- By Nikki Wallman
- August 24, 2013 12:18AM
Focus on filling up on healthy foods, rather than cutting things out. Picture: Thinkstock
Take a fresh approach to achieving your goals and follow these practical steps to prioritise your body.
Goal: Do 30 minutes of exercise a day
Try this: Force yourself – you’ll feel better
The idea of committing to exercise may stress you out, but it’s worth persevering. A recent study by the European Journal of Neuroscience looked at responses in rats to find out if the stress of being pushed into exercising (for example, if a doctor has ordered you to exercise) cancelled out the stress-relieving benefit of the workout. The authors concluded that it didn’t and that forced exercise could still increase stress resistance and benefit mental health. So get moving and feel better for it.
Goal: Get back into a fitness routine
Try this: do your workout at home
Sweaty bodies and a lack of confidence can conspire to make fitness classes an intimidating prospect, so do your own class at home. Jump online and check out the array of high-quality fitness programs that can get you back on track from the privacy of your own living room.
Yoga instructor to the stars Charlotte Dodson has launched charlottedodson.tv, an online yoga TV network that allows subscribers to tune into the expert guidance enjoyed by Miranda Kerr and Lara Bingle.
Meanwhile, various websites offer personalised programs with customised exercise and fitness routines, diet and nutrition plans, fitness calculators and online diaries to track your progress, as well as weekly motivational emails and videos.
If you’re watching your wallet as well as your waistline, check out the fitness section of bodyandsoul.com.au for a range of popular exercise routines that won’t cost you a cent – from seven-minute workouts and yoga sessions to Commando Steve’s Four-Week Body Blitz, all of them are designed to be followed from home.
Goal: Eat more fruit and vegetables
Try this: Go flexitarian
A “flexitarian” – or part-time vegetarian – approach increases the amount of vegetables and protein plant sources in your diet without sacrificing the health benefits of lean meat.
US dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease And Add Years to Your Life, encourages “progress, not perfection”. It’s about enjoying a wide range of tasty vegetarian meals and focusing on filling up with healthy foods, rather than on cutting things out.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines (eatforhealth.gov.au) encourage people to include some meat-free meals in their weekly diet using legumes, eggs, nuts and seeds.
Associate professor Tim Crowe, of Deakin University’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, says: “We have the best-intentioned dietary guidelines, but research shows that only a small percentage of the population actually follow most of them. Having a more flexible approach to trying to eat healthier more often, rather than hitting your ‘serves of fruit and veg’ target each day isn’t only more practical, but realistic.”
Goal: Hit your weight-loss target
Try this: Get some positive support
Don’t be embarrassed to share your health goals with others. “One of the best predictors of successful weight loss is getting support along the way, be it from a friend, support group or dietitian,” Mr Crowe says.
Ask a friend to commit to helping you with your goal. For example, tell them you plan to go for a run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and ask them to check in with you to ensure you stick to your plan.
If that’s too confronting, there are online support networks designed to keep you going when the going gets tough. Goal-setting community 43things.com has almost three million users who list goals, track their progress and post advice on how they achieved their targets, from losing weight to running 5km. Users “cheer” each other on, and you can invite others to join you in achieving a goal.