2017 is here and we already have a plethora of miracle diets, new eating regimes, supplements and exercises that will quickly get us 'in-shape', help us achieve 'miracle weight loss', and help us 'look like a catwalk or cover model' in weeks. Reality though is a lot less sexy - just as we haven't put on the extra fat and become less healthy overnight, the ability to achieve the changes we desire is a longer process - requiring goals, a plan and consistency.
The media are always keen to tell us we can achieve these changes in as short a time as possible - a miracle diet that achieves results in 4 weeks or 8 weeks, or a product or supplement advert that promises the same.
But why do we have to go through this every year? Does this mean what we were told last year, and countless other years, isn't up to the job? Why in 3 months time will we be told how to Shape Up for Summer or get a Beach Body - isn't the 'New Year, New You' prescription given a few months earlier giving us the results we want?
From my own experiences, these routines don't work or offer a healthy and consistent way to make lasting change to our mental and physical well-being - and they are not practical; they are often the reason so many people end trapped in the cycle of yo-yo dieting. So, now you may be asking, well, what does work? Again, from my own experience, I will share some foundation thoughts below, and then we will expand upon these next month.
Before we start to define our goals, it is worth accepting that the fundamental thing we want to achieve is change; we don't like where we are now, and we want to get to somewhere else. This will be a different starting point and end point for everyone, but for all of us this will require some work and a change in behaviour.
We need to accept that where we are now is the result of consistent current behaviours and patterns, so these daily patterns and behaviours will need to change.
These are the things that we want to accomplish with our change in pattern. We want to define them beyond 'I want to be healthier, lose body fat, or build muscle. Using the SMART principles is a good way to add clarity to our goals. Goals need to be:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Relevant
T - Timely
Use the first weeks of January to articulate your SMART principles - and discuss them with a friend or gym buddy whose opinion you trust.
Once we have defined our Goals, the next step is to define the new behaviours to make this happen. It is all well to say we have New Year goals or resolutions, but without this deeper thought process about what needs to change, and the new behaviours that need to be adopted, we will not move far from our present situation.
Think about the current behaviour patterns that have led you to where you are now, and the new behaviour patterns that will begin to enable you to make the changes that you want to achieve - and keep it simple. For most of us the changes will be around:
- Having a planned structure for the day, including food and exercise activity
- Making time for 3 nutritious meals, and eating from all food groups
- Eating more vegetables, some fruit - and moving towards a more plant based diet
- Questioning the current snack and smoothie routine
- Reducing or cutting out alcohol
- Getting between 7 and 9 hours of quality sleep per night
Avoid falling into the trap of miracle supplements or smoothies - and focus on these fundamentals. Avoid spending too much time at the gym and enduring hours of cardio. We shouldn't be at the gym any more than 3 or 4 times per week, as it's what we do in the remaining hours of the day that is also of huge significance.
Free Health Assessment
We talked about measurement - so let's start to track progress. The team here at YMCA Club will be providing members and non-members with a free health check and body composition analysis - as well as some advice to make sure you are on the right track. We will be on minus level 3 of the Club opposite the cycling studio on January 25th and 26th between 7am-7pm and 11am-2pm on Saturday the 28th.
Looking forward to sharing more ideas next month: Happy New Year - Nick