With cooler mornings and evenings heralding the coming winter months, have you become so comfortable with the status quo that unlike the seasons, you may either resist, or forget…… to change?
Whilst the need and often the desire to change applies across many aspects of our lives, when it comes to health and physical activity……change is not only desirable, it’s necessary to keep our bodies functioning at an optimal level.
If you’re doing the same workout routines or exercise regime you did this time last year, find yourself eating exactly the same foods you ate last week, last month, last year or can’t remember the last time you did something different from your usual physical activity then maybe it’s time to shake things up a little and make a few simple changes to get some excitement and fun back into being healthy and active.
Our bodies respond well to change. So well in fact, that doing the same physical activities and eating the same foods, day in day out can often result in a plateau or stagnant state because your body has adapted so well to what you are doing and has become so efficient at completing the activity that you are not getting the same benefits as you previously did for your efforts.
Did you know that most athletes and sporting teams don’t just play or train in the skills of their chosen sport for 12 months of the year?
Sprinters, for example, don’t just run 100m day-in-day out for 12 months of the year. Their training regime includes weights or strength based training, plyometrics, hill running, and often deep water running for variety and recovery. And during the off-season, some athletes play or participate in totally different activities to their chosen sport.
Most sporting teams split their training year into cycles which encompass heavy, medium and light training loads and rest periods. These cycles can vary from a few weeks to a few months and usually mean different, or cross training, activities which work aspects of their body, strength and conditioning that may not be under heavy load during skill-based activities.
Even though you may not be an Elite Athlete, your body can still benefit from adopting the “mix it up and keep your body guessing” approach and if you’re not training for a specific sport or activity, the level of variety you can add to your training regime is unlimited.
You can make it as simple or as complex as you wish. If you’re a runner, walker or cyclist, take a different path from your usual route and explore a different area of your neighbourhood. If you take classes at a gym, or workout, try a new class, hit the weights floor for a different type of training or add in a few different exercises to your routine. If you workout at home try a different time of the day or different location, maybe take it outdoors when the weather is fine.
If you really want to mix things up a bit, why not try something completely different – indoor rock climbing, cycling (indoor or outdoor), kayaking, dancing, yoga, take tennis lessons or go hiking.
In a similar way to physical activity, your body responds well to changing the types of foods you eat. If you already have a healthy, well-balanced diet, you may not need to make wholesale changes to the way you eat but it’s often good to mix things up a bit:
- Why not try some fruits or vegetables you haven’t eaten before? Try a new one each week or each month. Get creative with how to cook or prepare them.
- Work your way through the alphabet, trying a new food each week starting with the next letter of the alphabet.
- See how many different colored foods you can have on your plate – 5 is a good number to aim for.
Sticking only to those fruits and vegetables that are in season is a good way to mix things up too. With many fruits and vegetables now available all year round, not just when traditionally in-season, check with your local fruit and veg store about which fruits and vegetables are in season now and often you will find that these foods are cheaper too.
If you don’t already have a well-balanced diet, make a decision today to start making changes. You may choose to include one more piece of fruit in your day, or one more glass of water each day this week. Next week you may choose to replace that late afternoon snack attack with a few raw nuts or a piece of fruit.
Small incremental changes are the key to sustainable change and you may be surprised at how much better you feel by simply mixing things up a bit and adding a few more healthy options into your diet.
As you can see, the possibilities are limitless. So if you’ve reached a plateau in your training, are feeling a little less than motivated or find it hard to fit your exercise regime into your day then it’s time to shake things up a bit and discover a renewed enthusiasm for being fit, healthy and well.