frisbee around, double dutch, ballroom dancing or jogging. Find something–anything active that you have FUN doing and do it a lot. Every day if you can. Or better yet mix it up and try a different fun activity on different days. You will be set up for success and much more likely to sustain your healthy movement over the long haul–creating a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

Yeah, yeah I know, resistance training is recommended for a lot of things related to health as we grow older like combating osteoporosis and countering the natural degeneration of muscle tissue as we age. We’ll worry about that later. Its much more important that you find something fun to get you started and keep you engaged. We’ll build on that as we go along.

As I stated earlier these two concepts SLEEP and FUN are straight forward and pretty simple to understand.

Get enough sleep and go have some fun!

Master these two very desirable aspects of fitness and you are well on your way to living the fit healthy lifestyle that so many crave but as of now so few actually achieve.

For help developing your healthy lifestyle book your FREE session below.

Let’s have some FUN!

Eric S. Lee