We have reached mid-January and the beginning of crunch time for a lot of Resolutionists.  Promises made to yourself on the first begin to get tedious and the desire to lose weight, get fit and drop bad habits starts to be overshadowed by the dreariness of the weather and a feeling of deprivation.  Don’t give up!  Simplify things and keep going, you are worth the effort.

Losing the last 10, or the first 10, or the next 10

Complicated diet strategies can take up precious time and after a while become hard to follow giving you excuses to cheat or give up.  Counting points, calories and fat grams can feel like some kind of mathematical slavery.  Make things simple, choose to eat clean.

apple

What is eating clean?  Choose foods, that if they had a label, would only have one ingredient.  There are lots to choose from:  apples, bananas, arugula, chicken, eggs, rice, potato, peppers, broccoli, flaxseed, olive oil…it is a pretty long list.  Absent from this list are a lot of things we shouldn’t eat.  Clean foods are filling and nutrient dense.  A very simple decision can be made every time you eat.  Apple or granola bar?  Chicken on greens or a frozen dinner?  Snack crackers or a small handful of nuts?  The choice is simple, no counting.  We still have to watch portion sizes and plan for the right number of servings of each type of food, but life becomes a little easier. If you do just one thing for your diet, choose to eat clean.

Taking first steps…walk!

walking

Have you ever started a fitness program and after the first class been just about crippled for the next two days?  Did you really feel like going to the next class?  It is better to do something consistently then to get fancy. You are in for the long haul in getting fit.  Slow and steady wins the race.

If you do just one thing, get out and walk.  Outside is best but on bad weather days you can walk the indoor track at the gym, walk on a treadmill or walk at the mall.  Whatever you do, you are not allowed to do nothing.  Do just one thing every day, even if it is just a 20 minute walk.  And after your walk or your class, take time to actually feel how you feel.  Really feel the energy of your blood pulsing through your body, the sense of well-being.  Capture that feeling and remember it for the next time you have to head out for a workout.  You always feel better after the workout so try to use the memory of that to motivate the next time.

Stay Strong

The studies are in:  you can prevent age related changes by doing strength training.  Not into pumping iron?  No problem, body weight exercises can be done at home and will reap the same benefits.  No excuses allowed.  One of the best body weight exercises that strengthen all the core muscles as well as some upper and lower body muscles: PLANK. It has many variations to suit all levels of fitness.

Plank relies on time under load to challenge your muscles rather than reps and sets.  You work toward holding the pose for longer and longer periods.  And as one variation gets easier, you move to harder variations to work more muscles.

For an absolute beginner, doing plank with forearms on the floor – shoulders are directly over elbows and hands flat on the floor for a stable base.  Knees are on the floor and you straighten your body so you are like a board, a plank.  Don’t allow your belly to sag or your hips to rise up.  An imaginary rod could be slipped through the crown of your head, through your neck and down your spine to come out your tail bone.

Hold this pose as long as you can keep the straight plank form.  Start with 30 seconds if you have never done an exercise like this, but work to increase your time.  Plank can be boring so add your favorite music, striving to hold for longer and longer until you can hold plank for the whole song.

As your core becomes stronger or if you are already working out, you can step your feet back to use your toes as the contact point on the floor.  This adds the weight of your legs for your core muscles to support. When your upper body is strong, you can start doing plank with your hands on the floor under your elbows and shoulders.  Like the “up” position in a military push up.  This activates the upper body to a greater level building more strength.

Once this is no longer a challenge there are variations that add height to your lower body or instability to the exercise to really work your core.  Plank is an amazing exercise, a great choice if you only choose to do ONE thing.

Reward yourself

Working hard to achieve fitness goals can feel exhilarating. It can give you a great sense of pride and control. But sometimes it can feel like we are being deprived.  Combat this by having just one treat, every day or if you like your treats fancy then just once a week.  A small piece of dark chocolate can be a great boost.  Just remember to buy in single serve portions and only buy treats you know you will be able to stick to just one.  Or buy a fancy fruit you wouldn’t normally buy which is a healthier treat.  You could also choose a treat that isn’t food:  a new nail colour, a new song on your MP3 player, new fancy laces for your sneakers – pick a treat that makes you feel great and reward yourself if you’ve been sticking to your program!  Little treats along the way can keep you motivated to reach your goals.  Even taking on a gold sticker program can help.  Seeing the gold stickers add up on a calendar is a great visual reminder of the hard work you are doing.

Keep it simple.  Stick with it.  You can achieve your goals.

If you need some help getting on track, consider coming in to see one of our fabulous naturopaths.  They can advise on healthy weight loss strategies and offer herbal support to manage stress, beat the winter blahs and  help you reach your goals.

Looking for more info?  Some links to keep the momentum rolling:

Eating Clean http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/10_ways_to_eat_clean

Walking     http://www.mayoclinic.org/walking/ART-20046261

http://www.sharecare.com/health/walking/article/walking-benefits

Plank – Demos of plank variations can be found on the website Sparkpeople.com.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/blog/blog.asp?post=14_plank_exercises_for_a_stronger_core

22 Plank Variations  with videos on how to do it right – http://www.tinareale.com/887/plank-variations/

Dealing with Cravings – http://lifehacker.com/5887614/hack-your-brain-to-use-cravings-to-your-advantage

Changing Habits – http://mnalternatives.com/understanding-habits-and-the-reward-system-and-learn-ways-to-%E2%80%9Cthink-greater-than-how-you-feel%E2%80%9D.html

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