By Amy Lewis
Photography by ChiChi Ubiña

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together,” Vincent Van Gogh.

It was just the other day that I had an inspiring conversation with a good friend. Like most of my conversations, they usually consist of something fitness related. (Deep down I think we are all a little fitness obsessed.) This friend had just turned a corner in her health and fitness regimen. She eliminated her cravings to eat at night. She feels great! To be honest this achievement doesn’t come easily. I think every one of us falls victim to this habit. When my children were babies, I was home more and found myself eating a lot at night – just to eat – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, crackers, chips, etc. I was easily 5 pounds heavier. Still working out and eating well during the day but it was the evening eating that kept me from achieving my goals.

The key is to start with a baby step because it’s what will ignite the path of fitness success. If you practice a cut off time in the evening to stop eating, it’s amazing how much better you feel. Less bloat, you wake up feeling energized and sleep is so much more efficient. If you have reflux issues, lying down on a full stomach will cause the acid in your stomach to shift and move towards the throat. Also, on a full stomach, your metabolism and body temperature increase causing higher brain activity and less chance to get full REM sleep. This is your first move towards living and feeling great. Think about it, losing weight and feeling energized can be addictive. One simple action can have a domino effect. Maybe the next bad habit to get rid of is what and how you eat throughout the day. Eat carbs earlier and save your cleanest meal for dinner. Seems simple enough.

I think we live in a world where everyone wants instant gratification. I don’t know about you, but I have been doing this health and fitness thing for three and half years and feel like I am still just getting started. Results do not happen overnight. Losing weight, building muscle, coming up with the right diet plan and not getting discouraged is hard work and it is ever evolving. So just for this month, I encourage everyone to set a “baby step goal.” That’s it! Then worry about the dominos falling later. Here are some examples:

1. Try to give up one menu item you know isn’t beneficial. I recently decided to eliminate fried food. I’m sorry, I know! We all love french fries, but commercially fried food is high in cholesterol and can lead to obesity and eventually diabetes.

2. Download an app and track everything you eat. I did it three years ago. I loved knowing the nutritional content of everything I had eaten. It also helped determine what I ate for dinner. (Which is my favorite meal of the day).

3. Do a series of push ups and sit ups every morning or night. Alternate sets of 10 until you reach a 100. Or just a timed plank. Hey, it’s a start!

4. Buy a big water bottle, fill it and drink at least three helpings of it a day. Water cleanses the body, relieves bloat and fills the stomach.

5. Give up white flour! Is that a big step?

I made it my goal this month to eat a limited amount of carbs on days that I know I have to go out and will be drinking cocktails. Yes, I drink cocktails! I truly enjoy. However, I try not to drink anything with a lot of sugar. Mostly vodka and tequila.

Regardless of your ultimate goal, try and take a baby step first. Extremes are hard to maintain. Also, we are all very different. Think about your lifestyle and what you can live with eliminating. If you do it, then it’s worth celebrating. Small victories can be life changing.