20150125-feb-blog

Today’s world moves fast, people try to cram as much in to their life as they can and it can seem hard to fit it all in.

But fortunately, the method of change from unhealthy to healthy is exactly the same for everyone, no matter how far you may be starting from your goal, and that’s the important thing – to have a goal you want to achieve, and setting yourself small goals along the way.

Sound familiar? Bit boring? Hey look, here’s a story! I have a busy life. I have a 3½ year old son. I do course writing. I have sponsorship commitments. I have multiple sclerosis, which means I need to sleep in the middle of the day, every day, so I don’t get sick. I basically have half a day every day.My current goal is to compete at the Paralympics in Rio in 2016, therefore my training is highly important to me.

Now I hear you saying “well you HAVE to train” – and you are correct. If I want to achieve my GOAL, I HAVE TO TRAIN. So what’s the difference for you? I don’t suggest you compare my goals to yours, but I know that if you really want to, you can find the time in your day to achieve what you want in your health and fitness.

Now for the good news: improving your health and fitness only ever requires small changes. In fact, the best way to approach the challenge is by making one small change each week. Let’s look at “eating habits” (diet is such a dirty word).

Tip 1: Make better choices. Where do you buy your lunch? What do you buy at the supermarket? Do you keep snack foods in the house? These things can be easily adjusted – consider what you’re doing and make a healthier choice. By adding one healthy change each week, you’ll find yourself with vastly healthier eating habits within months, with far less difficulty than if you’d attempted a complete overhaul.

Tip 2: Increase protein and fibre in each meal to feel fuller for longer. Most vegetables (especially green ones) are low in calories, contain useful nutrients, and are high in fibre. Protein will aid recovery after exercise and increase your resting metabolic rate by fortifying your muscles.

Tip 3: Be prepared! I frequently will make a large dinner and save some of that meal for the following day/s. Who needs takeout when you’ve already got a great meal ready? Choose which nights of the week you’ve got a bit more time and cook up a batch for the week, eg chicken stir fry, and divide it into meals across the week. Save money and lose fat! I also like to make healthy snacks for my family from fruit, nuts and grains that we can eat over the week. Make snack time healthier!

Now, a bit about exercise. The most important thing is that you START… AND… CONTINUE! If you’re averaging zero minutes of exercise per day, start with 10 minutes. Yep, just 10 minutes. The human body is amazingly adaptable, but it prefers small changes. With short periods of exercise to start with, you won’t pull up sore or exhausted.

Going too hard to start with often leads to quitting… so just take it easy. If you want to be fit, you’ve got to commit to it long-term. You’ve got plenty of time to pull big numbers – if that’s what you’re aiming for.

Once you’re used to 10 minutes a day, increase it by 5 each week. Your body will appreciate the gradual change and will respond really well. As with changes to the diet, by making consistent gradual improvements to your exercise, you’ll notice vast improvements in just months.

Tip 4: Pick a type of exercise you like. Go to the gym, go for a walk, go cycling, swimming, play on a sports team, practice a sport by yourself, play with your kids in the back yard, pick up the pace of your housework, spend more time in the bedroom… anything that increases your heart rate and pushes your body to adapt and improve your fitness.

I hope this is some good advice to get you started. I look forward to writing more tips on how you can improve and achieve your goals.

KEY POINTS

— Change one thing a week
— Small frequent meals
— Prepare food in advance
— Do the type of exercise you enjoy


Article written by Jessica Gray, Australian Paralympic Benchpress Athlete