‘The Perfect Ten’ are a set of guidelines to help you to shape your healthy, fit lifestyle around your own needs and goals, to ensure you succeed and maintain your success for life!
A can-do attitude is so important. The foundation of this is a real desire to achieve. Think about what you want and why. Think about how highly you prioritise a healthy lifestyle and what you are prepared to change to achieve this. Think about things you say you are not prepared to change and ask yourself why – we are often overly attached to the elements that we most need to change, subconsciously sabotaging our efforts before we have even begun. Monitor any negative self-talk and see if you can identify your mental motivation saboteurs. Replace with positive self-talk and affirmations: “I am on my way to being the fit, healthy and slim person I want to be!” “I am fitter and stronger than yesterday, and I will be fitter and stronger still in a week as my behaviours, habits and actions are taking me in the right direction.”
2. GOAL SETTING.
Be clear about what you want to achieve. Write it down. Write it where you can see it regularly. Be precise and aim high! Then break it down into manageable chunks and work on one piece at a time. Remind yourself of your goals regularly and don’t be afraid to update them. Keep an index card in your bag or by your computer (or on the fridge…) so you can keep your mind on the prize!
Increase general activity any way you can. This is so important and can cover the effects of the odd missed workout! There are people who never ‘work out’ officially but are still fit as they are naturally active in their daily lives – walking or cycling around, using stairs not lifts, performing manual work etc. Look honestly into your life and seek out the pockets of activity you can exploit. Every little bit counts: think of it like a savings account, and over time those small deposits will definitely add up! So long as you don’t reward yourself for all these extra burst of activity with more calories, of course – ultimately you need to eat a little less and exercise more in order to lose fat, so upping your calories while upping your activity will lead to increased fitness, but will not help the whittle the waistline!
4. PLANNING AND PREPARATION.
“Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance” – a military phrase that sums it up nicely! Without planning, how can you expect to succeed? We don’t leave for a journey with no map, otherwise we would only end up getting lost, or back where we started if we are lucky!
This applies to planning your approach (what am I going to eat, how and when am I going to exercise etc.) as well as planning the details (e.g. menu plans for the week’s meals feeding into a shopping list that you stick to). Plan what you are going to choose when you go out, looking online for menus if you can so you can make healthy choices in advance. On the exercise side, you need to decide which activities you want to take part in and schedule them into your diary – if you wait for a free 30 mins you are never going to find it! Schedule it in and commit to your appointment.
Clean it up! Eat lots of veggies, plenty of fruit, lean proteins, good fats and plenty of water. Minimise anything packaged or that does not fall into the above categories. Experiment, play with your food! Focus on enjoying the good stuff rather than the foods you are minimising or avoiding. Improving the quality of the diet should automatically result in the weight dropping off, but you also need to pay attention to eating moderate portions and ensuring you don’t over-do the more calorie-dense foods, as ultimately calories do count.
Daily activity is one part of the equation, and the other is including periods of more structured intense activity. This should cover both resistance and cardio training and ideally you should aim to spend around 45 -60 mins, 3 -5 times a week on this element.
Ensure you have adequate rest between intense training sessions. A common error is going too hard at the outset and putting yourself off or causing injury. Plan your workout days in advance and stick to it, letting yourself recover but staying active. Active recovery is great and can include walking, cycling, swimming etc. to help keep the blood flowing through the muscles and actually ease out any soreness from a previous session.
8. STRESS AND TIME MANAGEMENT.
By adopting the steps outlined in the Perfect Ten you will find your stress levels reducing as you become healthier, fitter and more energised.
You need to prioritise your health in order to effectively deal with all that life throws at you. Once you have acknowledged that you are going to make this a priority it is then time to look into how you can achieve this. Are there things cluttering up your life? Are they all really that important?
Could you spend 30 mins less time on the internet or watching TV in the evenings and use that time to squeeze in a training session? Can you delegate certain tasks? We often feel that ‘to get a job done properly I might as well do it myself’ but sometimes we need to let it go, allow someone else to ‘learn’ to do it for us! It may not be perfect, but it will free you up some time!
No matter what nutrition or training plan you choose to follow, you will only get success if you stick with it, so long as it is a quality approach and not some quick-fix fad. Any ‘magic bullet’ promise means you start out with the view that you will deprive yourself for a short period of time and then go back to ‘normal’. You will find that certain approaches work better for you than others, but you need to focus less on the detail and more on ensuring the changes are being implemented consistently and ongoing on a regular basis.
The key is to take on board changes and stick with them over a period of time, making them part of the fabric of your life – your new healthy habits.
10. LOG AND REVIEW.
In order to assess if things are working, you need to take measurements at the start and then re-measure on a regular basis. This enables you to re-assess and alter the plan if required. It is likely it is not the plan that is at fault to start with, but perhaps your interpretation of the plan, so check you aren’t exploiting loopholes – you may be having salad every day in place of your previous sandwiches, but loading them up with fatty dressings, for example. You may be serving yourself larger portions than you need to or over-estimating the amount of exercise you are doing.
Logging what you are doing is also very important here.
Logging food intake is one of the most important things you can do to ensure success as it provides you with some accountability, as well as an historical record so you can look back on things that worked well and things that didn’t.
So, to conclude, you are in the driving seat and it is up to you to take control! No plan or advice is worth anything if the plan or advice is not implemented, and only you can do that.
Caroline Radway is a Personal Trainer based in Southampton, England, where she coaches clients on a 121 basis focussing on kettlebell training (along with Valslides, TRX and other tools as appropriate). She also runs an outdoor fitness bootcamp with a major focus on nutrition and lifestyle changes for lasting results: http://www.fitbodyfix.com