I am convinced that if it weren’t for people making New Year’s resolutions the queues for treadmills at gym would be much shorter in January. While taking the decision to make changes to one’s lifestyle is admirable it does seem strange that 1 January is the date that this needs to happen. If you haven’t exercised in a decade and think that the five basic food groups are braai, buffet, liquid lunch, garage pie and midnight snack; making big changes on one day will, in all probability, lead to a kitbag that gathers dust by March.
Rome wasn’t built in a day (and if it was the workmanship would be sub-par to say the least), so one’s approach to healthier living needn’t involve Herculean feats of fitness or macrobiotic diets. As a former chubby who decided to try cycling, the Comrades Marathon and study personal training, I’ve found that introducing small changes, one at a time, has kept me away from the fast food outlets and on the road (most of the time). Over the years I have found some invaluable resources that have helped. Here are a few that may help you.
Heart rate monitor
Many of the current generation heart rate monitors by manufacturers such as Garmin, Polar and Suunto are as precise as ECG machines when it comes to measuring your heart rate. They allow you to measure the intensity of your workouts, some can be used to measure cycling or running speed or set up a virtual training partner. I call mine Digital Dave and I run against him every week. It’s quite sad that as a ginger I’ve resorted to virtual friend. Prices vary – for an entry level watch that measures your heart rate and a few other variables you will pay a few hundred rand. If you want a GPS enabled watch that maps routes expect to pay close to R5000.
My Fitness Pal
Stay on track with a healthy eating by using a food diary. You should try and keep a record of what you consume in a day and how many Calories/Kilojoules you burn. MyFitnessPal is available as an application for iPhones, Android and online. The content is user generated – millions of people worldwide add food items and their calorific value. All you then do is log what you eat using these pre-existing values, or add your own items, and try to ensure that you eat your goal amount. Obviously this application is not fool proof – if you need to consume 2000 calories worth of energy a day and you opt to do it in biscuits you might not see the results you want. What this application and other food diaries do is make you aware of how much you are eating. It is advisable to meet with a registered dietician before embarking on an eating plan. For more information visit www.adsa.org.za.
The World Wide Web
Ground-breaking revelation, I know. But did you know you could use it to uncover many myths that could hamper your progress or cause harm? Like how detox diets, blood group diets and many other have no real scientific basis? Or that doing endless stomach crunches might not actually help develop a six pack? A good starting point for learning how to critically analyse dodgy scientific claims is to read Ben Goldacre’s best-seller Bad Science. Before buying home gym equipment from infomercials, diet books and supplements; research criticisms and independent analysis. Remember - the manufacturer’s website and paid for reviews are trying to coerce a sale.
I could write a volume of clichés that Dr. Phil would be proud but at the end of the day sticking to your resolution and adapting a healthier lifestyle is dependent on one person – you.