Perhaps your 2020 didn’t start how you intended, or you’ve broken your health and fitness resolutions already. Toni Walsh, a Hampshire Dietetic Assistant, gives us a few tips on how to keep going...
As January comes to an end, all of a sudden the gym is feeling a little bit busier… Getting in shape is always the number 1 New Year’s resolution, so here are some tips to help you get to it!
What is it that you would like to achieve? Setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound (SMART) goals can help to keep you motivated and on track. Consider why you want to achieve these goals – is it that you’d like to use the stairs more, run faster, lift heavier, or just eat a healthier diet? A SMART goal for aiming to introduce more fruits and vegetables into your diet might look a bit like this:
“I will aim to try 1 new fruit and 1 new vegetable a week for 1 month.”
This goal is sensible, measurable via the quantities of new foods, achievable, realistic, and it is also time bound with duration of 1 month. It is also important to set new goals as you achieve the earlier ones in order to keep your motivation high!
Be Mindful and Intuitive
Listen to your body – if you’re hungry, EAT! Be mindful of your food choices; be sure to choose foods that are high in protein and fibre for satiety, with plenty of healthy fats and slow releasing carbohydrates such as brown bread or brown rice.
Salmon Fillet with whole wheat noodles and stir fried vegetables. (Try a similar recipe here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/crispy-asian-salmon-stir-fried-noodles-pak-choi-sugar-snap-peas )
This meal is packed with fibre and omega 3 fatty acids, and lots of protein to keep you fuller for longer – also known as feeling satiated. Satiety is a combination of both physical and psychological satisfaction from food; reaching satiety can help us to ensure we don’t over eat.
Another important factor is portion size. The below (from the British Heart Foundation) shows the recommended portion sizes for different food groups.
What lifestyle factors do you feel are stopping you from making changes? Write them down and find ways to overcome each one. For example, many people feel they are limited by the amount of time they have to prepare nutritious meals every day. One way to overcome this barrier is to prepare in bulk or cook extra portions which can be frozen or eaten for lunch or dinner in the following days. Finding ways to overcome your barriers will allow you to reach your goals without negatively impacting your lifestyle, which is important as this can greatly impact your motivation.
Do activities you enjoy!
When it comes to increasing physical activity, many of us are filled with dread at the thought of running or any intense cardio. It is important to remember that these things aren’t essential! When it comes to increasing your activity level, choose activities you enjoy – these could be hiking, walking, or yoga. It could also help to make it into a social thing – increasing your activity with a friend could help you feel more motivated and make you more accountable. Anything you enjoy doing that makes you move your body more, go for it! It could also be helpful to incorporate into your current daily routine; if you’re lucky enough to live relatively close to your place of work, try walking or cycling there. This is better for you, better for the environment and better for your bank balance!
Even when you choose activities you enjoy, it can still be difficult to get going – especially when it’s so cold outside and so cosy on the sofa! While your motivation is high (as it usually is when you are planning activities) place nudges for your future self to help you get out there! Place your shoes and workout clothes in obvious locations; prepare your meals in advance so you’re less likely to slip into old, less nutritious habits.
Track your progress!
The most common way of tracking progress is via the scales or body measurements but it is important to remember that there are other ways to monitor how well you are doing! For instance, if you have taken up running or cycling, you might monitor your progress by how quickly you can cover a particular distance; if you are weight training you may monitor progress by how many sets and reps of increasing weights you are able to lift. Perhaps your clothes may become looser or fit better; you could be feeling more alert and sleeping better. You may also find evidence of progress in monitoring how your diet has improved since you started making positive changes.
Keep up the good work!!
Thanks to Toni Walsh - Dietetic Assistant working in Hampshire for this brilliant blog post. You can follow Toni on Twitter, here: https://twitter.com/ToniWalsh789