September brings a new season and with longer days upon us it’s often a time that we start to think about how we can look at improving our lifestyle after hibernating a little in winter. For me, that change is definitely exercise. Whilst I have kept active over winter, the shorter days and bad weather has meant I’ve been a little less active than normal. Usually on Saturdays I love to go for a long run or walk with the dog, but horrible weather has meant that these are more quick runs around the block, or nothing in the weekend. Also changes in the cross fit gym schedule recently means I haven’t been able to do as many classes that I used to. So, this week I’ve set myself some little goals and I thought that you guys might like some tips and hints to help you spring clean your lifestyle for spring.
Here they are:
- Plan exercise into your schedule
It’s really easy to let days slip by as you’re too busy to fit exercise into your lifestyle. The truth is though, most of us do have time for some exercise, we just let other priorities get in the way. Sometimes that’s just life, but don’t let it become a habit. Schedule activity into your lifestyle. If you know Monday night is your favourite gym class, write it in your diary and make it a priority to go. I’ve been making Monday, Wednesday and Friday my run days and because I’ve committed to that, I’ve been following through and now it’s the end of the week, I’m feeling great for having got out there, got some fresh air and vitamin D and got those endorphins pumping!
- Add rather than subtract
As humans, we often tend to think in the negatives rather than the positives – we think about what we haven’t done rather than what we’ve achieved, and what we should take out of our diet rather than what to add. When it comes to behaviour change focus on adding things into your lifestyle rather than subtracting for starters. These positive changes are easier and more enticing for us to reach. Often as a result, some of those less desirable habits lessen. For example, if you’re drinking more water, you may drink less coffee. So think about what you want to do more of – it might be to drink more water; eat more vegetables or add an extra workout in. Start this way with a positive change and then go from there.
- Plan those meals
Weekly food prep is pretty big right now, but you don’t have to go that far and cook all your meals/lunches in advance if you don’t want to. Simply planning what you are going to eat for the week ahead and having those ingredients at home makes healthy eating so much easier. Don’t forget about lunches either – having a plan and plenty of lunch options means you’ll eat healthier and save money on buying lunch too. I find making my lunch the night before so much easier than trying to rush and do it in the morning – I’m not a morning person and time is always tight. You can make a dish in the weekend and have it for several days too. This brown rice salad is one of my favourites. Simply add some greens on the side and a little protein if you wish (eg a boiled egg, shredded chicken) and you’ll have a filling, delicious lunch.
- Problem solve
If you’ve got a habit you’re struggling to break, or you’re struggling to get into a new routine, have a sit down and think about why. Grab a bit of paper and head it with “What I want to achieve” and write your goal. Split the paper into three columns. Write down what’s going well. In another column write down what you are struggling with and why you think that might be. In the third column write down your solutions. When it comes to solutions, have a think about what you really need to change. For example, I’ll often see people who will tell me that they’re finding it hard to exercise and when we start discussing why, they’ll say “I need to join the gym to get motivated”. But when we pull it apart, joining the gym is definitely not the solution. The solution is often in changing their mindset and unhelpful thinking. We ALL have unhelpful thoughts, so what we want to do is identify those thoughts that are holding us back and change them into more useful coping thoughts. For example, a discussion I was having with a lovely client one day went like this ” I really want to exercise more regularly, and I feel good when I do but when I get home from work I can hardly ever be bothered as it’s so cosy inside and I’m always starving – maybe I should join the gym”.She was putting herself off from exercise because she didn’t want to leave the comfort of her home, and she was hungry – not because she needed the gym! So we solved this problem two ways. Firstly we added a snack one hour before she was due to leave work. Secondly, we worked on changing those thoughts. Instead of “Oh its so warm inside, I’m just going to stay home tonight”, when this thought popped into her head, she changed it to “Yes, it’s warm and cosy here, but I know I feel so great after my run and I warm up as soon as I start moving”. These two things got her back on track to a regular exercise routine. Don’t underestimate your self talk, working on changing this is key to making tracks in your new healthy habits.
Have you set yourself any goals this month? Share with us your top tips for reaching your goals in the comments below 🙂