If you are looking to boost your health and fitness, then it may not as tough as you may think, because small steps in the right direction can end up being the biggest step in your life.
Yes, that’s right – you’ve got this! Wherever you are on your journey, stop for a moment, look ahead, and visualise the immense benefits for your body of taking the healthy path.
An individual who eats well and exercises regularly finds it easier to maintain a healthy weight, for example. Their blood pressure and cholesterol levels generally improve, their heart is stronger and healthier, their risk of cancer is lower, and their mental health is better, along with better digestion.
1. Start with a plan
It all starts with a plan - as the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you may as well plan to fail. Try to schedule your workouts, blocking off that time so that exercise is not an optional but an integral part of your day.
Planning is everything and that includes diet so look at your grocery cupboards and re-stock with lighter, healthier choices. Draw up a meal plan for the week, write a shopping list to match, then stick to it. Are you an emotional eater? Explore non-food related outlets for stress and boredom.
2. Set specific goal
It goes without saying that pretty much everyone wants to be fit and healthy but it’s extremely hard to reach such a vague goal. Rather be specific and aim for “five servings of fresh produce a day”, or “walk for 15 minutes before and after work each day”.
And – prioritise your diet, because what you eat is 80-90% of your success when it comes to getting healthy – there’s truth in the saying that “you can’t out-train a poor diet”.
3. Keep it achievable
Be kind to yourself and remember that small moves in the right direction are at least taking you forward, and that something is better than nothing.
Choose a fitness activity that you enjoy and can do – it may be dancing instead of gym, or hiking instead of running, for example.
The end goal here is to be the best “YOU” that you can be and not a second-rate version of someone else.
4. Measure progress
It can really help to have a buddy to share the journey, track your progress, and keep you accountable. Many smart phones can record steps which can help you gauge your level of activity. Weigh in regularly, once a week at the same time, to see the progress with your diet.
Start a food or fitness journal, even something as simple as handwritten notes on an A4 piece of paper stuck on a cupboard door. It’s a win for motivation to see how far you have come, not how far you still have to go.
5. Aim for progress not perfection
Set realistic goals (like Rome, a strong and healthy body is not built in a day!).
So, don’t see your stiff sore muscles after your first gym sessions as a sign of how unfit you are, rather take it as concrete evidence that your body is working. If you keep at it, the results will come.
And, if you fall off the health wagon now and then, don’t beat yourself up about it. Saddle up and climb back on board.
It’s also important to reward yourself for positive steps, just be sure it’s not a food-related treat!
Science shows that setting and reaching small, achievable goals boosts our motivation to push onwards.
And there is no better day to begin than today: we may not be able to do much about growing older but we can arrive there in the best possible shape.
Date Published: 13 April 2022