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Lifestyle changes and a health first approach

We have all done it – we ‘start Monday’, eat ALL the salad and none of the treats, being ‘so good’ and within a few days we are sitting in front of the TV devouring a share bag of Malteasers and a pack of Jaffa cakes feeling sorry for ourselves because we have no will power!

This is not a healthy approach, and it clearly doesn’t work, but we try and try again, every time not able to commit to it, and every time feel worse about ourselves! We are then in a worse off position than we were to start with, because on top of feeling bad about our health, we are now causing unnecessary stress which is extremely bad for our mental health and well-being.

The trouble is that we put ourselves under too much pressure to get everything perfect, rather than taking one day at a time and looking at making small changes to turn into habits and build on these over a period of time.

In our own personal journeys to becoming ‘healthier’ (whatever that may mean for you) it is important that we learn to adapt to new habits one step at a time.

The key is to change our way of thinking to a ‘Health First’ approach. This means rather than being focused on an end goal (for example, losing 2 stone) change our thinking to HOW we are going to achieve this end goal (health focused).

When you are looking to make changes to be healthier, fitter, eat more veg , whatever it may be – follow these 5 steps and see if you can make changes that last.

  1. Set 1-2 small goals every week or 2. For example, this week I will eat a healthy breakfast every day and go to the gym 2 times, OR this week I will park 10 minutes away from the office and walk there & back each day. Setting ourselves small goals takes the pressure off, and makes our lifestyle changes feel much more manageable! Once these goals have become habits, introduce 1-2 new goals you want to achieve.
  2. Plan and Prepare – If your goal is focused around food, plan your main meals for the week, and have some easy healthy snacks on hand for the times when hunger hits and you are out and about to stop you from getting a quick fix! If your goal is exercise focused, plan your workouts into your week. Keep them written in your diary and stick to them no matter what!
  3. Focus on one day at a time. The biggest barrier to change I see in clients is trying to plan absolutely everything they are going to do and eat for the next few weeks! Focusing on one day at a time gives us that control back. For example, instead of saying to yourself  ‘I mustn’t eat crisps for lunch anymore!’ , change it to ‘Today I won’t eat crisps with my lunch, but tomorrow I can if I want to.’ Again, this takes the pressure off, allowing us to feel more in control. The longer you can do this, the less likely you will want that packet of crisps! And when you REALLY do want them, you will have them, enjoy them, and move on, guilt free!
  4. Look at everything you CAN have rather than anything you are trying to have less of. The moment you focus on what you are missing out on, you will feel deprived, and therefore naturally want that thing more! The same goes for exercise. If you constantly think about how you are missing out on an extra 45minutes of sleep in the morning, or an extra hour of tv in the evening, you will not stick to your plan. Instead keep reminding yourself of what you can achieve in that hour of exercise!
  5. REMEMBER you will not feel motivated all of the time. Don’t rely on motivation, building habits that will last is the key to achieving your health and fitness goals!

Find out more...

Thank you to personal trainer Amber Terry of HappyFit for this great article to find out more about her and what she can offer you visit her personal training page.

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