Well, January is over now. Have you started any of your New Year’s Resolutions? Joined the gym? Taken up running? Begun a new diet? If your answer, like mine, is ‘not really’, then this list of sensible ideas for getting fit and healthy is probably for you.
Like most people at sometime in their lives, I’ve tried to find the perfect exercise routine or diet that will kick start a healthier and fitter ‘new me’. Over the years I’ve discovered that my two biggest blocks to sticking with a diet or exercise programme are boredom and laziness. Plus I absolutely loathe getting hot and sweaty.
Despite these issues at various times in my life I have paid for a personal trainer to scare me into running and lifting weights, bought protein shakes as my only food, and taken various herbal teas and supplements in the hope that something will stick.
But nothing really did.
So, now I’m a bit older, and a bit wiser, I’ve decided to accept what I cannot change - my hatred of group sports, gyms and sweating; and my total laziness regarding cooking - and have worked out a bit of a daily lifestyle plan instead. I’ll be going slow and steady in the hope of finally getting just a little healthier and fitter, bit by bit.
Take it slow…
Unless you are a hardcore fitness fanatic already you don’t need to throw yourself into daily trips to the gym or 10k runs around the park immediately. One of the reasons we give up with exercise and diet plans so early is that we lose all our energy and interest in the beginning. We need to remember that we are not fit.
Our bodies won’t cope with a full on exercise or diet regime, so lean into it. Start taking a long walk every other day; climb the stairs at work instead of taking the lift; get off one stop earlier on your bus; walk to the supermarket.
An easy way to get in a good 5km of walking is to head to the malls or shopping centres and just walk, walk, walk. The aircon keeps you cool, and there is always something to look at. Download an app that tracks you steps - 10,000 per day is a global goal - to help you work on improving your daily activity.
Once you feel your general fitness is improving, look around for more strenuous activities. You could move from walking to running; or step climbing to wall climbing. If you are feeling stressed you could try a yoga class.
The thing to remember is that you should first try a number of things to see what you really like. Don’t sign-up for a gym membership that you will never use if you prefer outdoor running to treadmills, for example. There are a number of platforms now that allow you to buy a bunch of different activities instead of locking you into one thing only.
Everything in moderation
When it comes to changing your diet, start simply. Decide not to eat so many snacks or sweets, or swap them out for vegetable sticks and dip or fruit and nuts. Cut out one coffee a day at first, don’t go cold turkey with no caffeine at all - your workmates will hate you!
Depending on your body type you might find that deleting most carbohydrates from your diet will help - it works for me. As you feel better with your new eating patterns you can move into more extreme diets, perhaps choosing to go vegetarian or to try the keto diet.
At the end of the day, however, eating a bit of everything in moderation is probably the easiest diet to stick to.
Make more friends…
The only times I have ever done something extremely athletic and exciting - like climbing Mount Bromo or hiking the Great Wall of China - was because my friends made me. Yes, I only went because I was forced to.
Reach out to your more sporty or active friends and family members and get involved with their various activities. Ask to tag along on a trip to see if it is something you’d also like to take up. You can also hit up your college Facebook page to see if there’s something going on; or check at your workplace to see if they have a sports team of some kind.
Getting healthier and fitter is a very personal journey. What makes one person happy won’t work for everyone, so take the time to work out what suits both your body and your personality. Once you find the right exercise and eating plans that work for you, you will discover that instead of just making a New Year’s Resolution, you’ve made a lifestyle revolution.