Every December and January, we see people make health and fitness resolutions. Generally, they are aesthetic based (to carve out abs, fit into X size clothing, etc) and often they are the product of guilt surrounding a little too much indulgence over the holidays. What more of us need to realise, however, is that exercise resolutions coming from a place of hatred, sadness or guilt, are destined to fail. Before you rush to Facebook to announce your intentions for the new year ahead, question your motivations. Pick a New Years resolution that will make you healthier and happier. If you can tick those two off, who knows, perhaps you’ll fit into that little black dress. Or perhaps you’ll no longer care whether you do or not.
Learning how to eat mindfully is one of the most positive, empowering things that you will ever do for yourself. You might have read the term and immediately rolled your eyes, conjuring a mental image of yourself meditating in front of a bowl of tofu and quinoa. So, what is mindful eating? Well, it can be exactly what you want it to be, tofu included.
Mindful eating means being aware of what foods you are choosing to consume and why. It means that you can eat a donut because it is delicious and will make you smile in the moment… and making the decision not to feel guilty afterwards. It means deciding to have a salad for lunch, not because your jeans are fitting a little more snuggly after Christmas, but because you’ve had the sniffles and it will make you feel healthy and energised.
Point being- food is not something that should control you, nor should it be used as a reward or punishment.
Here are some things that you can implement right away:
- Stop having ‘cheat days’, instead, learn how to eat those things in moderation
- Question your appetite. Are you hungry, bored, or responding to other emotions?
- Be present when you eat. Sit at a table, don’t look at your phone or the TV, chew each bite properly.
In a world where we glamourize how little sleep we are surviving on, because we think it connotes work ethic, productivity and being in demand, we need to make sleep cool again.
Plenty of successful gurus and entrepreneurs preach getting adequate sleep, and even take mid-day naps! The key here is in working smarter, not harder.
Poor sleep (regularly under 6 hours for most) can impair cognitive function. If you are spending 8 hours a day at a desk, but every 15 minutes find yourself scrolling down Instagram or staring into space trying to gather some shred of motivation, how much time are you really spending actively working? If you were well rested, you might have been able to fire out a day of work in 3 hours, freeing more time to focus on your own projects or seek out more advanced work to further your career.
Still thinking about that little black dress? Well, poor sleep can also cause a decrement in physical performance, disrupt levels of hunger and satiety hormones, and wreak havoc with blood sugar levels. Making it harder to lose weight and/or gain muscle.
What can you do about it? Set a regular bedtime and wake time and focus your pre-bed window around settling down for the night. What might this look like?
- Minimise blue light exposure (don’t stare at a screen)
- Surround yourself with relaxing things (lavender scents, calm music)
- Cut out stimulants from mid-afternoon
- If everything else is optimised, consider nutritional diet supplements. Pro Test contains magnesium and zinc which together support normal, healthy sleep
Goal: 6-8 hours minimum a night. You can monitor this with a fitness tracker or app.
Spend Time Outside
Something highly, highly underestimated, is the effect that lack of exposure to fresh air and natural light can have on our wellbeing. Unfortunately, in the UK, the days in winter are short, dark, cold and often rainy! It is not uncommon to feel more ‘down’ in these months, in extreme cases this can manifest as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
It is unsurprising when we consider that sunlight is linked to the release of the hormone serotonin- the ‘happy’ hormone in the daytime, as part of the body’s natural circadian rhythm. The sun also supplies the body with vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency, a common issue, is associated with low mood and fatigue. Unfortunately, most of us are working office jobs 9-5. Supplementation and making time to get outside as muh as we can will help while we wait for summer to return.
Goal: Force yourself to take a short walk outside each day while the sun is up. This might be 20 minutes after breakfast, before you leave for work or in your lunch break.
Love Your Workouts
If you hate your training, the results are never going to be as impressive. Find something that you look forward to fitting in before/after work and excel in it. If weight lifting bores you, try a boxing class. If jogging just isn’t your thing, try Zumba. There are so many ways to move your body and burn calories, you just need to find the one for you.
Top Tip: Don’t set your goal too high. If you haven’t hit the gym in 6 months, you’re probably not going to go 6 days a week. Try 3 days. This is a massive step in the right direction and it is realistic. Set yourself up for success, not failure.
Speak Kindly to Yourself
Even though these resolutions are intended to be positive and contribute to better long-term health, forgive yourself if sometimes you mess up. 365 days of being perfect is a lot to ask! When you do slip up, make a mental note of why you did it and what you can do differently in future, and just move on! Be the person who picks themselves up and tries again every time.
By Savannah Westerby