Photography by Jodi Lynn Photography

I do not want to keep this information under my hat any longer! It is too important not to share with all of you that are starting, or are well into, your health and wellness journey! These secrets to success are absolute musts, whether you are looking to lose weight and fat, build muscle, or just want to improve your overall health, these will assist you with reaching your goals!

Many times, we focus so much on losing weight or fixing our flaws, that we don’t see that there is so much more to health and wellness than just diet and exercise. Thus, as you are embarking on this journey of health and fitness, remember these 10 things (that all just happen to start with the letter “S”). They really are essential to improving your health and achieving those goals!


Make sure you are sleeping at least 7 to 9 hours every night. Sleep gives your body time to recover, conserve energy, and repair and build up the muscles worked during your workout. It also provides you with the energy you need to exercise and just get through the day. Sleep deprivation is detrimental to your body and overall health…not to mention your mood and cognitive functions. Therefore, make sure you get to bed early, get off the electronics, get in that daily workout, take a soothing bedtime bath/shower, and ensure you are getting a restful night’s sleep.


Eliminating stress from our lives is probably easier said than done. As adults there are many reasons for us to stress; work, kids, maintaining a household, finances… the list goes on. However, that stress is so bad for our bodies! It is so important to find ways to reduce stress in our lives. Not only does stress make us moody and snap at our loved ones, it is also detrimental to our physical health. When we are stressed, our blood pressure increases leaving us susceptible to high blood pressure and heart related issues. It can also increase our cortisol levels which can lead to increased belly fat….and nobody wants that! Hence the reason it is so important to find ways to reduce stress. Yoga and meditation can help, as well as practicing self-care, but try to stop taking so much on wherever and whenever you can… delegate, ask for help, and set boundaries for yourself. Sometimes saying no to things and to people is the best form of self-care and reducing stress. It prevents you from overextending yourself. Your mind and your body will be better and happier for it!


You should be stretching every day, especially before or after a workout, but also as part of your workout! Stretching keeps our muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in our joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on those muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible, and it enhances performance by improving our range of motion. Yoga is great for stretching and increasing flexibility!


It is important that your health and wellness routine be something that is sustainable… for the duration of your entire life. Remember, this is a journey and not a destination. There is no end point. Many times, people get super motivated to get healthy and they overhaul their life by starting long and arduous workouts and reducing their caloric intake far too low, or restricting themselves way too much. These methods are simply not sustainable. It is more important to make small and lasting changes to your lifestyle. Try focusing on adding things rather than taking away. Start with adding a walk to your day, or 30 minutes workouts that you can intensify as you start to build endurance and strength. Focus on adding more protein and vegetables to your meals. Make sure you are drinking enough water! As these things start to become habit, you can start to incorporate more healthy changes and work on other areas that may need improvement. Over time you will notice big results from these small changes… but they must be sustainable!


Often, many women focus on being “skinny” as their body goal. Though being skinny isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t always equate to healthy. For years women have focused on losing weight, sometimes using unhealthy techniques like extreme calorie restriction, juice cleanses, excessive aerobic exercise, and weight loss supplements. For many, being skinny is a goal that consumes them and it really puts too much stress and pressure on having to look a particular way. Not to mention, skinny doesn’t automatically mean toned or healthy! When you focus on strength, it is about more about performance and creating a healthy body that will allow you to function at its best every day. Rather than depriving yourself, fuel your body with nutritious foods that build strong, defined muscles. Remember, focus on strength…this will improve your overall health, your body composition, reduce your risk of injury as you get older, and just benefit you as you age!


