The Fitness Zone
No sooner did we recover from the festivities around Christmas and here comes Easter. We all know the feeling, we have just started to get back on track, build momentum, develop a level of consistency with our habits and then BANG! Yet another event to tempt us out of our current health kick and knock us off track. It’s not like it’s the first time this has happened, we have been here before and we know full well that one of the hardest things to do with regards to our health and fitness habits is to ‘get back on the horse’. So, in this article Kylie Riley, Course Crusader for the Australian Institute of Fitness - QLD, shares his tips that will help you recover quickly from these minor detours on your road to success.
It Starts With Mindset
Before we get into the tips, it is important that we understand the role our mindset plays when setting long term health goals. Many people approach long-term goal setting (such as new year’s resolutions) with the idea that we have to be 100% perfect in our lifestyle, whether it be eating good quality food, exercising daily or getting to bed on time in order to achieve the goal. For some, living a “perfect lifestyle” means changing many different behaviours and habits at once.
This type of thinking usually leads to an ‘all or nothing approach’, it’s either do it all perfectly or ‘give up because there’s no point’. The issue you have with this mentality is that will-power and motivation will only last so long if not correctly managed. Think of yourself as a circus plate spinner, the more behaviours you attempt to change, the more plates you have to spin, requiring more effort and energy to keep the show alive. If you continue in this way, you are going to reach a point when you cannot continue to put the energy required into keeping those plates spinning, and as you frantically run around trying to keep the momentum going in all areas. This leaves you with less energy to deal with any potential stressors or barriers that pop up along the way, increasing the risk of watching it all crumble down around you.
It is therefore important to assess your goal and ask yourself the question, is this a temporary goal (such as running a marathon) or is this something that I want to be able to sustain for the rest of my life (such as looking/feeling a certain way or other health related goals). If the answer is the latter, then understanding that the plates you begin to spin have to continue to spin for the rest of your life, will completely change your approach. For long lasting change, you will need to set smaller goals along the way, making change more sustainable and achievable long term.
You may have heard the saying ‘what counts is not what happens between Christmas and New Year, but what happens between New Year and Christmas’. Putting events such as Easter in your plan allows you to account for the event in advance and more importantly accept that at this time you may want to treat yourself. By outlining this ahead and looking at the bigger picture, it is less likely to have such a negative impact on your motivation. If you have a plan in place and understand that this one little event is a blip on the radar compared to the grand scheme of things. It’s OK to take one step back, knowing you are still 10 steps ahead. Have the ‘Kaizen’ approach, which means continual improvement. As long as you are aiming to be better today than you were yesterday, you are moving forward in the direction of your health and fitness goals.
These subtle changes in the way you think at the time you start your health and fitness journey can have a BIG impact on how you bounce back from a seasonal binge. If you plan for it, understand that it is sometimes just a part of the journey and that on the grand scale of things is a minor detour, you are less likely to feel like you have completely fallen off track. If you have this mindset you can put it behind you and tap into your original motivation to get back on track again. The truth is, we never really fall off track and there is nothing really to recover from. As long as we learn from our mistakes and change our approach to improve on a daily basis, we are on the perfect track to achieve our health and fitness goals.
So How Can We Prepare For Easter?
#1 - Plan for events in advance
#2 - Pick one - two habits at a time to work on and add more once mastered. You will be surprised at how quickly they stack up and how much of a difference they really make over time!
#3 - Win the day! While it is important to set a big goal, focus on the small changes you can make right now. Plan your next healthy meal or next workout and just focus on getting that one done.
What Can You Do If You Do Overindulge?
Finally, for those that indulge a little too much over the Easter break and are suffering from a chocolate hangover, here are some awesome little tips to help reduce that bloated, sluggish feeling to ensure you can get your mind back in the game as soon as possible.
#1 - Do SomeLight Activity.
Rather than stressing out over all of the calories you have consumed, activating the fight/flight or ‘sympathetic nervous, practise activities to stimulate your ‘rest and digest’ or parasympathetic nervous system. The reason for this is that, in a stressed state, as part of the fight/flight response, your body will actually shunt blood AWAY from your digestive system making it harder for you to process food. Light activity such as walking, gentle yoga and meditation/tai-chi can be great ways to switch on your parasympathetic response, improving digestion.
#2 - Avoid going for the coffee for energy.
Drink herbal teas such as peppermint. It makes a great tasting, caffeine-free pick me up that can effectively help relieve stomach gas and bloating and prevent flatulence.
#3 - Consume foods rich in potassium.
Potassium helps to regulate the fluid balance in your body, keeping bloat at bay. High-potassium foods include bananas, cantaloupe, mangoes, spinach, tomatoes and nuts.