'How to maintain a healthier, happier lifestyle' by Soulfit Director & Personal Trainer Gyles Abbott

How can we stick with our great intentions of living a healthier happier lifestyle? It’s really tough when we’re bombarded through social media with messages about new ‘Quick Fix Diets’, fitness regimes and weight loss programmes. The unfortunate fact is 'Quick Fixes' are not permanent and inevitably lead to failure…… if not immediately, at least within the first three months. 

Gyms rely on ‘new’ members, but not a member that attends on a regular basis..... the cold reality is gyms are expecting their members to fail. The perfect gym member is the one that intends to workout but doesn’t, therefore subsidising the few that continue going throughout the year. The fact is 30% of new gym members give up within the first 12 weeks.

The same applies to Fad Diets, these companies rely on repeat business, they need your custom again and again! Generally cutting out meals or replacing meals with supplements leads to individuals feeling tired and ill, this is a problem as healthy living becomes associated with a negative emotions. You should be feeling great, energised and full of life with a healthy diet! The reality is there are no short cuts to healthy living and feeling great, it’s not a temporary 6-week programme.

So why do people fail to maintain a healthy lifestyle with short term fixes?? Here are a few common stages:

  • Month 1 & 2 - You hit your target…..Great, mission accomplished. The fasting diet stops. You revert back to normal….you slide quickly back to where you started.

  • You make it to Month 3 & 4 – You plateau, you get bored and bad habits start to creep. You’re back in the cycle of fad diets and bursts of activity.

  • You maintain a healthy lifestyle beyond Month 4 - This is a good place to be, this indicates that your thinking, exercise, healthy eating is working and is becoming your new lifestyle.

There are a number of triggers that can cause the demise of a well intended ‘New You’ - Stress at work or home, boredom, sadness….it’s often a negative feeling that will push you back into bad habits. Unhealthy eating, smoking, drinking are seen as a way of making things bette - relieving stress…..and they may for a moment, but after a short while they will make any bad situation or feeling worse. Coping with difficult situations at home or at work is far easier when you’re feeling healthy, you have a clear mind, you probably make better decisions and you’re generally in a more positive mood. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a glass of wine or a beer, but when it gets to the stage where you’re stopping exercise because you lack energy, you probably need to pull back a little.

Here are number of points that could help you reach your goals and more importantly stick with a new, healthier way of living:

  • Identify your trigger, what is it that makes you reach for that unhealthy snack? Ask yourself whether you are really hungry or need a drink and will you feel better for it. Substitute the old negative habit for a positive new one. Cake for a raw snack or fruit, or £5 in the pot for a new pair of shoes rather than a pack of 10….…reward yourself!

  • Get some company - Go to the studio with a partner or join a class, motivation and support is key to ensuring there is longevity with your exercise plan. Let your family know what your goals are and make sure they buy into them, it’s easier to cook and live healthier if the whole household is on board.

  • Keep it varied - This goes for food and exercise. Boredom is one of the main reasons people give in. If you consistently carry out the same exercises week after week your body will stop re-acting and changing, you need to keep surprising it.

  • Don’t beat yourself up if you fall of the wagon occasionally, we are big on this at Soulfit, it’s life. Have a drink, grab a pizza…it’s OK! Do what you can to live a healthy lifestyle, but don’t give up if you slip up, it’s really important to keep it going.

  • Set yourself fitness goals - Get a Fitbit and count your steps, download and try the Couch to 5k App...... Don’t focus on how many pounds you’re losing, there are so many other measures which are far more important. Feeling great mentally, feeling strong, running upstairs without losing breath……

  • Plan your week like you would plan a working day or your social life. Diarise your workout - when is it? What are you going to do? What’s your meal plan for the week? But don’t beat yourself if you miss a session, it doesn’t matter….. just fit in what you can.

Exercise and eating healthily go well together, one often leads to the other. If you’re not eating well you probably won’t feel like exercising, and you don’t have the right fuel in your body to help you generate the necessary energy.

Eating well and exercise are not punishments, they should be enjoyed. It’s the only way they will become part of your lifestyle, so invest in the long-term.

What will you get from a healthier way of living:

  • An improvement in mood

  • Less colds and bugs

  • More energy

  • Strengthened muscles & bones

  • Increased flexibility

  • Increased chances of living longer

  • Improved chance of avoiding longer term illnesses

  • Improved performance at work and at home

Gyles AbbottSoulfit