By Yajen Tan
As 2017 comes to an end, I’m looking back now to pick apart my mistakes, failures, and discoveries that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience in the past 365 days. January is the perfect time for us to adopt and solidify new positive habits to carry into the new year. These are the five resolutions that I decided to prioritize this January.
Choose Healthy Habits, Not Rapid Results
As a forewarning – 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February, so keep your resolutions simple this year and remember that consistency is key.
The biggest problem that I see in the fitness and nutrition industry is surprisingly not the baseless supplement claims or manipulative gym salesmen, it’s the misguided belief that one supplement bundle or 12 week training program can actually be the solution – it never will be. If one of your goals this year is to look good and feel great year round, understand that those two results are the byproduct of maintaining certain habits and behaviors (thanks Tim Ferris) throughout the year.
I see many clients who have tried various diets and found massive success, then just crashed and ended up right back where they started again. The downside of these quick fix diets is not that they don’t work, but that they aren’t sustainable in the long run. It’s very possible to lose 20 pounds in a week, but odds are you’re more likely to hurt yourself trying. On the other hand, you can also very easily lose 20 pounds over 4-5 months by adopting better eating habits and increasing your activity levels.
Do It For Yourself
It’s tough to keep up with all demands of life sometimes, but it’s downright impossible to keep up with the demands of others. Sadly, no matter how hard we try, someone will always be there to criticize and downplay your actions and accomplishments, so this year, forget what people think and learn to do it for yourself. When you finally decide to treat others’ opinion as what they really are, opinions, you’ll relieve yourself of a ton of unnecessary stress and open up more attention to actually pursuing your goals.
I took a leap at the start of 2017 and started up my own business, which was, and still is, an amazing experience. Although I was immensely happy to be working on what I had developed, I was met with constant disapproval from various family and friends around me. With the high stress and large workloads that comes hand-in-hand with starting a business, I would’ve given up long ago had I decided to listen to any of them. (P.S. For any family and friends reading this, your opinion are truly valued, but only as opinions ☺).
Eat More Fiber & Protein
I know that everybody loves carbs, because I too, love carbs. Unfortunately, unless your goal is to increase your body fat, excess carbs will not be doing you any favors. That doesn’t that you should suddenly switch over to a carb-free or ketogenic diet, but it does mean that you should choose your carbs a little more wisely.
Fiber is a nice little nutrient that aids digestions. Just so happens that foods that are high in fiber tend to be very nutrient dense. That means that not only will increasing your fiber intake improve your digestion, but it will also help you meet your daily nutrient needs.
Protein is what the majority of your body’s lean tissue consists of. So not only is it a super important nutrient for muscle development, but also help retain the lean muscle mass that gives your body that firm, toned look, that you want from a fat reduction program.
How To Incorporate More Fiber: Like many of you, I find it hard to consume enough fruits and veggies unless I make it a priority and plan ahead. Here are two ways to make sure you’re not depriving your body of the good stuff.
Blend it. The first “meal” that I’ll have in the morning is a fruit and veggie smoothie. This usually consists of red kale, arugula, matcha, banana, pineapple, orange, and raspberry. I purchase all the ingredients fresh then wash and chop them beforehand then straight into the freezer. I get the raspberries already frozen, while bananas I usually throw in unfrozen. Something to keep in mind, the more frozen items you use, the harder it will be to blend.
Once everything is prepped and ready, just throw in the red kale and arugula in first with matcha and water to blend. Afterwards, add all the fruit and blend a final time. If the consistency gets too thick to blend, just add more water.
Starting out, I recommend using about 60% fruit and 40% veggies, and as you feel comfortable, increasing the proportions to more veggies. Keep in mind that most of the sweetness and flavor will be coming from the fruit.
The second method to help you get enough fruits and veggies is a common recommendation from the meal planning program put all my clients on. Since many people find themselves hungry throughout the day and looking for a snack, they’re often recommended to prepare small servings of washed fruits or vegetables to snack on, along with nuts or protein bars. If you’re a frequent snacker, give this a shot and you’ll notice huge changes from this one small shift.
Join A Race With Your Friends
My friend Joe, owner of Run Republic and BAM Fitness, was the first to introduce me to this idea of using athletic events to incentivise routine training. Soon after, a group of my friends decided that they wanted to sign up for a Spartan Race together. In the weeks coming up to the race, I witnessed something amazing – a group of people, who exercised infrequently, took the initiative to set up group training sessions together. That’s something that a monthly gym membership can never give you.
Looking back on the race it was not only a really fun experience, but it also helped a group jump start the desire to get in shape and stay in shape. We’re already looking around for the next race!
Have a beer!
If your goal is to establish a happy and healthy lifestyle for yourself, you don’t need the supplements, you don’t need the diets, and you definitely don’t need to stop eating ice cream. Another common misconception many people have is that if you want to be “fit”, you have to give up all the pleasures you have in life, whether it’s ice cream, pizza, beer, or maybe all of the above. The truth is, you’ll probably end up driving yourself crazy through taking away all those small pleasures that you deserve and end up binging even more.
I always preach fitness and nutrition as a means to improve one’s quality of life. Depriving yourself of those small pleasures, that give your life meaning, hardly qualifies as improving your quality of life. The key here is moderation. I always tell people to try and establish a routine of eating well about 85% of the time, so that you won’t ever regret enjoying what you deserve. Now get out, get fit, and cheers to a happier, healthier 2018!
Yajen Tan is the founder of local fitness and nutrition brand Gimme Fit, which focuses on helping men and women jump start their way into healthy, sustainable lifestyles. To keep up with the latest updates in the health and fitness world, check out our blog.