It’s that time of year, friends. You know. The time where everyone feels bad about themselves for indulging in too much festive food and so starts feverishly planning their oh-so-strict return to fitness.
First of all, you deserved that holiday treat. Don’t beat yourself up for it! But if you do want to introduce some new healthy habits into your routine, best to ensure you’re doing it the right way.
So, I chatted with Dr Breanne Kunstler of BehaviourWorks, Monash Sustainable Development Institute to get her tips on how to best boost your fitness.
Here’s what I learnt:
Don’t go too hard too fast:
While we all like the idea of hopping onto the treadmill and smashing out 5km first go, that’s just not how our bodies generally work. Dr Breanne Kunstler stressed that “As a physio, the first thing I think about when it comes to people returning to exercise after a break is the need to prevent injury”.
Her first tip in light of this is to seek out professional advice regarding your return to exercise.
“See your GP to make sure you are safe to exercise (this is especially important for people who have chronic conditions like heart disease) and a physio or exercise physiologist who can help you to set some reasonable short and long term goals to get you active and keep you injury free,” she said over email.
Set an achievable fitness goal:
When it comes to setting a habit of any kind, it’s important to ensure that it is something realistic. “Choose a behaviour you actually want to perform and an outcome you are actually excited about,” Dr Kunstler said.
If your main goal is to drop a little weight, Dr Kunstler shared that a balanced and healthy approach to that is paramount:
“Losing 2kg in a month is probably achievable, whereas 20kg is not. Not meeting your 20kg weight loss goal will likely see you lose motivation and quit by the end of the month but if you lose 2kg, and that was your goal in the beginning, you will likely be motivated to keep going and set yourself another goal,” she said.
What type of workout should you try first?
Put simply, Dr Kunstler said that:
“The best exercise to do is one that you will continue to do. There is no point planning to go for a 5km run on Monday if you hate running and hate Mondays.”
Take some time to figure out what you like and what you will feasibly be able to do with some regularity. That way, you can ensure you’re going to do something active every week – which is the real goal, here.
Remember, “Your activity and diet needs to suit your unique needs for you to commit long term”.
Pop it in the calendar:
If you want to properly set this new habit into motion, you’ll need to make space for it in your free time. Once you know what workout best suits you, “Put it in your diary and make sure you don’t overcommit”. Start with something you know you will be able to achieve (maybe 20 minutes three times a week?) then build up from there.
Best of luck, fitness fans. You’ve got this.