Sustainable changes to make to achieve a healthier you

Libby Limon BSc NT mBANT / Jan 18, 2016

January is the time of year that we all tend to take stock after an overindulgent holiday season and make New Year’s resolutions to get healthy. Diet and exercise are high on the agenda and we tend to go in all guns blazing, but often this just pushes our body beyond what it can achieve. The good intentions fall by the way side after a few weeks thwarted by lack of energy, boredom, illness or injury, or maybe just life getting in the way.

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So this January, don’t crash and burn, make informed changes that will fit in your life long term to make sustainable improvements to your everyday wellness and long term health. VITL’s head of nutrition, Libby Limon, explains how to get started.

Start off slowly – If you haven’t done any exercise in a while, going from zero to hero is a surefire way to burn out. Equally the Christmas period is often a time when we over-eat but under-nourish. We eat lots of calorie dense food but often skimp on the nutrient dense foods such as fresh vegetables and fruit. As a result we often feel tired and lethargic, whilst movement definitely will have a positive effect on this, be wary of doing too much to soon. Begin with gentle movements such as walking, yoga, pilates, then start to incorporate short more intense workouts including both resistance and interval cardio. You can then, over time, as your fitness improves, increase the frequency and/or the length of your workouts. Simultaneously work on nourishing the body via diet to support your energy levels and the increased activity.

Don’t deprive yourself – We are all human, if you tell someone they can’t have something, the general response is that you want it more. ‘Dieting’ fails for a number of reasons, one of them being that it is based on deprivation. Restricting your food intake creates physical and psychological cravings.

Instead look to change your diet 80% of the time, find healthy alternatives to replace the foods that aren’t serving you. Switch the bacon and egg sandwich for a poached egg and avocado on rye toast with roasted tomatoes or afternoon biscuits for a protein bliss ball or cups of coffee for green tea. Don’t skimp on your portion sizes, as healthy food is generally less calorie dense. Healthy food can be as delicious and satisfying as unhealthy food, it is also often more filling. However, always build in 20% of time when you are ‘off’, and you can rest, relax and eat some of the foods that you like that may not be as healthy. This allows you maintain a healthy relationship with food and let your hair down in social occasions.

Energy is key – In order to stay active and motivated, energy is what you need. We gain energy from our food; carbohydrates and fats are our fuel. We need them in quality, slow release forms to give us constant supply over energy. We also need micronutrients, such as B vitamins, CoQ10 and iron to help our bodies in the energy production process.

Avoid illness – Getting the flu is the quickest way to stop your health and fitness progress dead in its track. Unfortunately, according to NHS January is the peak time to get ill. The weather, daylight hours, and lack of vitamin D, all no doubt play apart. It is also possible that December’s overindulgence in unhealthy foods and drinks may contribute too. Micro-nutrients and anti-oxidants again are key for the immune system to fight off infection.

Give yourself a boost - If you are feeling like your energy levels need a boost or you are prone to illness, start to top up your levels of nutrients. Not only can you improve your diet but also supplementing it with those energy giving and immune supporting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with quality bioavailable products can help. VITL Nutrition packs are designed for modern living to give you the boost you need to stay energized and well, through the first weeks of January.

Goal setting – To avoid being unrealistic in terms of results in the short term, initial short term goals should be action based, achievable both mentally and physically e.g. ‘Today I am going pre batch healthy meals for the week so I can eat healthily without having to cook every day’ or ‘This week I am going to do 1 long walk, 1 gym session and 1 Pilates session.’  These should be your day to day focus. Long-term goals can be about results and achievements whether that is fitness, health, wellness or body composition. These can work as forward thinking motivators. For example ‘In 6 months time I want run a 10k’, ‘In 3 months I want to feel stronger and more toned’, or ‘In 2 months time I want to sleep better and have more energy’.