We are here again, another New Year, with the usual messages; New Year, New You, time to lose weight, stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol, get active, the same messages you’ve no doubt seen every year.
Weight loss is normally the top of the list for New Year’s resolutions. You may see promises of wonder diets that will make you lose weight and be the answer to all of your dreams, meal replacements, pills, don’t eat for two days a week, don’t eat carbs…ever, cut out everything that you enjoy and eat nothing but rice cakes. After indulging over the festive period people will be desperate to shed the stones or kilos and therefore embark on unrealistic, strict diets to get the results that they want. There will be a desire to change everything all at the same time which can be overwhelming and can be a set up for failure, which in turn can make you feel worse about not losing weight or whatever new year resolution they set out to achieve.
Now more than ever, we have been sold the idea that we all need to look a certain way, the Instagram ‘perfect body’. But people are all different, they come in all different shapes and sizes? The ‘perfect body’, what is that? If the last two years have taught us anything it must be that our health is the most important thing and not striving to look a certain way! We inherit how we look, how tall we will be, how big our nose is or the colour of our eyes from them, where we might carry access weight, it’s all down to genetics.
What we do need to focus on though, is our health.
Look at your everyday activities, can you walk to the shops and carry the bags back? Can you complete the housework or gardening? Are you able to run after the children and grandchildren in the park? Can you go for a walk, ride a bike, or go for a swim if you choose to? Can you be active without discomfort and breathlessness? Think of it as insurance for when we get older; if we are able to stay active, have strong muscles so that we can get out of a chair, keep flexible so that we can dress ourselves, keep our heart and lungs healthy so that we are able to walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for breath then hopefully we can enjoy the last years of our lives independently in our own homes and not reliant on medication to keep us going.
Of course, there will be people who really want to be able to run a half marathon, chest press their own body weight, swim the channel, but, we don’t all have to be super athletes. Most of us should just aim to be as active as we can to maintain our health without going to the extreme. All animals are designed to move, even machines need to be used regularly to make sure that they function properly and don’t seize up, we all know that our cars benefit from a longer drive every now and then so being active is important.
Ditch the diets!
If you really want to lose weight, don’t diet, in the long term they don’t work! Short term, you will lose weight, while you are looking at everything you’re eating, you’re restricting the amount of food you have during the day, you’re counting calories, everything is great your weight will come down, this will be fat but, it’s also muscle and water so at the start, weight loss is quick.
But over time you can’t survive on only eating 500 calories a day. Counting calories is also time consuming and boring, supplements and meal replacements are tasteless and expensive. You may want to do exercise but if you’re doing intermittent fasting you’ve got no energy. Dieting is not sustainable; you won’t be able to continue forever and will go back to your old eating habits and then more than likely you will put weight back on.
What we should do is to eat sensibly, cut down by about 10% on the high sugar and saturated/ trans fats foods such as cakes, biscuits, chocolate, pastry, but not cut them out completely. If you do, you will crave them and think of nothing else. Drink 10% less alcohol, eat 10% more fruit and veg and be 10% more active. Once you get used to the transition, you can increase this percentage but, trying to do too much too soon is hard. Try to eat a rainbow colour of food, so that you are having a variety of fruit and veg, look at your portion sizes, even healthier foods have calories don’t forget!
You don’t need to join a gym to improve your health, you can go for walks, dance around the room to your favourite music or put a lot of energy into gardening and housework but, if you are the sort of person who needs motivation, enjoys being with other people or needs a bit of guidance then activities at our leisure centres can help you. We offer so many activities we can help you choose the right one for you.
Whatever your reason for wanting to improve your health and wellbeing, we’d love to see you. New Year New You? There’s nothing wrong with you now, we can just help to make you even better!