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The answer? Getting the questions right.

At this time of year more than any other, we in the Health and Fitness industry are inundated with requests, new goals and fresh resolutions aimed towards achieving healthier, fitter and often slimmer bodies.

We are often asked our opinion on a range of new diet systems, the latest big thing in exercise, or what new superfood/supplementation will really make all the difference in topping up our modern processed diets.

In order to avoid being one of the large number (probably the majority) of people who have a great start to the year but find the momentum of change slowing as we approach Springtime, it’s worth keeping these key questions in mind when deciding to change something for the better (and meaning it!):

  1. Can I maintain this?

All four questions apply to both nutrition as well as exercise, and this first one is crucial. If your diet plan is a ‘short, sharp, shock’, without at least twice as much effort going into what happens when the diet ends, then I’m afraid your weight loss will be as temporary as the month of January. All short-term diets are fundamentally flawed because when they end we naturally ‘revert-to-the-mean’ – that is, we gently go back to whatever eating habits got us into where we are in the first place. Success lies in being honest and making a few changes to your daily nutritional intake and physical movement that you can maintain. Am I boring you? Is this unsexy advice? I don’t mind that accusation, as this actually works.

  1. Do I enjoy this?

Again, if you have hated broccoli since you were eight, or can’t bear the thought of an exercise class then why on earth would you subject yourself to it now? There are countless ways to increase the amount that you move throughout the day, and with a little advice and creativity we can change your plates so that there are more nutrients and fewer calories per meal.

  1. Is this going to harm me?

“No Pain, No Gain”. This is ludicrous. Pain (as opposed to a little muscular soreness) is your body telling you to stop punishing it before it gets injured… Start your new movement plan or training regime slowly, with good instruction and build up the intensity gradually. Likewise, if your new smoothie means that you have to ensure that you’re 10 seconds from the WC, or your new supplement causes wind issues that are not forecast on BBC weather…. perhaps rethink their long-term benefits.

  1. Will this be effective?

By effective I mean that “will we have an overall positive benefit from your changes in 16 weeks time?” 32 weeks? How about this time next year? Let us all stop seeking quick-fix answers and start asking the right questions, so that we can experience sustained, positive benefits and ensure that our 2015 resolutions aren’t the same as this year’s.

First published in ‘Knightsbridge Village’, February 2014 

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