New Year, New You. But how long will it last?
New Year is a great time for fitness clubs, health food shops and personal trainers. We set our sights on having a bikini body, toner arms and legs, less weight around our middle and more energy to get through the day. This new motivation usually lasts for about 4-6 weeks and then, for most of us, it starts to wane. Which is why I have chosen to write this article now, to help get you back on track. I set out this month to write about the right foods for babies and children, and decided that if us parents don’t have strong healthy habits around food and movement, we aren’t patterning healthy lifestyles for our kids. So this month is all about us adults and next month will be about feeding our little ones. If we first develop the life skill of healthy eating in ourselves, it will be second nature to nurture that in our kids.
We have all experienced how good we feel, how the brain fog disappears and how much happier we seem to be when we are eating well and moving. So why do we stop? What gets in the way? Old habits perhaps. Maybe not seeing enough results quickly enough. Eating clean while the rest of your family or group of friends are enjoying a second or third slice of pizza and some beer.
I understand the disappointment when you don’t achieve your fitness or health goals on the timeline planned. But that doesn’t mean you need to stop. It just means you need to reassess. Either the goals were unrealistic or consistency with diet and movement has been slack. And by the way, it’s OK to be wrong or fail. It’s part of learning and necessary to fully understand how something works. In this case, it’s how your motivation works. How your excuses work. How food affects your mood, digestion and body. If it has been awhile since you were conscious about what food you are eating and how much you are moving, a new year goal of a healthier fitter you can be a really steep learning curve. But having a day/week/month you fell off the wagon, doesn’t mean you have to abandon your goals or sacrifice your health forever simply because you made a mistake.
Here are my 5 tips for accomplishing your fitness and health goals this year.
- Find your why. The big why. The one that almost makes you cry. The why that gets you fired up. Looking good for the wedding/ball/office dinner might help you in the short term, but what happens when that event is over? Do you have a reason to continue eating clean and moving more? What is it you want next year, in 5 years and when you’re a grandparent that you don’t have now? Do you want to be able to play chasies with your kids, or run at the beach with your friends? Maybe you have heart disease, diabetes and dementia in the family and want to avoid or lessen your chances of getting it.
- Find what you like. If you hate the idea of the gym, don’t buy a gym membership. You are setting yourself up for failure. Do you prefer exercising alone or with a group? Inside or outside? Near/in water or land based? What activity can you see yourself doing in winter and summer? Have a plan that extends further than just 3 months.
- Use more than 1 thing to monitor your progress. Often the number on the scale is what we go by to tell us we are on the right track. But that number can vary greatly depending on how much water we drank, for women where we are in our cycles, what we ate last night and what time of day we weigh ourselves. I recommend having several objective tests to refer to when monitoring progress. Most PT’s at gyms are able to measure your skin folds for body fat percentage. You can also gauge your progress by how you can lift heavier weights or have more endurance in your training. How your clothes are fitting you can be a good indicator that what you are doing is/isn’t working.
- Eat fruit and veggies every single day. 7 days a week. And drink water every single day. Without fiber from plants and water, our digestive systems slow down, we can’t eliminate the waste effectively and we become toxic. This will affect our thinking, our mood, our immune system, our sleep and our energy levels. Try a variety of veggies and use dips and dressings if you need to. Veggies with flavourful condiments always go down easier than plain. Especially if you are just starting to add more into your diet.
- Start slowly. You are developing a life long skill of healthy living and you aren’t going to have it all sorted in just one month. If you take it slowly, you are less likely to injure yourself, more likely to enjoy the process and will more easily identify any areas and routines that need to be sorted to enable you to consistently make your health a priority.
Remember the scales and fat testing are just numbers. We attach the emotion to them and that keeps us connected to the thoughts and biochemistry of where we are. Remind yourself that you are a work in progress, that every body is different and what works for your friend may not work for you. Finally, you are worth it. Everybody deserves to feel amazing and joyful and everybody is capable of it. We just need to give our bodies a chance with good nutrition, rest and regular movement. Your future self is waiting. What are you going to create?