With the new year comes the opportunity to set new goals, and whether you've set yourself a new challenge or are simply getting back into a routine, January tends to be the time where everyone becomes a bit more restrictive with food.
Now, whilst this can be sensible given the one or two kilos we've all gained over the Christmas period, it's important not to follow extreme regimes whereby you set unrealistic ambitions to eat one meal a day and train four times a week, only to find yourself exhausted, hungry and lacking results. So, to counteract extreme dieting, which is neither healthy or sustainable in the long term, we've put together some advice from our personal trainers on how they achieve theirs and their client's goals.
We can tell you now, the overarching principle is consistency and time. Don't expect to see lasting transformations in just one month - instead, focus on introducing healthy habits for the long run, stick to a regular training plan and your body will do the rest!
Now for the trainer's advice... Whether you want to drop a few kilos, get stronger or simply make better food choices this year, we’ve got you covered!
Want to lose weight? Here are Sandra’s expert tips:
“Having social support when trying to lose weight is hugely important. This comes in a range of forms (Personal Trainer whom you are accountable to, a friend who you exercise with OR a spouse who you talk to at the end of each day about what you have done to achieve your desired goal). My top three tips based upon social support are:
1 - Drive Awareness - Make those around you aware of your goal and set out clearly what you are trying to achieve, why and how you intend to do this. People will respect what you are doing, won’t try to tempt you with things that will knock you off the rails and will support you on your journey
2 - Work with a PT - There have been so many studies that show that when there is a financial commitment to your health, the odds of achieving it increase dramatically. Take a trainer, commit and respect their cancellation policy, and turn up. It’s a simple way of ensuring it happens no matter what the excuses you have on days where you feel you really can’t be bothered! You will almost always come out the other side feeling a damn sight better!
3 - Partner Training - Do it with a friend! Not only are you 50% accountable for turning up, you can support each other, track progress together and push through difficult times by supporting each other both mentally and physically.”
Want to eat more healthy this year? Brett breaks it down:
“It's all about building positive habits and being aware of existing habits that may be setting you back. I find the best way to do this is to write a food diary consisting of everything you consume (food, drink, supplements etc) in order to drive awareness.
It’s also a great idea to list the time that you consume foods/drinks in order to add a deeper level of analysis. For example if you notice you are reaching for the chocolate / bag of crisps at 9.00PM when you have had dinner and finally relaxed in front of the TV - by being aware of this you could decide to change crisps or chocolate for a healthier alternative OR switch what you decide to do at 9.00PM - perhaps read a book, go to bed early, or go for a pre-bedtime walk around the block.
These are just simple ideas and examples and throughout your day you will recognise routines and habits through the power of recording what you do. 99% of the things we do daily are habit - both good and bad. There is a lot of value in recognising what these are so you can make decisions to make the desired changes.”
Want to get fitter? Romy knows how:
“My advice would be, find something you enjoy doing! There’s no use in forcing yourself to put on your trainers and dragging your feet around the park, if you hate running. Everybody is naturally drawn towards different types of training, whether it’s resistance training, spinning, crossfit or yoga. Maybe it’s a mixture of all the above! Your training regime should be something you look forward to doing, something that makes you feel good. Not something that you dread and put off at all possible opportunities.
Secondly, planning is essential. At the start of each week, map out how and when you are going to fit in your training sessions, and what they are going to involve. Make the plan and stick to it, prioritise your health and don’t allow anything to stand in the way. Routine can anchor us and keep us focused, so we don’t have to rely on decision-making (which can be swayed by things like mood and circumstance) on a daily basis.
It won’t be long before you start to notice how different you feel not just in your body but also in your sleep, energy levels, focus, productivity and mood. And you’ll never look back!”
Want to get stronger? Alex breaks it down:
“To become stronger you need to be consistently looking to be lifting heavier than you are used to. This isn’t a quick process and consistency is really important when it comes to strength training. A common mistake is to go out and lift as much as possible. Instead you should be looking at how much you can lift while keeping your form and technique as close to perfect as possible. This will help reduce the chances of injury while engaging the correct muscles through each exercise.
