1. Don’t Diet. There is little evidence to support the long term effectiveness of diets. There is some support for short term success with some diets but it is not realistic to make drastic changes to your eating habits which are not sustainable. Any eating plan or diet that does not make recommendations that are consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines is also lacking in credibility.
2. Make changes that will benefit your health, not just improve your fitness or appearance. I ask my clients to place their priorities in the following order: health first and performance second. The effect this has on appearance is simply a consequence of getting the first two priorities in order. By performance, I mean learning any new skill or training at a level that you were previously unable to do. This may be as simple as getting up and down off the floor safely or as complex as running a personal best in a marathon.
3. Make it measurable. It is important to know whether or not your prescribed exercise is effective so I use a range of measures to determine your overall health. This can include health measures such as blood pressure and body composition or fitness measures such as maximal aerobic capacity and strength testing. The more feedback the better, but make sure you are not stressing yourself by putting too much pressure on yourself to improve too quickly. Your body takes time to adapt.
4. Make it sustainable. There is little reason to make any change to your lifestyle that you are not willing to maintain for an extended period of time. When I ask a client to make a change I then follow it with 3 questions to test their commitment to e change: Are you prepared to do this for a week? a month? a year? If I get 3 ‘yes’ responses I know we are making an effective long term change. You can probably start to see now why short term fad diets or detoxes don’t meet this criteria. Sustainability is also about regular, consistent improvement. Most people would scoff at losing only 300 grams in the first week of exercise but this will place minimal stress on your body compared to rapid weight loss and after a year you will still have lost over 15kgs!
5. Become the CEO of your body. My goal is always to educate and inform my clients as much as possible. This allows the client to make the best decisions possible for their body. No-one is perfect and no good change can be made to healthy habits through bullying or coercion. The best change is made by the client deciding that this is what is best for them. My responsibility is to help the client to see how making appropriate changes can improve their health and allow them to take control of this process.