Mindless snacking tends to get in the way of our health and fitness goals. Why is that? Because when you snack mindlessly, calories can add up quickly—and the more excess calories you consume daily, the more weight you may gain and the more you put your health at risk. I know I have found myself snacking out of sheer boredom or I have found myself so hungry that I start snacking until it is time for the next meal… even if it is only 30 to 45 minutes until meal time. But this usually just leads to me eating foods that aren’t nutrient dense or very healthy…and I consume far too many calories for so little of food. So instead of letting yourself snack mindlessly or getting so hungry you reach for junk, snack intentionally. Intentional snacking is helpful because it ensures we get in enough nutrients in between meals, which can prevent overeating later. What does this mean exactly? As you are meal prepping for the week, make sure you prepare a morning snack that fits in between breakfast and lunch, as well as an afternoon snack that fits in between lunch and dinner. These snacks should contain protein, fiber, and healthy fats so that you feel satiated and you will be able to make it to the next meal. Also, if you are hungry and it is close to the next meal it is always better to just eat your meal early, rather than devouring a bunch of snacks that don’t benefit you. Also, don’t forget to be drinking your water…sometimes those hunger cues you are feeling are actually feelings of thirst.


A healthy diet should keep you fueled and energized, not feeling starved all day long. That’s why it is important that you do not severely limit your calories, eliminate carbs, or restrict yourself too much (again, that isn’t sustainable or healthy). Instead, it is important to create meals that will ensure you feel satiated. Eating nutrient-dense foods that make you feel satisfied will ultimately assist you from feeling hungry all day long, but will also prevent you from snacking throughout the day. Foods that are high in protein and fiber will help with satiety and ultimately support weight loss and management.


Obsessing over the scale is not helpful in your health and wellness journey. In fact, using the scale as your only tool for measurements of success isn’t recommended. Sure, it is one method of measuring your health and fitness success, however it usually fails to tell a complete story. The scale can never account for fluctuations in weight due to water retention, menstrual cycles, stress, high sodium intake that day, and when your muscles are swollen from a workout. Not to mention if you are constipated or your food hasn’t digested. More importantly, as you build muscle, the number on the scale may not move at all or those numbers may increase. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat! Therefore, it is better not to focus so much on the numbers on the scale. Focus more on how you feel…do you have more energy, do you feel stronger? Look at how your clothes are fitting and are you seeing your body change… is it more toned, do you see muscle definition? Plus, we are trying to reduce stress in our lives, so no need to stress about the scale!


Most people have sedentary jobs that leave them sitting and typing on a computer all day long. Though you may have a sedentary job, it is important that you don’t lead a sedentary life. It is important to get active outside of your work, even if it you are simply walking every day. Walking is the most underrated exercise, but is full of so many health benefits. You want to get that heart rate up and get those muscles activated. It is also important to try and get some activity built in to your workday. Make an effort to get up and out of your chair, get those muscles working, and that body moving. Whether you just go for a walk outside or even in the building, walk to a colleague’s office to ask a question rather than call or email them, or you stand and do some air squats and lunges throughout the day. It is important to get moving and get those steps in! Also, standing helps burn calories, so even getting a desk that is adjustable that allows you to stand and work during the day can be beneficial! The idea is to just get moving!


Nobody can force you to eat well and exercise, so practicing self-discipline is imperative in maintaining our health and wellness. It’s not always easy and it can take time, but it can help you protect your health in many ways. There is a misconception regarding self-discipline in the minds of many people. They associate it with deprivation, and with giving up pleasures, or feel that it takes motivation to do things. Remember, motivation is finite and comes and goes. When motivation fails, the habits that are created remain. Commitment and consistency replace motivation when it runs out. So instead, associate self-discipline with inner strength, courage, and creating and implementing healthy habits. Self-discipline, habits, and consistency are what leads to sustainability and success in health and wellness.

Photography by Jodi Lynn Photography

Last but not least, give yourself grace! You do not need to be perfect, that doesn’t exist, and it isn’t necessary or important (or healthy). What matters is that whatever happens you keep trying because health and wellness is a journey and not a destination. There is no end. Therefore, if you think you have made a mistake, if you went over your daily macros, if you think you indulged too much, if you feel like you ruined everything with a meal or a missed workout, don’t quit! We are human, we deserve to occasionally indulge, and we don’t need to feel guilty about it…and we especially don’t need to make up for it by working out extra hard or further reducing our calories. Just pick back up the next day and move on! Stay consistent and know that every small step is a step forward. Be proud of yourself and your progress, and celebrate those wins!

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