It’s the beginning of a new year: 2017. As January appears, so do the New Year’s Resolutions, healthy eating plans, and new exercise regimes, along with an overload of information as to what we should be doing, what we should be eating, and when. After being slapped around the face with this deluge, it’s hard not to get caught up in it. As a result, many of us decide that we’re going to start dieting, exercising, and taking part in a Dryathlon (abstaining from alcohol for a number of days – usually a month). All of this immediately and starting at the same time. A typical result of attempting this feat is failure to stick any of it. This leads us to feel terrible, self-esteem plummets, and we reject the idea of a new start completely. Does this sound familiar?
To make just one change in your lifestyle requires willpower and organisation to an extent – but it’s manageable. If you take on too much at once and try to introduce an entirely new lifestyle, this is when things become a real struggle to maintain. It puts a lot of pressure on yourself, which somehow seems to magnify the struggle of refraining from eating that piece of chocolate, or not pouring yourself that glass of wine after a hard day!
But, fear not! There is a way around this. Small changes can create huge differences. Instead of biting off more than you chew, why not try taking one thing at a time? If you introduce a small change to everyday life, it’s much less invasive and a lot easier to implement.
Everything adds up. If you were to burn an extra 100 calories a day by taking up a new physical activity such as walking, you’d be burning an extra 700 calories a week that you weren’t burning before. That’s 2800 a month! As the famous supermarket advert says: “Every little helps!”
We now live in a society where everything is instant. We pay for things with plastic, and we can access information with the tap of a finger on a mobile phone. Unfortunately, this leads us to be somewhat impatient. I always tell my private Personal Training clients that they need to give themselves at least eight weeks before they will begin to see the benefits of a change in their lifestyle. This goes for changing what you’re eating or an increase in your activity, or both.
Think of your long term goal. Where would you like to be in six months’ time? Say you wanted to be able to go out running three times a week for 30 minutes. Take it slowly. Think of ways that you can build up to this. Mo Farah didn’t suddenly think ‘I want to run Marathons now, I’ll enter one next week!’ He increased his distance slowly, over time. If you’re not a runner, then start by walking three times a week for half an hour. Then you can introduce some jogging to this walking time – whether it be jogging for thirty seconds and walking for two minutes until the time is up, or jogging for a minute and walking for one and a half minutes until the time is up. You can see where I’m going with this: small changes that suit you. Before you know it, you’ll be jogging for longer than you’re walking! You can apply this approach to anything – whether it be running, drinking more fluid, or eating more healthily.
So instead of giving yourself a huge mountain to climb straight away, why not just challenge yourself to a few small steps? Eventually all of those steps will collectively get you to the top of that mountain!