The New Year has come and gone in a shower of fireworks and booze, and Australians everywhere are beginning their first steps on a journey for a better, healthier life, thanks to the annual tradition of NY resolutions.
For those that have already begun, we salute and congratulate you, and for those still limbering up for the trip, you have our full support and encouragement.
However, we’d like to remind those brave travellers that there are precautions they should take and risks to consider before throwing themselves into wind.
Risk factors to consider
So you’ve decided to be faster, better, stronger in 2017, which is great – your options to do so are almost endless, with a huge range of gyms, fitness clubs and sports to choose from. However, you’ve got to be careful that your motivation and enthusiasm aren’t also your undoing.
Baby steps mean less injuries
If you want to ensure that you’re good to go and that you’re not going to be down for the count before you’ve started to see results, you’ve got to take a step back and evaluate what you need to do in order for your goals to work.
See a health professional
Going to see a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopathologist can give you an idea of how well your body is functioning, causes for concern, and ideas on what goals you can set for yourself.
Get personal training
Running on a treadmill and lifting weights may seem straight forward (run, pick up the heavy thing and put it back down), but there’s a lot of technique involved, not to mention the little tips and tricks only a seasoned and informed professional can give. So before you start trying to bench your own body weight, get a personal trainer to take you through the basic steps and motions to ensure you’re safety.
Work on one area
Even the best of them can’t carry 100kg while doing a marathon and learning a martial art. When approaching your fitness, have one, clear goal in mind, and work towards that. This way, there’s no distractions, no niggling doubts as to what’s effective for which goal your working towards, and most importantly, less chance of injury. Adapting to new stresses takes time, so be kind to your body and let it adapt to them one at a time.
Losing weight can be instrumental in changing your health for the better. If you’re trying to shed the Christmas kilos, then here’s some things you’ll want to keep in mind.
A lot of the weight you’ll lose initially will be water weight, so it’s important that you’re making up for all your lost liquids. Simply keeping a bottle of water nearby is an easy way to remind yourself to drink and how much you’ve taken in during the day.
How much should you drink? While the statistic varies depending on where you look, general consensus tends to fall around 2 litres. However, if you’re being extra active to reach your health goals, we’d recommend a little more to ensure you’re looking after your body’s needs.
Because our physiology no longer matches our environment, your body can’t tell the difference between a post-apocalypse where you’re eating roots to survive and cutting back on your caloric intake.
Which is to say: Don’t starve yourself.
If you’re consuming less calories with better nutrient values, you are very likely to lose weight without having too large an impact on your metabolism.
Sustainable weight loss is key
Results are results, no matter if they’re slow or fast.
You also want to make sure that when the weight comes off, it stays off. Dieting is an experiment to see what works for you and your lifestyle – do you have time to prepare healthier meals? Can you enjoy loads of raw veggies in the long-term? Find what words for you so you can stick to it.
Improving your mental health can be a tricky exercise due to the nature of the goal. What does it mean to ‘be happier’? How do you actually measure ‘stressing less?’ What does it mean to ‘take charge of your life?’
Make definable, measureable goals
Before you embark on your journey to a better frame of mind, ask yourself some questions:
- Have I properly defined my goal?
- How can I measure my progress?
- What active steps can I take to reach my goal?
If your goal is to live a happier life, you might answer in the following:
- To me, happiness is waking up and looking forward to the day
- I can rate how much I’m looking forward to the coming day out of ten
- I can prepare things to do so there’s one thing to look forward to every day
If it’s your job, you can look forward to sending applications or getting in touch with recruiters, if you’re lonely you can organise social events or join clubs...the options are almost endless.
Be OK with failing
Stressing over failure when you’re trying to deal with mental health may lead to a spiral of negativity. There may be some days, or a week, or longer, where your progress has stagnated or even taken a step back.
But that’s ok.
Being kind to yourself while working on these issues, and learn to take the downs with the ups.
Seek professional guidance
There’s no shame in seeing a counsellor or psychologist to get advice on the wheels and gears turning behind your eyes. If your leg is twitching, you go to a physio, if you’re coughing, you go to a doctor, and if your tooth is hurting you regret not going for more regular check-ups before getting your butt into the dentists’ chair.
In the same way, the professionals can give you the best advice and methods to help you achieve your mental health goals. At the very least, it will give you someone to talk to.
Build a support network
If you need people to keep you motivated, or to check in on you occasionally, reaching out to trusted friends and relatives can give you an emotional or mental boost when you’re feeling like you need a little extra help.
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