School resumes. There is a ton of laundry to be done. Vacations are over. You had the most beautiful time, completely immersed in over-eating, enjoying wonderful wine and cooking and baking with the kids. You feel happy and content with your life, but you also know that you ate too much. You may have picked up a few kilograms or feel your stomach is a little more "squishy." Ugh! You decide to go for a run but then get caught up with something at home. Running is postponed until the next day. Finally, two days later, you go out for that run and realize it's way harder than it was two weeks ago. That's it. You have to do something. It's January and you're going to do a cleanse program, detox or diet. Anything to get back on track. Does this sound familiar?
In reality, you don't need to do any program if you simply enjoy the holidays without the overeating part. You are not focusing on celebrations on consuming copious amounts of food. Or, if you ate too much, ideally the next day, you reset and start eating clean and begin an exercise routine - immediately. However, the truth is that you keep finding an excuse to start the following week, and then the other and then without you realizing it, it's February!
So, these January programs or challenges help to force yourself to begin making a wellness change; and sometimes, you may discover that you can implement a healthy habit in the long run. You must know that short term fixes that promise miraculous weight losses are not sustainable in the long run. When you decide to go for a program, make sure that you carefully read the rules and understand what it involves.
Here are FIVE simple tips to choose the right program, follow through and keep the momentum going:
1. Lifestyle Change:
The program should help you improve your nutrition or exercise habits hence enhancing your lifestyle. It should be more about a journey of self-discovery. While some rules are essential, a good program will help you eventually tune into your bodily wisdom in the long term. Once you finish, keep applying those new habits and practice them daily.
Pay attention to how it is structured and the support you will receive: you need to understand if the program flows with who you are. Are you the kind of person who loves to follow a strict program, or you prefer to be able to know the concepts and learn to apply them? Going in alone is never easy nor necessary. A good program will provide support from a knowledgeable coach and possibly from other people who are doing it as well. Having a tribe to share their experiences makes the journey much more manageable. And that support will stay with you in the long run as well.
2. Eat real food:
TOP TIPS: Avoid processed foods as much as possible, and REFINED sugars are harmful to us. BUT, not all sugars are the enemy. I want to reinforce the word REFINED because everything we eat has sugar and our bodies survive thanks to glucose. It's what gives us energy and keeps us alive. However, there is a big difference from the sugars you find in veggies, potatoes, quinoa, or fruits (plus the extra nutrients and micronutrients these all bring with them) than the ones in a chocolate bar or regular white sugar (which generally have no nutritional value).
Everyone is different and, although nothing is written in stone, we all know that focusing on your macros is important: protein, carbohydrates, fats.
Another important fact is the amount or portion sizes of your macros. This plays a key roll in your weight journey. Whether you want to lose fat, increase muscle mass, or improve energy or performance, the quantity of each macro will vary your results. Once you finish your program, try to stick to a healthy macro intake, and don't forget the importance of micronutrients as well. In essence, both will help to improve your physique and, more importantly, maintain a healthy body inside and out.
3. Get in tune with your body:
A program should help you sync with your body. Think of the program as an experiment, once you finish with it, keep experimenting. Add food groups. Remove them. See how your body responds. Track it for a week and then reassess. Our responses to certain foods change with time. Frequently, something that we didn't use to like tastes better now or often when we take away a particular food group, we discover we have more energy and can think clearly.
Experiment. Think of the long run, practice habits that you can maintain over time; this way, your weight will remain the way you want to, and you will enjoy life to the fullest.
4. Take baby steps:
Jumping back on the wagon is already a big step towards change, so keep on working towards your goals, one baby step at a time. Once you finish your program, it's crucial to have a plan, a support group, and very defined goals so that you don't waste time and your results improve with time and can last permanently.
5. Educate yourself:
Don't believe every trend you see on social media just because it's endorsed by a celebrity or because of the number of 'likes' it has. Research and educate yourself.
One of the best ways is to find a Coach that can help you with your exercise and nutrition front. Coaches are generally people who have been learning and educating for a long time. They are there because they genuinely want to help you and see you succeed. They will listen, support, and guide you. You can always and should always have a good vibe when you are talking to a coach. Ask him/her for credentials, certifications, and diplomas. Look at what others have to say about them. Once you start working together, trust them - they probably know a lot more than they let themselves show. A good coach will always be humble, will care for you, and will help you establish realistic, smart goals that will be achievable through a good plan.
This post was originally published on February 10, 2019
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