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Step away from the bike. Put Down the Rice Cake. 11 Health & Fitness Lessons I Wish I'd Learned Sooner

January 13, 2014 3 min read

I have loved to do cardio-based workouts since I was a little kid.  As a child I used to hop on my Grandma's stationary bike & would mimic my Mom doing her Kathy Smith aerobic videos.  In high school I ran around my neighborhood, swam, & did other cardio.  Sometimes I did those things AFTER tennis or swim practice.  If I could step in a time machine & tell young me a few health & fitness related things, this is what they would be: 1. Do body-weight exercises to build strength. Push-ups, squats, & lunges...you know, all the stuff you hate doing in PE.  Mrs. Ruderman is right: that's what will get you into bikini shape.  Your hour long session on Mom's Nordic Track followed by a jog in the park won't build muscle. You need a mix of exercises, not just cardio. 2. Mrs Ruderman [high school gym teacher] is right.  All the exercises you do in PE are what adults pay someone to tell them to do when they are older. 3. Muscle is your friend, & it won't make you look like a boy. 4. Balance all meals and snacks so they include a healthy ratio of fat, carbohydrate, & protein.  A packet of saltines & an apple are hardly the right thing to eat before a swim meet.  A chimichanga and churro from the school lunch cart are terrible options, too (how the hell were you so skinny?). 5. Low-fat high-carbohydrate meals are NOT what's best for you.  Remember what I just said about balancing meals?  Eating healthy fats in moderation is GOOD for you.  Stop avoiding butter and oil.  Put a little cheese on the whole-wheat broccoli pizza that you made for your family.  Tell your family you love them for eating the pizza, too.  The only reason they tried that scary creation was because they love you. 6. Stop obsessing over the number on the scale.  Instead, focus on how you feel & how your body looks.  Do you feel strong & energetic?  How is your skin? 7. Don't be intimidated by weight machines at the gym.  Ask for help if you aren't sure how a machine works.  The people who work at the gym are PAID to help you. 8. Stop thinking that everyone is critiquing your every move.  99.9% of the people who you are worried about are not paying attention to you. They are thinking about other things, or worrying that everyone is critiquing them.  Listen to "Wasting Time" by Jack Johnson. Wait, it hasn't been written yet.  Memorize these lyrics: But everybody thinks that everybody knows About everybody else but nobody knows Anything about themselves Because they're all worried about everybody else (Jack Johnson - Wasting Time Lyrics | MetroLyrics) 9. Stop drinking water from plastic bottles you left in the car on hot days. 10. Stop telling everyone how bad their health habits are.  It's annoying, & you aren't an expert. 11. In a few years you will want to make "healthy" chocolate chip cookies to give as Christmas treats.  Just make real cookies.  Don't poison your friends & family with sucralose.  Don't give them applesauce cookies.  When people want a chocolate chip cookie, they don't want a healthy fake.  On that note, stop eating things with fake sugar. I could go on, but who has hours and hours to kill?  Not me, and probably not you, either.  What have you learned that you wish you could tell your younger self? Here's a quick body-weight routine that my high school gym teacher (Mrs. Ruderman) would approve of: 1 round = 30 push ups 30 squats 30 tricep dips 30 1 lying leg lift + 1 butt lift (lower abs lift) 20 forward-backward lunges per leg (1 rep = 1 forward lunge + 1 backward lunge) 30 reptiles 15 side crunches per side 4 min 10 sec rest/20 sec work jump rope or jumping jacks Do as many rounds as you would like, then do 1 more! Jessica PS - Nice outfit, Young Me. I especially love your slippers.

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