3 Basic Ways To Simplify Your Fitness Routine

There are so many options for literally every healthy choice—here's how to keep it simple and still hit your goals.

Photo by Scott Draper
Photo by Scott Draper

When you’re trying your best to live a healthy lifestyle, it can be easy to get carried away. From endless supplements to crazy-complicated workouts, there’s always something bigger and better that promises to help you achieve your health goals. The downside to all those options is that it’s a slippery slope to getting overwhelmed and losing focus of those goals. The solution? Take a break from anything over-complicated and simplify a few key areas of your nutrition and exercise routines; you’ll end up with a renewed vigor for working out and eating right, and you may even become your healthiest self yet.

Pare down your gear
If you want to get faster and increase your endurance, you have to have a top-of-the-line GPS watch, and tech-enabled sneakers and hundred dollar leggings. Right? Actually, not really. While it can be nice to track your pace with extra technology, it can be very freeing to run with just a regular watch or even nothing at all. Yes, you do need a quality pair of sneakers to stay comfortable and avoid blisters, but you certainly don’t need them to do anything other than lace up. And don’t you dare break the bank on your running wardrobe; there are plenty of affordable options that will keep you dry and chafe-free for miles. Getting back down to the basics with your gear can help you reconnect with running and focus on how you feel rather than what you look like or what your stats should be.

Uncomplicate your cross-training
Between the gym, boutique fitness centers, and the endless home-workout options available these days, it can feel like you can always kick your cross-training up a notch. Spin classes have moved into the pool and become aqua cycling, Pilates has gone from the floor to the ceiling in aerial silks workouts, and yoga has crossed over into every kind of workout you can think of. While all those choices are great, sometimes it can feel like you’ve just gotten the hang of something before the next big craze arrives. If you feel overwhelmed by all the options or have trouble constantly learning new techniques, go back to square one. Go for a bike ride, swim laps at the pool, or follow a basic yoga DVD in your living room. You’ll still get a great workout and fulfill your cross-training needs at your own speed.

Related: The Dos And Don’ts Of Cross-Training For Runners

Say no to souped-up smoothies
A smoothie can be one of the healthiest pre- or post- workout snacks you can make, thanks to its easy delivery of protein and vitamins. But it’s also dangerously easy to deliver hundreds of extra calories when you blend a bunch of ingredients that you may not really need. Not to mention every juice bar out there seems to boast shots of life-changing supplements, so you may think you need to pack the blender at home to make your smoothie just as nutritional. One way to gauge what you really need is to imagine eating all the ingredients you’re pureeing as whole foods. Would you normally sit down to a plate of bananas with peanut butter, a spinach salad, a cup of yogurt and a chicken breast’s worth of protein after a three mile run? Probably not. So just add the equivalent of calories, carbs and protein that’d you eat as a normal snack (adding more if you have an intense workout or you’re subbing a smoothie for a meal). You can also focus on eliminating too many of the same nutritional sources to keep your smoothie in check. If you’ve already got a lot of milk or yogurt in the blender, you probably don’t need protein powder too; if you’re using frozen fruit, you don’t have to add any fruit juice to boost flavor. But when it comes to vegetables, the sky’s the limit—if you like the taste, add as many combinations as your heart desires. And remember, you can always add ice to your smoothie for a calorie-free way to increase the volume and frothiness.

Related: How One Killer Recipe Can Make Three Great Smoothies