We all make grand promises to ourselves at the start of the year. When we make our New Year’s Resolutions we write a check for ourselves that we later struggle to cash, despite our best efforts. After the excess of the festive season has caught up with us, it’s natural to pine for a healthier diet and a more active lifestyle. But when we make such resolutions, they’re often doomed to failure. By the time we reach the second month of the year, we can find ourselves flagging in our motivation and struggling to stay on the straight and narrow. In both our efforts in the gym and our endeavors in the kitchen, making huge changes can prove jarring. And when we deprive ourselves of the little luxuries that bring us cheer, we can make ourselves miserable.
If your new diet and healthy lifestyle and bringing you nothing but misery and want rather than feelings of happiness, good health and fulfilment, something needs to change. If your health and fitness regime are making you miserable, here are some ways in which you can liven things up…
Stop comparing yourself to other people
One of the surest ways to rob ourselves of motivation and find solace in a jumbo tub of icecream is by comparing ourselves to other people. While it’s extremely tempting, it’s also incredibly unfair to yourself and likely to accomplish nothing short of making you quit in tearful frustration.
Every human body is different and even if you’re following the same food plans as your partner, friends, colleagues or family members, it’s natural for you to expect different results. There are myriad factors that influence weight loss outside of what goes on your plate or what goes on at the gym. Everything from your age to your ethnicity, your sleeping patterns and even your sex life can have an influence on the results you can expect at the gym. Which is why it’s to focus squarely on your progress and your results. Keep a food diary, take measurements and weigh yourself on a regular (e.g. monthly) basis.
Quit thinking of healthy eating as a “diet”
Speaking of food, avoid referring to any changes to your eating habits as “going on a diet”. This has a number of troubling implications which can inhibit your progress and limit the satisfaction you glean from eating healthily.
A “diet” has certain connotations. A “diet” is temporary, and subconsciously viewed as an imposition or a concession. This isn’t “going on a diet”. It’s healthy eating. And healthy eating is a lifelong and sustainable pathway to good health and happiness. A diet is a passing fad. You see the difference? As long as you think of healthy eating as a diet it’ll never be normalized in your mind.
Snack… but snack healthily
Starvation should never be your approach to healthy eating. Unless you’re experimenting with intermittent fasting you shouldn’t be going for prolonged periods without eating. Yes, if you want to lose weight you need to work on the basis of a calorie deficit. But that doesn’t mean you should continually deprive your body of the nutrients it needs to be at its best. Which is why you should be wary of any dubious “cleanses” that require you to go for several days without eating.
Healthy snacking throughout the day can help you to stabilize your blood sugar and reduce the risk of distracting cravings that can make you miserable and derail your fitness goals. After all, nobody can outrun temptation forever.
The trouble is that the kinds of sugary, salty and fatty processed foods that are available in most workplace vending machines are the exact opposite to what you should look for in a snack. Take the time to make your own healthy alternatives. Speaking of which…
Find healthy homemade alternatives to your favourite junk foods
Don’t you just hate those days where your body won’t stop screaming out for KFC? Or Burger King? Or Dominos Pizza? No matter how disciplines you may be or how much willpower you exert, cravings can get the better of you.
So, what do you do when temptation is all around you? You fight it on your own terms. Try making some of these delicious yet infinitely healthier home made equivalents of your favorite junk foods.
Get out of the gym
The gym is a great place to get access to the equipment and guidance that you need to achieve your goals… but that said, it’s not the best environment for everyone. And there are many for whom every minute spent in the gym is miserable. And more likely to derail them from their fitness goals in the long term.
If you can’t bring yourself to be comfortable in the gym, consider swapping it out for some more enjoyable alternatives. Join a dance class or just sweat it at home to the top dance crazes. Take yourself for a brisk power walk. Try rock climbing. Or dust the cobwebs off your bike her out for a spin. There are dozens of great ways to build lean muscle mass and burn calories that won’t involve spending a moment in the gym.
Go on…. Cheat yourself!
Everybody rejoice because it turns out even the strictest food plan can include room for a cheat meal. Yes, cheat meals can be a good thing! They help to curb cravings while also giving your metabolism a challenge that it’ll work double time to overcome. They stimulate the hormones responsible for regulating insulin response and making your metabolism more efficient. So go on… cheat yourself for one meal a week.
Remember, you don’t have to go it alone
Finally, fitness can be a solitary path. And while you absolutely shouldn’t compare yourself to others, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the path to better fitness is one you must walk alone. Indeed, buddying up with a friend or work colleague can help keep you focused, motivated and accountable so you feel more empowered and are able to get the most out of your fitness.