Ah, January—the month of renewed resolutions and (over) ambitious fitness goals. While the enthusiasm is admirable, let’s take a moment to consider a more mindful approach to kickstarting the new year. I’m sure many of you have already started thinking about which extreme challenge you are going to start on the 1st of January. Probably while stuffing your face with quality streets and washing it down with a glass of wine, constantly using the “go on then, its Christmas” excuse. Or is that just me?
You have probably already started receiving the “New Year, New You” spam in your inbox and will be promising yourself (and everyone around you) that you are “getting on it” in January. However, before getting caught up in committing to an extreme regime, probably advertised by some reality tv celeb. Please just take a moment to think about the importance of balance, and why punishing ourselves might not be the best way to embrace a healthier lifestyle in the new year.
Problematic extreme challenges:
We know that every January we see a surge in extreme fitness challenges, promising rapid transformations in a short space of time. However, the science warns us about the risks of engaging in these—overtraining, burnout, and the potential for injuries. It’s like sprinting a marathon—enthusiastic but definitely not sustainable. Take 75 Hard for example. I’ve tried (and failed) this programme twice. Both times due to the water intake and losing electrolytes but that is for another blog. This program is designed to promote discipline and resilience through daily workouts, strict diets, 4L water per day and other self-improvement tasks. However for a beginner, or like me someone who currently only drinks around 2L per day, its intensity may lead to adverse consequences.
The rigid nature of 75 Hard, can be overwhelming for those unaccustomed to such a stringent regimen. Moreover, the emphasis on perfection and the punitive nature of restarting the challenge from day one for any slip-up may contribute to a negative mindset and hinder a healthier relationship with fitness and well-being. Its definitely aimed more at those who already have a good base level of fitness. So please shop around if wanting to find a programme for the new year.
Id say if a z list celeb is endorsing it, run a mile! Remind yourself that their secret to a killer body is most likely photoshop and a well-timed spray tan. Celebrity endorsements of fitness trends should definitely come with a disclaimer. Most of these celebs haven’t even broken a sweat trying the program they’re promoting; they’re just cashing in on the hope that you’ll buy into their newfound (paid) passion for fitness/.
The Allure of Deprivation Diets:
Diet culture always manages to sneak in during January, whispering promises of quick fixes, usually through deprivation. Depriving yourself can lead to nutrient deficiencies and, let’s face it, a very hangry, miserable you throughout January. While the allure of quick fixes may be tempting, these extreme diets often involve severe restrictions. These can lead to nutritional imbalances, energy depletion, and negative impacts on overall well-being.
Deprivation diets tend to focus on short-term outcomes, promoting rapid weight loss at the expense of essential nutrients and long-term health. The restrictive nature of these diets can also contribute to feelings of frustration, guilt, and failure when we inevitably struggle to adhere to unrealistic guidelines. Rather than falling for the drastic promises in January, why not adopt a more realistic and balanced approach to nutrition, emphasising a variety of wholesome foods, mindful eating, and sustainable lifestyle changes.
Looks vs. Health: Striking the Right Balance:
When considering health and fitness resolutions in January, striking the right balance between aesthetics and overall well-being is crucial for a sustainable journey. While the desire for a more aesthetically pleasing physique is a common motivator for all of us, prioritising health over mere appearance ensures a holistic approach to fitness. Id be lying if I said aesthetics didn’t factor in my training goals. I am only human and still working on trying to be less motivated by this but I am aware of this and make sure it isn’t at the expense of my health goals..
If we choose to focus solely on looks/weight loss in January, it may lead to extreme measures. We end up doing things such as crash diets or excessive workouts, which can compromise our health and our ability to continue with the our fitness programme. Opting for a program that focuses on both physical and mental health ensures a more comprehensive and sustainable transformation. A well-rounded approach considers nutritious eating habits, regular exercise, and mental well-being, promoting a positive relationship with our body. Striving for a balance between looking good and feeling good encourages habits that are maintainable in the long run.
The January Punishment Syndrome:
I think we have all been guilty of The “January Punishment Syndrome”. This refers to the common phenomenon where we, fueled by New Year resolutions, adopt overly punitive approaches towards our health and fitness goals. This mindset often leads to extreme measures, such as punishing workout routines, severe dietary restrictions, and self-imposed guilt for any perceived lapses. To avoid falling into this cycle, it’s crucial to prioritise a positive and balanced perspective on health and well-being. Rather than viewing January as a month of punishment for holiday indulgences, consider it an opportunity for positive change. Set realistic, achievable goals that align with long-term well-being rather than focusing solely on immediate results. Embrace self-compassion and understand that setbacks are a natural part of any journey. Cultivate a mindset that promotes enjoyment in physical activity and nourishing foods, fostering a sustainable approach to health and fitness throughout the year.
Making It Fun and Sustainable:
Making fitness both enjoyable and sustainable is hugely important for establishing lasting health and wellness habits. The enthusiasm that often accompanies the start of a new year can quickly subside if fitness routines become tedious or overly demanding. By introducing an element of fun into exercise, you are more likely to stay motivated and engaged. Whether it’s trying new activities, joining group classes, or engaging in sports. Finding pleasure in physical activity transforms exercise from a chore into a rewarding experience.
Celebrate the small wins:
Celebrating small wins in January, especially when embarking on a new fitness regime, is crucial for maintaining motivation and fostering a positive mindset. We all know that starting a fitness journey can be challenging. Acknowledging and celebrating small achievements provides a sense of accomplishment, reinforcing the commitment to our long-term goals. Whether it’s completing a challenging workout, making healthier food choices, or consistently sticking to a planned fitness routine. Recognising these incremental victories boosts confidence and creates a positive feedback loop. In the initial stages of a new fitness regime, when the larger goals may seem distant, celebrating the small wins serves as a powerful motivator. It can instill a sense of pride and reinforcing the idea that progress, no matter how modest, is worth acknowledging.
So as you plan your health and fitness resolutions for January, remember: slow and steady wins the race. Ditch the extremes, embrace balance, and prioritise your health over punishing resolutions. Let’s make this year about mindful movement, sustainable progress, and having a fun. Cheers to a fit and fabulous 2024!