Many of us use the start of a new year to refocus on our health, fitness and lifestyle choices.
I know a lot of people hate the New Year, New You thing but for some it is an important time of year, to be able to put the past behind them and start working towards what they truly want, wiping the slate clean and start again. The only people I know who dislike the concept are those lucky enough not to need to start over and have managed to get the lifestyle and fitness to where they want it to be. Well done them, that’s great, but for others this is a much needed fresh start. This post is for those looking to make some changes.
The biggest problem as I see it is maintaining the enthusiasm, drive and commitment felt in the early days of January. Once real life takes full affect once more, work starts again (if you were lucky enough to have a break), it’s cold out, and the rain doesn’t seem to stop the motivation dwindles and all the good plans that were made become mere ideas and unfulfilled dreams.
Now that we are half way through the month, here are my 7 tips for making long lasting changes:
This one is soooo important. Yes, there may be lots of things that you want, or maybe need, to change. However, to try and do everything at once is a sure fire way to mess up. If it were that straight forward, wouldn’t you have done it all already. To ensure long lasting success you need to have a plan which involves dealing with one little bit at a time. Maybe your goal is to be more active and lose weight. Great! Those are good things to try and achieve but the how is, as I am sure you aware, not always that simple.
My advice is don’t go straight to the big workouts and the 100% clean diet with no treats ever. You won’t sustain it and then this time next year we’ll be having the same conversation. So…conquer one small piece of the puzzle and once that becomes a habit, on to the next thing. For example, to become more active maybe aim for a daily step count. 10,000 is a great goal for everyday health. Once you can do that, up it to 12,000. To lose weight maybe start by reducing your sugar intake. Once you’ve managed that, reduce the amount of processed food you’re eating. These are quite high level goals but hopefully you get the idea.
This is a major one for me. Finding a workout that you actually like to do is crucial. If you don’t enjoy the workout or find it boring, you won’t do it. There are so many options available that it should be fairly easy to find something you like, whether that’s a gym session, a pump class, boxing, running, indoor cycling (spin) or circuits (to name but a few). Your workout should be something you look forward too (even when you know it’s going to hurt!).
This is the catch of number 2. To get results you cannot just do the same thing over and over. Your body will get used to it and adapt, meaning you may not get the benefits over time. You have to find a few different things you enjoy and mix it up. Personally I love to spin, workout with free weights, run (it took a while to love this though) and do circuit style classes.
I wrote about the benefits of strength training in my first blog post… so go and check it out: Strength Training for Beginners.
Whatever workouts you chose to do, know that proper form is critical. Bad form can diminish all of the benefits of your workout and worse, lead to serious injury. Make sure you educate yourself properly from the beginning. If you are in a class ensure you follow the teaching points from the instructor and if you are not sure, ask! Working with a personal trainer is a great way to ensure you develop and maintain proper form 😉
I’m sure we are all aware that fad diets, crash diets etc do not work in the long term. Sure you can do a three day cleanse and drop a few pounds but it doesn’t stay off and it’s not healthy in the long run. If you are really serious about making lasting change and be healthy then the only way is to eat a balanced, healthy diet that you can maintain.
A few basics: wherever possible eat whole foods so you get all the brilliant nutritional benefits they have to offer, reduce processed foods (going hand it hand with my first point), don’t overeat. Calories do count, even when eating healthy foods; try to fill one third of every meal with fruits and/or vegetables and be as colourful as possible.
Remember you cannot out-train a bad diet so there is no point crushing your workouts week in week out if the quality of your diet is poor.
If there is no accountability, how will you stick to your plan? One of my favourite ways to keep myself accountable is to recruit friends into my plans. I have workout buddies so that even when I don’t feel like going I have to, otherwise I’m letting someone else down, not just myself. When I was going through a really bad patch with my diet I joined slimming world. Some people keep a food diary and these can be great, as long as you can 100% honest with yourself (hence my joining slimming world!). You just have to find what works for you. Of course, I will say that a personal trainer can be a great help 😉