How to fall back in love with fitness this January
Everyone loves Christmas – aside from the presents, parties and decorations, it’s pretty much the only time of year where you are almost expected to put on a little timber around your midriff. Whether it’s pudding and mulled wine or multiple roast dinners, the temptations are difficult to avoid!
However, once the tinsel has been taken down, we often start to regret just how much we allowed ourselves to be ‘festively full’. But help is at hand: Chris Wharton, director of Better Body Group, reveals some easy steps you can follow to help get you back into your fitness groove after this festive season.
1 Drop the guilt ‘Everyone is in the same boat,’ Wharton says. ‘Don’t sit there reminiscing about how fit and slim you were before the holidays and accept that it’s only a few pounds of body fat.’
2 Set a realistic goal ‘Generic goals, such as “I want to lose 5kg” don’t tend to work as well as those that are more specific,’ explains Wharton. ‘Instead, a better aim would be, “I want to fit back into my favourite jeans by Easter.” Figure out exactly what you want, but more importantly, why you want it. Then write it down, so you can look back to it for motivation when the going gets tough.’
3 Decide how much you want it ‘Lots of people at this time of year will try to make excuses and say, “I’ll just take it slowly, and start with one day a week.”,’ states Wharton. ‘However, if you really want to achieve something significant, you have to go at it full steam and be prepared to put in the effort.’
4 Buy new workout gear ‘Preferably a whole new outfit – or two!,’ Wharton suggests. ‘This will help give you the boost in confidence to get started, as well as get you in the right frame of mind to continue with your workouts during the weeks afterwards.’
5 Invest in training ‘I don’t mean join a gym – you’ll only go a few times, get bored and stop going,’ says Wharton. ‘We all start with the best intentions but, without accountability, your newfound drive can dry up quicker than leftover mince pies. Look into personal training sessions or class packages – there will be loads of deals on at this time of year.’ A trainer will help you stay on the straight and narrow, while exercising with others is proven to help motivate and keep you pushing on through when your legs feel like jelly.
But, let’s be honest, January is often the time we’re trying to stop our credit cards from weeping. ‘If budget is an issue, find something cheaper that you enjoy doing,’ suggests Wharton. ‘Join a running club, go climbing, or start dancing. Doing something you enjoy makes it far more likely you will stick to and even look forward to it!
6 Count calories Aside from your kit and training plan, you have to think about nutrition. ‘Create a daily calorie deficit – so burn off more calories than you consume each day. It is impossible not to lose weight if you continue to do this over time,’ Wharton explains. ‘What’s more, those post-Christmas pounds are far easier to get rid of than the last stubborn bit of belly fat we all tend to hold on to.’ Hurrah!
‘Set yourself a realistic daily calorie target, around 20-30 per cent below your daily recommended allowance (2000 for women, 2500 for men),’ Wharton says. ‘Counting calories is often the method that gets the best results. Try to get most of your intake from a variety of vegetables, lean meats and fish, and a small amount of fruit, seeds, and nuts. Also drink lots of water – aim for around three litres per day.’ Getting in your H2O will not only keep you hydrated (which we know is vital for our bodies to work at their best), but it will also help you feel fuller and, in turn, fight any hunger pangs.
7 De-clutter ‘Clear out your fridge, freezer and cupboards. To succeed at any nutrition plan you have to be prepared,’ states Wharton. ‘Throw out everything left over from the festivities and give away those extra boxes of chocolate. Think: out of sight, out of mind.’ And – sorry – your clear out applies to those tipples, too. ‘Drinking alcohol makes it notoriously difficult to stick to your fitness resolutions,’ adds Wharton. ‘Along with the unnecessary extra calories, it has the habit of stopping you going to the gym and tempting you to eat junk food.’
Remember: you’re not alone in feeling like you’ve overdone it a bit at Christmas and getting back to your pre-festive fitness levels is totally achievable. ‘Stick to the above steps, keep your head down, and get the job done,’ says Wharton. ‘If you follow a strict plan with an element of accountability, you will be back in shape in no time.’
Chris is director of Better Body Group – a chain of gyms in the South East specialising in body transformation, recovery and improving fitness performance. Based in Sevenoaks and Blackheath, it offers personal, small group and family training classes, fat loss programmes, health improvement guidance, rehabilitation exercise plans and young athlete development support.
What activities are you doing to help get back into shape after Christmas? Let us know by tweeting us @healthymag – we love to hear from you!