Everyone is constantly being bombarded with what to do to be healthy and how to start your fitness regime. So I thought i'd write an article on what not to do.
I mean everyone is different, so everyone's fitness regime and health journey is going to look different and everyone is going to be at different stages - but what not to do is going to be the same for everyone.
1. DO Educate yourself about Nutrition and DON'T just follow a regimented nutrition plan
Well for starters you probably shouldn't be following a strict nutrition plan - you should be TAUGHT how to create a good balanced diet for yourself, NOT TOLD what to eat. This is so that YOU can pick and choose what you want to eat, when you want to eat it not someone else. Unless that person is in your brain, how do they know what you are going to want to eat for breakfast or dinner tonight, tomorrow or in 4 days time? The plan may say Salmon but on the day you might feel like tacos, so instead of understanding how to make a healthy version of tacos, you have the salmon but dread every second of it because it's not what you actually feel like. Yes the salmon may be healthy - but that isn't a win in my book and not how eating should be.
2. Don't feel guilt around food.
At the beginning when I was trying to lose weight I was so beyond strict and now I look back and think how ridiculous it was (literally weighing most meals) and then feeling guilty if I ate even a square of chocolate or something that wasn't scheduled on my nutrition plan. Now-days my eating is generally 80-20. I make sure that most of my meals are filled with good nutritious foods, aim to cook most meals at home on weeknights and take my lunch to work most days. But now I definitely have a more relaxed approach and do enjoy a piece of cake or some chocolate every now and then and don't think twice about it. I just think yum how delicious that piece of cake was and don't beat myself up about it or think how long i'm going to have to run for on the treadmill to burn it off.
I have a perfect example of this - the other week, as a surprise my boyfriend brought home a piece of salted caramel cheesecake for dessert. I never usually have dessert and especially during the week (on the weekends i'm a bit more lax and may have something but not both nights and probably not every weekend) but he bought it for me (he knows that salted caramel anything is my absolute favourite) and it was such a lovely gesture so of course I ate it, without any guilt and boy I enjoyed every single mouthful! And I think the reason that I enjoyed it so much is because it was a treat and not something I have every single day so it was special.
Moral of the story - don't feel guilty about having a piece of cake or a dessert every now and then.
So long as it's not a daily occurrence then it's not going to significantly affect you.
3. Don't calorie count
I bet you've heard the old "have 1200 calories per day to lose weight" theory. Who hasn't?
And to be honest, yes i've tried it. And yes look you can lose weight following that, i'm not denying that.
Just saying to eat 1200 calories does not look at the nutritional content of the food. As i've said many times - 1200 calories from McDonalds is going to make you feel and look a lot different then 1200 calories of fruit, vegetables and nutritious whole foods and not to mention the increased risk of diabetes and heart disease from all that sugar in the McDonalds!! So ditch the calorie counting and just eat good nutritious food in their natural state- filling up on these will make you feel full a lot faster than sugar laiden packaged food so you won't overeat. I mean that would be a problem I would love my clients to have if they said they were overeating on Broccoli or Spinach - #wishfulthinking
4. Don't skip meals
It's simple, you need food to give you fuel, even to just do things in everyday life let alone before you start think about putting your body through a gruelling workout. And when you think of it a workout is quite taxing on the body. Think of it like a car - not enough fuel in the tank and you can't go very far or fast and will run out of steam pretty soon. Give the car (body) the optimum petrol (in this case food) and you will have more energy, your workouts will be better and you'll recover a lot faster and you won't get that 3pm slump as your blood sugar levels are more regulated and won't drop mid afternoon. Instead of skipping meals, look at every meal as a chance to give your body the nourishment it needs to get through everyday tasks.
5. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for being healthy
Don't let anyone put you down or make you feel bad if you want to order the salad instead of pizza or if you say no you don't want to drink tonight and are just going to have water instead. Let me fill you in on a secret - they're just secretly jealous that they don't have your self control and level of good health (and no, me saying that is not like your mum telling you that "the boy teasing you at school is secretly in love with you" - what i'm saying is actually true). Hear me out - if something that you were doing didn't hit home to them or touch them at the core (as in deep down they knew that what they were doing i.e. drinking or shovelling their mouth full of hot chips wasn't bad for them), then they wouldn't feel the need to comment they'd just be happy for you and could just move on and accept that you didn't want to drink or eat junk food. This was definitely one of the things that I struggled with most at the beginning of my own health and fitness journey. I use to get the "oh you aren't drinking" comments which took a bit of self control to then not cave in and have a drink but after a few times of saying no it got easier every time and then people stopped asking or questioning it.
6. Don't go too hard too fast
Just like you don't need to give up every food that you love and swap it all for spinach and kale (I mean as much as i'd like to tell my clients to do that I know it's not realistic or sustainable), you don't need to go from not exercising to going to the gym 6 days a week straight away. Doing this can not only potentially cause great harm if you don't know what you're doing and how to do the exercises properly and have good technique, but could also cause burnout and adrenal fatigue. If you've never exercised (or it's been a long time between sessions) starting out just going for a few walks a week is going to do as much good for you as going to the gym would - A) because you are able to go for a longer walk than you would be able to do an intense gym session and B) the endorphins and Vitamin D that you get from walking outside in the sunlight are not only going to help your waistline but also help you mentally and get you in a better mindframe to be able to lose the weight, get healthier or whatever your health goal may be.
7. Learn to rest not give up
This goes together with the above of not going too hard to fast. Some days and weeks, especially as women, you are going to be able to go to the gym 5 days in a row and feel like superwoman and run further and lift heavier every time. Other weeks you just need to dial it down a notch and listen to your body. When those weeks come that you do need to rest slightly more or are a bit more tired, this is the time when your end goal and motivation is crucial so that you don't just throw in the towel and pick yourself up the next week and continue on with your training.
This is when you go for more walks instead of strenuous runs, and lift lighter weights that week but the key is to not give up. You don't just think oh this week was crap I was so tired and fatigued and give up. You know that each session is a new chance to make your body healthy.
8. Don't give up going to restaurants
A part of any life is going to be going out to eat at restaurants socialising with friends every now and then. I know a lot of my clients say they feel very anxious when they have to go out as they don't know if they are going to be able to find anything healthy. Just like you shouldn't have dessert every night, the same applies to eating out at restaurants - it is great to do occasionally but I wouldn't recommended it everyday. However, I don't want you to feel as though If you are trying to lose weight you can't go out and eat at restaurants and cancel every single social occasion coming up. This is when that education and learning the type of meals to look for on menus will come in handy.