Are your new year’s resolutions fading? Are bad habits creeping back in?
As we return to our everyday routines it’s easy to let our good intentions slip when it comes to diet and exercise and for old habits to creep back in. This is especially the case if you have jumped on a restrictive diet or set yourself a demanding fitness program.
Regardless of your health goals, the key focus should be sustainability.
Can you sustain that calorie-restrictive diet long term? Are you going to be able to continue hitting the gym 6 days a week?
There’s no doubt short-term challenges can yield results, but 90% of the time they result in the feelings of deprivation, fatigue or even injury. Long term, they’re simply not sustainable and you’re likely to fall off the wagon and return to your unhealthy ways. For those with the popular resolution to lose weight, this typically translates in weight gain and often more than you started with.
So what can you do to help avoid falling off the wagon?
If you are doing a short-term challenge, you need to transition to a maintenance program. This could be increasing your calories, shifting your macronutrient or working on other aspects of your health that may be preventing you from achieving your goals. This is something that needs to be individually tailored and with the guidance of health professionals such as a general practitioner, nutritionist or personal trainer.
If you had ambitions to start 2020 on a healthy note only to get side-tracked, before you think about going to extremes, consider these tips:
- Be realistic with your health goals
For example, make sure the number of exercise sessions you do in the week can cater for rest to avoid injury. Or if you’re looking to lose weight, aim to lose a healthy 0.5kg rather than 1.5kg.
- Find healthy alternatives that satisfy you
If you hate salads or can’t stomach a green juice in the morning, find something else that you can incorporate into your diet that you enjoy.
- Build on your healthy habits
Avoid overwhelming yourself by changing your entire diet. Make one or two changes that you can maintain for 2-3 weeks before adding another healthy habit. Build on your healthy habits and eventually, you’ll start to crowd out the unhealthy ones.
- Assess yourself holistically
Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill or quick fix to achieve optimal health. Often when we set a health goal, such as weight loss, we are fixated on one or two things like calorie deficit and exercise with little regard to anything else. For long-term sustained health, it’s important to assess your body holistically. What’s your nutrient intake like? Is your digestive system functioning optimally? Are you supporting your adrenals? How’s your sleep? These are just some of the questions to consider when working towards a health goal.