This New Year should be the one that marks a new beginning for your body. When we finally welcome in the New Year, commit to making the permanent and realistic lifestyle changes that will deliver long-lasting health and fitness results.
A few very simple, but hugely significant changes to your diet, activity levels and general lifestyle will add up to a new and improved you - and the New Year is the perfect time to make them.
- Make exercise fun
If exercise seems like a chore, and something to be avoided at all costs, there is a significant chance that your health and fitness New Year's resolutions will fail. In order to make exercise a permanent part of your life, you will need to think of ways to make it fun and exciting.
Make exercise social by doing it with friends, or get your exercise from taking part in team sports. The Kiqplan fitness app makes exercise fun by providing users with goals and motivational tips, as well as workout videos to keep things interesting. Find what makes exercise fun for you, and try to keep things varied.
- Make breakfast the most important meal of the day
This coming year, change your thinking when it comes to eating three square meals a day. While the vast majority of people in the West regard dinner as the most important meal of the day, it should be breakfast. Your metabolism is at its most active in the mornings, so feed it. Stock up on good fats such as olive oil and protein.
Relying on sugary cereals, buttered toast and large glasses of fruit juice won't fill you up, and could leave you with severe hunger pangs and cravings later in the day. Indeed, a lot of people are reversing the tradition of eating the most calorific meals towards the end of the day. A hearty breakfast that is high in protein should set you up for an active and productive day.
- Say goodbye to processed foods forever
OK, so you're always stretched for time, and anything that can save you time in the kitchen after a hard day at work is attractive. But you should bear in mind that most processed foods - including ready meals, tinned foods and confectionary - are laden with sugar and fat. Eating pre-prepared food gives you very little control over your diet, so use the New Year to free yourself of your reliance on microwave dinners and chocolate bars.
Instead, cook hearty, nutritious meals in bulk, and freeze them down into meal-sized portions for the week ahead. Alternatively, research quick and easy recipes using fresh ingredients that can be thrown together in minutes.
Look at is this way: cutting down on sugar and fat will free up calories - so you can eat more of the foods you really love.
- Put everything in place for quality sleep
There is evidence to suggest that a lack of sleep can increase stress levels. Over a period of time, heightened stress levels can lead to sugar cravings and a propensity to binge on certain types of food. There are several things you can do to maximise your chances of getting the sleep you need, including:
- Maintaining a strict sleeping routine
- Removing all light sources from your bedroom at night
- Investing in a set of blackout curtains
- Monitoring your rest with a sleep tracker in order to identify when during the night you're losing sleep
- Removing distractions from your bedroom such as mobile phones and TVs from your room
- Removing any sources of noise from your bedroom, including mobile devices, radios, TVs and gadgets
- Setting the optimum temperature for sleeping in your bedroom (usually between 17C and 19C)
- Make active your 'normal'
In order to make permanent changes to your weight, health and fitness, you need to start making changes to your daily life. Instead of viewing exercise as something you do in the gym or on a bike for short periods of time, make it an intrinsic part of your daily routines.
Walk to work, walk to the shops, stand up more, use the stairs more; do whatever you can whenever you can to keep yourself active throughout the course of the average day. When the 12th chime of Big Ben signals the start of a New Year, be determined that this year's health and fitness resolutions will change your life forever.