Happy New Year. I hope you had a very enjoyable holiday period and you are ready to kick start 2020.
Now is the time to sit down, write out those dreams and plan how you are going to turn them into a reality.
Before you make a start on your health, fitness and wellbeing ambitions for 2020, I want to share with you some advice on things we should and shouldn’t consider.
Firstly, let’s look at the don’ts:
Don’t go all in
With the previous two weeks of complete bingeing behind us, motivation is high. We feel we need to make big changes and believe we can make them happen right away. At the beginning you’ll smash it and feel great but once the motivation wears off, will you have the determination and drive to keep it going? Even if you did, would it be a healthy obsession?
You may be that caught up in trying so hard that you do yourself more harm than good.
Don’t follow fads
Please, please, please don’t jump on anyone’s band wagon. Do you want to know the secret to all diets? They all work if you stick to them. The problem is, do they really work for you?
Last month I went vegan for 30 days. I found it hard at times to stick to it, but I felt good. I got my bloods done pre and post the 30 days and found that my platelets and white blood cell count had dropped. I would safely say the vegan diet played a huge part in this. So what may look good on the outside, might actually be doing something totally different on the inside.
Don’t think exercise is the answer
You can’t out train a bad diet. It’s the time of the year when gym memberships rise and people think it’s the holy grail but it’s not. Exercise plays it’s part yes, but you don’t have to regimentally think you must do an hour gym session three times a week. You should integrate exercise, or as I like to call it, movement throughout the day. I’ll talk more about this in the do’s list.
Don’t buy all the latest and expensive gadgets
Fitbits and step counters are great motivation and a tracking tool, but you don’t need one which details your circadian rhythm. If you do want to spend that little bit extra money, buy one which looks fashionable and doesn’t have all the latest settings. That way there is a better chance you will wear it all the time. If you are taking up running on the other hand, invest in a good pair of shoes instead.
Don’t get obsessed
Working hard on becoming a healthier, happier you is great, but not if it becomes an obsession which leads towards an unhealthy and unhappy you. It’s a trap you can fall into without even realising. It can become an unhealthy addiction which can lead to anxiety, depressions, chronic fatigue and eating disorders. This may sound extreme but it can happen very easily and quickly.
Now for the Dos…
Evaluate and change habits
Your long term health, fitness and wellbeing is determined by your daily habits. Write a list of everything you do in a day and see what small consistent changes you can make for your long term health.
What do you do when you first wake up? When do you check your phone? Do you hydrate or take caffeine first thing in the morning? Do you do any deliberate type of movement in the morning? How long do you sit for each day? How much food do you consume?
Start asking yourself these questions, you’ll be surprised, and maybe horrified about the results. Now ask yourself another question. What changes can I make?
We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, yet we never really see it. Take a drive 15-20 minutes from where you live and I guarantee you’ll find some natural beauty along the way. Some of us are even lucky enough that we can walk out our front door and experience this. The great thing about the outdoors is that you just have to step outside. If you work and live in a city just go outside, walk to a park or walk into work.
In 2020 if you can do one thing then get outside more.
Adherence is defined as the attachment or commitment to a person, cause, or belief. Its not like an obsession, but it does mean sticking to something. The diet or workout plan doesn’t matter. They all work, it’s just those who are adherent get results.
Mental health is your wealth
Diet plans and exercise programs are the main areas we focus on, but your mental health is equally if not more important. Just like your diet and exercise routine, you have to plan and consistently keep on top of your own mental health. Schedule in time to meditate, reflect, journal or just take time during the day to concentrate on your breathing. It may not seem like much, but with practice and persistence, you’ll be a far better person for it.
We sit for most of the day, deal with stress and don’t take time to ourselves. Then we think the one-hour, high intensity gym work is going to correct everything. Well think again. You might actually be adding more stress to the body. The first step is to take movement breaks throughout your working day. Get up and move, get outside, concentrate on your breathing, or move and chat with a friend. Not only will this help you physically and mentally, but your concentration and efficiency levels will increase as well.
Then your body will be more equipped to deal with your intense gym session. It then doesn’t even have to be as long or intense. You may even enjoy it more.
Be a child again
If you want to live a healthy happy lifestyle, then go out and play. You don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old when you stop playing. When’s the last time you climbed, jumped over something, kicked or threw a ball?
Do you remember the favourite sport you played when you were younger?
Then go and play it again. Join in at the park with your kids rather than standing on your phone. Run through the trees with them, splash in the pool, play in the mud, roll down a hill or even bring out your ‘Kerbsy’ skills again.
So before you jump into anything this January, remember your do’s and don’ts.