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It doesn’t happen overnight but at a certain point every man looks in the mirror and realizes he’s getting a little out of shape. The stress of family or work combined with the natural slow-down of aging can cause us to pack on a few pounds and before we know it: it’s time to make some changes. Getting back into a shape is a decision many of us make, often several times in our lives. It can be difficult, especially if we’ve neglected our health for a while. Here are 10 tips for getting back into shape.

  1. Make lifestyle changes. It sounds simple but if you listen to no other tip on this list, listen to this one. Losing weight and getting into shape is about teaching yourself to make healthier decisions when it comes to food and exercise. It’s not about stopping your bad habits for a few months and then going back to them

  2. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You didn’t get out of shape overnight and you’re not going to get back into shape overnight either. Whatever your weight loss or fitness goals are, resign yourself to the fact that it is going to take time. It’s a process. Rome wasn’t built in a day but it DID get built.

  3. Learn to make better food choices. There are 240 calories in an avocado and one calorie in a diet soda. Which one is actually good for you? Not all foods and calories are created equal. Generally speaking, assume your body knows what to do with natural foods and always opt for the healthier alternative of natural, unprocessed foods. While we’re on that subject…

  4. Avoid labels you can’t pronounce. Get in the habit of reading food labels. If you can’t understand what the ingredients are there’s a pretty good chance what you’re holding isn’t good for you.

  5. Find a workout partner. Having someone else to motivate you and push you when you want to skip the gym can help keep you on the right track. Getting your child involved with exercise can have the added benefit of teaching them to make healthy life choices as well as being a bonding experience.

  6. Add lean protein to your diet. Chicken and fish are two great ways to get your protein and fill you up without adding the fat and cholesterol that comes with red meat.

  7. Learn the secret of weight loss. Why is this #7 and not #1? To illustrate it’s not all that secretive although it is important. The secret of weight loss is this: eat healthy, balanced meals, make good food choices, exercise regularly, and burn more calories than you take in. End of story. Not only is this “end of story,” this story was written and published long ago. Every weight loss fad, system, or trend that’s come after has either been a variation on these principles or a way to try and cheat these principles.

  8. Fruit is nature’s candy. No, we’re not going to lie to you and say an apple is just as tasty as a chocolate bar but remember, we’re all about making healthier choices. Save the candy for the occasional rare treat and instead, feed a sweet tooth with naturally sweet fresh fruits. It’s not the same of course but just because it doesn’t taste like a chocolate bar doesn’t mean a handful of grapes aren’t tasty in their own way.

  9. Watch the beer. That’s not to say you can’t have a few beers with your buddies while watching the game on Sunday but keep it to that. Beer is essentially empty calories and excessive alcohol intake wreaks havoc on nearly every system in your body. Yes, there are studies out there that suggest moderate alcohol consumption can have a positive impact on your health but don’t cling to that argument to justify killing a six pack. That’s not quite what they’re talking about.

  10. Avoid fried, fatty foods. Seems like a no-brainer but just to clarify, when we say add fish to your diet we don’t mean fried fish from the fast food joint down the street. Fried foods are one of the worst things you can put in your body. They’d have to be because they taste so good. Avoid them whenever possible. There’s few healthy foods that can’t be ruined by choosing to deep fry them.

Getting into shape can be a struggle for many people but it’s also an important decision to make. It will take time but in the long run you’ll be better off for having made the decision to do it now rather than later. Your health will thank you.

Good luck.