If you’re a regular Sporteluxe reader, chances are you’re pretty good at saying a polite ‘no thanks’ to junk food and a big ‘yes please’ every chance you get to exercise, but sometimes those things along still aren’t enough to get you the health and body results you crave.
Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. In fact plenty of the things we think do our bodies good actually hinder us, according to experts from A Season of Change, a fantastic 10-week body reset program that’s judgement-free (and before/after photo-free too) and kicks off September 28 – right in time for fast-approaching spring!
If you haven’t heard of the cool app-based program that delivers things like eating plans, workouts, motivation tips and confidence-boosting encouragement to your phone or in-box every day, it’s definitely worth checking out here.
We spoke to several of the ‘healthy habit’ experts involved with the program about the most common pitfalls even health-focused folks make, and the simple ways we can all dodge them on our way to amazing health and a summer-ready body.
Assuming foods that are labelled low-fat or fat-free are healthier is often misguided, says A Season of Change’s resident nutritionist, Dane Fuller. “In many cases, these products are high in hidden sugars that, aside from being unhealthy, are digested much faster, resulting in sugar crashes that leave you reaching for the next snack in no time,” he says. Instead, Dane suggests saying no to foods labeled low fat and eating with nutrition in mind. “Nutritious foods will be more satisfying and will keep you fuller for longer.”
While there’s no shame in craving a little caffeine to kick-start your day, too often we forget those liquid calories tally up our daily food intake, says Fuller. “Remember that a latte is a cup of milk, so if you’re having two or three a day, those calories count just as much as the ones on your plate, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.”
You’re committed to a weekly exercise regime, which is brilliant, but if you’ve been doing the same routine for months, you may not be getting the most out of your efforts, warns personal trainer, competitive athlete and A Season of Change’s fitness expert, Anna Bramley. “Someone who does the same activity all the time is likely to plateau much sooner than someone who varies their workouts. Just as you can get bored by always doing the same exercises, your body also adapts so that the exercise you’re doing doesn’t offer the same benefits it once did.” Bramley suggests adding variety to your routine by including something different – speed, distance, hills or resistance, or by trying a totally different activity all together. “You should be looking to change your routine every six weeks to keep your muscles challenged, your body guessing and the results coming,” she says.
The most common challenge most of us face in nailing our health goals is relying solely on willpower to make positive health choices day-to-day. If you’re easily tempted, don’t make the mistake of trusting your own iron will to get you through. Instead, take steps to make sure you’re prepared, Dane recommends. “It’s important to replace willpower with strategy. Set yourself up for success by cleansing your home and personal work space of all temptation foods and replace them with healthier options. Why make it hard for yourself, you’re only human!”
Exercise is vital to good health and vitality, but if you’re not giving your body time to recover, you could be putting yourself at risk of injury or illness. “Even Olympic athletes have scheduled rest days in their training plans, in order to allow the body time to recuperate,” says A Season of Change’s fitness and lifestyle coach and former professional football player Luke Sniewski. What you do on your rest days, he explains, will depend on your level of fitness. If you’re just starting out, you may want to take a complete rest day in which you do no activity at all, but if you’re a more seasoned athlete, you could still do some gentle activity like tai chi or a yoga class. “Either way, use your rest day to reflect on how far you’ve already come and to be grateful for your body and dedication,” he says.
When we set about to eat better, even the healthiest options can lead us away from our goals when we over-indulge, says Fuller. “Foods like nuts, hummus and protein smoothies are all great options, but just because they are healthy doesn’t discount the need for moderation. Focusing on nutritional value and portion size is the best way to keep healthy foods healthy – eating anything in excess is not going to have the desired benefits.”