The Christmas season has well and truly ended now, and yet some new dietary habits can prove hard to shake. If you let yourself go and enjoy your food, with little exercise, over the holiday break, then chances are you might still be struggling to return to your previous level of dietary discipline. The more sweets, simple sugars, and rich foods the body consumes, the more it seems to want. The trick is to break those habits before things (your waistline) get out of hand. Here are some ways to get into the best shape you can this year!
You want to create a caloric deficit. If you’re burning more calories than you are consuming, then you will lose fat. This doesn’t mean you have to go and run a marathon and risk losing the muscle you have been working hard at building. Increasing your cardio can be as simple and super-setting at the gym, or upping the intensity of your workouts with some functional training, kettlebell exercises, body-weight workouts on the chin up and dip bar, using battle ropes, or all of the above.
Workout in the Mornings
Get some cardio in first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Swim, bike or run as soon as you wake up. This might mean getting up earlier to be able to get in a decent workout. If that’s what you need to do, then do it. There’s nothing better than getting outside as a new day begins and going for a run or ride, knowing that you are starting the day off right and giving yourself every opportunity to have a successful, productive and positive day. Compare that to rolling out of bed, drinking a coffee and moping off to work. Getting up early and working out might be harder, and you might have to fight yourself and work to convince your brain that you actually don’t need that extra 30 minutes of sleep, but it will all be worth it once you’re done.
Do Compound Lifts
This is something that everyone should be doing regardless of their fitness goals. Compound lifts using an Olympic bar, like squats, deadlifts and bench press, work multiple large muscle groups and therefore require a much greater effort and energy output then targeted exercises. And when you’re doing your compound lifts, go heavy – doing 30 minutes of heavy compound lifts will stimulate your post-workout metabolism with far greater effect then if you were to do an hour or more of slow to mid-pace walking or running on a treadmill.
This is such a basic piece of advice to follow, but one of the hardest to maintain. A lot of people feel like they don’t know exactly what clean eating is and feel the need to follow other people’s diets or be told what to eat and when.
Firstly, there are a couple of eating schedules you can follow – the tried and tested eating 6-8 meals a day seems to work well for most people. Others enjoy intermittent fasting. Do what works for you and what gets you results. Secondly, eating clean is all about eating real food. Veggies, beans, good fats, some whole grains, nuts, and fruits – anything that is grown or hand-made (preferably by you).
Stay away from processed food. It might be hard at first, usually, sugar cravings last for a few days or a week while you wean yourself off sweets, but after a month or so you will start to feel the benefits of clean eating. Your body will feel lighter and more energised.
If you can eat well, you’re giving yourself every chance of being in top shape. You are what you eat. Listen to your body, do what feels right, and take your time. Your body will adapt but you need to stick at it for a while. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your current body took some time to get to where it’s at. Be patient and persistent.