At the back end of our favourite time of year – the festive season – it is easy to feel that the only way to get our health (and waistlines) back into shape is to slave away at the gym or even worse, just not eat…ever. The New Year has arrived, and there is little room left for excuses of “when December ends…on Monday I will start…I just need (insert obscure relative here) to leave before I can start eating healthy again”. The time is now!
One of the most toxic things when it comes to people managing their diet and “staying on track” is guilt. When we feel guilty about what we just ate, we can do one of three things:
1. Cry about it
2. Decide that the day is lost so we might as well continue with our indulgent ways
3. Pick ourselves up out of that ice-cream tub and just move on.
Personally, I promote that we stick to option number 3. If “just move on” seems to oversimplify a complicated endeavour, I suggest giving the following tips a quick read through:
Adjust your expectations
There may come a time in your life when the universe conspires to help you on your health and fitness journey…you happen to be wearing your favourite workout shirt…plus those comfortable takkies…your “get-pumped” song comes on your iPod…you’ve had those magical 8 hours of sleep and are a bundle of energy…the gym happens to be basically empty and you have free reign of any machine you desire…and you workout like you have your own cheer squad rooting for you!
However, it is more likely that maybe one…or none…of the above may arise. Do not expect magic moments, make them! We tend to imagine that it will be easier to start at any other time than the present (like tomorrow, the next day or never), and what a brilliant deceit! It is vitally important to recognize that there really is no perfect time. There never will be the “right” time to start a new health plan, but bite the bullet and just do it anyway.
Whether you have 5 minutes or 50 minutes, there is always something you can do to work towards your health goals. In 5 minutes you can plan healthy meals for the next few days or write a shopping list. In 50 minutes you can go for a run, brisk walk or hit the gym. The timing may never seem perfect, and when it comes to time nobody can give you more. You need to just make it! The smallest possible step (be it the shopping list) is still a step in the right direction. Without even realizing it, you’ve started! Starting means finally taking action. It means committing to a choice. This is how you know it is a true start.
Do something, absolutely anything
Taking action is like a “vote” in favour of a healthier life. Vote early and as often as needed to keep yourself fit, strong and healthy. In the beginning, your vote may simply mean taking the stairs and not the escalator but with practice your vote can be committing to that half marathon you’ve always wanted to complete. Set yourself some realistic goals, and be specific about them. Start small, but dream big! Your first goal could be to hit the gym three times in the next week. It will feel fantastic once you start ticking those initial goals off and making some new ones!
Start that “when the time is right…” diet
Take ten minutes, go into your fridge and really look at what is in there. If it is rather empty – great! Make a list of healthy foods to fill it with. If it is rather full, make sure the majority of the contents are going to help you on your health journey. Either way, commit yourself to having a new fridge where there are lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, and foods that are as natural as possible!
We could all use a little help with getting our liver, kidneys and colon back on track after a festive holiday. The diet will work absolute wonders in this regard, but a few supplements may give you the extra edge. Take a look at Milk Thistle and Dandelion complex to target your liver and kidneys. With regards to the colon, think fibre and probiotics! Fibre again you will get from those fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds but you can add some Psyllium Husk (with drinking more water) if your digestion is stilted. With regards to probiotics, do not accept a sub-par product because there are many out there that will basically do nothing for you. Your gut has about 30 to 40 different strains of bacteria in it, so for daily maintenance choose a probiotic with multiple strains – the more the merrier! If you have a specific problem such as IBS or Diarrhoea then make sure the probiotic you purchase contains the bacterial strain that you specifically need!
Resistance to change is completely normal. Just push through it! If you’re resistant it doesn’t mean that this new endeavor wont work, it just means that you have started. Remind yourself that you are making new habits and a change for the better. Your old habits never got you to where you want to be, so be careful not to fall back into them. It may help to do a bit of forward thinking to anticipate where you may have potential pitfalls. For example if you know you have a friend’s party coming up, plan to be that person who brings the healthy snacks. If you’ve already anticipated that there will be salty, chip-faced challenges ahead, your exit strategy will be in place!
Accountability works wonders when it comes to commitment! Find a friend or family member, a gym buddy, a dietician or coach, and get them to motivate you when your own dedication wavers. We all need someone to call us out on our procrastination at times. Putting the first foot in front of the second foot might require some help in the beginning. Which is OK! Find the right person to help you until you can help yourself.
If you happen to follow even just one of the above tips then, without even knowing it, you have started! Let 2019 be the year where you get what you want for your health.