HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE IN SHAPE OR NOT

It may not be rocket science, but it’s not always easy to detect whether you’re in shape or not. This is because there is not one definition of being “in shape,” according to Business Insider. It can be everything from having low body fat to having muscular strength. You could strength train often, but your cardiovascular health might not be up to par. This same concept applies in a situation when someone might appear skinny, but they have a higher amount of body fat and very little muscle. Although they appear thin, they aren’t necessarily “in shape.” If you exercise regularly, it’s a safe bet that you’re in shape, but here are specific ways to tell and see which areas you could improve in.

LOW HEART RATE

According to Insider, people who are in good physical shape have lower heart rates at 60-100 beats per minute. Their hearts pump harder with stronger beats. A number higher than that given range might indicate heart disease or high blood pressure.

QUICK RECOVERY TIME

If you can bounce back quickly after a tough workout, that usually is good indicator that you’re in shape. Take your pulse right after you’ve finished exercising, testing every minute after that to detect how fast it goes down. If it drops back to normal within about five minutes after your workout, then you are in good shape.

YOU CAN EASILY WALK UP A FLIGHT OF STAIRS

This is a simple cardio test. If you’re able to walk up a flight of stairs without feeling winded, you’re in good shape. Keep in mind that factors like higher elevation and asthma can be deceiving. If you’re somewhere with high elevation that you’re not acclimated to, you might be gasping for air more frequently, but it doesn’t mean you’re out of shape.

YOU CAN EASILY RUN TWO MILES OR A 10-MINUTE MILE

Running a mile in 10 minutes or less and being able to run two miles without your heart pumping out of your chest are effective ways to test your cardiovascular health. If you’re slacking in this area, try jogging at a slow and consistent pace, gradually increasing your speed, or fast walk on a treadmill for 1-minute increments, followed by 30-second sprints to keep your heart rate up.

YOU CAN RISE FROM THE GROUND WITHOUT ASSISTANCE

This might be one of the most ignored fitness tests but is extremely helpful in determining whether or not you’re physically fit. According to Health and Fitness Cheat Sheet, sitting down then getting up without using your arms, knees or other body parts for assistance tests your muscular strength, flexibility and balance. If this is difficult for you, practice balancing exercises like single-leg deadlifts, walking lunges and planking while lifting one leg or arm. The more you practice this, the better your overall coordination will be.

YOU CAN DO 10 OR MORE FULL PUSH-UPS

There’s a reason many people dread push-ups–they’re not easy and certainly take practice to master, however, they’re an effective way to test your fitness levels because they use full body weight. If you can do 10 or more full push-ups, you’re on the right track.

YOU CAN EASILY HOLD A 60-SECOND PLANK

Just like with push-ups, planks use your full bodyweight, which is why they are great indicators of being physically fit. If you are able to hold a plank for 60 seconds or more without giving up, this is a sign that you have a strong core and lower back.

YOU CAN DO A FULL PULL-UP

Pull-ups are arguably one of the hardest exercises to perform, and majority of people cannot do a full one, so if you’re in that small pool of people who are able to, your upper body strength is not only top notch, but your overall fitness levels are too.

YOU CAN EASILY SWITCH THINGS UP

There’s something to be said about being able to do a variety of workouts. The next time you hit the gym, pay attention to how many different types of exercises you can do. Do you lift weights, do push-ups then sprint on a treadmill? Can you do a HIIT workout one day and get through a spin class another day? If your answer is yes, you’re in excellent shape. This is because being able to do many different types of exercises tests all areas of your fitness levels, not just one.

BOTTOM LINE

When it comes to being “in shape,” it’s important to focus on your goals and health rather than looking and being the skinniest. Goals matter because even if you can easily run two miles doesn’t mean you need to be in shape to run an entire marathon. If you focus on how you feel and what works best for you in your daily life, your version of being “in shape” will come with the package deal.

HOW TO EAT HEALTHY ON A BUDGET

Healthy food and clean eating are just as important as hitting the gym on a regular basis and are the key ingredients to seeing results from your sweat sessions. The trickiest part that many people struggle with is balance. They find it challenging to maintain an overall healthy diet and a gym membership while still having extra spending money to enjoy life–and let’s face it, if you’re health-conscious in the first place, you’re not going to give up those things, so what should you do if you’re tight on money?

Many people have the misconception that eating healthy is expensive because of the misread labels and overpriced organic options. Although grocery bills can stack up, the bills at your favorite restaurants can too when you’re forking over $50 or more a meal with an average plate costing around $13. In a typical restaurant scenario, both your wallet and waistline take the hits, but if you strategize correctly and shop smart, your grocery bill will be way kinder to you both financially and physically. Besides, if you’re able to dine out that much anyway, there really is no excuse to start putting your money into the kitchen. Here are some tips to help you eat healthy while on a budget.

HAVE A PLAN AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LEFTOVERS 

Without structure, we turn to the quickest and easiest options because we don’t already have all of the ingredients right in front of us to cook something. In the long run, we actually end up spending more money and consuming more calories because we turn to takeout and fast food. To avoid this, plan out all of your meals for the week, including the days when you think you’re more likely to dine out or meet friends for happy hour. While you’re doing this, research healthy recipes on social media sites like Pinterest and different food apps.

