Let’s be honest....for most of us the main motivation for deciding to change our lifestyle habits is for aesthetic reasons, be it to lose weight, fit into those jeans or get in shape for summer. Unfortunately though, this usually results in the endless cycle of unrealistic exercise programs, extreme dieting and drastic food changes that typically only last for a few weeks, then returning back to our usual food choices and lack of activity. Yes we often lose a few kilos, however it usually means those kilos return with a couple of friends every time we go through this cycle. In the majority of cases this yo-yo effect leaves our metabolism confused, and our bodies unsure what we they are doing...are we gaining or losing?
The most effective way to improve your body image and body shape is to take a step back and consider some of the other important benefits of living a life of health and fitness...something that is often overlooked. Here are a few of the major benefits of eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity:
- Decreased blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease Decreased blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease
- Increased bone strength, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and breaks
- Reduce the risk of many cancers
- Increased work capacity
- Increased joint range of motion or flexibility and reduces joint discomfort
- Improved sense of well being, confidence and self-esteem
- Increased muscular strength and stamina
- Improved glucose regulation, reducing the risk of, or managing diabetes
- Improved sleep patterns and levels of anxiety
- Decreased stress levels
- Improved digestion
- Improves complexion
- Improves endurance
- Improves circulation (blood flow)
- Increases lean muscle tissue in the body, improving metabolism
- Alleviates menstrual cramps
- Enhances coordination, balance and agility
- Improves posture
- Eases and possibly eliminates back problems and pain
- Strengthens heart and lungs
- Improves athletic performance
- Enriches sexuality
- Enhances immune system
- Improves liver functioning
- Helps to alleviate varicose veins
- Overall improved quality of life
And this is just SOME of the benefits listed. There are many more!
It should also be recognised that food can play a major role in the ability of an athlete to perform at their best. If you don’t put the right fuel in your body how can you expect your body to operate at its peak? By providing your body with the right types of food at the correct times, not only will you increase your athletic performance, but also keep your body fat at a desirable level and improve your health. In most cases, it is very common for professional and top level athletes to have a nutritionist or dietician to guide and oversee their daily meal structure.
It is important to realise that whatever your goals, it is a complete lifestyle approach that yields the best results. That means a combination of effective exercise, correct nutrition, and quality supplementation.
Here are a few of my top tips to getting for starting a new health and fitness programme:
It is surprisingly simple, BUT there are no secrets or short cuts.
- CONSISTENCY – You have to make changes that last a lifetime, not a week, a month, or a year. Eat well most of the time. For example: During the week most of us are in a regular routine so it is easy to follow a healthy eating plan. On the weekends have the treats, then Monday back on track!
- PREPARATION – What is that old saying, ‘Fail to prepare, Prepare to fail’. So true! Pick a quieter day of the week (often Sunday afternoon), and cut up all your chicken, wash and chop all your vege’s and bake your sweet potato etc. Make it easy for the week ahead so that there are no excuses.
- KNOWLEDGE – Read, learn, ask questions! Educate yourself, keep an open mind and experiment with different ideas. It will take some time and patience but you will find what works best for YOU!
- NO MORE GUILT – Stop the cycle NOW! If you break your plan and have a slip up, enjoy it, don’t feel guilty, and move on. This relates to most women! There are so many women caught in the destructive cycle of, ‘Right locked in, strict extreme diet, no more ‘bad’ food.’ They follow it a couple of days and then lose their minds and have something they shouldn’t. Then they feel so guilty they decide ‘Well I might as well eat everything I want now because I stuffed it up and failed’. They then go and binge for a day or so, then have to go back to the extreme again. Ladies this is a vicious cycle you want to get out of. We know it doesn’t work, and it is most definitely not healthy.
- STOP TELLING YOURSELF ‘CAN’T HAVE’ – I believe when we tell ourselves we ‘can’t have’, we just end up wanting it more. Then when we do finally cave, we eat way too much of it. I never think I can’t have anything. I always have a choice. I tell myself at any time, on any day, I can eat whatever I want. However I stop and think about it. Do I really want to eat that food, or do I want to see my abs and have lean legs? Once I give myself the choice 95% of the time I make the right decision, and don’t eat it as I want to look and feel great. I also know that the weekend is only a few days away.
- ENJOY – Do something you enjoy. If you are sick of running, don’t run...do a cycle class. Don’t force yourself to do what you don’t enjoy. Variety is the key. Mix it up! Do it with a friend or partner, whatever works for you.
KEEP IN MIND THOUGH...“Clean eating is 90% of the end result. Cardio will help make your a smaller version of yourself, and the weights will change the shape of your body. Yes, exercise helps decrease/maintain your body weight, however if you’re eating too many of the wrong foods you will not see the changes you are looking for in regards to your body.
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