Sunday, January 5, 2014

Step by Step

Happy New Years to all my lovely readers out there! I hope you enjoyed your holidays and had some time to reflect on the past year. I certainly did, and I would like share some of the insights I gained from this thinking process.

A New Years' Resolution is a common tool for people to 'commit' to a healthier and fitter lifestyle. Every time I return to my gym after the holidays I get frustrated because it is so packed! All throughout January and February I can watch people trying to stick to their promise to go to the gym more often and get fit. However, mid-February, it is back to normal and I am able to finish my workout in the usual 1.5 hours. Not that I don't think committing to being a healthier and more sustainable you is bad, but I don't think that you should go cold turkey on yourself.

Getting healthy and fit is nothing you can change from one day to another. It is a long and tedious process of motivation, commitment and sacrifice. In order to prepare yourself and your body, you need to take the challenge step by step. If you don't know where to start, or if you would like a support network and personalized advice, please Register for free at

If you want to change your habits in the long run, you need to do so step by step. If you cut out all sugar, carbs, processed foods or soda drinks from one day to another, you will not only be incredibly unhappy, but it is unlikely that you will stick to your goals. Your body might be used to all those things, and not having them will trigger mood swings, cravings and unhappiness. Many people in today's society are addicted to certain foods, and I admit that I am definitely one of them. I tried to cut out all sugars and carbs over an extended period of time, and I cannot say that it made me a better person (you are lucky you didn't meet me during my trial of the low carb diet). If you want to have long lasting success, you need to change small things, and turn healthier decisions into habits. Here are my top 3 tips and tricks that I have collected throughout the past years.

  1. Watch what you are drinking. Many people increase their calorie intake immensely through their drinks. Sodas, sweet teas and sugar-packed coffee drinks all fall into this category. Take my mum for example: She used to drink a chocolate mocha drink (made from powder) every day at work. She first switched to black tea with two teaspoons of sugar, and now has cut it down to one teaspoon of sugar. Obviously that wasn't the only change she implemented, but she herself said that she felt like it made a huge difference. She now only enjoys her chocolate mocha once on the weekend. You see, cutting something out completely is not always necessary (unless it is actually straight up damaging your health). Try to swap for healthier options. If you love your artificially flavoured soda, try some naturally flavoured water. Put orange slices, lemon slices, some strawberries and cucumber into a jar of fresh water and let it rest for a little while. You end up with a refreshing drink that not only has zero calories and helps you detoxify your system, but also is hopefully able to satisfy your cravings to the point you don't need soda anymore.
  2. Don't avoid movement. People nowadays get lazier and lazier. I can feel it myself. I complain if I have to go downstairs to fill up my water bottle, even though my tongue feels like a fluffy carpet (which is not exactly pleasant in ones mouth). Maybe you could make your new goal to take the stairs instead of the elevator, to park at the far end of the parking lot or to take a walk every night instead of sitting in front of the TV. If you decide to join a gym, start out with two days per week, to get used to the increased exercise and to be able to definitely fit it into your time schedule. You will soon enjoy working out and thus automatically dedicate more time and effort towards working out.
  3. TV snacks. I know that is a sensitive topic. We all love our sour worms, potato crisps or chocolate during our favourite movie or TV show. A friend and I actually discussed this topic a couple of weeks ago. Before we came to uni, we never had the urge to eat food whilst watching something. But since we watched a lot of TV and movies with our friends together, it became a social event which always included snacks. When you are watching TV, you don't realise how much you are eating, and before you know it, you have emptied the whole bag (and then feel sick 20 minutes afterwards). If you don't want to miss out on your treats, introduce some portion control. Put a serving of chips into a bowl before you get comfortable in front of your TV (and no, more movement to get the rest of the bag is NOT required in this instance). If you are willing to avoid unhealthy snacks, swap them. Instead of potato chips, try raw veggies (cucumber, carrots, peppers) and dip - it is delicious, fills you up and gives you a similar crunch to chips. If you are craving something sweet, go for dried fruits and nuts or dried banana chips (however, here portion control, once again, is crucial). If you are looking for something more smooth, have a serving of Greek yogurt and walnuts (fats around bed time are actually recommended). 

It's the small things that make a difference :)

Getting healthy and fit in the New Year is an amazing goal, and I hope I will be helping to guide and support you in reaching that goal. However, you should keep your aims and the corresponding measures realistic. Don't go cold turkey and deprive yourself, or knock yourself out in the gym. Instead, change your habits step by step to make long term, sustainable changes. 

Face the challenge step by step, and you will be successful in the end.

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