The small steps to health challenge

If you feel like it’s time to up your health and fitness game, why not try our latest challenge?

This time of year can be particularly hard to get motivated – who wants to eat salad and go outside and exercise when you can stay in the warm, eat deliciously gooey puddings and watch Netflix? However, with a little push, you can soon be on that road to health that will see dividends come those warmer months. Here’s how…

Set yourself a SMART objective

If you’ve tried exercising regularly and failed, it’s probably because you didn’t do any goal-setting. You may be familiar with SMART goals from the workplace, but they do a great job for getting you motivated to look after you. SMART goals are:

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-based

Some examples of health-based SMART objectives could be:

  • I will drink eight glasses of water a day

  • I will walk for 30 minutes, four days a week

  • I will run a 5k race by August

Setting a goal is a bit like making a contract with yourself – when you’ve got something written down, it’s a lot harder to ignore!

Today: Set yourself a SMART goal

Start small

The problem with most new health and fitness plans is people get all gung-ho about it and try and change too many things at once. Just try and concentrate on one thing at a time. If you want to move more, start walking for at least 15 minutes a day or commit to two exercise classes a week. Think about what you can realistically achieve otherwise you’ll throw in the towel before you’ve had time to see results.

Sometimes you may not feel like hitting the gym or drinking a litre of water a day, but just give it a go. Give yourself permission to leave the gym after ten minutes or add some fresh fruit to your water to make it taste better. Before you know it, you’ll have been at the gym for 30 actual minutes and drank half of your water target.

Today: Do one small thing that can improve your health, whether that’s having a caffeine-free day or going for a long walk

Sign up to an organised challenge

If you have a time-specific goal, it can help get you motivated. Sign up for an organised sports challenge such as a Swimathon or race. You don’t have to go for long distances, but knowing you have to complete something in the future is more likely to get you to the pool on those cold wintery evenings!

Today: Find a challenge to sign up to

Put it in your diary!

Just like you put your hair or dentist appointment in your diary, schedule in times to get fit – whether that’s an exercise class or just time to hit the gym. When you see something written down, it makes it more concrete – you’re less likely to cry it off.

Once you start doing something regularly, it becomes a habit and going to the gym/doing yoga becomes an instinct rather than a chore! For planners that help you organise yourself, check out Andrea McLean’s favourite planners.

Today: Spend time scheduling what the next couple of weeks look like for you fitness-wise

Try, try – and try again

When it comes to feeling fit and healthy, unfortunately there’s no such thing as one size fits all. What worked for your best friend, may not work for you – and that’s because we all have different motivations and personal tastes. So, if the gym hasn’t worked for you because you find it too boring, try a dance class. If a carb-free diet fills you with dread, because you love bread and past too much, try Weight Watchers, which comes with carb-lover plans.

Don’t feel disheartened if something doesn’t work first time round – like many things in life, you may have to try a few things before you hit on what works for you.

Today: Try something new!

Buddy up

It’s been proven that if you exercise with friends, you’re more likely to stick at it. One study found that 95% of those who started a weight-loss program with friends completed it, compared to 76% who did so on their own.

It’s not just fitness that a buddy helps with, if you want to eat healthier there are apps you can join like Our Path, which focus on group support. When you have a rubbish day or you just can’t resist that chocolate cake, being able to chat about triggers and health benefits can help you stay on track.

Today: Find a buddy to help you stay on track

Stay hydrated

It’s such a simple thing but drinking enough is a good first step. Staying hydrated is essential for every function of our body – from muscles to the brain. It’s hardly surprising water is so important, after all, it makes up two thirds of our bodies.

How much water should you be drinking? A rule of thumb is that you need about 1.5 to 2 litres of fluid a day, which is about eight to 10 glasses. Of course you can get water from food – cucumber and lettuce are packed full of H20 – and other drinks such as milk, tea and fruit juice, but it’s good to get into the habit of sipping water throughout the day.

Today: Buy a bottle that you can keep close by and sip from all day

Need a daily reminder? Print out our useful sheet and pin it somewhere you can see it to inspire you to get healthier every day:

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