Get Your Health Back on Track

A New Year, a new start… right?

For me, this last week has been a non-stop cycle of all things cheese, chocolate and alcohol. In other words: Christmas. What else are the holidays for!

Unfortunately now all the festive fun is over, the pounds you’ve piled on the past fortnight are starting to dawn on you and the January blues are already in sight. The health and fitness goals you’ve been promising to set yourself in the New Year (primarily as an excuse to tuck into that extra tin of Quality Streets) seem a bit too far from reach. Why couldn’t Santa bring you a super speedy metabolism and incredible willpower?

If you’re like me and Christmas has been your break from health and fitness, or if you’ve decided 2017  is going to be your year of healthy change, getting on track after the holidays can be hard. Shoving five donuts in your mouth is definitely the easier option.

But this can be the year your fitness goals are achievable.

You’re thinking well it’s only the 2nd of bloody Jan and already I’ve f*cked up. Who cares? One step back does not mean you need to keep going in that direction. Summon all that motivation you had when the clock struck midnight yesterday and follow these tips to getting back on track. And if you’re reading this post in the future, don’t wait for next Monday or next New Years; start now!

1. Break Down Your Goals Into Bitesize Chunks

How many people already have you heard promising this is their year for change? My New Years Resolution is to be healthier; my New Years Resolution is to lose ten pounds; my New Years Resolution is to exercise more… The list goes on.

And while this is a great place to start, the reason these promises for change rarely last a month little own the whole year? The goals are too vague. Too vague and too far from reach.

What exactly do you want to achieve? Are you trying to lose weight? To gain muscle? Do you have any unhealthy habits you can break like quitting smoking or limiting the amount of alcohol you consume? Break your goals down into small, specific, achievable steps. Bitesize chunks. And these will be totally different for everybody – here’s mine:

  • Drink more water
  • Gain more muscle mass
  • Run 10 kilometres 
  • Increase my flexibility
  • Improve nutrition 

All of these goals constitute towards a “healthier me”, but by being specific in what I want to (and will) achieve it makes it a hell of a lot easier and much less daunting. It’s so easy for people to hit the gym three times a week and limit their calorie intake thinking they’re making a difference. A difference it might be, but are these differences really stepping you closer to your goals?

Unless you breakdown your goals it’s difficult to be sure.

2. Plan How You’ll Achieve Each of These Goals

So, you’ve set yourself a list of all the little aims, now you need to start working towards these. Already the idea might seem not so far from reach!

Think about each goal on your list and exactly what you can do to make this a reality. If you don’t have a plan your simple bitesize chunks will get buried in the back of your head. Based on my goals above, here’s my plan(s) of action.

  • Aim to drink more. I’ll aim to drink three litres a day – by quantifying ‘more’ I have made my first step more realistic. There’s a finish line in sight I can try to hit each day. How am I going to make this happen? I’ve bought myself a jazzy new tin water bottle which I need to fill up and drink five times each day to hit the three litre mark. That’s one bottle every two and a half hours. And even if I’m not hitting this? I’m still drinking more water than I was before (which is the most important part).
  • Gain more muscle mass. Rather than going to the gym and doing lots of cardio, I need to focus on gaining more muscle; working specific muscle groups at the gym and increasing my protein intake. How am I going to make this happen? I have got Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide (which if you haven’t heard of – have you been living under a rock? Here’s the link) which aims to tone muscle and gain strength. I’ll also start monitoring my protein intake to ensure I’m getting enough into my diet.
  • Run 10 kilometres. I’d just hit the 5k mark when the holidays started and so this year I’m determined to get up to 10k. How am I going to make this happen? To reach 5 kilometres I used the NHS couch to 5k plan (which I’d highly recommend) and I’ve managed to find an app which goes from 5k up to 10k in the same style.
  • Increase my flexibility. This may seem like an odd one, but as a cheerleader and coach flexibility is important to me and my sport. How am I going to make this happen? From the past, I know telling myself I’ll stretch each evening isn’t going to work; I don’t ever do it. By the time it hits 10pm I can’t be bothered to do anything. So this time I’m going to try to get back into yoga classes which I used to love.
  • Improve my nutrition. There’s no point working towards any of the above if my diet isn’t up to scratch. How am I going to make this happen? Rather than doing the usual and just trying to ‘eat healthy’, I’m going to try and count my macros and start making note of what I eat so I can keep track.

The most important thing to take from this?

That these aren’t necessarily the right ways to go about each of these goals, but for me personally they are the best ways for making them a reality. You might not like jotting down everything you eat and find this makes eating healthy feel restrictive or like a chore. You might prefer to do stuff at home instead of going to classes. You might prefer to get a personal trainer to help you reach your goals instead of going from online guides.

The whole point of this step is you need to think about yourself; what can you do to make your goals achievable in the easiest possible way for you?

3. Work Each Plan Into Your Routine

You’ve worked out how you can achieve each of your lil’ bitesize chunks, but now you face the real issue when it comes to sticking to a health and fitness regime. The Darth Vader of dieting. Willpower.

But fear not cherubs! The easiest way to stick to a routine is to make your routine as simple as possible. Instead of trying to completely figure out a whole new schedule, think about what tweaks you can make to the one you already have to fit your fitness in. Don’t work your life around the gym; work the gym around your life.

And write it down. Having something scribbled even on the back of an envelope and sellotaped wonkily to the fridge door instantly makes me more committed. Now it’s out there in the universe, my thoughts and goals and plans, my motivation to make these goals happen quadruples.

Even better than scribbling on a piece of paper and taping it to my fridge? Sharing it with the big wide online world. Here goes! Based on my goals and prior commitments, the following plan fits best into my schedule:

  • Monday: 8.00 run,  19.00 yoga class, 20.30 cheerleading
  • Tuesday: 18.00 cheerleading
  • Wednesday: 17.00 gym, 19.00 yoga class
  • Thursday : 13.00 run
  • Friday: 8.00 gym, 19.00 cheerleading
  • Saturday: 14.30 run
  • Sunday: 8.00 gym

*Exhales.* There’s no turning back now!

And when you do this for yourself take everything into account. Are you simply just not a morning person? Diary in your gym sessions for the evening because lets be honest, are you really going to be up and out at 6am when you’re alarm goes off?  Pfft, no. Going out the night before? For me Wednesday night is party night (shh, who doesn’t love a good weekday bevvy?), so Thursday mornings are always guaranteed to be a complete write off. Don’t try and change these things, work with them.

Also, think even further than your exercise plan. Are you out of the house all day and not going to have time to cook a healthy meal on a Friday? Make sure you prep for this so you don’t just bung a microwave meal in when you’re home. It will also help if you plan what you eat on each day so you can make sure you’ve got the correct ingredients in and aren’t wasting money!

Stick to these three steps and your fitness goals can be a reality. You’ll be back on track before you know it! One last thing to take away from this is don’t be scared to change your plan. Sometimes things just don’t work out. Always miss your Monday morning run? Ditch your Monday morning run and make it a Sunday afternoon run. A slip up is not you failing to be healthy, it’s you failing to perfect your method. Keep tweaking your routine until you find a schedule you can stick to and, more importantly, enjoy.

2017 here we come! Let’s smash it.

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