Achieve and Maintain Optimum Health in 2016!
For most people, January is the time we promise ourselves that we will do things differently this year, create healthy habits, go on that diet, go to the gym or do more exercise and much more. A survey of 1,700 adults found that 63% resolved to get fitter and healthier in 2015. Whilst we begin with the best intentions, depending on which statistics you read, around 25% of people break their resolutions within the first week and the statistics for gym goers show an 80% drop out within 8 weeks! This could be because we simply set ourselves impossible goals to achieve as we may be feeling a little guilty about over-indulgence over the Christmas period. Trying to completely change your habits overnight can be detrimental to not only your health but can set you up for a fall later on.
Try following our simple easy guide to keep you on the straight and narrow this New Year and hopefully as you slowly introduce healthier habits, the old ones will fall away without you even noticing!
1. Set Yourself Realistic Goals
Whilst this may seem obvious, it is surprising how many of us overshoot what we think we can achieve all in one go! Set clear, realistic goals and write them down - this makes them real to us and the very act of writing helps us to commit to these goals. Break them down into small manageable chunks, for example instead of resolving to go to the gym 4 times a week, build it up slowly starting with maybe once a week for the first month and a brisk walk for a couple of other days. Mix up the exercise plan – what do you enjoy doing? Are there things you can incorporate quite easily into your daily routine? If you want to start playing a sport you maybe haven’t played in years then give yourself the short term goal of simply getting in good enough shape over a period of time to take up that sport again at a later date. Giving yourself something to work towards will motivate you to keep going – keep a log of the milestones you pass, no matter how small, as this will help you stay on track and make your long-term goal much more manageable.
2. Dieting is Dangerous
When people go on “diets” they often disconnect from natural body responses such as hunger – this can make food the enemy with feelings of guilt often associated with eating. Even worse, restricting certain essential foods can actually cause you to crave them, often leading to “yo-yo dieting”, this is very harmful to one’s health. Why not try “clean-eating”? This is the ultimate un-fad diet whose principles are based on going back to the basics of eating foods which are as close to their natural state as possible, it is not a "diet" - rather a holistic approach to nutrition which you can practice for your entire life.
“If you can’t pronounce it – don’t eat it!”
Eliminating harmful toxins and additives from your life will maximise your energy and optimise your overall health. By simply changing how you think about, select and consume foods, weight loss will naturally be the end product of the entire process. Certain additives are in some foods purely to make you crave more of that food, a prime example being MSG or monosodium glutamate, once you eliminate additives such as these you should find your cravings for unhealthy foods will cease. Another extremely dangerous additive to avoid is Aspartame and any other artificial sweeteners, these are not only damaging to the brain, scientific studies have proven they actually keep you hungry, increase your appetite and encourage your body to store more fat!
Incorporate more delicious wholefoods into your diet, replacing unhealthy snacks with berries, dried or fresh fruits, nuts and seeds, thicken up winter stews with extremely healthful flaxseeds/linseeds or chia seeds and try replacing a meal (breakfast is good) with a Superfood Smoothie. This will not only keep you feeling full and energised until the next mealtime, it can also assist your body to clean out harmful toxins as superfoods speed up the detoxification process. Check out our Recipes Page for some great ideas on how to make delicious healthy meals using clean, wholesome ingredients and how to assimilate superfoods into your diet. Consuming essential fats such as Raw Virgin Coconut Oil, avocados and organic free range eggs will leave you feeling satiated and actually contribute to weight loss - saturated fat increases metabolism which then burns calories faster!
So the golden rules of clean eating are; eat foods as close to their natural state as possible, avoid anything “white” (bread, sugar, flour, rice etc) and choose wholegrains instead – quinoa is a great replacement for rice and pasta. Avoid fizzy drinks, fruit juices and alcohol, ditch the margarine and instead opt for healthy fats such as organic butter, raw nut butters, olive oil, coconut oil and avocados, opt for organic* fruit and veg as much as possible, reduce meat intake and go for less but high quality organic, grass-fed varieties and finally – stay hydrated! *If organic veg is not an option then just soak your fruit and veg in a sink of water for half an hour with 4-8 oz of distilled vinegar.
Remember, balance is essential! If you are clean eating around 80% of the time then the odd chocolate muffin, pizza or meal out will not affect your health or your weight.
3. Organise, Organise then Organise Some More….
Make it as easy as possible to say “Yes” to your new habits. If you have decided to clean up your diet then spend some time planning how you are going to implement these changes. Get rid of temptation and clear out your pantry of any foods you feel will not be beneficial to your health. Research which foods/recipes you are going to be eating, make a grocery list, order what you need from the internet and buy any equipment (blender, juicer) that will be supporting you in your new approach to food.
Make a list at first of what you will be eating for each meal for a week, if you have a very busy lifestyle then make a big pan of soup, stew or anything that can be frozen so you just need to defrost your meals for the evening and add a little something to it – just don’t use a microwave! Although they are convenient, there is a lot of research to show that microwaves are not good for our health or our food. Microwaves decimate the nutritional value of your food, a study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture shows that 97% of the antioxidants in broccoli are destroyed by microwaving. Not only this there are many studies showing that carcinogenic free radicals are formed in all microwaved foods, with even an extremely short exposure turning plant alkaloids into carcinogens. Instead you can pop portions of your food into separate freezer bags, defrost in the fridge overnight and gently reheat them the following day.
4. Strength in Numbers
Double your chances of fitness success by enlisting a workout buddy. At this time of year this shouldn’t be too difficult with over one in two people making the resolution to get fit and healthy! This will create a support network for both of you, make your workouts or any other form of exercise more fun and provide you with a bit of healthy competition.
If your goal is to clean up your diet then rope in the whole family if you can - apart from the obvious benefits of a healthier lifestyle for all the family, you will be helping your children learn about healthy eating and teaching them good habits which will last a lifetime.
5. Resolution Relapse…..
“No matter how many mistakes you make, or how slow you are progressing, you're still way ahead of everyone who isn't trying.”
You’ve been doing great, then you slipped up – it’s not the end of the world. Although this can be discouraging, know that you’re not alone and this is just part of the process. Reflect on why you didn’t go your writing class or the gym this week, maybe it couldn’t be avoided, then remind yourself why you started this process, refocus your intention and start again. Think of ways you can make your resolution even simpler, if it is to declutter your house then can you do just one drawer? If you missed your exercise class can you go for a brisk walk instead? Try not to dwell on what you perceive as a failure and just take the next step, however small. Remember, nobody’s perfect and that it is better to have tried and failed than to have not tried at all! So pick yourself up, dust yourself off and reach for your highest potential….. You can do it!!!
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