No matter what point you are starting your health and fitness journey at it is never too late to start and no change is too small to make a positive impact.
As you probably know already there is no quick fix or even a one size fits all approach to achieving overall health, but here are some tips of the trade to point you towards real results in maintaining a healthy & balanced lifestyle:
- Don't get caught up on weight. The endpoint of a goal should not be the number you see on the scales. Besides the fact weight is naturally changeable (hydration status, muscle vs. fat percentage and hormone influence etc) weight loss should hands-down be the byproduct of a number of small but sustainable changes you make to diet, exercise and lifestyle balance.
- Enter an event to achieve your fitness goals. Ditch the quick-fix solutions and commit to a sporting event you have always wanted to do. Locking in an event will provide positive motivation to get training. Get out of your comfort zone by choosing a new event or longer distance. Invest in some good training and nutrition advice and allow yourself 6-12 months to build towards race day.
- Yes, you're right, you don't have time to exercise. Sounds cliche but you do in fact need to make time. We all have the same 24 hours in a day to juggle work, family and everything else the fast-paced world throws our way. Fitness should be a non-negotiable inclusion into every week and doesn't need to labelled as "work out" time. Got a family? Get outside with a ball or check out some bike trails. Glued to your phone? Make yourself a no scrolling rule until you have ticked off daily exercise.
- Don't begin a "diet" you're not prepared to do for the rest of your life. Many trendy diets are simply not sustainable and can end up harming your body and your relationship with food. Not to mention these diets tend to drop off the radar only to appear years later with a new name. Remember, if they didn't work back then there is probably a good reason why. Looking to lose weight? If you need to drop large amounts of weight a health professional will be able to help guide you with safe strategies for this. For regular weight management, just make small but effective changes to your dietary intake rather than follow a strict regime. Focus on adding more nutrients (through healthy foods) as opposed to cutting things out.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol is an energy source (along with carbs, protein and fat) is the perfect definition of an "empty calorie" meaning it provides no nutrient value. For general health and wellness, it's a no-brainer to limit alcohol consumption. It's worth a mention that when you drink you're also more likely to make questionable food choices and are less likely to get off the couch and move the day after.
- Hydrate. We generally need upwards of 2L per day of water (give or take depending on your size). Start the day with a large glass of water and start implementing regular drinking habits into your daily routine. Some suggestions are to drink a glass of water every time you use the bathroom or get through a drink bottle of water between every main meal. Don't forget training hydration; water is fine for sessions under an hour, however, aim to use sports drink for sessions over 60 minutes or that are high in intensity and hot and humid conditions.
Related article: Hydration 101. What to Drink During Exercise, When.
- Build your main meals around fruits and vegetables. This will help increase your fibre, vitamin and mineral intake which is essential for health (and also important for supporting your training and recovery). If you are out and about lots, then powdered forms of fruits and vegetables and can be a convenient way to ensure you are still getting plenty of nutrients into your meals and snacks. Check that your powders are freeze-dried to ensure the full nutrient profile remains undamaged through processing. We recommend taking 1 tsp of PURE Blackcurrant Recovery on a daily basis (containing over 30 NZ blackcurrants per serve) to support general health & immunity.
- Be kind to yourself. Remember its the daily habits we have that really contribute (or take away) from health and wellness. There will always be times we relax these or let these slip, so it's important not to be hard on ourselves and remember its all part of the true balance of life to enjoy ourselves along the way.
Marewa Sutherland is a qualified Sports & Exercise Nutritionist (BAppSc, Otago University) and co-founder of PURE Sports Nutrition. Any questions? email firstname.lastname@example.org