With the new year embracing us, it’s the time where we re-write our list of new goals. If “get fit” is at the top 10 of your list, then read on. While every new year ignites another spark of determination, an all-or-nothing approach usually sends one dwindling back to the same bad habits.
Say, you start the first day with cutting out with rice. Tad a little uncomfortable. But you hang on. Yes, you reached the second day without rice. And then the third. And then the fourth. You keep giving yourself a pat at the back. But what is happening is a stone pulled back in a catapult… waiting for that moment to launch. That stone is your hunger. And the catapult is all the unhealthy habits you are reinforcing to hold back that hunger. Before you know it, the stone flings forward and you find yourself ravenously munching on the chips.
Sound familiar? That’s because you’re most likely entering a starvation diet, one that restricts your calories. Yes, you do need to be in a calorie deficit for fat loss to occur, but you don’t have to be bored, hungry or depriving your body. You can still be healthy and living it up. How?
One change at a time..
Make small adjustments weekly to your regular eating patterns and physical activity. For example, if you are not a regular breakfast taker, then start taking breakfast for the first week. Focus on that one change you need to make. Once that change gets a strong daily foothold, you’re good to move onto the next change.
You can also start by making a resolution to eat more multi-colored fruits and vegetables for your first week. This itself, is an easy change to tackle, whether you’ll be eating in at home or ordering take away. Once that habit locks in, you can move on to other habits such as deciding whether you want to start preparing your own food and increasing your exercise frequency over the weeks.
Soon you’ll find the incremental changes becomes a permanent lifestyle. Unless you are fully experienced and a true-blue practitioner of bulking and cutting diets (usually applicable to professional figure models), it’s most likely you want to do it slow and steadily. Just like walking on a thin line mid-air. And in that, balance is key.
Key Actions You Can Do
- Over a span of 2 weeks, change one meal at a time. For example, during breakfast, have scrambled eggs (a protein source), spinach, tomatoes (vegetables and fiber) and a slice of whole wheat toast. Focus on having that balanced breakfast daily. Then move on to changing your dinner to something as simple as grilled chicken breast (a protein source), avocado, cherry tomatoes, mixed salad.
- If you are just starting out on the exercise, you can begin by having just 1 to 2 sessions of workout per week, which will allow ample time for recovery and adaptation. Adding in too much exercise too soon can hamper your recovery sleep, motivation and appetite. Remember to allow your body to adjust before deciding to add another session.
- Chart down all the food you eaten for a day. So that you can have a clear record of what you ate. You can do this via myFitnessPal. I’ve written a post here to demonstrate that at How to check your Macro Intake on myFitnessPal
- Aim for 15 ml of water per pound of bodyweight. Water plays a vital role in almost every function in our bodies. Even that daytime fatigue can be caused by lack of water. A natural appetite suppressant, water helps to metabolize stored fat.
- Eat slowly. Your body takes a while for the fullness to be signaled by the brain.
- Understand situations that make you vulnerable to binge. This means occasions like Chinese New Year (pineapple tarts, yikes) where you’re more likely to be surrounded by Force-You-To-Eat-Uncles and CNY goodies. You can use Point 5. to tackle them just to prove you still have more in your hands before you can move on to their “please eat more” demands.