Keeping a detailed log of what weights you are lifting is essential - rather than trying to remember every detail of a previous workout a quick flick through your log and you have exactly how many sets/reps and weight you preformed and most importantly what it felt like.
Traditionally, to become stronger you should be looking at achieve 4 to 5 sets of an exercise whilst reducing your repetition range, normally somewhere between 4 to 8 repetitions would be a full set. This can vary for different individuals so listen to your body throughout the whole process.”
Want to work on being less stressed? Bianca really knows how to zone out and keep calm… Here’s her advice:
“It is easy to become so overwhelmed by our increasingly demanding lives that we forget to take a step back and breathe. My advice for anyone who wants the quick wins when trying to manage their stress is to A) Notice when you are starting to feel it. B) When you feel yourself becoming stressed proactively take yourself out that situation. If you can’t leave then begin to turn your attention to the breath, you've heard it before but it works, by taking deep breaths and focusing our attention on that breath we begin to force our body in to a parasympathetic state, helping us to slow down our cognitive and physiological processes and remain calm.
For those trying to focus on new ways in which they can proactively manage their stress in the long term I would recommend firstly meditation, even 5 minutes a day can make a huge difference. If you don't know where to start with this there are some great apps out there now which can help (e.g. Headspace or Calm). Take the time to move, whether it be a walk, or yoga, or just stretching on your kitchen floor. Getting the body moving breaks down the stress hormone cortisol and it can also help us clear our mind and start to think more clearly. It goes without saying - exercise. Exercise can act as a catharsis for stress and negativity that may be in our life, not to mention the release of endorphins it gives us post workout that can help leave us feeling good for the rest of the day.
Other little changes we can make… Sleep for longer, eat better and laugh more. Make sure you do something you love everyday. It doesn't have to be something ridiculous or time-consuming.. It could be having extra long cuddles with your dog, reading your favourite book, cooking a nice dinner… For me it’s my peanut butter and banana afternoon shake. I love it, every day I look forward to it, every day it makes me smile.”
Feel like alcohol consumption is your next big hurdle? Feel like it’s holding you back on feeling fit and healthy? Georgia suggests ways of drinking less without cutting anything out completely...
“If you’re aiming to reduce your alcohol consumption, here are a few clear steps I would follow:
1 - Become aware of your drinking habits - How many nights did you drink last week? 4? How many nights did you drink the week before? 5? This is to give you an awareness of where you’re at right now.
2 - Aim to reduce drinking nights by two nights a week - This is a more realistic target than cutting completely and also allows you keep socialising. No excuses now!
3 - Set a timeframe - Having an end date tends to be more motivating. For example, “for the month of February I will only drink on Fridays and Saturdays”. Achieve that and see how you feel. If you can sustain that for more than a month (maybe 3 months, 6 or even a year) you will really start to feel a lot more energy during the week and you will find weight loss becomes easier.
4 - Switch the G&T for sparkling water and lime! - Have work meetings? Already had plans to catch up with a friend in the evening? Going to the theatre? All these things don’t necessarily need to be cut just so you can drink less. Why not order a glass of sparkling water and fresh lime instead?! It looks like a G&T, but it hydrates you and keeps you healthy.
5 - Address quantity - Take it one step further and address the quantity of alcohol per week. A more ambitious goal, but it is sure to make you feel amazing and see results. Cutting down to 2 nights only will automatically reduce your total alcohol consumption per week, but drinking excessively on those 2 nights will inevitably lead to dehydration, poor food choices and weight gain. If you’re looking to be healthier and/or lose weight, aim to reduce the quantity. Why not have a glass of water or tonic with lime in between every alcoholic drink?
Keep it simple and stick to it. By being consistent with new habits they eventually become normalised and you wouldn’t have it any other way.”
And that’s a wrap folks! Now take these tips and go hit your goals for 2019! Wishing you all the best of luck from all of us at Soho Fitness Lab!
Want more personalised advice? Come and chat to one of our personal trainers - just pop into the studio any time! Opening hours: 6AM to 9PM, Monday to Friday. Or, drop us an email at email@example.com to book an appointment.