3 Steps to a healthier 2017
With the New Year, brings the usual mantra of ‘New Year, new me’. The following weeks are filled with over exulted expectation and ambition resulting in the inevitable crash and burn. Familiar….? I thought so…
Consider this; if challenged to lift twice your bodyweight with little or no training you’d most likely fail, wouldn’t you? Lifting more than your body can manage is akin to the type of diet and exercise resolutions that thousands of people will have made across the country this week. Goals like ‘I won’t eat any junk food this year’ or ‘I will work out for an hour a day 7 days a week’ are simply too much too soon! Now, look at the alternative using the same analogy, if you slowly began to increase the amount you lift by 2 pounds a week, eventually you would be able to lift twice your bodyweight. It may take a considerable amount of time but the idea is that this method is sustainable. Get the idea?
Let’s apply this theory to the resolutions. If you were asked to choose just one day a week on which you must adhere to a plan; e.g. eliminating junk food and/or performing an exercise routine, then this seems much less intimidating and is therefore much more manageable. The benefit of this approach is that is creates habits. Reflex is when you perform something without having to apply your mind and the benefit of habits is that they follow the same principle and simply become part of your day/week. Instead of consciously telling yourself to follow a plan, you just do it. Then you can begin to slowly increase the number of healthy meals and days on which you follow the plan until the shift is towards more healthy meals and exercise and less junk.
Ok, so let’s start with
step 1: Choosing the plan to follow
Although many similar pieces will have been written, most will suggest the ‘perfect’ plan. The problem with this is that everybody is unique and what works for one doesn’t work for another. Some opt for vegetarian, others low carb or high fat or maybe even something a little more exotic. Some may prefer to make gradual changes by swapping white rice and pasta for wholegrain or trying to incorporate one or two extra vegetables into their evening meal. The bottom line is that regardless of what it is, find a plan which works for you and execute it to the best of your ability. The only point that must be stressed is that you must follow a food plan that is sustainable, crash diets won’t work here because the aim of this piece is to give you an opportunity to achieve and maintain your goals.
Step 2: Exercise
SMART targets are key here. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time – bound. Firstly, your exercise must be specific to your goal; if you want to run a marathon as your resolution, lifting weights alone won’t get you there, you need to tailor the plan to your goals. Next is measurable. The biggest rush you will experience is smashing through the victory point of your target. Now, if you set yourself the aim of ‘I will run a 5k faster’ this isn’t measurable as what is classed as faster?
A minute off your previous best time? 5 minutes? You need to set a specific target against which you can measure your performance e.g. I will run a 5k in under 25 minutes. For the achievable part of a SMART target motivation plays a big part. If it isn’t achievable you set yourself up for failure, choose something that isn’t out of your reach. For realistic targets a strict rule must be followed, is it possible? If you had arthritis in your knees, running a marathon would not be realistic but swimming 50 lengths of the pool at local leisure centre could be. Finally, by keeping your goals within a time frame it provides the push you require as if a goal follows all the other steps but is ignorant to time then how do you motivate yourself to get it done? it simply gets put off and is eventually forgotten about.
Step 3: Motivation
Motivation is the key factor between failure and success. If you aren’t motivated to stick to a health plan, then you aren’t going to. Luckily, there is advice that can be given. Firstly, nobody will do it for you, understand that. There is no easy way, no cheats or shortcuts, nor should there be; this is the main reason why when you reach your goal it will feel all that bit better. It will be testing and there will be moments of weakness, the only thing you can do is remember why you are doing it and carry on. Leave notes to yourself on the fridge, a picture of someone in peak health on your mirror or anything that re-focus’ your mind on the task ahead. It’s all about learning not to expect too much too soon, the one thing that must be ingrained into the brain is this;
BE BETTER THAN YESTERDAY.
It’s not about tomorrow, or yesterday, it’s about now, this moment. Challenge yourself and watch as you reach, succeed and achieve.
Written by: Jacob Edwards
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