March is the New January: Starting the Year Fighting Fit
Resolutions. Lets look at January like a test run, February for fine tuning your New Year goals, and March… Well, March can be the ‘start all over again’ if you happen to find yourself overwhelmed and off the healthy lifestyle bag wagon.
Everyone goes into the New Year with good intentions. It’s an important time for many people, who see the coming year as a chance to shed the events, good or bad, of the previous year and start with a clean slate. It’s a chance to leave behind the old and start new, empowered and raring to go.
Whether your resolution is to aim to exercise more, tone up, lose weight, quit smoking, stress less or eat clean; even if you are dedicated to it, a resolution is always going to be a work in progress. You have to remember that you have the entire year to work on it and build on your development.
From spiritual to physical, to emotional and financial changes, habits need to be formed over time. Any habit takes an average of three weeks to either break or form.
You may have spent the first half of summer eating big at Christmas, drinking more than you normally would at festive parties, lagging on your exercise regime, and opting to laze on the sofa in the heat or soaking up some rays at the beach.
So, if your lazy summer habits have been well and truly formed, they may take a while to break, but it will be worth it.
Health and fitness and where to start?
Even if your resolutions didn’t start immediately as the clock struck midnight on January 1st, look at every day as a new chance to motivate yourself to reach your goals, whatever they may be. As Australians, there is virtually nowhere on our sun-kissed shores that you can avoid the heat during summer and for many, it can make you feel sluggish and demotivated.
The old adage says “summer bodies are made in winter”, but this isn’t always the case. If you start now, you’ll get an extra half of the year to get yourself in a great place for next summer!Maybe you have been inactive for an extended period of time and are just getting back into properly looking after your body. Not everyone is comfortable working out at a gym or in front of other people while some just prefer outdoor exercise – so start slow, building up your capacity to withstand more intense workouts.
Start small. Nobody is expecting you to be running a half-marathon in your first month back in the game. Rise early and get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise first thing in the morning. Morning exercise stimulates the mind and puts you in good stead for the day. Go for a brisk walk, jog or run (if you’re feeling bold) and see how much more alert and buzzing you are by the time you start work. If you don’t have time first thing in the morning, try going in the evening, as the sun disappears. It’s often cooler at this time and it will leave you feeling less dehydrated and sluggish.
Yoga is a brilliant way to re-enter the world of fitness. It is one of the few physical activities that touch on physical health as well as spiritual and emotional enlightenment. Its effectiveness at combating depression and anxiety has been well-documented and proven. Its breathing techniques, once learnt, can be used outside of the yoga studio to combat panicked thoughts and to centre yourself. Mind and body are intrinsically linked and exercise has proven to be just as, if not, more effective than anti-depressants.
Yoga benefits attract a range of shapes and sizes, and celebrities have been singing its praises for years. The stretches incorporated may seem harmless at the time, but before long, you will start to feel muscles you didn’t even know you had. It’s also great for your core (as is Pilates) and strengthening your back. Most classes end in a guided meditation lead by your instructor, which is almost as enjoyable as the pull of your muscles as you flow from pose to pose.
Don’t be fooled though! Some forms of yoga can be incredibly challenging, so contact your local yoga school and inquire about slow flow yoga classes (such as Hatha) for beginners that teach the basics and build your endurance up before hitting the more intense classes (Vinyasa or Ashtanga will give you a run for your money). Start to build a habit of regular classes. The more per week, the more likely you are to build an unbreakable habit – remember the three-week rule!.
If you prefer more team or competitive sports, try joining a local tennis club night competition, a mixed netball team or a boxing class. Usually, teams don’t mind if you aren’t a born athlete – they just need numbers and it’s a bit of fun where you can meet new people and improve your health at the same time. What’s not to love?
For some women, nothing gets them more motivated about starting a new exercise regime than hitting the stores and getting themselves some new workout gear. Who doesn’t love a wardrobe full of activewear!!??
There are endless activewear brands that make beautiful items that you will enjoy working out in so much more than your old trackies and T-shirts. It’s a common adage that if you look good, you feel good – and it’s absolutely 100% true. Lululemon, Lorna Jane and Sweaty Betty have all built empires on their activewear brands, but if those are slightly out of your budget, ASOS, adidas, Bonds and Missguided all offer less-expensive alternatives that are just as eye-catching and breathable. It’s amazing what a new supportive sports bra, a great pair of running shoes and some bright leggings can do for your enthusiasm to get out there and seize the day. Just see for yourself!
If your diet needs a shake-up, take the same advice as with exercise and make small initial changes and you’ll notice the difference. Education is key to knowing what works and maintaining a new clean-living campaign. Subscribing to crash diets or surviving only on smoothies is never sustainable, so make a resolution to buy more fresh fruit and vegetables on your weekly shop.
Learn about saturated fats and hidden sugars and you’ll be surprised that the everyday items you considered healthy are in fact the complete opposite. Don’t completely deny yourself of your whims! Allow yourself that chocolate bar or pastry if that’s what you fancy – you are more likely to binge on unhealthy food later if you deny yourself of a small amount now.
Did we hear you say “My resolution isn’t related to health and fitness though?”
Some lucky people have maintained their resolutions from previous years and health and fitness have become a part of their life. These people show that it does work, that new habits can be formed and most importantly, maintained.
Perhaps you want to be tidier in the New Year, advance in your career, become better with money, save for that European trip or just be kinder to yourself. The common thread linking all of these, including health and fitness motivation, is goals. You must visualise the goal, write it down so that it becomes visceral and real, and then put this somewhere you will see it multiple times every single day.
Create a vision board. Take pretty images of what you want to attract in the New Year – a new home, photos of the Greek Islands, or images of people meditating to symbolise your aim to stress less and relax more, and make a collage, framing it at the end of the process. Hang your new piece of art in pride of place somewhere you will see it often and visualise your goals becoming a reality, then watch how quickly you become set on these.
Remember, as we said at the start, a resolution is always going to be a work in progress. Didn’t start on January 1st? No problem, there’s no better time than the present. Empower yourself, motivate yourself and you will reap the rewards. Any push for positive change is good, so you are already on the right track.
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