I am writing this to you part in preparation for our Spring Challenge, but also part in anticipation of the slew of advice (some good, some bad) that you are undoubtedly going to see a barrage of across your social media platforms.
I was asked during the week about how I lost the 30+kg I gained in my 20s and during both my pregnancies (find out more about this here). And it got me thinking. What advice would I give? How would I highlight my successes and help others not make the same mistakes I did?
But, more than that - we're all busy. It's hard to make sense of the reams of advice floating around on the internet. Yes, I'm aware that I'm adding to this advice. But it is my aim to make it all a bit simpler, to help it all make a bit more sense,
1. Keep a nutrition diary
Often times, you feel a bit lost about your nutrition. You may believe you are eating well, but you're unable to explain why you're not losing the weight. Or, you may be unaware of the patterns and habits that you've created. By writing it down, by putting pen to paper, you have no choice but to become accountable for your own nutrition. Those sneaky, after-you've-put-the-kids-to-bed snacks soon add up. The bickie with your cuppa, the cheese while you're cooking dinner, the 3pm chocolate bar... Admit it, we all do it!
Track your feelings with each meal as well. Did you eat because you were actually hungry? Or did you eat because it was 12pm, so it must be lunch time? Did the kids piss you off and so you got angry and so you ate? Did you sit down to watch TV and instantly want to eat?
Over time, you'll soon see your own patterns and behaviours. And, over time, you'll be able to develop your own strategies to combat these nutrition habits that aren't serving you well.
Don't stress too much about portion sizes. But be aware of them. What's more important is to have your serve in a meal, and just stick to that one serve. Which brings me to my next point...
2. Keep food as close to it's natural source as possible.
It's really hard to overeat when you're eating the whole apple, as opposed to drinking apple juice or slurping on tinned apple. It's really hard to overeat when you're eating the grilled chicken breast, as opposed to chicken mince or sliced chicken from the deli.
Put simply, if the food doesn't look like it did when it came off the plant or off the animal, it stands to reason that it's been processed. Now, before you get all high-and-mighty on me, yes. I know. Some processing is important. We can't all bake our own bread or milk our own cows. And we certainly live in a society where even growing our own vegetables presents problems.
But, you know what, if you just remind yourself to eat food as close to it's natural source as possible, you'll be kicking some pretty impressive goals. You'll find all this food on the outside perimeter of the supermarket. If it's on the shelves, it's really not very natural, is it?!
Seriously. Just move!
As a fitness professional, I struggle to keep up with all the bloody fitness trends. So how can you be expected to know what's best for you or not?!
So just move. Get up and walk. Get in the fresh air. Rug the kids up, put them in the pram and just walk. Your body was designed for that (read the science about that here). Yes, the kids may hate the pram. Yes, it might seem like hard work. But just start.
Aim for 30 minutes. Every day. That 30 minutes - it's 2% of your day. You can do that for yourself.
If you are ready to take it to a higher intensity than a walk, then do it. But listen to what your body has to tell you...
4. Get the niggles sorted
Don't ignore the sore knees. Don't ignore the sore back. But also don't let your injuries or niggles get in the way of regaining your health. Find a good allied health professional (a fancy way of saying physio, osteo, myotherapist, etc) and get the niggles sorted.
Get a plan to find out what you can do. Can't to high impact? So? Swim or cycle. Just get a good plan in place. Be sure the plan has scope for your improvements - what will your physio do to help you continue to make your body stronger?
Often times, exercise is truly the answer to improving these niggles anyway. That is, exercise following professional advice. But please, please, please, stop saying 'I can't' and find out what your 'I can' is.
5. Don't bloody start on Monday
Because, you know what? That Monday will never come.
Start small. Set a goal that you are going to achieve this week (make it small - like keeping your nutrition diary without changing your nutrition yet, so you can see the patterns and habits).
Don't try to do everything all at once. That's just overwhelming. And it's not real life.
This will take time. For the sake of your health, it needs to take time. Your body needs time to adjust. You need time to adjust. Some days will be easy, and some days will be bloody tough. But you have to keep your big goal in mind.
And you have to break that big goal into smaller goals. And celebrate achieving those smaller goals. Seriously. Celebrate your first 5% weight loss. Celebrate your first week of walking each day. Be damn proud of what you've achieved.