Introduction

Deciding to adopt a healthy lifestyle is the best thing you can do for your own mental and physical well-being. Well done for taking the first step and this quick guide is here to keep you on the road. We’re going to outline a few pointers on how to ensure your new years resolution isn’t just a passing phase, but an actual lifestyle change.

Avoid fad diets

The worst thing to happen to the fitness world is fad diets. The word ‘diet’ has become synonymous with extreme under eating and unrealistic weight loss goals when in fact a ‘diet’ is simple a list of foods that a persons eats with no relation to weight loss or gain. 

Extreme diets, where you only eat certain times a day/week or only eat particular types of food, are unhealthy both physically and mentally. They are often extremely low calorie and lacking in sufficient nutrients which after a few weeks will not only actively slow your metabolism it will also leave your hormones completely out of balance. Eventually, you will get so fed up and miserable that your willpower will break and you will end up binge eating resulting in you regaining all your weight loss in a few days.

Even if you do manage to make it to the end of a diet and achieve your goals, as soon as you adopt a normal diet again your starved body will try and put on as much fat as it can because it has spent the last few months in ‘starvation mode’.

The foods you eat should make up a balanced diet with plenty of meat, fish, fruit, veg, grains, rice, nuts and oils. They should be delicious and nourishing and exciting to cook; take the time to cook your meals and enjoy doing it.

Don’t make too many changes at once

Starting a healthy lifestyle is an amazing journey with great rewards, but the stumbling block most people trip over is making too many lifestyle changes at once.

Simply starting an exercise plan is a big lifestyle change. The structure of your day will change and you will feel exhausted at first. You may have to start getting up earlier or get more sleep which could mean less free time. In addition, to see real results, you will also need to think about changing the way you approach food and your eating habits. Your increased exercise regime means you will be hungry and denying yourself anything sugary may result in cravings that you are not mentally prepared for! 

When you’re starting out you don’t need to completely cut out everything you enjoy. Clean up your diet by removing things like sugary drinks, chocolate bars and other foods with little nutritional value. But don’t burn yourself out over it, if you have worked hard in the gym all week you deserve a glass of wine or a slice of cake if you want one! Trust us, it won’t do anything to hinder your progress. Infact it will keep your mind and metabolism strong.

Remember that this is a lifestyle, not a prison sentence. Ease into it slowly and don't burn yourself out making too many changes at once.

Plan...everything

Planning is the key to success in any area of life and your fitness regime is no different. Planning your meals in advance is crucial as it stops you turning to quick, unhealthy alternatives that are readily available. Learn to cook food in bulk so you have healthy options to take with you to work and on the road. Keep your freezer stocked with healthy meals that you can heat up in the evening when you don't have time to cook or can’t be bothered and want to relax.

Plan your foods for the week before you go shopping. never go shopping without knowing what meals you're going to be preparing for the next few days and never, ever, go shopping when you’re hungry! Keep your cupboards packed with the staples of a healthy diet.

Set realistic goals

Getting in shape and losing weight is not a fast process, especially if you do it correctly, and avoid fad diets. An overweight individual who weighs 250lbs who is new to healthy eating and exercise should aim to lose two pounds a week. Someone who is moderately overweight should aim for one pound a week.

Don’t be disheartened if you do not see physical results straight away. It will take 4 weeks for you to notice a difference and a few months before other people start telling you how amazing you look! 

The internet and TV is scattered with adverts for diets and pills that claim to make you lose 10lbs in a week yet this kind of weight loss is not healthy. Instead, eat lots of clean food and follow the advice above.

Summing up

If you follow these four principles you will have a solid grounding for your brand new healthy lifestyle! Remember,there are no shortcuts, just proper eating and exercise. Plan to make healthy choices and fitness part of your lifestyle but don’t try and change your whole life in one day. Make sure you treat yourself with cake and drink here and there. It will help you stay mentally focused and stop you burning out. Getting in shape should be a fun and exciting activity, not a stressful, militant affair.