As the new year has crept upon us yet again and those ‘healthy’ resolutions have been decided it is important to know that making a resolution is one thing, but what can we actually do about sticking to them when our willpower is often at its most tested, through the dark, cold months ahead when all we often want to do is curl up, eat junk and effectively hibernate?
The top tips to be healthy are often regurgitated year on year but, year on year, people often fail to stick to them because a resolution or goal does not include a proper, sensible and effective plan of action. Weight loss, being fitter, completing a marathon etc., etc. is in essence as ‘simple’ as eating and exercising towards your goals, but how do we actually go about reaching these goals and creating a manageable plan of attack to building towards them?
Hopefully, these tips will help you create a suitable health goal and more importantly, how to actually plan properly to reach these goals, avoid failure and create a sustainable long-term health change.
Tip 1: DO NOT take an all or nothing approach.
Whether your goal is to run a marathon (read marathon tips here) or just lose some weight it is not sensible to completely overhaul every aspect of your life in the first instance to meet your goal. A too much too soon approach is often too big of a lifestyle switch to be sustainable, after all, to train for a marathon you wouldn’t just set off on your first day of training and try and run 26miles 385 yards! You would (hopefully) start with a small distance, then each week work up sensibly to the end goal, allowing your body to adapt and the mind to cope with the increased stresses of training for this event.
This also applies to both healthy eating and exercise in general. For example to eat healthier than you are presently, or to lose weight, then it is tempting to go all in when it comes to diet. Instead, try and make small weekly manageable changes that over time become sustainable habits… work on tracking food intake, being aware of what you are eating in terms of your calorie intake and where those calories come from, then make small changes over time. Then the next goal could be to try and eat more protein, or to simply reduce calorie intake by a small manageable amount, then you can move onto focusing on reducing the amount of ‘junk’ in the diet, perhaps swapping highly calorific ‘junk’ foods for fruits and vegetables or an item from CSN's cheat cupboard or even restricting takeouts to just one day a week if you eat them regularly, then to every other week as you progress... from these seeds a mighty healthy oak can grow,
With exercise, the same principle applies. Commit to something you know you can do. Hit the gym once per week to start then build it up over time. It doesn’t even have to be the gym if you have been sedentary for a long time then start with just walking more often and increasing your output in whatever way you find manageable (take a look at these 5 simple home exercises you can start today!) Then over time you can increase the time, intensity and type of exercise as you become fitter and healthier. This also works for those who might be more physically active who want to take their physique, strength or performance to the next level. By putting in place a graded, sensible plan to reach your goals, the results will follow.
Tip 2: Create accountability.
This is a really simple tool that is unfortunately often under-utilised. Accountability can be created in a number of ways, firstly by announcing your goals to friends and family and asking them to keep an eye on you is a great way to make sure that you have someone to answer to and have a ‘big brother’ to watch over you. It might even encourage other people to get involved and create a support group where you can do activities together, this can also be a huge benefit of joining specific classes or groups either in person or online where you can share your experiences, get support and advice and have some fun at the same time.
Secondly, there are also a number of excellent personal trainers, coaches and nutritionists, both in person and online, who can help structure your exercise and nutrition plans, help with education to support you in the long term and create accountability with weekly ‘check-ins’. Just make sure you do your research first to get the right one for your goals and current levels, as they often have different specialities and areas of expertise (weight loss, performance, physique competition, strength, working with disabilities etc...).
Tip 3: Don’t let a setback completely derail you.
We are all human, we all make mistakes. Even those who we might idolise and ‘have’ what we won't have 100% had setbacks of their own doing at some point. It is easy to lose sight of how far you might have come when there seems like a long way to go to reach our goals. At the end of the day, one missed training session or one day of eating junk is not, in reality, going to make any major physical difference to reaching your goals. Learn to accept these blips and move on and avoid turning them into guilt-riddled binges or letting negative feelings overcome all the good work you have already done taking you all the way to square one (here is a good article on 5 reasons why fat-loss stalls). Make sure to document your progress so you have something to look back on, this is, in our experience is an excellent motivator to help keep us on track and re-focus our energy and efforts when we make the occasional detour off our plans.
As always Team CSN are here to help, call or email us today and we can give you professional, unbiased advice on all your nutrition and supplement needs.