6 easy steps to get on track in the New Year.
Heading into the holidays, we all have such good intentions. We swear to resist the pie, cake and second helpings as we stick to our training plans.
Unfortunately, the season often doesn’t turn out that way. Marathon shopping trips hijack planned workouts. The lure of festive whipped coffee drinks proves irresistible. By January 1, we end up with a more daunting list of New Year’s resolutions than we had before the holidays.
Happily, the way back to your best running self is never far. Here are some easy solutions to quickly reverse the momentum and get back on track.
Give yourself one to three days off from sweets, salty treats or whatever kryptonite food consistently derails your diet. Just a small, simple change like this can produce noticeable results that will restore your confidence and motivation, says Lauren Antonucci, founder of Nutrition Energy.
“One big roadblock to weight loss is a feeling of defeat,” she says. Avoid extreme measures and unsafe supplements or detox plans. And no need to make any grandiose diet declarations that are ultimately unsustainable, like swearing off sweets forever or vowing to consume 1600 kilojoules a day.
Just eliminate one food or eating tendency that is dragging you down, she adds. No matter what you take out, maintain a base of non-starchy vegetables, lean protein and healthy unsaturated fats, Antonucci says.
Set yourself up for success
Jackie Dikos, a sports dietitian and owner of Nutrition Success, recommends taking simple steps that make healthy eating more convenient – and ultimately more sustainable. Prepare and freeze big batches of brown rice so you’ll always have a healthy carb that you can grab in a hurry, she suggests. And for lunch, rather than going for fast food, stop at the grocery and create a meal with produce, dairy and other fresh options.
Try a short cutdown run, suggests coach Jeff Gaudette of Runnersconnect.net. After a warmup of easy running, do the first kilometre at marathon pace, then accelerate to half-marathon pace in the second. Log the third kilometre at a 10K pace, and run the final KM as fast as you can. Take no rest between the kilometres. (If you’re not sure of your ideal paces, focus on accelerating after each kilometre.)
“Starting on the slower side helps you ease into the workout,” says Gaudette. “This helps build your confidence throughout the workout. The last kilometre or two will really challenge you. By the end, it allows you to run quick and feel that exhilaration of pushing yourself and running fast.”
Even the slightest bit of dehydration can cause a cascade of unwanted side effects, including headaches, GI distress and runs that feel more like slogs than workouts. What’s more, dehydration can cause a feeling of fatigue that you’re likely to mistake for hunger.
Studies have shown that dehydration can slow your pace and increase perception of effort – i.e. how hard each kilometre feels. So keep a full water bottle close at hand throughout the day and sip continuously.
Think beyond the kilojoules
While there are many sound diet plans on the market, the most effective weight-loss strategy will be the one that best fits your lifestyle, temperament, tastes and needs.
Think about why, how, when you eat, and when your diet tends to get derailed so you can map out strategies to stay on track. Are you good all day, then eat with abandon at night? Then try closing the kitchen after dinner and replacing late-night noshing with a non-food form of relaxation like a movie, a book, a game with the family or sleep.
Pick a kilojoule-form of relaxation that really diffuses the intensity if you’re stressed, like stepping outside or taking a walk. Or vent in an email with a friend. If you let yourself get famished before your next meal, add a healthy, satisfying snack to your routine that doesn’t make you feel so deprived.
Research has shown that beating yourself into submission will only further derail your weight-loss goals. In a study published in the March 2014 issue of Appetite, people who associated chocolate with guilt reported lower levels of control over eating and were less successful at losing weight compared to those who associated chocolate cake with celebration.
So don’t let regret and shame drag you down. After all, if you stop trying, failure is guaranteed. “People feel guilty, defeated, and they give up,” Antonucci says. “But it’s just like training for a marathon. If you quit running, you know you’ll never finish the marathon. But if you keep at it. You’ll get there.”