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It’s that time of the year again. Everywhere you look it’s guaranteed that you’ll be bombarded with slogans like “NEW YEAR, NEW YOU!” or “GET FIT FAST”. All these are supposed to motivate you into making radical changes (and parting with radical amounts of money) in an effort to make those New Year’s resolution a reality as quickly as possible.
Now, I have to admit, like many people I’m sure, I stepped on the scales in the grey days somewhere between Christmas and New Year and nearly fell over in shock, immediately making plans to stop eating for approximately six months and exercise for twenty-five hours a day. Then I realised I was falling into the trap of what might be called ridiculous resolutions.
Change doesn’t happen like that, or if it does it’s unhealthy and unsustainable. New Year’s resolutions, in particular those related to diet and exercise, should be targeted and manageable, focusing on changing the small things to have a healthier lifestyle.
For example, my resolutions didn’t include things such as “exercise more” or “ lose weight”, they were more specific, such as to learn a new technique in Mixed Martial Arts, pull it off in a sparring session, and reach a particular fight weight (125lb – featherweight, in case you’re interested). By having these specific goals I can focus on how to get to them, rather than having sweeping statements and no idea where to begin.
The most important aspect for this to work is to change my eating habits. Not ‘diet’, because it’s not something to put in place for a couple of weeks and expect magic to happen. Making consistent changes to the way you approach food is likely to be much more effective than some fad diet that you’ve read Kim Kardashian is doing.
One way to do this is perhaps to have a healthier breakfast. We’re always told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and yet it is often the one that the least thought goes into. Some people skip it altogether or just eat bland white carbs. This will quickly make you hungry and it’s not as hard (or as much effort!) as it seems to have a healthier and more effective breakfast.
A few examples of a healthy breakfast: whole rolled oats porridge with at least two helpings of fruit or if you want something like eggs for breakfast, have it on a bed of spinach and avocado rather than toast. You can even still eat bacon! Just make sure that it’s lean and cooked in a healthy oil (if at all.) Smoothies are also an excellent way to get a healthy kick-start to the day. If you’ve got a blender, stick some fruit and yoghurt or milk into it and, bob’s your uncle, you’ve got a tasty and filling drink/snack. If you want to include some kind of protein mix in this you can do, there are plenty of recipes online to make your protein shake taste a little bit more palatable! Other things you can try to clean up your diet in a healthy way is to eat more lean meat in place of carbs. Or if meat is not your thing you can replace one helping of carb with each meal with two of vegetables.
Moving away from the food itself, another technique to change the way you eat is to actually change your table. Sounds odd right? But there is evidence to suggest things such as the larger are spoons are the more we eat. So if you pasta spoon is a 100ml serving spoon, rather than a 60ml dessert spoon, you’re likely to eat 15% more food. The other clear one is that the larger your plate is, the more food you’re likely to put on it. If it can’t fit on the plate, then you can’t eat it.
All of these things take planning and effort of course; it doesn’t come easy. But it does get easier. Apparently you have to do something 21 times in a certain amount of time for it to become a habit (psychologists everywhere issuing a collective sigh at this), but I think it’s true – the more you do something, the easier it gets. Whether it’s eating an extra portion of fruit a day, cutting down on white carbs, cooking healthy soup/sauce and then freezing it for a later date, or simply making time every day to eat breakfast; whatever the habit is you want to gain then stick it at and you will notice the difference.
That’s the thing, resolutions at this time of year should be about what you want to gain, how you’re going to add things to your life. It shouldn’t be all about losing, stopping or taking away, because that’s just negative thinking.