Nest Egg: Getting in shape for the long run

January is always a time for reflection and planning for the year ahead and you will see endless articles on “How to …….” articles promising to get make you leaner, fitter, richer and so on.

Online fitness classes have rarely been as popular and Irish people have probably never been as focused on their fitness and wellbeing thanks to so much media coverage. Let’s be honest, it’s extremely difficult to sustain any new eating or fitness habits that you take on in January for the full year.

I think it’s best to set yourself achievable targets that you can sustain over the long-term. A Stoic month of fasting and triathlon type training in January isn’t going to make much of a difference in the long run to your health if you revert back to normal in February. So, let’s look at some sustainable changes you could make in January that you have a realistic chance of maintaining beyond a few weeks.

Sleep and morning exercise – if you are not naturally an early riser then don’t fool yourself by thinking you’re going to go for that 7am spin class online or 5 km run around the block.

Much as I would love to exercise before I start work every morning (and research tells us the benefits are significant), I love my sleep too much so I get up around 8am and go for a walk with the dog to wake up while listening to a podcast. You know your body better than anyone so pick the best times of the day to get your exercise and stick to that plan.

We are told that the quality of your sleep is so important and underestimated by many. If you’re guzzling wine on a Tuesday night and going to bed after 11pm then it goes without saying that your Wednesday morning is not going to be too productive. Get to bed at a reasonable time and get your 8 hours plus which your body needs to recharge overnight.

Water – one of the cheapest (and free most of the time) substances we can put into our body every day to make sure the machine works well. We’re told we should be drinking at least 2 litres of water every day which will hydrate the body and also assist weight loss during January if that is one of your goals.

About 60% of your body is comprised of water and your body loses weight naturally throughout the day, so if you don’t replace it then dehydration will have detrimental effects on your body. Start your January habit of drinking a pint first thing in the morning with your breakfast.

Food – I’m not qualified to give nutritional advice but it’s very easy to figure out what’s good to put into your mouth and what isn’t. Of course, it’s a good idea to eliminate sugars, excess alcohol, white bread, fatty foods etc – we all know this.

So why not phase out some of these gradually and replace them with healthy foods that actually taste good. Try avocado on your bread instead of butter, it’s gorgeous and really good for you. Replace white bread in your diet with brown bread – there are loads of different types of brown bread out there so find one you like.

Try to be positive – this one isn’t food related but it’s so important to your wellbeing. Henry Ford is credited with the quote, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t – you’re right”.

There’s no doubt that the main obstacle in your way of changing a few things around for 2021 is yourself. It’s not rocket science. If your default position is giving out about everything, blaming others, looking for excuses and having an overall negative outlook on the world then maybe it’s time to try pick out the positives in the people & circumstances around you.

I’ll go back to what I’m qualified to write about next week, financial wellbeing and some tips to get your pocket in shape!

You can contact Conor Martin via email - conor@tarafinancial.ie

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