It’s that time again. Christmas is well and truly over and we’re in the throes of January. The month is long and cold yet good intentions of better health and fitness are upon us once more.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love January, as it’s very busy in the fitness industry with New Years Resolutions, but what makes people quit after just a few weeks and how can you keep motivated for the whole year?
Many of us believe it’s down to willpower, but from spending 2 decades in the fitness industry, I can say for sure that isn’t a sustainable theory for keeping you motivated and on track. Willpower is like a muscle, if you over use it, it will become fatigued and eventually stop working correctly. Having a more mindful approach to attaining and reaching goals is key to maintaining your health and fitness throughout the year. Below are three key areas to concentrate on for long term results
The festive season has the potential to provide us with some seriously rich food including carb heavy meals that send our hormones crazy and craving more of the stodge
The thing to remember is to try and avoid an unnecessary increase in your carbohydrate intake. The temptation is to add bread or other carb-rich sides to soups and stews, when you are already getting all the nutrition you need from the main ingredients. You don’t need the added carbs!
Carbohydrates are by no means bad for you. We all need some in our diet, but the current recommended daily allowance of around 60% is, in my opinion far too high and the recommendations of where these carbs should come from are ambiguous at best.
Your main carbohydrates source should be vegetables. Try to consume seasonal, leafy greens and vegetables that are fibrous, which in winter means things like kale, lettuce, cauliflower, leeks, and sprouts.
Carbs high in starch such as white potatoes, white pasta, and white rice can easily be replaced with less starchy alternatives like sweet potatoes, root vegetables, and quinoa. Also, plan and prepare treats yourself so you know exactly what you’re indulging in.
Focus on eating the healthiest, most nutrient dense foods you can. (think ‘REAL’ food here, not foods with a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce). The more healthy whole foods you eat (with plenty of protein and healthy fats), the less room you’ll have for higher calorie processed foods. When you give your body what it truly needs, you’ll have fewer cravings for empty calories and ‘junk food’, and this usually leads to consuming fewer calories throughout the day.
The temptation to skip out on planned exercise in favour of the warmth and comfort of the sofa can be strong, especially if you’re new to a fitness routine.
But even if you decide it’s too cold out to go for a run, or boot camp in the freezing January rain just isn’t floating your boat, that time in your day has already been put aside for exercise, so execute an alternative!
There’re loads of free bodyweight exercises that you can do at home that do not require any equipment or expensive video guides. If you’ve got a bit of clear floor, whether it’s in the dining room, living room, or even the garage, you can do a full and proper workout at home that’ll feel just as good as a gym workout. Just remember to included weight bearing exercises, commonly known as multi-joint exercises that are functional to daily living. For example, a squat uses multiple joints and muscles to perform. It also mimics the action of sitting down on a chair or toilet, meaning its functional to everyday living.
If you get bored easily try to mix up your workouts. Adding resistance training is key and what you need if your goal involves reshaping your body. Avoid doing the same routine week after week. Our bodies adapt to new demands put on it rather quickly, so by switching things up, you’ll see results quicker. Doing cardio-only exercise is not going to work long term and can actually stall your weight loss efforts. It’s good to change your routine every 30 days or so.
Increase the time, frequency and/or intensity of your workouts. If you’re not seeing results, it’s worth looking at how often you’re working out as well as the length of your workouts and how hard you’re pushing yourself. If you’ve been exercising 3 days a week, it’s probably time to bump it up to 4 or 5 to start seeing results again OR do longer workouts on the 3 or 4 days if appropriate. You’ll also want to look at your intensity and evaluate if you need to bump that up a bit as well. Are you giving it 100% or just ‘showing up’ most days? We all have days where we aren’t 100% and that 70% effort is certainly better than no effort, but evaluate your effort level on most days.
This is the most frequently overlooked but is the foundation to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Being aware of your behaviour, habits and emotions is paramount to any health and fitness transformation. Try keeping a journal to record your thoughts and feelings when you’re stressed, unhappy or feeling low. What action does this mood drive you towards? You may find that whenever you’re under pressure you always seem to over indulge and lose control. Understanding your obstacles and reactions can often prevent relapsing into old behaviours.
Being mindful of your environment and surroundings will help you make better decisions related to your health and fitness goals. When you are with like-minded people who are positive, energetic and happy, you will find yourself motivated to be the best you can be.
One of the best tools for practicing mindfulness is meditation. Imagine you are training for a marathon, you would follow a running plan that gradually increased your distance to become stronger. The same applies to your brain if you want better performance, you will need to exercise your mind. Life has many distractions that can consume and overwhelm us, so taking a few minutes each day to focus on breathing and bringing yourself into the current moment will create clarity and reduce stress. If you’re new to this, there are plenty of apps to try like calm.com or headspace. Alternatively come along to our One Day Retreat on January 13th and experience some guided meditation.
Lastly, make sure you get enough sleep. Yes, this is a big deal! When you’re under stress and/or you’re not getting enough sleep, the stress hormone, cortisol is elevated and this can hinder weight loss. Also, when you’re tired, you’re more likely to eat more (studies show people consume up to 25% more calories when they’re tired) and make fewer healthy choices during the day.
Launching January 2018 ~ Fit Focused Female