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Author: Will Mbanga, Posted: Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 09:00

As we enter a New Year, with good intentions and a plan to get fitter, healthier and happier, I hope you’ve taken time to reflect on the year gone by.

What health, fitness or wellness habits have you added to your life in 2021? What positive changes did you make, whose impact, slow as it may seem, will pay dividends down the line?

Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in the future and what we want to achieve that we lose sight of how far we have come and how much we have achieved in the present. It’s easy to fall into the whole “New Year, new me” cliché at this time of year – everything and everyone around us seem to be focused on new beginnings.

Don’t rely on a certain time of the year to start

The danger of relying on certain times of the year for motivation to start self-development projects can end up being an obstacle in itself! We often say we’re going to start exercising “tomorrow”; start “eating better/sleeping more” next week; commit to regular fitness regimens, and before you know it, another year has passed by!
It’s absurd how in an age where instant gratification has become the norm, when it comes to improving our health and wellbeing, we often self-sabotage our own progress and development.

One of the biggest challenges over the next few months is to address our relationship with sugar after enjoying ourselves, some of us perhaps too much, over the festive period! Excess processed sugar is the biggest enemy to your progress and development... and it is hidden in plain sight in just about everything we eat and drink.

By reducing the amount of sugar in your diet over time, you will:
• Boost energy/reduce fatigue
• Improve your health: reduced risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cognitive diseases and some cancers
• Improve wellbeing: breaking sugar cravings, emotional eating cycles and improved tolerance to external stressors

As we travel through life, we can ignore any one of our three ‘pillars’ (health, fitness and wellness) and be fine – as long as things are ‘normal’. However, when the stresses of ‘life’ happen, lack in one of these areas can impact us severely, often disproportionately and to our overall detriment.

Making sure you look after all three pillars is critical to being able to perform at your peak, and manage whatever life throws at you.
 Health: diet, sleep, hygiene
Fitness: cardiovascular and musculoskeletal
 Wellness: emotional and psychological wellbeing
Be grateful for where you are and build on that

Although Thanksgiving is an American tradition, the part that resonates with me is the intentional focus on gratitude. From a health-fitness-wellness perspective, being grateful for where we are, then building on that is a much better perspective than constantly berating ourselves and wishing we were the finished article.

Thereafter, taking positive, direct action in the present is the best ‘next step’. If you can “only”:
 Run for five minutes
 Do three push ups
 Cut one sugary food out of your diet this week
Get to bed an hour earlier or have some quality ‘me’ time once a week...
...then start there!

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