A Beginners Guide to Setting Health & Fitness Goals

Christmas is such a lovely time for so many reasons, all the delicious baked goods, comfort foods and dinners out with loved ones leave us feeling full both in stomach and in heart. After all the sweets and treats though, it’s no wonder we crave a detox and a break from all the unhealthy eating come January.

Before having a home gym, I always dreaded the masses that would descend upon my gym full of enthusiasm and expectation for finally fulfilling that long-held New Year’s resolution to be healthy, but held out knowing that by February they would all be gone again. Good for me, bad for them.

Part of the problem is that people set unrealistic, lofty fitness and health goals that are more demanding and such a far deviation from what they’ve been accustomed to that they are guaranteed to fail.

Health and fitness are lifestyle changes, long-term changes that take self-discipline and a lot of effort up front to build into habits that last. So no, you won’t cut a six-pack after 3 weeks of walking on a treadmill with no change in eating habits. It takes time and it takes discipline, so begin small and keep up the good work! The results are worth it, I promise!

Small changes to begin with-

If you are completely new to healthy eating and exercising, I recommend 3 things; set boundaries, consume less, take walks.

Set boundaries – Limiting yourself on what foods you can eat and what restaurants you can eat at is a great place to start. Write down a list of “NOs,” “Occasionallys,” and “Once-a-months” and stick to it! Also, make sure you clearly understand what items fall under each category and don’t concede based on your craving/feelings that day! This is a great way to work on self-disciplining when it comes to food. My list looks something like this:

  • NO – fast food (honestly the easiest thing to cut out), soda, grocery store baked goods, highly processed/chemical filled frozen meals or TV dinners, hot dogs, etc.
  • Occasionally (once every few months) – pizza, burgers, chicken wings, other fried foods, etc.
  • Once-a-months – homemade baked goods (you control what is in it and can make it healthier), ice cream (this is tough during the summer – see consume less section), pasta dishes, cheesy meals, etc.

Once you begin making these small diet adjustments and start to understand what is healthy and what is not, healthy eating will become more and more and automatic. After a few months your tastebuds will change and some of these foods (like fast food!) will be completely unappetising to you.

Consume less – Also known as portion control. It’s easier than you think! I once read that our desire to load up a plate of food and eat past what our body is telling us is enough is our primitive brain in survival mode. There once was a time where people had to forage and work hard for their food and when a meal finally did come along, they had to fill up – that is not the case in our modern world. Tips for consuming less:

  • Eat slowly – take your time, relax, savor each bite. When you inhale food you’re loading your stomach faster than it can relay to your brain that it’s full. Ever eaten so much you feel like the blueberry girl on Willy Wonka? That’s what I’m talking about and that is what you want to avoid. This leads to the next point which is…
  • Listen to your body – pay attention to how you feel and when you begin to feel satisfied (not stuffed), STOP. Save the rest for later.
  • Use a smaller plate – Less space to fill, less food on the plate! I do this everyday (use saucer sized plates and ramekins instead of large bowls) and it completely works. Eventually you will learn what amount of food your body needs to be sustained and won’t overeat.

Take walks – Don’t join a gym right off the bat. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get to the gym and if you’re new to exercising, it can be overwhelming. A walk however, is an easy place to start that doesn’t require a commute. Pop in your headphones, or just enjoy your thoughts and the sounds around you and go. While you’re walking, speed up your pace and maintain that for as long as you can, then alternate between a brisk pace and a normal pace. This gets your heart going and if you break a sweat, GOOD! Make sure to walk for a bare minimum of 30 minutes and aim to get out there at least 3 days a week. Not only is this a great way to introduce exercise into your daily routine, but it’s also time to meditate and refresh your mind.

Remember-

Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is only achieved through healthy, conscious eating and exercise. There is no pill, formula, shake, or crash diet that will give you sustained results like making an actual lifestyle change. That said, everyone’s healthy figure will look different, so don’t try to look like someone on Instagram, aspire to be the healthiest version of you. The benefits of healthy eating and exercise go so far beyond just physically looking good. Some of which are:

  • Reduced bodily aches and pains.
  • Sick less often.
  • More energy.
  • Reduce risk of diseases and chronic illnesses.
  • Improved mood/ stable mood.
  • Better joint function and blood flow.
  • The list goes on…

It’s a new year, you have a new beginning, it’s winter so there’s not much else going on😜 – make 2019 your healthiest year yet!

PS – currently working on a post rounding up my favorite healthy eating recipes and cookbooks. In the comments let me know, do you want to see exercise ideas as well! Also, if you have any questions about starting any of the changes discussed in this post, please reach out to me in the comments or an email and I will be more than happy to help in any way I can, be it in encouragement, or direction. I believe in you!

🖤Mia

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