So here we are – 2021! What a year 2020 was! A year full of restrictions, lockdowns and physical distancing! We refuse to call it social distancing as we have been as sociable as we could be by walking with friends and family, using Zoom, Facetime, phone calls, running online fitness classes and having a chat and a laugh in our Facebook group.
Whether you used the lockdown to start your fitness journey, maintain your fitness journey or you never started that journey, let’s look to the future and concentrate on making 2021 a fit and healthy year!
We can use January as a re-set button. Normally we would not say to wait until New Year to put new healthy plans into place as this should be something that is done all year and every day is a new re-set. Why would you want to put off looking after your health and fitness?
However, in these circumstances, we think that a re-set can be good psychologically as well as physically! Let’s make 2021 the year that we look after ourselves throughout the whole year, not just through January and February. You are worth the investment in yourself. No-one else can do it for you but everyone will benefit. You will have more energy and be stronger and healthier. You only have one body – make sure that you look after it properly!
Healthy eating and exercise can reduce the risk of getting diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers, and exercise can help to lower blood pressure. It’s easy to be blasé about these diseases until we are affected by them, but, by then it’s often too late. Let’s do something about it now!
So, now that we are in the right mindset, how do we do it?
- Think about why you want to do it. Think about why you shouldn’t do it! This is very important. Until you understand what is stopping you and what it will mean for you to stay the same with your old bad habits, it will be hard for you to have the energy and desire to change those habits. Takeaways and chocolate have immediate pleasurable benefits but are not healthy if eaten all the time, so you need to write down the pros and cons of changing. When you see that the pros far outweigh the cons, the new lifestyle will become more attractive and you will be more likely to stick to it. As you see small changes, you will be motivated to keep your new healthy lifestyle. Preventing disease is a huge reason and, for me – I also want to be strong as I get older and live a healthy life well into my old age whilst being able to run around with my beautiful new grandchild. I want to see her grow up and be fit enough to be able to do things with her.
- No goal is too big! Just break things down into bite sized pieces. You don’t have to change your life drastically all in one go. If you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, think about the one step you are taking towards it and concentrate on that. These steps will add up quickly and, before you know it, you will be at that light. If you have a lot of weight to lose break it down, and aim to lose 1-2lb per week. Just think, in 3 months, you could lose a stone!
- Keep thinking about your goals and why you want to achieve them. New habits take time to get used to, they don’t happen overnight, and you have to keep working at them and focusing on them to stop you from slipping back into old habits. It’s a bit like learning a new skill!
- Keep a diary to help you stay focused. Writing down when you exercise and what you eat makes you more mindful, and you’re more likely to want to keep doing it.
- When you are thinking what exercise to do, pick something that you like doing and will look forward to, whether this is the gym, swimming, running, tennis or Zumba. If you enjoy something, you are more likely to keep doing it. Try a few different things to see what you like best. If you don’t have a lot of time and want to do something fun, why not try our 30-minute circuit which is an intensive full body workout designed for you. We’ve condensed all the machines you need into a specific order, giving you a full body workout, so that you don’t have to think about which machine to go on next, whether you’re using it correctly or if it’s available to use. And yes, half an hour is enough time to exercise if you are doing it regularly. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym to keep fit and healthy, in fact, according to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology ‘30 minutes of daily exercise is just as effective for losing weight as 60 minutes’.
- Make sure that you are committed. Tell people what you are doing. The support of the people around you is important as they will encourage you and also hold you accountable. It will also help with the inevitable peer pressure of ‘go on, have another drink or piece of cake’.
- Develop healthy eating habits. Don’t think of certain foods as ‘bad’. There are no bad foods. There are foods that we eat more of and foods that we eat less of! Eat more fruit and vegetables and cut down on processed foods and chocolate and crisps. Food prep for the week to stop impromptu takeaways when you are tired and hungry and try to eat regularly throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels in check and to prevent becoming so hungry that you grab the nearest snack. It’s much better to eat 3 healthy, balanced meals throughout the day rather than starving yourself until tea-time and then eating a huge meal, crisps, chocolate and everything in sight. We don’t recommend cutting out one particular food group. Your body needs a combination of protein, fats and carbs to function properly. If you cut out one of these groups, you are setting yourself up to fail, as it will be all that you crave. Sweets, chocolate and crisps are not banned but a little bit of discipline is needed. Make sure that you are eating them because it’s a conscious choice of what you fancy and not as a reward for a hard week at work, because you are feeling down or just mindless eating. We are brought up to think of these foods as ‘comfort foods’. We were given them as a child because we had been good, or we’d got a good report at school, or because we were feeling sad or we’d hurt ourselves. It’s such a bad habit and it’s a hard habit to break but it can be done. Why do we want to reward ourselves with something that is so bad for us? Do something or eat something that will make you feel better. Have some fruit, Greek yogurt or a few nuts as a snack, and half an hour’s exercise will make you feel better, both physically and mentally! Enjoy a hot bubble bath, a good movie, puzzles or a good old gossip with friends. You’ll soon forget that you even wanted that chocolate!
- If you have a day where you haven’t done as well as you’d have liked, don’t see it as a bad day. See it as a step towards your goal. We know when we’ve eaten more than we should or not been to the gym when we’d planned to go and we’re quick to let it make us feel bad and that we have failed. Just recognise how it makes you feel and get straight back on track. We’re not robots and we all have days that aren’t quite as good as we’d have liked. Think about why these things didn’t happen today and what you can change and then move on. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
- Reward yourself weekly for hitting your goals whether that’s losing weight, exercising every day, or eating healthily for the week. It’s something to look forward to and something just for you. Try a massage, a manicure, a night away or just a hot bubble bath and your favourite book.
Don’t be nervous about making these healthy changes. You will be glad that you did. If you’re unsure of what exercise you should be doing or you’re wanting help with your nutrition, come and visit us at W Fitness, Horsforth and we will be pleased to help you.
Let’s make 2021 our healthiest, happiest year!
Caroline & Hannah xx