1. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why: This book basically taught me what foods to eat and what foods to avoid. I now load up on vegetables every day, while eliminating grains and soy products (except for fermented soy). I stick to plain Greek strained yogurt, eat prunes and have added coconut oil to my diet. If you want to find out why, I suggest you read the book! If it doesn't make Dr. Jonny Bowden's list, it doesn't make my daily menu.
2. Jump Rope: I don't know why I ditched my jump rope when I was 10. Jumping rope has become my favorite way of getting a good cardiovascular workout in a short amount of time. If you've got 15 minutes to spare, try jumping rope for 1 minute, then dropping down to the floor and doing 10 push-ups. Repeat this 10 times for a quick killer workout!
3. The New Rules of Lifting for Women: My weight training workouts were once divided into body part splits (chest and back on Mondays, legs on Wednesday, etc.). But when I started following the total body workouts in this book, my body fat dropped and my strength increased. The book also has a comprehensive section about diet and comes with super simple, single-serving recipes with ingredients you are sure to have around the house. The suggested meal plan made me realize I thrive on scheduled eating! It has stabilized my blood sugar, kept my metabolism revving, and helped transform my body composition.
4. Push-Ups: I do some sort of push-up almost every day: decline, incline, plyometric, on a Swiss ball, on a medicine ball, one-arm on the Smith machine bar... And the more I do, the more can do!
5. Chin-Ups: For years, I never did chin-ups because I was convinced I couldn't them. The reason I couldn't do them, of course, was because I wasn't doing them (a helpful gym buddy pointed that out to me--thanks Charles). And with some helpful spotters, I was able to gradually build strength. I perform chin-ups about three times a week now.
6. Kitchen Scale: When I purchased a digital kitchen scale, I was shocked at how skewed my idea of portions was; they're a lot smaller than you'd imagine! Weigh a 4oz portion of chicken or 1 oz of almonds if you've never done so. We've become so accustomed to large portions served in restaurants that we forget what a serving really is. Weighing my food portions, especially with calorie-dense foods like nuts and cheese, helped me manage my portions, overall calories, and weight.
7. Medicine Ball: Bouncy or leather, 6 or 10 lbs, you can create entire workouts around a medicine ball. You can squat and lunge with a medicine ball, and do abdominal exercises like slams, throws and oblique twists. You can also use a medicine ball to make exercises like planks more challenging, or use it to do cardio (try performing mountain climbers with your hands on a medicine ball, for example).
8. MP3 Player: Thanks to my MP3 player, my 1-hour walks fly by. I download my favorite podcasts, including The Performance Nutrition Show, to catch up on industry happenings and listen to informative interviews with knowledgeable guests. For my 4-mile runs, I listen to tunes that get me revved up, like Prodigy.
9. The Outdoors: Last year, I discovered there's a wonderful world outside of the gym. I take advantage of beautiful sunny days by exercising outdoors, whether it's walking on the beach or doing pull-ups on the jungle gym at the park. I take my dog on long walks when it's not too hot and walk around the golf course on my rest days. And if you have kids, nothing beats a good game of tag!
10. Slow Cooker: They're making a comeback-and for good reason. Slow cookers make healthy eating easy-especially if you get home late from work and are too tired
and hungryto cook a meal. I add my vegetables and protein before I leave for work and come home 8 hours later to a house that smells like my grandmother spent the day cooking in the kitchen!
Why does this matter to you? When it comes to health and fitness, small things can make a difference. Be resourceful and look for ways to make clean eating and exercising simpler and enjoyable.