With the start of the New Year, we are flooded with other peoples new year resolutions, and as the year goes on, we hear how hard they are to keep. Typically we use the new year as an opportunity to change what we deem as negative behaviours, such as quitting smoking or drinking (dry january anyone?)
However the language around new years resolutions, can be quite negative (in terms of smoking this isn't an issue, its bad for you and yes you should quit). When it comes to alcohol, less is definitely the way to go and a month off can help lower tolerance and bring you back into healthier habits as long as you don't binge at the end.
I am referring more to language we use about food, fitness and ourselves. Of course I am all for making better food choices and exercising more, both are proven to be very good for you. However these decisions, need to be taken on in a sustainable and manageable way.
How we talk about food and fitness.
Often we look at our resolutions as:
- 'I am not allowed''
- 'I am giving up all'
- 'I can't have'
You might find that looking at what you can have, and what is good for you will improve your ability to stick to your resolution and feel rewarded as you do so. I can eat all these vegetables, as they are really good for me.
Another issue is when we approach something like exercise in gun ho way, or quitting something by going cold turkey. All or nothing attitudes are not conducive to flexibility which is what trips people up. When they are tripped up, the all or nothing attitude can lead to a total relapse.
Small changes are more beneficial and sustainable over time than the afore mentioned attitudes. It also avoids a lot of negativity around one self and ones behaviour. I have some suggestions below which will be less of a new years resolution, more habits to try and implement going into to 2018.
Sustainable changes to habits:
- Eat more vegetables, no need to go vegan or raw, just attempt to add an extra serve of up to two vegetables to your diet. Most Australians don't even come to close to the suggested daily serves (Five). This can be achieved by adding a side salad (1 cup of leafy greens, sliced tomato = two serves of veg) to lunch, or pumpkin and sweet potato to your dinner!
- Eat fruit over sugary snacks, the best part of adding more vegetables and fruit to your day to day routine is you can knock out some of these energy dense, nutrient poor foods we can so easily access. I find banana, cinnamon and yoghurt as a good replacement snack, as well as strawberries (or whatever is in season) with a handful of almonds.
- Be prepared, this is how you achieve 1. & 2. I have to kick myself up the bum sometimes to just spend 10 minutes each evening in food preparation. Having some smaller sized tupperware, and cutting up fruit and veggie sticks is a great way to ensure you have great snacks on the go. Or purchase foods that only require a quick wash, such as grapes, cherries, cherry tomatoes, snacking cucumbers, carrots.
- Don't just thrash your self in the gym straight away. Nothing invites injury like going to the gym 6 days a week, back to back classes and minimal stretching with no history of fitness. Believe me I know, been there done that, got the back pain. First off recovery days are super key, these can be days where you do a gentle yoga or long walks (i'm a big fan of these). Your fitness resolution will not come to fruition when you injure yourself. Focus on learning how to use gym equipment and maybe a PT session or two.
- How to get fit fast and injury free? When exercising for the first time, your adaptations occur quickly to start off with. Technically that means you are getting fit fast. The most important way to get fit though is to build up to things. Most gyms provide some form of short gym floor classes to familiarise you with the equipment, or a complementary PT session. PT are a good way to learn and also keep you accountable.
- Variety, your not going to enjoy doing the same thing every other day. This also provides maximal benefit to your whole body, as you will be gaining strength and aerobic fitness is all areas. My personal variety, beach walks, hikes, gym cardio (stationary bike and rowing), boxing once a week and resistance training classes (yep PTs go to classes as well) twice a week. I know that sounds like a lot, no need to mimic it if you are new to working out in general.
Ease into a fitness routine that you can enjoy; make your approach to diet about positivity and getting healthy; aim for variety and utilise the great outdoors - if you can get friends on board even better.
Changes we can all make:
Eat more vegetables and at least two serves of fruit a day