Around this time there will be lots of articles appearing in magazines, newspapers and online with headlines that are variants on the tired old “New Year, New You” shtick. You’re probably already bored of them. You’re right to be, if only because that’s a terrible headline.
Instead here are some simple tips you can follow that require very little effort. It’s actually a simple guide to doing things that have a hugely beneficial accumulative effect of the year.
The key is to make lots of micro-changes. So here we go…
Take the stairs… even just a few of them
Start doing 10k runs three times a week and it’s hard and boring. And because it’s hard and boring, you’ll give up quickly. But walking up the three flights of stairs (if you work on the third floor) every time you go to the office rather than getting in the lift is pretty easy. You work about 250 days every year so that’s 750 flights of stairs in a year. According to The University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center research you burn 15 calories per three flights of stairs (average flight of stairs being 12 steps), so that’s 11,250 calories, which is 56 and a quarter original Krispy Kreme doughnut worth of calories. This also contributes to your new plan to…
Aim for 10,000 steps per day
You probably won’t do that because it’s actually hard just in terms of the time it takes to get in that many steps every day, but try to hit that target as often as possible. Get an app like Pacer or just use the one that comes with your iPhone to count steps. Typical office workers do about 3,500 a day so just existing puts you over a third of the way to your target. Download podcasts and enjoy those brisk walks. It soon become a “thing” where you obsess about hitting the 10,000 target. Waiting for your bag to come out at the airport? Walk the 100 meters down to the other end of the reclaim hall and back a few times to get steps in. Lunch break? Spend 15 mins walking around the block. Walk when you can and hit the target.
Don’t join a gym
Join a team. Organized sports are much more fun than mindlessly plodding on a treadmill while some of the worst music you’ve ever heard relentlessly blasts out and Neanderthals grunt near the weight rack. Plus, you’re more likely to turn up each week if there are teammates expecting you to be there and nothing in a gym can give you the joy of hitting a half-volley into the top corner from 20 yards.
Remember that abs are made in the kitchen not a gym
You need to lower body fat and the best way to do that is to eat less rubbish and be healthier in your food choices. To burn off the calories from a small packet of crisps you’d need to run about 20 minutes on a treadmill – which is absolute graft – so you’re better off not having the crisps in the first place.
Get the app MyFitnessPal
It’s free and it will help you to learn which things in your diet are full of calories or fat, etc. It helps you to adjust your diet to be more balanced and it’s really easy to use. You can even use your camera to scan the bar codes on packaged food so you can see exactly what in them.
Stop with the fizzy drinks. Even the diet ones
Assuming you’ve already given up smoking, the next big thing to give up is fizzy drinks. Much easier to give up than smoking and they’re messing you up just as much. All that sugar is really bad for you and the diet ones are not much better. Just have water with a bit of lemon juice instead.
In fact, just drink more water
It requires no effort and really helps. Nearly everyone is not drinking enough water. The best thing to do is have a two-liter bottle on your desk and work your way through that each day. At least.
Eat the other way around
You should have a big breakfast, medium lunch, something small in the early evening. “Eat after eight – put on weight” is not entirely true, but you should remember that it’s best to fuel your body at the start of the day, rather than right at the end when you don’t really need much energy.
Eat less bread, potatoes and pasta
Cut out, or at least greatly reduce, these three and it will make a huge difference if you’re looking to lose weight. You’ll get annoyed because those three things probably make up a huge part of your diet, but they’re also the main culprits giving you a belly.
Exercises when you can
If you’re watching the football at home then at halftime do push ups, planks (four sets) or sit ups until the second half starts. Or whenever you can. The idea is to fit in exercises in those little gaps throughout the day rather than relying on one big boring session a few times a week. Or perhaps, put a pull up bar in one of the door frames of your house and do a few pull ups each time you pass. Things like this actually add up over the span of a week and make a difference.
Sleep a bit more, it really helps.
Yes, we know that watching TV late when the kids have gone to bed is probably the most relaxing part of the day. And we understand that lots of football matches kick off at 11.45pm, but just try to have a few more hours each week of sleep – you’ll actually notice the difference.
Do some yoga for free
You don’t have to a do a lot of it and it will help you feel less stiff and achy. You can do it at home and it will help you long term, especially if you do a job where you’re stuck at a desk for long hours. This is a really good free yoga channel on YouTube. And your new online teacher is also really easy on the eye.