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Change Your Relationship Status with Food and Exercise from “It’s Complicated” to “Committed”

Skip the diet and exercise fads with a limited shelf life. Women’s Health Fitness Director, Jen Ator shares her secrets for sustaining a healthy lifestyle.

After more than nine years as the fitness director of Women’s Health magazine, you could say Jen Ator’s pretty much seen, heard, read and written it all. (I mean, that’s like more than 108 issues of info!) So in a genre full of trends and quick fixes, how do you mix things up and break beyond the plateaus of those “clicky” but not always permanently sticky influences? You have to come up with something sustainable — and Ator works to do just that by pulling all of the best expert advice, research, tips, and tested food and exercise plans into a single guide with long-term solutions that are meant to last.

“I’ve seen people get stuck for way too long in unhealthy and ineffective eating and exercise patterns simply because they’ve believed the hype that diet and exercise have to be difficult, time-consuming, and unenjoyable,” says Ator. “The truth is, if you learn to embrace a more moderate approach, you may not get where you want to go as quickly, but you’ll find that it’s far easier to maintain and keep yourself there.”

What comes next is a relatable and smart manual geared at giving you #RELATIONSHIPGOALS when it comes to changing how you handle diet and exercise. Ator helps us break down some of the best ways to put her more than 300 pages of healthy goodness to use!

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There’s No One Way to Use this Book 

You can read this book cover-to-cover, pull it as a reference guide, or use it to design individual diet and exercise plans.

“It’s too easy when we’re given a super specific roadmap to just absent-mindedly follow it. That can get you amazing results, sure, but it doesn’t teach you how to have control over the areas that have challenged you in the past,” says Ator. “My goal in Fitness Fix was to tackle the biggest problems I see, starting with knowledge-based issues — like common myths we’ve believed for too long, or dieting mindsets we’ve gotten trapped in — and then moving into actionable solutions from quick, easy workouts to super-simple meal ideas.”

An “actionable solution” we love is Ator’s “7 Days To Slim” plan. Try this and see if it helps adjust your mindset:

7 Days to Slim

Turn “Quick Tips” Into Mantras

Similar to picking up a Women’s Health magazine, Ator’s book is filled with lots of “sticky” health facts or “quick tips” which can be used as motivational triggers. Here are a few of her favorites:

Take a quick lap

Just 10 minutes of brisk walking or jogging can reduce anxiety before a stressful work meeting or social gathering. There are so many studies that show the physical benefits of short workouts, but I like to remember the mood benefits too. Getting moving is about more than burning calories. I’ve felt this in my own life — if I’m ever feeling anxious or stressed, taking a 10 or 20-minute break to move can have a dramatic impact afterward on my mood.

Start your morning with protein

Women who started their day with a high-protein meal (like eggs) snacked on about 135 fewer after-dinner calories. I’m someone who wakes up really hungry most mornings, so I always like starting with a nice breakfast. But, this fact always sticks with me because I do notice that on mornings I go high protein, I feel more satiated and make better choices as the day goes on.

Drop the guilt

In one study, the 27 percent of people who associated chocolate cake with guilt and felt bad about eating it were less likely to maintain their weight over a year and a half compared to 73 percent of people who associated the dessert with celebration. Culturally we’ve made a lot of food very black and white. It is “good” or it’s “bad.” Those labels then have a direct impact on how we feel when we eat them. I’m someone who doesn’t think twice about eating a candy bar if I’m in the mood for one. Because at the end of the day, it’s your overall calories that matter. And, let’s not forget, yes food is fuel, and you need to feed your body nutritious things, but food is also supposed to be enjoyable. You can have both. You can eat sweets and treats and still maintain and lose weight; you can eat them without derailing your fitness. A lot of it boils down to how you emotionally think about it. Once you no longer view those kinds of treats as a “mess up” or “cheat,” it takes away a lot of the strong emotions and keeps you more even-keeled in your overall diet perspective.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is Your Friend 

“It’s the most effective when your goal is either fat-loss or getting in the most time-efficient workouts. Minute for minute, nothing burns calories faster or drives up your metabolism like circuit training,” says Ator. “My favorite workouts in the book are the 5-minute Quick Fixes: 5 moves, 5 minutes, that’s it. They don’t seem like much, but if you’re doing them right (aka, pushing yourself through the entire interval), you’ll be feeling the burn at the end! What I also love about them is that it helps keep beginners from overdoing it (something I see a lot of in traditional “HIIT” style workout classes at the gym). Most people can’t go all out for 45 minutes or an hour, but they can go all out for one minute, or five minutes.”

Try this series for starters:

workout tipsworkout tips

Don’t Skip Out on Weights 

“Too many people get caught up in the ‘calorie burn’ of a workout. Chasing numbers like that is always going to lead to focusing on cardio-driven workouts. But if you really want to change your body, prevent pain and injuries, etc., you have to commit to strength training. It also doesn’t always have to be HIIT,” says Ator. “Strength training can be doing 10 minutes of bodyweight training at home every morning or night. Starting where you are, with what you have, allows you to gradually build new fitness habits into your life — rather than shaping your life around your fitness habits.”

You Need to Work on All Parts of Your Relationship 

A lot of wellness books are just “either or” when it comes to exercise and diet. Ator says that could be when you’re setting yourself up for failure. “To only look at one half of the equation isn’t doing you any good . . . diet and exercise are two building blocks of a healthy lifestyle. They’re not working against each other. We’ve got to put an end to the whole ‘if you eat this, you have to work it off with this’ mentality! You need both of them. And when you can find the right balance, you’re not eating too little and working out too much, or vice versa — you’re going to find that maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle is much easier than you ever thought.”





Photo Credit: Shutterstock



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