Top 7 Tips for a Happy, Fit & Healthy 2017
If losing losing weight, getting in better shape, or cultivating healthy habits is one of your goals this year, then this article is for you.
😃 😃 ‘Whoa! Here already?!’ 😃 😃
I hope you find all the tips below helpful in sailing through 2017 and destroying your healthy-living resolutions with the power and vigour of a bona fide superhero!
1: If You Need to Eat at a Deficit, Deficit Smartly
One of the most popular resolutions people make in the new year is to ‘lose weight.’ This usually involves starting a diet on the 1st of January – a diet that involves a caloric deficit: eat less than your body burns and you lose weight.
So you might as well eat as little as possible, right? Follow someone’s random advice and undereat as much as you can for as long as you’re able to and then POW! The weight is lost. Simple, right?
Errrrm 😬… no.
You see, if you eat a lot less than your body burns, you WILL lose weight. However, it may not be the kind of weight loss you want – or the kind of weight loss you need.
Losing weight quickly by going on a random diet that involves restriction and a big caloric deficit can end up with you losing a lot of (extremely valuable!) muscle. So you end up smaller, SURE! But you also end up a lot weaker and, worst of all? You only end up able to keep the weight off temporarily.
A bunch of women’s ‘health’ magazines and diet programs/plans advice this kind of ridiculous approach to weight loss. They say to women, “eat 800-1200 calories a day for x weeks, lose x pounds!”
Never mind the fact that everyone’s caloric needs (and consequently, also their deficits) must always be calculated in relation to a person’s activity level, lifestyle, age, and medical history. Never mind the fact that 800-1,200 calories a day is a ridiculously-low amount for most active women. Bah, it’s baloney (low-calorie, soy baloney, with hydrogenated oils and nitrates galore but hey, it’s low calorie!)
How do you avoid falling trap to all this? How do you lose weight effectively – by which I mean lose fat while keeping as much muscle as you can? How can you do this in a sustainable way?
You deficit smartly.
You can’t just go on a massive caloric deficit and expect that to be sustainable or in any way conducive to you feeling and performing your best in the long-run. The same goes for ‘detoxing’ or going on any kind of ‘cleansing’ diet that involves massive deprivation of, usually, solid foods! As this article in the Guardian rightly notes,
“Detoxing – the idea that you can flush your system of impurities and leave your organs squeaky clean and raring to go – is a scam. It’s a pseudo-medical concept designed to sell you things.”
If you need to go on a caloric deficit, choose a sustainable non-aggressive approach that is compatible with your lifestyle and your health – an approach that makes you feel and perform your best while delivering a satisfying volume of nutrition-dense food. That kind of approach is also far less likely to impinge on your social life and overall sense of wellbeing too. Choose slow, smart, and steady over fast, ill-conceived, and short-term. Connect with people that can help you find that sweet spot, people like Adam from Born Fitness!
2: If You Want to Change in any Way, You Must Outmanoeuvre Your Future Self
If you want to change any of your habits, you first need to get to know yourself: know what your weaknesses are, and expect yourself to want to give in to them.
Once you do that, you can lay out a strategy to dissuade your future self from derailing whatever path you’ve set out for yourself. This applies to not only dieting but also keeping your fitness, work, and lifestyle resolutions and goals.
It may seem straight-forward and basic but outmanoeuvring your futures self is really important! That’s because far too often, we expect our future self to be different from our present self – we imagine that, ‘in the future’, we will be a perfect version of ourselves.
Let me give you an example:
Imagine that you normally wake up at 7am but that this year, one of your resolutions is to wake up at 5am to go to the gym. You think that your future self, motivated by your goals and plans, will WANT to get up and smash the day. So you set the alarm, go to bed, and when the alarm goes off the next day ⏰ ⏰ ⏰ ⏰ you’re like NO WAY 🙅♂️ So you turn it off and go back to sleep. You do this five days in a row and, by the sixth day, you ditch the whole plan altogether, “it was just too ambitious of a plan,” “I couldn’t do it” 😣
Now, part of the reason that happened is because you failed to acknowledge that the you from tomorrow is the same you from today. You failed to outmanoeuvre yourself effectively. One way to do it would be this:
You go to bed and set two alarms. One for 5am using the MOST annoying sound/song you can imagine at full volume. Another at 5:05 using another EXTREMELY loud song but this time one you like or makes you laugh (e.g. the happy birthday song or some kind of ridiculous tune like Hanson’s Mmmm Bop). You put both alarm clocks as far away from your bed as you can, in different parts of your room. You put the second right on top of your gym clothes.
What you’re doing with all this isn’t goofing around: you’re setting a bunch of ‘traps’ for your future self (who will REALLY want to go back to bed) to fail – fail at going back to sleep. And like so, little by little, you beat your own game and your habits start changing.
You HAVE to outmanoeuvre your future self because, if one thing is certain, it’s that people need a lot of help to make meaningful changes. In terms of our weaknesses, soft-spots, and limitations, we’re always susceptible to giving in to them and must be aware of this fact. We need to actively PLAN to overcome our future weaknesses.
Let’s say you have a habit of eating peanut butter by the jar-full 😬 😬 😬 😬 To break this habit successfully, you should not just say, “this year, I will not eat entire jars of peanut butter in one sitting.” Or, “I will exert control around the peanut butter.”
You shouldn’t think that your future self will be able to resist what your present self can’t! Because your future self is the same self that likes to devour peanut butter. So what can you do? You can plan ahead. You can, a) just not buy peanut butter, b) buy it and eat it with company, c) buy a kitchen safe, or d) but little squeeze packs of peanut butter (like these) so that you can practice portion control 🤗
The same goes for cake or brownies. Imagine that, whenever you make brownies, you have a tendency to eat too many of them in one sitting. What can you do? You can have a slice and freeze the rest, that way, when your future self is ready to much an entire batch, there’ll be none for that to happen – you will have successfully outmanoeuvred yourself.
