So you’ve had your summer holiday and like most of us, you’ve probably over indulged and maybe you beach body isn’t what it was before your well earned break!
There’s no point beating yourself up about it – now’s the time to look forward and kick those bad habits you’ve perhaps picked up during the summer. So think positively and get on with making a plan to suit you.
Making a Plan
Before you start on your health mission, it’s wise to make a plan so you know what you want to achieve, when and how. This will help to keep you motivated and give you a good chance of success.
Start by setting yourself some SMART goals. Here’s what we mean by SMART goals:
Be clear about what you’re aiming for.
The more specific your goals are the better. Simply saying you’re going to ‘exercise more’ is too broad, break it down.
Example: ‘I will walk for 30 minutes every lunch time on work days and I’ll go swimming at the weekend and swim 10 lengths of the pool.’
So you’ll know you’ve done it!
To achieve a goal, you have to be clear that you’ve achieved it to keep you focussed and motivated.
Example: Instead of ‘I’ll eat more healthily’ or ‘drink less alcohol’, break it down more:
‘I’ll eat 5 portions of fruit or vegetable every day’ or ‘I’m not going to drink alcohol on week nights’
Something you’re able to do.
So you’re about to do something positive and raring to go – make sure you set yourself up for success and plan things that you’re confident you can achieve.
Example: If you’re planning to run a marathon in a couple of months and haven’t started running yet – then you’re likely to fail. A 5km run may be more achievable for you. Then when you’ve achieved it – set yourself a more challenging task. And if a marathon is what you’re ultimately aiming for, keep building you short term targets up to help you get to your longer term goal.
Something that is practical for you.
So you’ve thought about what you’d like to achieve – now you need to work out how you can make it happen, bearing in mind your daily routine.
Example: If you’re not great at getting up in the morning – an early morning run before work probably won’t be practical for you. A walk or run at lunchtime or in the evening might be something you can stick at.
Set yourself a deadline and stick to it!
So you’ve decided what you want to do and you’re thinking about how you’re going to do it – you also need to focus on when you’re going to do it by. This will help you to keep focused and to stick to your plan.
I’m going to lose 6lbs by 1 June so I can treat myself to a new summer wardrobe for my holiday in July. So you’ve set a clear deadline – and you’ve got a treat to look forward to… bonus!
Tips for Success
A ‘new you’ is achievable if to set yourself up for success. Here are some additional hints and tips to help you:
Set long-term and short-term goals
Think about what your end goal is and what small steps can you set yourself to get there (see the SMART goals above to help you).
Support from others can really keep you motivated. Maybe getting the family focussed on healthy eating too for example – it makes meal times easier. Enlist the help of a like minded friend to be your exercise buddy and exercise together.
Track your exercise
There’s lots of tracking tools available from free mobile phone apps to devices such as Fitbits, and watch devices. These can help you to set yourself goals, check your pace, distance and even calories burned.
Check your blood pressure
If your goal is to get fitter, keeping tabs on your heart rate can really help you monitor your progress. You can get checked regularly by your GP or nurse, or invest in a heart rate monitor and check it at home.
Weight loss groups
If you want to lose weight and struggle with diet plans, joining a weight loss group can help to give you tips and advice. It’s also a good way to meet other people with similar goals to give support and encouragement.
Join a gym
If your goal is fitness or weight loss, joining a gym can really help and works well when you combine it with a healthy eating plan. Fitness instructors will help set you a sensible exercise plan and review your progress to keep you focused and ensure you get the maximum benefit from exercise.
Allow for setbacks
It can be difficult to stick to a healthy eating and exercise plan when events get in the way – like going on holiday, Christmas or a bout of illness. You have to except that they’re going to happen and the important thing is to make sure you get back to your health regime after.
Reassess your goals
Be willing to change your goals as you make progress in your weight-loss plan or fitness. If you started small and achieved success, you might be ready to take on larger challenges. Or you might find that you need to adjust your goals to better fit your new lifestyle
Kicking the habit can be difficult on your own. There’s lots of tools and support available to help you and seeking professional advice from your GP or pharmacist can be a really good starting point. They can recommend sensible ways to help you to quit.
Cutting down on alcohol
It’s easy to get into the habit of having a glass of wine or beer on a regular basis. The odd glass of wine with an evening meal can soon turn into two or three.
It’s important to think about changing your habits and perhaps swap to alcohol free wine and beers for example. You could even take a month off drinking altogether – like taking on the ‘Dry January’ challenge.