10 Health and fitness goals to work towards in 2015
It's the perfect time of year to start thinking about health and fitness goals for 2015 - from the little things, like eating more fruit and vegetables, to losing weight and getting fit in time for the summer! Coming up with goals to meet is often the first hurdle; then it's all about focusing your energy and working out how you're going to achieve your goals.
We know that Christmas is often a time of indulgence, and we're all allowed some mince pies, mulled wine and turkey over the festive season. But by working out your health and fitness goals for the upcoming year, you'll be more likely to get back into a healthy mindset after January 1st, with renewed motivation and a sense that you're going somewhere. Our list of 10 health and fitness goals should help to inspire you and give you enough ideas to come up with your own goals for the new year. A healthy, happy body means a healthy, happy you!
#1. Be more active
It might sound like a simple goal to start with, but we could all do with being a bit more active. We're not saying you need to spend every waking moment pumping iron at the gym or doing squats, but try making small lifestyle changes that result in an increased level of activity. Walk to work instead of taking the bus, meet friends for a run or a bouldering session rather than a coffee, or sign up for a dance class. We should all be aiming for a minimum of 30 minutes activity a day, in order to stay healthy. This can include things like shopping and gardening, and taking positive steps to increase your activity levels will result in your energy levels rising and your endorphins flowing, providing you with a healthy, natural mood boost that's perfect to fight off those January blues!
#2. Complete a fitness challenge (or two)
Fitness challenges are everywhere - we don't just mean marathons. If running isn't your thing, how about an assault course challenge such as Tough Mudder? You'll need strength, stamina and motivation to make it through, and even just signing up for a fitness challenge can give you a real self-esteem boost. By signing up, you're setting yourself a fitness goal for 2015 and then it's time to start training! Whether you choose to hire a personal trainer, work with a fitness buddy or train alone, you have work to do!
#3. Eat more fruit and vegetables
The government's five a day recommendation has come under criticism in recent years, with many experts saying we need more than five portions of fruit and vegetables a day (1) in order to stay healthy. If you struggle to find ways to eat more fruit and vegetables, check out some of our healthy recipes and tips. Adding chopped, blended vegetables to sauces, including veggies in soups and fruit in smoothies are all great ways to boost your intake, and your body will thank you for it. Remember that frozen and tinned fruit and veg are just as good if you don't have fresh to hand!
#4. Join the gym - and make the most of your membership
Many of us will sign up to join a gym in January, and then leave our membership card lingering in the bottom of an unused gym bag. Even if you start with good intentions, by spring, the chances are your motivation might have started to wain. Making the most of your gym membership is important. If you always workout at the same time and head for the same equipment, boredom is going to set in pretty fast! Relieve gym boredom by working with a personal trainer, who can set you goals that will help keep you motivated. Sign up for a variety of classes - why not try spin classes, yoga or pilates? Vary your workout times too - before or after work are popular times but if you're lucky enough to be a member of a 24-hour gym, why not go for a late night or early morning workout now and again, to boost your energy levels?
#5. Try a new form of exercise
It's important that you enjoy your workout, so if you really hate running, chances are you're never going to leap out of bed enthusiastically on a Monday morning and head off for a morning run (no matter how much you dream of being that person)! Choose a form of exercise that doesn't feel like exercise. This could be something like indoor bouldering or rock climbing, a dance class, a martial art or even aerial fitness classes. Keep things varied - sign up for a couple of new things at once and you're sure to find your niche. Even activities such as ice skating and walking the dog count as exercise!
#6. Get lifting
There's no reason why women shouldn't lift weights - it's not just for men. There's a distinct difference between the way fitness for men and fitness for women is addressed. For women, the focus is on 'toning' and achieving a lean, honed physique, whilst on the covers of men's fitness magazines, the focus is on muscles and strength. Building muscle is what leads to a toned appearance - you can't have one without the other. And lifting weights is one of the best ways to tone up. If you need some inspiration, our post about why women should start lifting should inspire you. Or why not try one of our 15-minute workouts to tone your upper body?
#7. Perfect your portion control
There's no point eating super-healthy foods and following a clean eating plan if your portion control is out of whack. Sorry, but there just isn't! Huge portions can put a strain on your body, leaving you feeling bloated and sluggish - of course, they can also lead to weight gain. Many people don't eat the right quantities for their needs - the average woman needs around 46g of protein a day, whilst for men it's 56g (2). Research has also shown that by using a smaller plate, you can trick your body into feeling fuller - you could cut your calorific intake by up to 22%! Most importantly, avoid skipping meals, as this is more likely to make you load your plate with food. Perfecting your portion control in 2015 means you can enjoy less bloating and discomfort after eating, which will leave you feeling more energetic!
#8. Take your workout outdoors
It can be hard to commit to an outdoor workout when its 3 degrees outside, or when it's raining so heavily you can hardly see. But working out in the great outdoors is good news for your body. Even when the sun isn't shining, your skin is absorbing vitamin D. This vitamin, which many of us are deficient in, has an important role to play in maintaining health. It can help boost your immune system, protecting you from the common cold, aid the absorption of phosphorus and calcium (which maintain healthy bones) and reduce your risk of MS (3). It can even help to keep your brain working well as you get older. When the sun IS shining, working outside also gives you a mood boost. Plus all that fresh air and daylight will regulate your body clock, so you get a better night's sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Try to push yourself to workout outside rather than running on the treadmill - you'll really notice the difference!
#9. Consider giving up dairy
Why not commit to making 2015 the year you give up dairy products? For many people, dairy can cause discomfort, particularly if you have a sensitive digestive system or are lactose intolerant. But we should think about what's actually in dairy products too - did you know that cow's milk contains over 35 hormones and 11 growth factors? Putting these chemicals into your body isn't going to be good news health-wise in the long term. There's even a growth factor found in dairy products that has been linked to the development of certain cancers. With so many alternatives to dairy on the market today, there's no need to go without your favourite bowl of cereal or hot, milky drink. From soy milk to almond milk, rice milk and coconut milk, it's easy to find milk alternatives, and there are also plenty of dairy-free cheeses, yoghurts and spreads available in most supermarkets. If the idea of giving up dairy altogether seems scary, why not start small and give up one thing, such as cheese?
#10. Remember that rest days are important
Whether you're training for a marathon or just having a normal week of workouts, it's important not to over-train. Rest days are vital, not only for your body to recover from exercise, but also to help reduce your risk of injury. Many of us are guilty of underestimating how much rest our bodies need. But working hard when your body is begging you to stop can actually make you weaker! Carrying on exercising without allowing time for recovery means you'll break down lean muscle mass and tissues instead of building them up, which could, over time, lower your immune system and slow your metabolic rate. So listen to your body for optimal results from your training, and don't be afraid to have rest days!
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