The start of a new year is a natural time to set some intentions for the twelve months ahead but saying and doing are two *very* different things. Making it through January, truly the longest month of them all with its cold, its darkness and its tightening of wallets, can be a real slog and then you’ve still got eleven more staring you down. With that in mind, we’ve asked three experts from the worlds of fitness, mindfulness and nutrition (according to YouGov, improving fitness tops the list of resolutions made by Britons this year) to share their top tips on how to stay motivated, so you can stay on track with your goals for 2023.
Here’s what Jack Shaylor, trainer and co-owner of F45 Henley-On-Thames and F45 Reading recommends you do to make training in the cold, dark winter that bit easier:
- Develop your routine and habits. If you are an early riser: no snooze button, lights on, drink a pint of water, wash face, brush teeth, workout gear on, GO! If you train at the end of the day: drink plenty of water throughout the day and plan your meals to ensure you have enough energy. Log off, get changed before leaving the office, headphones on, GO!
- Prepare your workout gear the night before – pack your gym bag, lay out your trainers, load your Yoga YouTube video, get your bike out of the shed, whatever it may be. This removes several barriers and eliminates the number of decisions you need to make. If you have your gym kit at work or in the car you will be more likely to commit to your workout.
- If you normally get your fix outside but the dark mornings or evenings prevent you from safely doing so, try swapping to a winter-friendly indoor workout, such as at an F45 Training studio where you can try a variety of HIIT cardio and resistance classes. The environment provides a community of like-minded individuals to keep you accountable and on track. If you have to book the class, even better! You are more likely to stay committed to showing up if you have to pre-book.
- Mix it up with some outside lunchtime training. This can be an awesome way to get some natural light and the all-important Vitamin D. Whether it’s a brisk walk around the block, a long run by the river or simply dragging your exercise mat outside to do a quick HIIT workout, your body will appreciate the fresh air and you will feel more energised in the afternoon. Do not let the weather be an excuse, if it’s raining then invest in a good waterproof jacket. It can feel very liberating to work out in the rain!
- Plan your workouts for the week, write them down and schedule them in your diary, this will hold you accountable to yourself. Even better, get a workout buddy and agree the plan together.
As a qualified meditation, mindfulness and yoga instructor who teaches at Frame, John Reed and Third Space, Eloise Skinner is the perfect person to help you focus on your mental wellbeing goals. Here are her top tips:
- A first tip is to pace yourself when it comes to a mindfulness and meditation practice. These types of practices don’t lend themselves to a ‘quick fix’ approach – instead, think of them as skills you’re building up to last you a lifetime. Start with a manageable daily practice (even five minutes is great, if that’s all you have available), and make sure it fits around your schedule and lifestyle.
- Find a teacher with an approach that works for you! Meditation and mindfulness come with long histories and traditions, and there are many variations in the way teachers interpret the practices. Experiment with approaches and instructors until you find something that feels authentic and supportive.
- Don’t expect immediate or overnight transformation. Unlike resolutions like fitness, or giving up an unhelpful habit, you may not see any immediate changes in your life as a result of starting a meditation or mindfulness practice. The impact of practices like these takes time to come into effect, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t see any immediate change. Over time, though, look out for more subtle things – for example, a deeper sense of compassion and empathy (for yourself and for those around you), and a more grounded sense of being in the present moment.
Melanie Wilkinson is a registered nutritional therapist and neuroscientist and is Resident Nutritionist at The Body Lab in Kensington, where she specialises in optimising members’ health both mentally and physically. Here are ways to optimise yours:
- Focus on what you can add in rather than what to take out. Research is showing that the more varieties of plant-based food that we can get into our diet the better it is for our gut health and therefore, overall health! Our gut microbes thrive on different varieties of plant-based food – try diversifying from your staple broccoli, carrots and peas! Challenge yourself to 30 different plants a week. On top of fruit and vegetables, this can include nuts, seeds and spices.
- Try a fermented food source. Fermentation is one of the oldest methods of food processing and happens by adding microorganisms (bacteria/yeast) to a food source. Whilst an old technique to help with preservation, more recent research is highlighting the benefits that fermented food could have on our health. Try experimenting with a little kefir, a spoonful of sauerkraut, or a miso soup.
- Start the day with a protein-rich breakfast. Not only does protein help us feel fuller for longer, but it also helps to balance our blood glucose helping prevent undesired snacking. Try having eggs or a good quality greek yoghurt with some nuts!
- Avoid the ‘low fat’ or ‘reduced calories’ marketing! If it is ‘low fat’ or ‘reduced calories’ it typically means something else, arguably more harmful has been added in like sugar, sweeteners or additives. This can disrupt the microbes in your gut and prevent you from receiving many of the healthful nutrients that a higher-fat alternative may have.
- Let go of the guilt. If you slip up on your eating and decide to go for that takeaway, don’t get caught up in it. Always focus on getting the next meal right. We are not a product of what we eat in one meal, but a result of what we do consistently.
- Be realistic. Setting too high an expectation or too many a goal can set you out for failure. Focus on building small incremental changes that are manageable. This may be adding one extra vegetable each day, trying one new herb or setting aside 5 minutes to practise mindfulness. Over time, these small changes can amount to huge results.