Let’s see… you’ve either gone teetotal, full blown vegan or are on some restrictive diet, surviving off salad leaves and working out every day of the week. But ask yourself, are these resolutions sustainable, or are you setting yourself up for a big fall?
The dream: To give up alcohol
The reality: You give up drinking for a whole month (well done you), but your fear of becoming Billy-no-mates out drives you to compensate for lost time.
Solution: Be more mindful of your consumption. Avoid situations where binge drinking could be involved and try to spread your 14 units over the whole week. A glass of wine here and there isn’t the end of the world, but this on top of a bender at the weekend is only going to do your body harm. Aim to have two or three alcohol-free days a week. You need to adopt a healthy lifestyle, not just cut down on booze.
The dream: To go vegan
The reality: Sunday comes around and after that long walk on Hampstead Heath, you find yourself in a cosy pub, huddled around a fire, ordering the roast beef and Yorkshire puddings instead of the roasted pepper salad.
Solution: The flexitarian diet is a good solution for many people who do not want to give up meat entirely yet feel that for health, ethics and/or environmental purposes, they want to eat less of it. Try researching some vegan recipes that you actually like and cook these often. It’s not about not eating meat but about eating less of it. And when you do eat meat, make sure it is good meat (raised to humane standards, organic if possible and try to be aware where it is coming from).
The dream: To workout every day
The reality: You’re so addicted to the endorphin rush of your favourite workouts that you ignore symptoms of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and stress hormone cortisol, that leaves you feeling burnt out.
Solution: Try to slide 1 or 2 sessions in per week, bringing your total number of weekly workouts to a maximum of 4/5. Forget 7 days of solid HIIT, spin or pounding the tarmac for endless hours. Alternate your days with Yin Yoga, dedicated stretching or simply going for a good old walk somewhere green. Open your lungs to fresh air, not just studio air and restore a little calm, your mind and body will thank you for it when you hit up your next savage session. Respect the rest, it’s everything.
The dream: To give up sugar
The reality: You give up sugar completely, only to find yourself feeling tired and depressed, as if you’re detoxing from drugs (which you are by the way). And you’re left craving carbs to compensate for the lack of sugar.
Solution: Nutrition labels tell you how much sugar a food contains: high in sugar – 22.5g or more of total sugar per 100g low in sugar – 5g or less of total sugar per 100g. Rather than going cold turkey, try to consume less and go unrefined wherever possible. Swapping a bowl of sugary breakfast cereal for plain porridge could cut out 70g of sugar (up to 22 sugar cubes) from your diet over a week.
The dream: To lose a stone
The reality: You think that you’ll lose that stone by cutting down your calorie intake but instead find that your weight reaches a plateaux as your metabolism slows. Not to mention you feel miserable.
Solution: Since your body doesn’t want you to starve, it responds to overly-restrictive diets by slowing your metabolism which makes it harder to lose weight. Overly restrictive diets can take all the pleasure out of eating. Instead choose a lifelong program of everyday healthy, pleasurable eating coupled with regular exercise. A no brainer really.
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