5 Things We Gave Up in 2017 to Be More Fit

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Happy Holidays!

As 2017 comes to a close, this is a good time to reflect on the habits you have developed over the last 12 months.

Every year, we try to make an effort to improve our health and fitness by making small sustainable changes to our lifestyle.

As we look back on 2017, we made some pretty drastic changes that have had a big impact on our lives.

I didn’t think I would be able to accomplish some of these things, and they certainly required a ton of dedication. But I am certainly happy that we did, and we feel better than ever.

So what did we give up this year?

First Major Change in 2017

The first thing that we gave up was traditional meat.

Brittany had already given up meat several years ago, but I still consumed some type of chicken on a daily basis. I also enjoyed a good burger and a good steak once in a while.

Needless to say, I had no intention of giving up meat whatsoever.

In addition, chicken and beef were one of the biggest sources of protein in my diet. Protein is the most important dietary component to help you recover from your workouts, as we discussed in How To Start Eating Clean [Even With An 80 Hour Workweek].

At the time of this post, I have not eaten chicken or beef for over 4 months. I do still consume fish, but only the wild-caught variety.

The main reason why I stopped consuming meat is that of the way the meat industry grows and manufactures its products. That’s a topic for another post.

While there are farmers who make animal products responsibly, I wanted to experiment and see how I would feel on a no meat diet.

To make a long story short, my body has been feeling and moving so much better than before.

You don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy the benefits of consuming less meat.

Just make an effort to decrease your meat intake by a small margin. If you consume chicken or beef daily, try vegetarian based meals once or twice a week.

See how you feel. You probably won’t regret it.

I thought that it would be extremely difficult to give up meat, but I am shocked to learn that I don’t even miss it.

The Second Major Change in 2017

After giving up meat, I wanted to make more dietary changes in the name of fitness.

Next on the chopping block was dairy. This also was a difficult choice for me.

I loved milk.

There was one point in my life where I drank approximately half a gallon of whole milk every single day!

Milk is extremely satiating and it was also one of my main sources of protein. However, part of me always knew that milk probably wasn’t the best source of nutrition for me.

We made the decision to stop consuming dairy because of where conventional milk comes from. Cows are often sick and full of illness due to unsanitary living conditions.

We do still consume cheese once in a while, (particularly on a really good slice of pizza) and that’s okay. Don’t forget, you only need to eat clean ~90% of the time to enjoy the benefits of healthy foods, which we wrote about at 7 Realistic Dietary Habits You Can Use To Eat Healthier Right Now. 

Admittedly, dairy was easier to give up than I imagined. There are so many milk alternatives to choose from these days. Our favorite is almond milk, but you can also use rice milk, coconut milk, or hemp milk.

Sure, milk has a lot of protein and a lot of other micronutrients, but you can easily obtain these nutrients from other sources.

Give these alternatives a try for a month and see if your body feels any different.

The Third Change We Made in 2017

The next major change we made was our mindset in regards to fitness. 

When we first started to exercise, we thought that it was always necessary to ‘go hard.’ We believed that if you weren’t lifting heavy weights consistently, then you were wasting your time.

We now understand that fitness is much more holistic, and it requires a balance.

In 2017, we started to walk more, in an effort to improve our health and fitness.

Walking is the most underrated form of exercise and provides benefits that lifting weights will never be able to do.  We wrote an entire article on it at Walking For Weight Loss [The Most Underrated Way To Lose Weight].

Movement is the most important things you can do for your health, which includes everything from walking to resistance training.

If you can’t make it to the gym, go and take a 10-minute stroll after work each day to enjoy these tremendous benefits.

The Fourth Change We Made

The next thing we gave up was staring at our phones before going to sleep.

We already knew that the blue light from our phones was interrupting our sleep pattern, so in place of this, we started to meditate.

I’m sure that you have heard of the numerous benefits of meditation, but have dismissed it because you were not interested.

I was the same way.

Here are some of the common assumptions I had regarding meditation

1) It’s too “hippie”

2) It takes too long and I don’t have time

3) It doesn’t work

I decided that 2017 was going to be different. Brittany and I were ready and willing to try new things, and if it didn’t benefit us, we would simply discard it.

We gave meditation a try and realized that:

  • It’s definitely not “hippie,” anyone and everyone could benefit from taking a few moments to relax, breathe deep, and calm their mind.
  • It doesn’t require much time at all. We spend 3-5 minutes max meditating each night. We do it right before bed and it helps put our minds and bodies in a sleep-ready state. Learn more at The Amazing Benefits Of Deep Sleep [3 Tips To Help You Fall Asleep],
  • It certainly works! It’s not meant to be something magical or spiritual. It’s all about relieving stress, focusing on calmness and relaxation.

There are a bunch of free apps you could try to get you started. Give it a shot, it’ll only take 3-5 minutes.

The Fifth Change We Made in 2017

Another small thing that we stopped in 2017 was the use of microwaves.

There wasn’t any strong reason to give this one up. We mainly did it because of there is a theoretical modification of food after it gets radiated by the micro-waves.

There is no scientific data to support this claim, however, it’s important to note that lack of evidence doesn’t always equate to it not existing.

My first thought was, how could I possibly stop using microwaves to heat up my meal prepped foods?

Another challenge was accepted… and conquered.

We simply eat our meals at room temperature. It actually isn’t as bad you think.

At the time of this writing, we haven’t used a microwave in over 5 months.

What These Changes In 2017 Have Done For Us

So what? Did making these changes help us in any way?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m as skeptical as they come. I was pleasantly shocked to see that these changes have made an enormous impact on our bodies and our fitness.

First of all, I was able to set all-time personal records on my squat, my bench press and my deadlift in October 2017. These were lifts that I have not been able to match for 3+ years!

Even better, I did them at a much lighter bodyweight! I have shed several pounds of body fat from my frame, and so has Brittany.

In addition, my body has been running more smoothly, as minor aches, pains and bloating have been significantly reduced.

Brittany has also been setting personal records on all her lifts this year on multiple occasions.

Lastly, the quality of our sleep has improved by a large margin. On most days, we wake up from a deep sleep that leaves us feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day.

Once we noticed the effects these changes had on our body, they immediately became daily habits.

What changes have you made in 2017? What changes would you like to make in 2018?

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Alex Robles, MD / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH

Alex Robles, MD / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH

Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, health & fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy individuals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader's Digest, Livestrong, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.

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