Renewing exercise commitments can seem difficult after the holiday season & your well-deserved break. Having enjoyed the festive season & possibly consumed too many delicious calories with little if any exercise, your attention now turns once again to getting fit – it’s no surprise that exercise & weight loss are two of the most popular New Year’s resolutions each start of the year. However, before you launch like a raging bull into your exercise program, or conversely, feel so overwhelmed that you don’t know how or where to start, here are a few things to consider before you get started.
- Set Macro & Micro Goals
Identify your macro goal- the ‘big picture’ goals i.e. what you wish to achieve or where you want to be in 6 months, 12 months or 3 years from now. Micro goals are the ‘in between’ steps taken to promote the achievement of your macro goals i.e. what needs to be done on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to achieve those goals. For example, assume you wish to shed a few kilos and/or wish to increase your fitness level. Realistically this will not occur overnight. Therefore, to successfully achieve your macro weight loss goal, you need to identify a series of smaller micro goals that help you move towards your ‘big picture’ target. Plan and allocate time to exercise on a weekly basis and factor in the time and activities in much the same way as you would an appointment in your diary. Try thinking about exercise in the same way as brushing your teeth – something you simply just do! Do away with the excuses and you’ll always manage to fit it. For some people, this may mean the same time of day 3 – 5 times per week e.g. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7am. For others, it may require greater flexibility of time whereby exercise occurs at different times throughout the week e.g. Monday at 11am; Tuesday at 6.30pm; Thursday at 6.00am and Saturday at 11am. The key is to take a disciplined approached and ensure that your exercise time is planned and allocated in order to successfully achieve the goals you set. Allocating time to exercise must become a priority if you are to achieve your fitness and/or weight loss goals. There will always only be 24 hours in a day & its how you choose to manage & utilise your time throughout the day that makes the meaningful difference. Sometimes this may mean making the decision to exercise at the expense of doing something else, something possibly even more enjoyable!! But hey, we didn’t say that goal achievement was going to be easy!!
- Prevent Calorie Amnesia – Keep a Food Journal
If you are serious about losing weight, you need to plan your food intake. Exercise alone will not promote weight loss if your nutrition does not support this. If you exercise & consume excessive or ‘empty’ calories (no nutritional value) with too much fat, you may still be carrying those unwanted kilos even after engaging in an exercise program for a length of time. Investigate your eating patterns & consider some of the following:
- Do you eat or skip breakfast?
- Do you eat when you are bored/tired/stressed or only when you are hungry?
- Do you eat 2-3 large meals a day or 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day?
- Is your food intake higher in the evening or during the earlier part of the day?
- How much alcohol do you consume?
Planning 5-6 small meals a day helps to keep your metabolism burning those unwanted calories & is essential for weight loss & in maintaining or increasing our energy levels. Failing to consume food in order to decrease weight is undesirable & counterproductive to promoting a healthy lifestyle. Keeping a food journal & recording everything you eat throughout the day may help to raise awareness about how much you actually eat as well as identifying the foods you are consuming. Many of us actually underestimate the amount we eat throughout the day – yes those biscuits at morning tea get recorded along with the glass of red wine with dinner & eating the kids’ leftovers that you couldn’t bear to waste (or waist)!
- Keep an Emergency Supply of Healthy Food Choices on Hand
On the occasions when you’re hungry & a healthy food choice is not an immediate thought or a readily available option, you may be more likely to reach for quick solutions & risk undoing all your hard work & successes. To avoid such, take a proactive approach and plan for these occasions by keeping an emergency supply of healthy food choices on hand. Keep in your kitchen or workplace, tins of tuna in spring water, 4 bean mix, nuts & seeds, dried apricots, fresh fruit, low fat yoghurt, a protein shake. Each of these are infinitely more healthy choices than reaching for a biscuit or a fat filled fast food snack, & will satisfy your hunger whilst keeping you on track with your macro goals. Remember ‘What you eat in private will show up in public’ …oh so true and a great motivator to thinking before making food choices! By planning ahead you help set yourself up to succeed and move a little closer each day to your macro goal/s.
- Effective Exercise
To obtain your desired results, your exercise program must be appropriate and consistent for what you are trying to achieve. Some questions to consider regarding your exercise program include the following:
- Am I working the big muscles of my body – the biggest calorie burners?
- Do I exercise at an intensity that will cause a metabolic disturbance – consequently increasing my metabolism and firing up my body’s ability to burn fat not only during exercise but post exercise for a longer period (up to 48 hours) post workout. Keep in mind – you need to lift weights in order to shift weight and get out of your comfort zone when doing so.
- Am I performing my exercises using correct technique? Check with one of our trainers
- How much incidental exercise do I get in the course of the day i.e. do I look for the car park closest to where I am going or am I prepared to walk a little distance?
- Go For It!
Promoting your health & fitness throughout 2015 & the years beyond is a very satisfying and rewarding experience. Remember – achieving a healthy lifestyle is a journey, not simply a destination. Healthy living enables you to eat well, exercise correctly and enjoy the benefits of feeling good about yourself. There is no point in losing unwanted kilos for summer and then gaining all the lost kilos and more during the winter months! Aim for a lifestyle that keeps you in optimal health & fitness throughout all the year/s – this, when all is said and done, is true health & fitness success!!