Lifestyle problems

I am really busy having returned to part time studying while still working full time. I smoke, eat most meals out and don’t have any time for exercise. I know this isn’t good. I made a NY resolution to stop smoking, eat more healthily and go to the gym but here I am nearly at the end of semester and haven’t altered anything. What can I do?

First, you’re certainly not alone in having difficult meeting your New Year’s resolutions! What you want to do is all good, but a lot to take on in one go. Why not prioritise one or two of the goals and focus on them initially? Is quitting smoking linked with going to the gym and being able to exercise without shortness of breath? You might even find that after exercise you then naturally want better quality food to fuel the body. It is also easier if you can organise a timetable of sorts so that you know that Mon, Wed and Fri mornings you go to the gym…not wait til you feel like going. You can then plan to meet with a friend for breakfast or a coffee afterwards as a reward. Even better, arrange to meet the friend at the gym or one picks the other up – exercising with someone makes it far more likely to happen.

The same organisation rule applies to eating – plan ahead what you’ll be having for breakfast, lunch and dinner so you can just prepare that – not go to the fridge and open it wondering what you’ll have. With fitness and weight loss goals it can be more motivating to share the task with a friend and weigh in together or have a friendly competition about who can lose the most.

One of the reasons all the big weight loss operations have weekly fees is that people are more motivated if they have financially put in towards their goal – you could set up a financial reward for when you reach your goal weight. You could forget the gym and jog/cycle/power walk to work and Uni instead. Prepare lunches at home so you aren’t tempted to buy lunch. Take meat out in the morning to defrost so you ‘have’ to stick to healthy eating plan when you get home. Depending on your finances a home based fitness activity might be good – there’s a well known and well advertised set up that could be good.

Try setting up a timetable for your work, study, and regular social activities, then see where you can reasonably fit in the exercise. Keep a graph of weight loss or muscle gain, days without smoking and so on to display how far you’ve come. Put up a photo of yourself when you think you were looking and feeling good – something to aim for. There are lots of books, clubs and websites to help you achieve your fitness, weight loss and quit smoking goals – it comes down to what motivates you, having the energy and making the time to plan and do the activities.

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