The year of YOU!

2020 is here! This the year that we all thought we would be riding round in flying cars, with robot butlers, and holidaying on the moon or even Mars. We are now further into the future than Marty McFly travelled to in Back to the Future 2, and further in time than the apocalyptic future prophecised by Bladerunner and Mad Max.

Sci-fi movies aside, what does the advent of 2020 mean for you? Is this the year you will achieve something amazing? Get your finances straight? Buy a home? Get that job? Reverse your diabetes? And finally lose weight for good?

New year is the perfect time to set goals, and after the indulgences of the festive period, most New Years Resolutions feature something about losing a bit of timber and getting in shape.

Old ways don’t open new doors

Most people are great at losing weight quick, the problem is keeping it off. Motivation wanes and the weight creeps back on. But why?

What usually happens when we try to lose weight, is that we go from one extreme to the other. We finish the year eating everything in sight – chocolate, crisps, pastry, sweets, cake, take-aways, desserts, rich food, alcohol, creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows – then jump to eating nothing but grilled chicken, steamed fish and tins of tuna with kale or other leaves, no carbs, drinking only water or green tea, as well as doing Dry January and maybe even giving up smoking too just for good measure.

And what happens? After a short period we get fed up, think that this healthy lifestyle lark isn’t for us, and we give up. We might lose a bit of weight whilst we do, but I can guarantee it will go back on.

So this year we want you to try something new.

Why diets don’t work?

This January we don’t want you to go on a diet – diets don’t work – we want you to stop swinging from one extreme to the other and learning nothing.

When you go on a ‘diet’ and leap from one extreme to the other, eating low carbs, low fat and high protein and you go to the gym every day.  Your body has to work harder to make it’s energy, sucks up all the energy that you store in your muscles and liver, in the form of glycogen and the result is you quickly lose weight, and it could be anything up to half a stone – ‘great!’ you might think…. but, when you come to exercise your body has no fuel, so you feel sluggish, tired, with legs like lead, and a fuzzy head.  But it’s OK, because it’s only for a short period until you lose the weight, get to where you want to be, then you can go back to what you used to eat, right?!

However, when you go so low carb and low calorie with your food, what also ends up happening is that your body has to eat itself to provide energy, so it starts breaking down your muscle tissue first (because that is easier to break down than fat), the result, you lose muscle tone and strength and you still haven’t lost much fat, which is actually what we want to get rid of. Because it’s the fat that is bad for our internal organs, our overall health, and it’s the fat that we don’t want to see when we look in the mirror.

You might keep this going for a few weeks at the very most, lose a stone, perhaps a little bit more, and then think ‘Yay, I can come off  the diet. Thank God, I can go back to eating normally again!’  True?

So back to ‘normal’ eating we go, our gym attendance reduces until we eventually give up and go back to the take-aways, sweet stuff, crisps and snacks, junk, higher carb, higher fat and ultimately higher calorie food. And, because you have started eating carbs again, your body reacts and stores them for future use, because it needs it to replace those depleted glycogen stores, instantly putting pounds back on.  You carry on like this for another few weeks, then realise that you are gaining weight and then eventually decide to go back on the diet. And so the cycle continues…. forever and ever and ever! Am I right?

You have swung on the diet pendulum from one extreme to the other forever! And because of this you only know two ways to eat – ‘being really good’ and what you consider to be ‘normal’. And this is why diets don’t work!

A happy medium

What we need to do is stop jumping from one extreme to the other and work our way to somewhere in the middle – to a happy medium.

What would happen if we slowly developed a new normal? What would happen if we ate food we really loved, but in the right portions and frequencies to allow us to maintain our weight, stopped gorging ourselves on the high calorie stuff, and used it as a treat that we savoured once a week maybe? What would happen if we took small baby steps to improve our lifestyle, that meant we didn’t give up on it after a few weeks?

What if for the first week you have a look round the Be Strong website and find out what your daily calories are to lose weight?  Educate yourself about what it actually would take for you to lose weight.  Then, rather than heading straight for the diet food, just reduce the number of take-aways or the amount of junk food that you have, and make an effort to cook and prepare your own food? Or did something that was just an improvement on what you were doing before? You might not see an immediate result on the scales, but you aren’t starving and you aren’t miserable.

Then the next week, you make another improvement, maybe start looking at calories on food packaging and learning about the food you eat, how it is made, working out if it’s a good choice or not for you and your daily calorie allowance (that you learnt about the week previous).

Then the following week, you might decide to up your physical activity a little, and go for a walk a couple of nights a week, or join an exercise class.

And we do this week after week, after week, until our lifestyle looks like we want it to, rather than our bodies. Once our lifestyle looks like we want it to, we carry on like this, and our bodies start to catch up. Friends and family start commenting on how well you look, how your skin looks great and your outlook is really positive, how they are noticing a real change in you.  They might even enquire ‘Have you lost weight?’ the question we all long to hear!

Where we should be is somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. Not full on saintly food, but not full on junk food either. Not training like a demon every day of the week till we are exhausted but not sitting on our backsides every single evening watching TV and fridge foraging in the ad breaks.

When we are somewhere in the middle we have a balance – we are physically active, improving our fitness and our health, we are fuelling our body correctly, and we aren’t starving all the time.

So this January, make the right changes, don’t jump back into that diet cycle, take some baby steps to improve your lifestyle and have some patience. Learn about your calories and learn about the food that fits into those calories, that you love. These changes are life long, which means you hit your target and stay there forever.

This week!

This week we want you to tell us what you want for 2020 – the year of you.   How are you going to make 2020 your year?

Use the forums to tell us about your New Years’ resolutions, whatever they might be – they don’t just have to be about losing weight, and keep us updated on your progress.

We love to hear from our members, at every stage of their journey, whether you are doing good or bad. If you need help, ask a question, and you will get so much support from the whole Be Strong community.  Lifestyle change isn’t easy but it is worth it!

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