New Year, New You – 10 steps to make 2019 your fittest year yet
Now is the perfect time to set about being fitter and becoming healthier. Here's how. PLUS your chance to WIN a fitness programme worth £420!
Whilst, you may be making lots of resolutions about exercising and being healthy, come February you may have given up finding them difficult to sustain. It’s smarter to take small, realistic actions, like baby steps, which are easier to adopt so you’ll be able to keep up them up for the year and for life!
To start this year off on the right foot, Vicky Warr, our fitness and health expert, says, ‘Resolutions are like having a baby; they are fun to make and difficult to maintain. So here are my top ten easiest, healthiest resolutions to help guarantee your success. This year pick just one or two or three and stick with it! Here’s to a fit and fabulous 2019, your fittest year yet!’
1. Plan to Eat Nourishing Meals
Much of what we eat is impulsive and based on how you are feeling; whether you are tired as you’ve been up at night with your baby so you are hungry or emotional and grab whatever is there. Or you’ve been attending to your young children’s needs; not managed to prepare yourself anything so you are picking at the kid’s leftovers.
By planning what you are going to eat when, rather than winging makes choosing healthier options far easier. To make that easy, each week, say on a Sunday, jot down 7 quick easy meals. Choose from soups, stir fries, salads, baked fish dishes, one pot dishes such as roast chicken with roasted vegetables. If time is a real challenge for you, then take a look at buying some meals from ‘Cook’ as they have healthy meal choices or one have some of your meals delivered from one of the healthy food delivery companies, such as ‘Nourish Fit Food’, ’Balance Box’ or ‘Pure Package’.
If you’re pregnant, choose some healthy meals to cook, make more of each (4 or 6 servings) and then freeze them so they are ready to pull out of the freezer when you've had your baby and you have far less time to cook!
Have you recently had a baby? Delegate the cooking; find quick easy recipes and ask a family member to cook you up some meals or get your husband or partner to help.
2. Have a big motivator
Whether you have a holiday planned, a wedding invitation, a christening or you are going back to work after maternity leave, make this occasion or any other occasion the purpose for you getting fit, toned and healthy. With a real date in mind it gives you real meaning and momentum to taking action.
3. Exercise in bite-sized chunks; 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes
One of the reasons many people, even more so mums struggle with exercise is that hour long gym sessions or ‘formal’ exercise are tricky to fit into a busy schedule; whether you are working and juggling family or at home with small children. Whilst this is a good goal, it’s often very unrealistic and overwhelming with childcare to arrange. Instead try to be as active as possible; taking a power walk with your baby or child on their scooter each day. Then try 10-15 minutes of core strength work, aiming for 3 times a week and progressing to 4, 5 or 6 times a week for just short bursts. This is far more achievable when you have a baby or children; you can fit it in around nap time or when your children are playing. Frequency and quality is more beneficial than duration as it means you are more consistent.
4. De-bloat after periods of indulgence
Certain foods aid digestion to help ease a bloated tummy by reducing sodium and helping your body retain less fluid. Lemon and ginger tea, lemons, asparagus, avocado, quinoa and ginger are all great beat the bloat foods.
5. Start steady
Rushing back into exercise, isn't a good idea if you’ve had a baby within 6 months, or not exercised for quite some time. The risk of injury is far higher, especially if you are not sure of technique and if you do hurt a muscle or get shoulder, neck or back pain, you can lose your confidence easily. Ease in gently with a stretch routine to help align your muscles and improve muscular imbalances. If you are new to exercise or not exercised for quite some time, swimming is a good place to start as it doesn’t place so much strain on your joints. If you want to get back into running, start with power walking first which is low impact and kinder to your core, pelvic floor and joints which are susceptible after pregnancy. Try some gentle postnatal yoga too by following a YouTube video at home.
6. Increase your intake of vegetables first, then some fruit
Give yourself one to two weeks to aim to increase your vegetable intake to seven portions of vegetables a day. Whilst this may sound a lot this amount will help fill your body with vitamins and nutrients for energy, healthy skin, hair and body. They will help ward off illness and curb sugar cravings too to help you lose weight. Aim to increase the number of vegetables you eat gradually by adding one or two more portions to a meal two to three days and you’ll find it far more manageable to do. Try cooking stir fries and soups which are a really flavoursome way to add vegetables. Choose vegetables that are in season too as they tend to last longer and be tastier. Add fruit to breakfast granola or porridge or with natural yogurt.
With fruit, choose low sugar fruit such as berries which contain lots of vitamin C and lower levels of natural fruit sugar to keep your energy levels stable.
7. Choose strength exercises
Cardio-vascular exercise; swimming, walking, jogging, cycling is good for your heart but doesn’t improve your muscles in the same way as strength training. Using your own bodyweight or weights will improve your muscle tone and boost your metabolism to burn more calories at rest and help you lose weight. After you've had a baby choose postnatal strength exercises. The more lean muscle you have the faster your metabolism that helps you lose weight faster!
8. Focus on small ‘doing’ actions rather than the outcomes
Rather than ‘I want to lose eight kilos’ go for making statements with healthy habits or actions, for example: ‘I am going to do my core or abdominal exercises today and walk for 20 minutes tomorrow’ or ‘I’m going to plan and cook four healthy recipes this week’.
9. Track your exercise, activity and progress
Keep a record of two things; your daily activity and your workouts plus your start measurements and photo. Focus on logging your activity and workouts and then every two to three weeks take your measurements and photo as progress check-ins with yourself. Both will keep you on track and motivated. Recording your measurements and taking progress pictures rather than weighing yourself, gives you a much more realistic measure of how your favourite jeans fit! The number on the weighing scales doesn’t as your weight is your whole body composition including water, your organs, muscle and fat.
Tip: When you take your measurements take three areas: around your chest, the smallest part of your waist and the circumference of a thigh. You'll get a good starting point so you can see how your exercise workouts are changing your body.
10. Get a support network
Get fit with a friend or in a group or join an online programme with a social community or group so you can interact online. Having someone like-minded to give you encouragement is a great way to give you momentum and keep you on track. At around week four to six of a fitness programme many people fall off the wagon and make excuses; so it’s important to have someone there on a regular basis to help support you through any challenges.
WIN a year's work-out programme!
Vicky's Bump and Beyond website gives you all the tips, encouragement and exercises you need when you're pregnant and going through the earliest years of motherhood. She's kindly offered one of our readers the chance to win a year's subscription to her programme.
Vicky Warr has over 18 year’s experience in the fitness industry, is a pregnancy and postnatal fitness specialist and founder of Bump and Beyond by Vicky Warr, the online health and fitness studio for a fit and healthy motherhood. Check out her programmes; fit and fabulous and Super Toned Up at www.bumpandbeyond.club.