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Monday, 19 September 2022

The 'back to school' guide to a healthy lifestyle

Think of reaching health and fitness goals as going back to school – start with preschool, progress into primary school, then move up into high school.

Sometimes the journey is just as important as reaching the finish line.

To achieve any big goal, whether it’s a weight loss goal or just a healthier lifestyle – you must go through the stages. Every stage in your journey should have its own goal, and these goals will depend on overall aspiration (the end goal). For example, you might start with eliminating bad habits, then move on to healthier eating, add fitness training, before setting a weight loss goal – the journey is entirely up to you!

During your journey it’s important to be realistic. Start with small goals that feel attainable so that you feel motivated to keep going. If you set a goal of losing 20kgs in a month, think of this as jumping from preschool straight into high school – you might not understand what’s happening in class and will end up feeling overwhelmed and unprepared. Set a long-term plan, be consistent and don’t expect it to be easy. After all, you won’t achieve things overnight and that’s totally fine. Take it slow and enjoy the process.

Just like in school, if you don’t meet the criteria or accomplish the steps you set out for that grade, you can’t graduate to the next level. It doesn’t mean you will be stuck there forever, it just means it will take a bit longer to reach that next stage. This is important in making your journey a success (but it’s also where many people feel disheartened and give up or lose interest and motivation). Remember that with a bit of persistence and patience, you’ll move through this stage of ‘school’ before you know it.

Nutrition

Whether you set overall health, muscle gain or weight loss goals for your journey, they all share one thing in common for success – nutrition. Set small nutrition goals early on in your journey and follow them throughout, because it can take time to implement and stick to a healthy eating routine. Here are some tips on how to stick to a healthy eating routine during your journey:

  • Be creative: When it comes to food, keep it interesting so that you won’t ‘need’ cheat meals to keep you motivated.
  • Plan ahead: Plan your meals in advance and stick to a shopping list when you head out for your groceries.
  • Don’t shop on an empty stomach: If you’re hungry when you’re grocery shopping, the chances of your mind wandering to say a bag of chips or the two for one chocolates are greatly increased.
  • Stay social but make good choices: Don’t become a shut-in because of your diet, just choose healthier options! Avocado and eggs on wholegrain toast at a cafe, a salad bowl with chicken at your favourite lunch spot, or some steak and veg at the pub.
  • Make it a family affair: Try to involve the whole family in choosing the meals for the week, shopping together, or cooking together – including others on your journey will make it easier and more enjoyable.
  • More whole foods, less of the rest: Prioritising whole foods over processed foods is one of the earliest ways to stick to a healthy eating plan. If you can’t identify the ingredients on a label, it’s best to steer clear (nasty chemicals and additives, we’re looking at you).

Overall, when it comes to food, remember not to overthink things! Creating a balanced and nutritious meal isn’t rocket science – protein (chicken, beef, pork, fish, tofu, eggs), some healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts, yoghurt), and carbs (sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice) will do the trick.

If you’re struggling with your journey, take a trip back to ‘school’ – set small goals for each ‘grade’ and things will seem a lot more achievable.

Interested in Nutrition?

Set the pace towards a happier, healthier you. Find out more about our range of Nutrition Short Courses.

"One of the most important things I learnt was that change doesn’t have to be drastic. It can start small and evolve from there."

- Sarah Marshall