Just planning the new you for 2017? Check out these 10 easy changes to make sure you don’t fall from the New Year wagon.
1. Start your day the right way!
A bucket of cereal and milk might fill you up in a morning, but this isn’t going to get you that killer physique you’re chasing. Eating a protein rich breakfast (along with healthy fats) is a great way to start the day. I have found that this revolution has stopped my mid-morning cravings at work. Sometimes, I like poached eggs and avocado on sweet potato hash browns or alternatively if I know I’ll be pushed for time I’ll prepare some overnight oats the night before and have this with a protein shake.
2. Don’t Change Everything at Once
This sounds simple and obvious, but I’ve heard so many people saying they’re going to eat healthier, change their training schedule, get a new training programme and even the gym they attend in the New Year. All of these changes are fine, but what I have found is that phasing them in one at a time is the best way to do it. I have set myself up for failure in the past by setting too many goals at once and then going out to try and achieve them at the same time. Pick a goal that is the most important and relevant to you and smash that one first, then move on and do the same with the next one. This I have found is much more effective and less mentally draining. Plus you get the achievement feeling more often.
3. Start and stick to a programme
You won’t change overnight, but you’ll change over a full programme cycle. If you stick to and trust a programme, of course, you’ll get better results. If you do your programme one day and then go off the programme to train chest and biceps on the next day, then your programme won’t be as effective. Of course, you’ll get those chest and arm gains, but what happens if you have DOMS and cannot train as effectively the next day in similar movements because you went off the programme? You have to trust whoever sets your programme and trust that they have your best interests in mind. Having a gym partner helps a lot as well; if one of you wants to steer of the programme the other one is there to guide you back onto it. Let’s not forget we all train because we enjoy it (at least a little bit), so if you’re not enjoying it at all maybe it’s time for a new programme?
4. Track your progress
Although we think we can remember some things, the fact is we cannot remember everything. This is why it’s important to log your workout times and PBs (personal bests). If you’re taking part in CrossFit / gym classes or doing your own programme you will usually need to refer to percentages of your one rep max lifts (PBS). This is usually to quantify how much you should be lifting for a set number of reps in order to progress. Not keeping a log of your progress could be detrimental to your ability to progress and develop. No one wants to forget how much they lifted last week and lift less the following week by mistake. This will only force you into a PB plateau (if you remember what your PB is). So keep a diary or log and make those gains. It’s also a great way to see how far you have come after a month, six months, a year – a good confidence boost too if nothing else!
5. Instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t eat, try focusing on what you should eat
If you’re hungry, eat! I live by this since Tara Watkins’ nutrition seminar in early December.Everyone knows what they ‘shouldn’t eat’, but what everyone fails to do is figure out what you should eat. I often find people complaining about their ‘diets’ and this is usually because they’re so obsessed by what they shouldn’t eat. People’s ‘diets’ are usually healthy but bland, beige and boring. Instead, what I have found useful is to think about all of the healthy food you can eat. Once I started doing this I started looking forward to prepping and eating healthy and whole foods. Of course, I have treats, as I am human, but I have found myself having these less often as the food I am now focusing on eating is filling my appetite. My meals are now so colourful.
6. Work on your weaknesses
Do you know why you enjoy doing one particular movement more than other? It’s most likely because you do it all the time and are awesome at it. For me its movements like pull-ups and toes to bar that I need to work on. I wasn’t good at them so I avoided them outside of my programme until recently. Working on the things I wasn’t good on has helped me to improve my movement, performance and muscle definition. I have recently designed my own weakness programme so that I can try to improve my pull ups and toes to bar. I have already started to see the benefits in workouts.
7. Pay attention to rest periods at the gym
Gyms and CrossFit boxes are part of most of our social scenes, but don’t let chatting come between you and your EMOM (every minute on the minute) workout. There’s a reason your programme states one minute between sets so stick to the programme and you can chat after you’ve worked out. Plus, who wants to be in the gym for hours more than you need to be? Rest periods are often overlooked, yet, in my opinion, they are critical to achieving goals of getting bigger, faster and stronger.
8. Get a reliable training partner
This will increase your motivation, allow you to learn and also make training fun. There’s nothing worse than slogging your way through a long workout alone. You want someone to beat or to keep up with. Sometimes a training partner will not only give you the motivation to train harder but actually get you to the gym. No one wants to let that someone down by not showing up. Equally, it is important to train with someone who doesn’t want to let you or themselves down. Getting a training partner with similar goals and expectations will ensure you’re both singing from the same hymn sheet and gains are kept to a maximum.
9. Get a full body MOT every other month
Training has many benefits for your body – reducing stress, cutting fat, improving your health and increasing performance, to name a few. But, as we all know it can also lead to injuries and muscle tightness. I tend to think of myself as a car – to maintain peak performance it requires an MOT every now and then. I have found that as I have progressed to become a more experienced CrossFitter, sports massages and foam rolling have become a part of training to ensure longevity and performance. Sports massages or ‘MOTs’ are a life saver for tight muscles, mobility and they make you feel great.
10. Consistently seek 8 hours of sleep
Most of us resist actually closing our eyes these days when we’re in bed. We’re either thinking about the things we have to do tomorrow, we’re on our phones or we watch TV. However, it is only once we’re asleep when our bodies optimise muscle recovery from the previous days training. So if getting bigger, stronger and faster are important to you, then set a sleep schedule to ensure your body produces the right amount of growth hormone and maintains the right testosterone levels. I find it hard to do this, as I’m always scrolling through Instagram. However, I often remind myself that I need eight hours sleep to maximise recovery which soon prompts me to sleep.