Many healthy recipes will typically feed more than two people, so if you’re only cooking for one or two, you have a pretty high chance of scoring leftovers for future meals in the week. Once you find realistic and simple healthy recipes, write out your meals on a calendar. Sometimes people often find that their planned meals get pushed back because they have too many leftovers from a previous dish. This is normal and actually a good thing. Take advantage of all the leftovers you can and freeze whatever you are able to, so you can cook something new a different night and go back to the leftovers on a night that you may not feel like cooking. This way, you don’t get bored of the same dish, nothing goes to waste, and you get your money’s worth.

KNOW THE BASICS AND BUY THE BASICS

When we say the basics, we are talking about foods that are inexpensive, versatile and are items you want to have on hand to cook with. This includes things like whole grain bread, eggs, olive oil, spices and skim milk. You also don’t need a gourmet spice cabinet to cook delicious and healthy meals and most basic spices like salt, pepper and garlic powder are very inexpensive. Olive oil and some other specialty spices might seem a bit pricey at first, but your kitchen needs items like these for cooking. Plus, they last forever, so you’ll save money in the long run.

If you’re cooking for one or two people, it might seem difficult to use bread and milk before their expiration dates. In this case, downsize to just a half gallon of milk and get creative with both items. Try to incorporate them into every other meal as you plan for the week. For example, eggs and toast are healthy and cheap breakfast choices, but can also be used for lunch or dinner as BLT sandwiches. Or ditch the bread for a day and incorporate hard boiled eggs into a homemade salad. Buying the basics allows you to hit two birds with one stone.

STOCK UP ON CANNED FOODS

Canned goods sometimes get a bad rap because they contain a lot of salt being non-perishable, but in the grand scheme, you could simply not add anymore salt to your dish, incorporate a fairly healthy side into your meal and save money. Choose canned pinto and black beans along with canned peas and corn to add variety. These could be considered basic foods that you want to have on hand, and you luckily can buy a lot for very little.

COUPONS AND SALE ITEMS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND 

These might be the most important aspects to smart shopping, and you probably already figured that, but just trust us­–your mother wasn’t crazy for using a coupon to spend 60 cents on something instead of a dollar because it all adds up to big savings. If you don’t already, download coupon apps like Groupon and Retail Me Not, and make sure to be informed about your grocery store’s sale items. If you notice the grocery bill is getting too high, look at your items and double check if you really need something and if you can cut back on it. Chances are, it’s a “luxury” item and you could probably save a few bucks if you ditch it or find a coupon.

THE FREEZER IS COOL

Pun intended, but for those on a budget, frozen vegetables without added butter and salt are your saving grace–just avoid the section with the frozen pizza. Although fresh produce is a wonderful added perk to your refrigerator, many people have trouble using it before it goes bad, so it usually goes to waste and money goes down the drain. If you’re someone that absolutely needs fresh produce in your life, stock up on items like baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers, and only buy what you will actually use in a week and incorporate into various meals. You can not only make salads out of these and use them in an assortment of dishes, but they can also be eaten as healthy snacks. Also, buy proteins like chicken breasts, ground turkey, lean ground beef and get in the habit of freezing them to increase their shelf life, which will also make cooking more convenient for you.

LIMIT TAKEOUT AND DINING OUT 

As tough as this might seem, it actually becomes easier once you establish a healthy eating and cooking pattern. Limit your dining out to once a week or every other week, and completely restrict takeout for lunch. Pack all of your lunches for the work week, whether that’s a fresh salad with versatile vegetables that we’ve already mentioned or your leftover chicken from last night. You will save yourself a lot of money and calories this way and going to your favorite restaurant on a Saturday night will be something you look forward to after putting in all of that hard work toward your diet and workouts during the week.

SKIP THE SODA AND CANDY AISLES 

You don’t need these things–plain and simple. Your body and your bank account will thank you later. Choose water instead of soda, add lemon or lime juice for flavor and choose light snacks like popcorn and snacks that are high in protein, like almonds. The great things about these options are that they trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more. Minus all of the butter and salt, you can usually eat a ton of popcorn, reduce calorie intake, feel satisfied longer and still have plenty left over as opposed to a bag of potato chips. Although almonds and many nuts are a bit pricier, they are packed with good fats and protein allowing you to eat less, feel fuller longer, satisfy a salty or crunchy craving and you end up needing to buy less, which as you probably can guess, is easier on your budget.

BOTTOM LINE

From the get-go this might seem daunting and unrealistic, and you might find other outlets or options that work better for you, but the ultimate goal is to live a balanced lifestyle where your wallet and workouts aren’t suffering from your food choices. As hard as it is to believe at first, you can eat healthy, save money, maintain a gym membership and still enjoy your life at the same time. It all comes down to moderation, consistency and compromise. Once you find how these strategies work best in your life, it will become a pattern and turn into a natural way of life where you won’t feel the need to document all of your meals on a calendar.

Resources

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/tips-for-every-aisle

http://www.pbs.org/parents/food-and-fitness/eat-smart/healthy-foods-on-a-budget/