A fitness expert on the 7 things to avoid in January
05th Jan 2023
Personal trainer Liz Costigan has seen it all and she’s full of sound advice for how to hit the ground running in 2023.
January doesn’t have to be about dieting and self-deprivation. It can be a time when we make exciting plans for the year ahead and look back on all of the wonderful successes of the previous year. Too often we are bombarded with messages telling us that somehow, we need to make drastic changes, transform our bodies and fix our lives – are we really that broken? The answer is no. You do not need fixing. You are perfectly imperfect as you are! These messages make us feel bad about ourselves and ultimately lead us to feel unhappy and inadequate.
This January, why not change it up and work on nourishing your body inside and out and begin a practice of self-care and appreciation? With that in mind here are 7 things not to do this January. They are tips on how to approach January with care – self care.
- Go on a diet
Fad diets don’t work and they leave you miserable and depleted. Instead of giving it all up and restricting your diet think about adding healthy nourishing foods to your meals. Choose foods that will support you during these cold winter months.
- Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and butternut squash are an excellent source of the immunity boosters vitamins C and B6.
- Foods such as salmon, lean beef and eggs are rich in Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a vital vitamin in the winter as it helps to boost mood.
- Add berries to your porridge or tomatoes to your sandwich to help increase your intake of Vitamin C. Not only will Vit C help prevent colds but it is fantastic for digestion.
- Go Cold Turkey
Going cold turkey is very difficult and incredibly miserable. Your body needs food, food is energy. You need this energy to not only survive but to thrive. Eat regularly to encourage your metabolism to function efficiently. Starving causes the metabolism to go into self-preservation mode and hold on to fat. Focus on regular meals with healthy, nourishing and satisfying foods. I generally advise clients to have five meals a day, everyone is different but if you are eating regularly this helps keep your metabolic fire burning (calorie burn baby) and also stops you from starving yourself and then finding yourself knee deep in biscuits!
- Join a gym
If you love gyms go for it, if not then try to explore other options. I am not against gyms, they work really well for a lot of people, but it is incredibly important that you find what works for you. Find an activity that you enjoy and an environment that you enjoy going to. This simply means it will be easier for you to stick to it! There are so many options out there.
- Working out at home can be great if you are stuck for time.
- Training with a friend or colleague creates accountability and helps to keep you motivated.
- Joining a club is a great way to bring the social element into working out.
- A lot of companies do corporate wellness programs and you might be able to get your workout done on your lunch!
- Change it all at once
Take your time. It is ok to want to make improvements in your life for your health and wellbeing but slow it down. Make gradual changes. Look at what makes you feel good rather than focusing on what you are told not to eat and how you should be exercising. Start to listen to what your body and mind needs. Gradually reduce one unhealthy habit at a time;
- If you are trying to cut down on adding sugar to your tea reduce your portion by half for a couple of weeks. Keep reducing each week until you reach your goal.
- Instead of giving up chocolate completely, replace your milky chocolate with dark chocolate. It is a great way to boost serotonin in the brain. Serotonin can affect mood, appetite, digestion and sleep, all of which we need to thrive.
- If you have been snacking a lot on chocolate over the holidays, try to replace it with fresh or dried fruit every second day to begin with. This is easier on the body and mind!
- If you’ve started a new fitness challenge remember rest is part of the program, don’t kill yourself in the first month!
Change takes time so go easy on yourself and see the improvement of your health as your passion project!
- Regret the Christmas overindulgence.
It is very easy to spend January beating yourself up because you drank too much and ate all the mince pies. Silence your inner critic and begin to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for the privilege to celebrate and overindulge at Christmas. When you enter a spiral of negative thinking ask yourself “What good is this mindset doing for me?”. At the end of each day create a list of three (or more) things you grateful for. Why?
- It helps to gain perspective on what is important to you and what you truly matters.
- By noting what you are grateful for, you will gain clarity on what you want to have more of in your life.
- It brings calm into your mind at night.
- On days when you feel low reading back can really help to lift and encourage you.
6. Keep doing what you always do.
If you haven’t reached your goal it is possible you need to change your approach. Instead of doing the same old thing of dieting and going gung-ho at the gym from January 1st, can you reframe January as a month that gives you time to take stock? Time to look back and learn. Create a slow, nourishing month for yourself and allow yourself to breathe and contemplate change if and where it is needed. Use the beautiful practices of yoga and meditation to support you as you head into the New Year. Create a Wish List for the year ahead and work on how you can truly thrive. This takes time, patience and lots of self-care.
- Ignore nature
Nature is telling us to slow down and hibernate. Look around at the trees and animals, they are taking rest, keeping warm and preparing for spring. Why don’t we take a leaf? Of course, our bodies need to move and breathe to thrive but can you be gentle with yourself. Get into nature and walk or run or cycle. Nature heals and calms and we all need that. Fit time in nature into your week.
- Instead of meeting for coffee, can you meet for a walk?
- Walk to work, even part of the way.
- Take a stroll around outside your workplace.
- Sit in your garden in the morning.
Yes, it is cold and sometimes wet but where possible, be in nature and you will feel incredibly centred and nourished. Good luck!
This article was first published in 2018. Photography by Estúdio Bloom on Unsplash.