We all do it; we start the year off with so much promise; then we slowly let our standards slip through the year until you don’t even recognize the person shoving toddlers out the way as you head for your third helping at the family Christmas dinner. Well, January is just around the corner, which means it’s time for an overhaul of your fitness program. Below are some key things to consider when you renew that gym membership in the New Year.
Potentially the most important aspect of your health regime; your diet is what keeps your body healthy and well fueled. It has often been said that you can’t outrun a bad diet, so make sure your diet is working with you, and not against you. It can be very tempting to drastically cut back on your portion sizes when you’re trying to lose weight; however, this is more likely to hinder your progress. When you don’t eat enough, your body enters into ‘starvation mode’ and is actually more likely to keep hold of the fat you are trying to burn. Instead, focus on keeping your diet as balanced as possible, this way you don’t have to completely cut anything out of your diet, and can still enjoy the odd treat. Ensuring you have a quality breakfast every morning can set you up for a more productive day. You should aim for around 60% of your daily calorie intake to be from carbohydrates (yes, even for weight loss). Try to eat more complex carbohydrates, so your body has to work to get its energy, and keep simple sugars to a minimum to keep your body fueled all day long. Whilst fruit is a great way of getting vitamins into your body, try to avoid excessive amounts of fruit smoothies. They typically have more sugar than fizzy drinks, and the liquid form means that your body doesn’t have to work as hard to get the energy. Around 20% of your calories should be protein, and 20% should be fats. Fat is an important part of your diet, so avoid reduced-fat products (they’re normally pumped full of sugar instead). You should also try to keep your saturated fat levels as low as possible in your diet. Stick to the more healthy, unsaturated, fats as much as you can.
Another excellent way of shifting those excess Christmas calories is to get your heart pumping. There will be many articles and workouts telling you that their way is best. However, the truth of the matter is that so long as you’re exercising, it doesn’t matter how you choose to do it. The important thing is that it’s something you enjoy doing and can stick at consistently. You should definitely consider incorporating some resistance training into your routine. Not only is it a great way to sculpt and tone your body, but it also burns more calories than cardio does. This is due to the fact that cardio only burns calories whilst your exercising, whereas resistance training burns calories even after you finish (your body needs extra energy to help your muscles recover). If you do choose to start utilizing resistance training, it may be worth educating yourself using online tutorials or a personal trainer. The last thing you want to do is spend the next six weeks in physio because you overdid it at the gym.
After all the effort at the gym and time spent preparing meals, you’re likely to be well and truly drained. Allowing your body to fully recharge each night is extremely important to making the most of your workouts. Good quality, deep sleep is needed to allow your body to fully rebuild itself each night, so ensure you get a solid eight hours. Don’t leave it too late before you get into bed either; the more time your body has to rest before midnight, the better. Turning off the technology an hour or two before bed is a good way to let your mind switch off, ready for a good night’s sleep. The artificial lights can play havoc with your circadian rhythm and disrupt your melatonin production all of which can make it difficult to be fully rested when your alarm goes off in the morning.
Try to research as much as possible to avoid misinformation when looking for diet tips. It’s easy to get sucked into fad diets that promise so much but deliver so little. It’s better to make small changes to your lifestyle that you can commit to for a long period of time, than it is to make drastic alterations that only last a few weeks. Follow this advice and, hopefully, your 2018 will be a year full of personal growth and targets achieved.