Let’s face it, your life as a young professional is busy.

Between work, social obligations and the occasional 100 inches of snowfall, it seems there are a growing number of factors getting in the way of your workouts and positive nutritional choices. You know you should be healthier, that you’re not in the same shape you used to be. But you’re an adult now, and rationalizing work or travel or binge-watching Netflix over hitting the gym and eating right feels like it gets easier by the day.

“Be adventurous, add variety, and stay focused,” Hub resident and founder of CrossCycle, Chis Gagnon states. “Women, don’t be afraid to lift weights and men, don’t be afraid to venture into group exercise classes!”

It’s time to cleanse your unhealthy habits and begin to build sustainable healthy lifestyle changes that won’t peter out in a couple weeks. I am the trainer, you are my client. Now, let’s get started.

What are your goals?

Setting goals is the first step towards achieving any level of fitness. Whether you’re interested in running a 5K or learning to deadlift, determining the intention of your workout is critical.

There is no magic pill, powder or product that can bulge your biceps or whittle your middle.

Once you’ve decided what you’d like to focus on — for example: weight loss — you’re going to need to make a plan and develop a timetable. It’s a fact of life: Any healthy goal will take time to achieve. It is up to you (and a personal trainer if you choose to hire one) to formulate a plan and stick with it.

Related: Ask Trendy Trainer: How Can I Reduce Belly Fat?

Positive body changes and desired results are driven by continuous, regimented effort. There is no magic pill, powder or product that can bulge your biceps or whittle your middle. Grab a calendar and start penciling in your workouts — your healthy goals are just as important (if not more) than that scheduled business luncheon or happy hour with friends.

Why now?

After you determine exactly what you’re interested in achieving and how long it will take, it’s important to identify this – “why now.” Many of us have tried changing our lifestyles for the better in the past — and clearly it hasn’t worked or hasn’t lasted.

Recognizing past patterns that lead to fitness and nutritional fallbacks can give you the tools you need to succeed this time around.

Perhaps you were in an unhealthy relationship or your job was creating toxicity in your life — these factors play a large role in how we treat our body as a whole.

Related: Healthy Activities for a Happier, Stress-Free Life

If you’ve been able to identify and rid yourself of these elements, creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself — mind and body — will be much more sustainable.

Nutrition: Filling your fridge & belly

What we put into our mouths is just as important (sometimes more so) than how we exercise our bodies.

Yes, implementing a challenging fitness regime is essential for optimal health and wellness, but similar to a vehicle, what you put into the gas tank effects how the car runs.

Before you prepare your meals, you’ll need to go grocery shopping. Make a point to purchase 80-percent of your groceries from the perimeters of the store. You’ll quickly notice you cart filling up with produce, lean meats and dairy as well as other healthy refrigerated items.

Aside from your pantry staples, those center aisles are laden with processed foods and sodium-saturated non-perishables.

Once you return home from your food shopping escapades, it’s time to prep for the week. Boston-based, nationally certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor Allison Nichols suggests cutting up your veggies as soon as you get home from the grocery store. “Store them in containers in the fridge to grab for healthy recipes throughout the week,” she states.

Related: 4 Foods That Are Destroying Your Diet 

As far as making sure that produce doesn’t go bad, Nichols notes, “Keep a bowl of whole, fresh fruit on your kitchen counter. Seeing the fruit will remind you to eat it.”

When it comes to your diet — as in what you eat, not some trendy nutritional detox — it’s important to not feel overwhelmed. In fact, these are simple and small changes that you can implement into your life each week. Nichols advices clients to ditch the boring bag lunch. She states, “Spruce up your salad with fresh herbs like basil, dill and cilantro for some added flavor and nutrition.”

The less complicated you make your meals, the more apt you are to eat healthy. Buy fresh, eat a multitude of colorful foods and drink plenty of water.

Fitness: The next steps

Once you’ve figured out what your goals are, why you believe they can be achieved now, and the optimal nutrition for your body, it’s time to talk about gyms.

Related: How to Find The Best Gym For You

From CrossFit facilities to yoga studios, sticking with a workout regimen is about finding a gym you actually enjoy going to. This leads me to one word — community.

I am not saying you need to become BFFs with your fellow gym-goers, although that may happen. The difference between feeling comfortable in this environment and dreading going to the gym can mean either a lasting lifestyle change or a two-week stint in the squat rack.

Boston-based strength coach and founder of Stacey Schaedler Strength, states, “Do it before work in a group class or small group training. That way you make friends in the gym as opposed to just a bar.”

And if you’re desk-bound the majority of the day, Schaedler recommends involving co-workers as a way to create better moods, increased trust and more productivity. “Learning to prioritize yourself as a busy professional goes a long way when you are no longer young,” Schaedler states, “You’re a better person to everyone around you.”

 

Commit to be fit 

Now that you have been given the foundational tools to build a healthier life for yourself, it’s time to enact action.

Keep a bowl of whole, fresh fruit on your kitchen counter. Seeing the fruit will remind you to eat it.”

Unfortunately, abs will not be chiseled overnight nor will poor dietary habits be broken in a week. Give yourself a reasonable timetable to achieve the goals you’ve just established.

Related: 7 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Workout

And while your days as a busy young professional may never slow down, recognize the importance of making your health a priority. That, unlike Mother Nature’s decision to cover Boston with snow, is entirely in your control. Get after it.

Images via Foap: Photographers, in order: chris.bertrand.524 | fotolaila | tokayto | dwarrencom