The moral of this whole thing is: to reach your goals, you MUST come up with a plan that accounts for your weaknesses as they are today – not as you wish they were tomorrow.
‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’ is one of my favorite sayings because it’s absolutely true. If you don’t actually plan your journey, then you’re pretty much setting yourself up to fail. Think about preparing to go on a hike in some new territory you’ve never explored before. Failing to take a map with you and planning your route is pretty much planning to get lost 🏔😱 To set out on a journey with a particular destination, you can’t just draw an X on your starting point and an X on your destination without drawing a line between them or at least considering how you’re going to get to where you want to be.
4. Strive for Progress: NOT Perfection.
Imagine yourself standing in front of a huge stairway – where your goal sits right on top and you’re staring at it from below where it looks daunting, far away, and in many ways insurmountable. You may start off climbing the steps with your gaze fixed on your destination but far too soon you’ll become tired and your tiredness starts to feed thoughts like, “I can’t do this,” “where I want to be is far too far from where I am,” ‘this climb is hopeless,” “I have so long to go still,” “everyone is ahead of me,” “I just… can’t… do this.”
At this stage, you might just turn around and call it quits!
This happens a lot in the context of health and fitness: come the end of January, people burn their resolutions, begin ignoring their gym memberships, bid their diet goals farewell, and walk away from the whole thing believing they were incapable of getting to where they wanted to be in the first place.
The main reason for this is that they didn’t plan well, they were unrealistic on who their future self would be (so they could not outmaneuvre themselves effectively), and they did not take it one step at a time. Their eye was on the end-game the whole time. They wanted perfection, craved for the finish line, and completely disregarded all signs of progress.
To avoid this, take it one step at a time. Keep your gaze ahead but sometimes look behind you too. As you progress, celebrate the journey 🎉, cheer yourself on after every single victory 🎉, however small. Focus on today, every day – on the particular step of the ladder you’re standing on instead of the whole stairway!
4: Burn the Bandwagon 🔥
Do away with the idea that you can’t – or should not – ever ‘fall off’ the bandwagon.
You should instead embrace the idea of failing and embrace any and all drawbacks you may encounter as part of the journey.
If you think about our hiking analogy, imagine you’re halfway through and accidentally take a step in the wrong direction.
You don’t just throw your map to the wind and forget the whole thing. You just retrace your steps and keep going forward 💁 We’re all human at the end of the day and if we don’t embrace our tendency to sometimes run out of steam, give in to temptation, or have ‘off’ days, then we’re setting ourselves up for total failure. That’s why burning the idea of the bandwagon is good, because then you can’t fall off it and watch it move away as you lay on the ground wounded. There’s no falling to begin with! Every mistake is a lesson at the end of the day: a chance to get better next time, stronger, smarter.
This might seem counterintuitive, particularly in the context of point number one above but hear me out:
Dieting sucks. Pardon my language but there’s no other way of saying it. Most diets out there are overly prescriptive, ridiculously strict, and consequently unsustainable because they make people miserable and fail to adapt to people’s lifestyles.
Most popular diets are designed to be temporary anyways and, in my view, diets should never be temporary. Why? Because, it means people will go off them and when people go off them, their feeling of self-worth and self-control plummets. And then, once they return to their usual habits, BAM! back are all the pounds – and then some.
What I invite you to do is to therefore kill the diet. Kill it by changing it from something with a start and a finish date into something you can live with day in and day out. Change it into something that makes you happy, into something that’s sustainable, exciting, and FUN!
6. Try Not to Restrict
Don’t draw up a diet that’s restrictive of the things you love to eat. Instead, adapt those things and make them part of your life. That’s what’s at the core of the recipes here at Protein Pow! They’re created so you can live without sugar and nutritionally-void ingredients yet never feel an ounce of deprivation. So, you like pizza and cake and have a weakness for them? Make nutritionally-dense and macro-balanced versions of them and enjoy as often as you like! This website is your friend when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth while allowing you to eat the foods you love.
Don’t focus on shedding, losing, taking away, or subtracting. Don’t focus on being smaller. Try to, instead, focus on adding. Focus on adding healthy foods to your diet. Focus on strengthening your body, adding new challenges, falling in love with your exercise routine. Being MORE.
Make getting stronger a priority instead of burning fat, losing weight, etc. If you’re a woman, that approach can have a HUGE impact on your life ♥️ Burn (or well… just don’t buy, hehe) women’s “health” magazines and pick up a weightlifting book, like this if you’re a total beginner and/or one of Jen’s if you’re better versed in training 💪 Join a gym that’s community focused. Connect with people who inspire you to be more: stronger, healthier, more full of POW!!!!! as you go about your day-to-day life.
This 2017, focus on loving yourself and your body at every stage – now, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow. Focus on nurturing your body with nutritious food, with movement, and with power. Focus on the positives instead of whatever negatives you think you need to do away with because, at the end of the day, change that comes from love is far superior to that which comes from dislike or hate. So embrace your body now, even with whatever imperfections you think it has (which, I am willing to bet, those who love you seldom notice and truly never care about).
Embrace your body’s ability to move, to run, to lift, and to jump! Embrace your body and its capacity to draw nutrients from food and make your body stronger, healthier and more powerful 🙌 Focus on what you can add instead of what you want to take away. This applies to diet too – don’t follow a plan that starts with a giant list of ‘foods to avoid.’ Instead, follow a plan that gives you a list – a BIG list – of foods to incorporate and fall in love with first! And remember, always, no matter what: