Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, fitness-expert or even that healthy myself. But if you are also tired of reading cliché fitness advice like ‘Drink more water’ and ‘Clean up your diet’ then continue.
I’ve been trying really hard this summer to get my act together. A lot of that has been internal development; trying to expand my reading scope, preparing for the start of my postgraduate programme, fixing some difficult relationships, clearing out the unnecessary ones…
Let me be honest, when it comes to sorting out my post-Undergrad diet and healthy lifestyle, I struggle.
A recent trip to register at a GP closer to home went a little like this:
Doctor: So… What medical conditions run in your family?
Me: (Begins the list of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke etc… #extendedfamilyproblems)
Doctor: Right. *Extended silence*
Being healthy is so important.
But advice like drinking plenty of water, eating fruit and vegetables and counting calories is really not helpful to someone like me. Everyone knows they should eat ‘Five-a-Day’, right? But most don’t.
Just because we can’t do everything, doesn’t mean we should do nothing.
I guess based on the title of this blog, you’re wondering why I’m even contributing my tips to the internet.
Well, because there isn’t only one way to stay healthy. You may not fancy turning vegan or cutting out carbs completely, but just because we can’t do everything, doesn’t mean we should do nothing.
1. Set smaller targets
A major setback for me was that I tried to do too much at once. It would get a bit tiring after a while and I would give in and feel too disappointed to bother again.
Once I tried to cut all dairy products out of my diet. Two weeks of torture came to a speedy ending following the orgasmic feeling of cheating with cows milk in a cup of tea.
If you struggle to stay committed to plans too, try setting smaller, more achievable targets, and build up. Feel like you need to take in less dairy? Try cutting it out after 6pm, or only at breakfast-time for a week.
Yeah, I challenged myself for 7 days and I did it!
The advantage of smaller, achievable goals is that you’re less likely to feel like you’ve let yourself down. Even if you can’t do it forever, you can always say to yourself “Yeah, I challenged myself for 7 days and I did it!”
And if you can stick to it, even better! Push yourself and keep going for a fortnight next time.
2. Do something you enjoy
Back in March I took on running using the NHS’s great Couch to 5k programme.
I got so into it that I just as I was getting into This American Life’s hit podcast Serial I set a rule that I couldn’t listen to the next episode until I was on a run.
It’s important that you don’t just workout to lose weight. Even if all your friends are major gym-aholics, do what fits your interests and fitness levels. After all, you’ll need to be able to motivate yourself to keep at it, so it should really be something that you love.
At the moment, I’ve signed up to fitness classes at my local gym and I absolutely love them. I really doubt that I would have the same excitement to run on a treadmill for an hour. But everyone is different. Make sure you find what suits you.
3. Forget the scales
Pay less attention to that number on the scale.
Okay, so I’m sure most of us have that pair of jeans we used to love wearing until our bodies became just a little too bootylicious for them.
I personally find stepping on the scale once a week to be a poor indicator of progress. No number on the scale can affect the way I feel about my body. But fitting back into that pair of jeans, yes, that means something.
Often fat loss isn’t correctly noticed by scales which can’t take into account factors like water retention or the fact you may have built up more muscle.
Pay less attention to that number on the scale, as useful as measuring progress can be. Girl, you can fit into that old dress? You’re winning!
4. Treat yourself
A wise person once said friends may come and go, but chocolate remains the same.
It’s really important to reward hard work. Unfortunately that’s the clause. Hard work.
The trendy diet cleanses may encourage you to completely cut out certain processed food, but it’s not necessary to force yourself into a sad and exhausting life.
Make your own rules and be strict with them. Work out 3 times and take-away on Friday night? Go for it. Reward yourself, you’ve earned it.
The interesting thing about this healthy lifestyle stuff is that over time the bad things that you used to like, you’ll like less. So don’t be discouraged by treats in small quantities, especially when you are just beginning.
5. Think about the future, love the current you.
Prior to that meeting with my GP, I never really thought about the consequences of my current choices on my future health.
So many conditions faced in Britain today could be avoided if we just took a little more care of our bodies. This ranges from physical conditions, to mental health issues.
Out of the 10,080 minutes in the week, I’m working towards spending more than 180 of them staying active. Not because I don’t love myself as I am, but because I’m also taking care of the woman I will soon be.
You are fabulous, always.