The new year often inspires people to make changes to their lifestyle to improve their health. There are many fad diets available, which are widely promoted at the beginning of each year. However, the best changes are often the simplest, and there are achievable alterations you can make to your way of life to see results. Eating a balanced diet, taking part in regular exercise and drinking the recommended amount of water are easy changes you can make to see an improvement in your wellbeing. Here are a few tips on how to achieve your health and fitness goals this year.

Set achievable goals

If you want to stay on track with your fitness goals this year, then it is vital to your progress that you set realistic and action-specific goals. Just saying ‘I want to lose weight’ or ‘I want to get fitter’ is very ambiguous, and doesn’t give you a clear pathway with set destinations. Instead, you should set an end goal which is achievable and clear-cut: for example, ‘I want to lose 20lbs in 20 weeks’ or ‘I want to be able to run a mile in 7 minutes’.  You should also set milestone goals, as this is a good incentive for you to stay on target. Keep track of your progress, and acknowledge your achievements. Remember that you should set your goals so that they are specifically tailored to you and your abilities; there is no point following a program that was designed for athletes if you don’t usually partake in regular exercise.

Do your research

Your fitness program needs to be tailored specifically to you as an individual. Do not just pick up any diet or exercise regime, without doing in-depth research first. If you are someone who suffers from unstable blood sugar levels, and you start a diet that almost completely cuts out carbs, fats and sugars, it could be detrimental to your health. Less isn’t necessarily more in some cases, so make sure that you are following a carefully planned diet which will allow you to get all the nutrients you need to function well.

Introducing lots of prolonged cardio sessions into your workout is often mistaken to be the best method to lose weight. In fact, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is one of the most effective methods for shedding fat. Rather than focusing on long-term endurance, HIIT alternates between short periods of intense aerobic exercise with are broken up with short recovery intervals. Body weight workouts are beneficial for both losing weight and gaining muscle, and can be done from home to reduce gym expenses. Regarding food, in order to lose weight, you will need to consume fewer calories than you burn, but the difference doesn’t need to be substantial for you to see results. On the other hand, to gain muscle, you shouldn’t be down on food intake so much as focusing on eating the right foods, such as introducing more protein into your diet.

Get advice

If you aren’t already a highly informed fitness fanatic, then it may be beneficial for you to get advice from others who are. Your doctor can advise you on a healthy target for weight-loss, and may even recommend you visit a dietician if they feel it would benefit your health. You can also get advice online, from blogs such as What Protein, to learn more about exercise, nutrition and health supplements. It is possible your local gym will also offer free personal trainer trials, and you can make the most of a free session to find out which exercises they recommend you regularly incorporate into your routine for the best results.

Eat well

What you eat is just as important as doing regular exercise. No matter how many reps you do, or the number of laps you run, if you don’t change your diet, you won’t see the results. Try and cut down on processed foods which contain lots of artificial flavourings and preservatives, as they have no health benefits whatsoever. Look out for added sugar in foods, and reduce the amount of sugary and fizzy drinks you consume, as these all add to your calorie intake but contain no nutritional value. Though saturated fats are bad for you, unsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats are good for you in moderation and can reduce your cholesterol. You can introduce these foods easily into your diet, for example, you could have half an avocado with your breakfast, or eat a small amount of peanut butter on a rice cracker for a snack. Increasing your fibre intake will aid weight-loss, and choosing wholemeal bread over white bread will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Finally, the most important part of keeping healthy is to drink a minimum of two litres of water a day, if not more.

Motivation

If you want to succeed in your goals, then it is crucial to remind yourself why you are trying to get healthier constantly. Are you trying to live a longer, more fulfilling life? Do you want to be more active and mobile, or is your aim to be more content with your body? Whatever your reasons, keep them in mind, and repeat it to yourself like a mantra every single day. That way when you get cravings or don’t want to complete your daily exercises, you will have a reason to keep going.

A few extra tips

There are hundreds of weight-loss tips out there, but here are a few which you might find beneficial to remember:

  • Eat slowly: The hypothalamus is the part of your brain which is responsible for maintaining a balance in your body. It takes time for the chemical reaction to take place which signals to the hypothalamus that you are full. By eating slowly, you allow the body time to adjust and are more likely to feel full quicker, reducing the amount of food you feel the need to eat.
  • Sleep well and reduce stressors where you can, as this will diminish the need for emotional eating.
  • If you are on a busy schedule, you can buy frozen vegetables so that you cut down preparation time while still eating reasonably healthy foods.

Following these steps should help you to live a healthier lifestyle. Be responsible when making modifications to your diet and exercise regime, and make sure to get the appropriate advice before making any drastic changes.