It may only be a few weeks into the new year, but in the coldest, darkest month, it’s pretty easy to let good intentions fall by the wayside…
Don’t feel guilty if you haven’t managed to stick to your health or fitness goals with military precision, we’re only human. Have a rethink about your approach to your resolutions, especially if you want to make them long-term. Here are a few pointers…
Take things one step at a time. Take too many things on at once, eg: cutting out takeaways, cutting back on cheese, cutting down the booze, yadda yadda, and things are bound to get a bit tense. Focus your energies on one element, and once you feel like you’re in control of that, introduce another vice onto the ‘cuttiing list’.
Share the journey. Without going OTT, making significant changes to any aspect of your life can be tough, so it’s much easier if you have someone to spur you on and vice versa. A gym buddy or running partner will help provide the motivation to keep up your training on those days when you’d feel inclined to sack it off.
Be realistic. Bulging biceps, a flat belly or a five-minute mile aren’t just going to happen in a few weeks. Set achievable goals, eg: work towards increasing your running distance or adding a new exercise your workout. As the old saying goes, ‘don’t run before you can walk’.
Do something. Even a small step in the right direction is better than nothing at all. If you feel like you really can’t face sticking to your goals for one day, just making a bit of effort will stop the feeling of total uselessness. 30 minutes of mild exercise such as walking will still be beneficial to your health, even if it wasn’t the three mile run you had scheduled.
Reward yourself. No good deed should go unnoticed, and while it may seem a bit self-congratulatory, a week of sticking to your diet or breaking your fitness target is an achievement. Just don’t go overboard, after all, you’ve dodged a few burgers, not won a Nobel. Try rewards that aren’t directly related to your resolutions, such as a trip to the cinema, round of golf or a bit of shopping, rather than heading straight to KFC or the pub.
Weigh in too often. Constantly checking your weight or waist measurement for changes is certainly not the way to go. Try and focus on how the positive changes you’ve been making are making you feel, rather than the visual effects. The early stages of any change to your lifestyle can be tough, and the last thing you need is worrying about not having lost a few pounds this week. Try and wait two weeks or longer between each weigh-in, and don’t be disheartened if a dramatic change hasn’t occurred. You’re in this for the long haul, not the short-term.
Blame the weather. Yes, winter can be horrid, but does it really stop you from doing things? Excuses are just excuses, so if you want to see changes you’ll need to change your mind-set to a more ‘can do’ attitude and stop letting a bit of cold rain get in the way of your long term health. There are always indoor sports such as swimming if you can’t face the thought of a kick-around in the mud.
Keep your vices on show. Life wouldn’t be worth living without a few tasty treats, but the key to improving your diet is remembering to eat everything in moderation. That chocolate gateau may be delicious, but realistically if it’s sat staring at you from the kitchen worktop, chances are it’ll end up down your gob. Don’t keep any of your favourite ‘bad’ foods on show, keep them in a box, inside another box in the cupboard. This way, even if you feel tempted to dive into a chocolate bar, the layers of guilt to get to one will make you rethink just how much you ‘need’ it at every step. The only snack you see should be in a well stocked fruit bowl.
Forget to plan. Making a healthy packed lunch the night before work, or stuffing your gym kit into your sports bag as soon as it’s washed will stop any time related excuses ruining your plans.
Give up. We all suffer occasional setbacks, but stick to it and think of the long term goals. Remember that improving your health will be beneficial to all your family, not just you.