So, who else is finding January a struggle? Wrestling our way back in to a healthy routine, finding our niche when it comes to our eating practices, settling back into a rhythm with our gym sessions. Just me? It's more of a rhetorical question as I know for a fact that I am NOT alone.
My inbox is literally littered with questions from folk asking for the magic secret to finding our health and wellbeing mojo. That pesky little blighter seems to be eluding a LOT of folk. So let's take some comfort in the fact this is a team sport, right?
Here’s the bad news. There is no magic button. There is no switch to flip.
Some will say it comes down to how much you want it. I guess that's true for some, but we have to be careful putting judgement statements out there. In my experience, you can want the hell out of something and still not reach it - it doesn’t mean you're doing something wrong. Perhaps you just didn't have the tools within your reach to get where you want to be, or there's a gap in your knowledge which precludes the outcome you want.
So let's try and get us all back into our routine - make it a team sport that we're winning at, right?
First thing's first: a plan. We all need a plan. I'm not naturally a detail person, so this is a real challenge for me. But believe me when I say it's worth the hour or so invested to make this happen. Carve out a window in your diary and look forward 7 days. That's all - just 7 days. Let's take this one week at a time for now.
First, look at what you eat. Download an app - My Fitness Pal is free and fabulous. Start to track your food. Educate yourself on what you're eating and how that translates as calories. Look at the balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats. For the average person who is moderately active you should be looking at a split of 40:40:20% for each. Plan breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for 7 days and get them prepped. Prepping your meals with an awareness of their calorie content will make sure that, as long as you stick to what you've prepped, you will remain within your calorie allowance for the day.
Now, I am not an advocate of long term calorie tracking as I believe in a balanced life style for my team, not one governed by how many calories are in each morsel of food which enters our mouths. Slimming clubs rely so heavily on this, making bold and often inaccurate statements about how much you can eat of certain foods, how some foods are FREE. To be clear, all food has calories. None are FREE. But in a balanced healthy diet, everything has it's place. Your plate should be a vibrant, colourful blend of all macro nutrients.
However, as a tool to get us back into a routine it does work well in the short term.
Secondly, plan in your exercise. Look for road blocks. For me, exercising early is the key. It's done and out of the way before I think about it and equally, before outside influences can put it at risk of not happening at all. Start with achievable goals. If getting to the gym is just too tricky, plan a home workout. There are plenty of free resources which will give you a workout to follow so you don't have to think of one, and you don’t need anything more than your own body to get a sweat on! 3 hours a week is fantastic - if you can do more, brilliant.
Thirdly, remember why you want to do it. There is always a reason why we started our health and wellbeing journey. That's how good habits are formed, the 'want' elements sits deep within our own value set, right at our core. We just need to remember the why. For me, it was about longevity and happiness. I want to be around for a long time, and be well, active and happy while I'm here. What is it for you?
Lastly, please don't be hard on yourself. The key to sustainability is balance. Not placing heavy and punishing restrictions on ourselves. Not existing in a miserable state of constant hunger and low mood. But a healthy, balanced and sustainable routine that fits around our lifestyle. There are highs and lows in all journeys, and we should embrace them not run from them. We enjoyed Christmas, we made memories, we relaxed. And that is perfectly OK, in fact it is important! Now we simply revisit our motivation and get back in our groove.
If you want any help, advice or support please get in touch.