Adam Stansbury, The Plant Powered PT talks to us about keeping fit and healthy in 2019 - vegan style!
At this time of year we are inundated with New Year slogans, memes and ‘how to’ articles and although in the ideal world we shouldn’t have to put our dreams and plans off until January each year, invariably we all get caught up ‘fighting fires’ in our lives throughout the year that can knock us off track.
So, as we celebrate the start of a new year, we allow ourselves, naturally, to have space and time for reflection as we move into 2019. And this makes it perfect to hit the ground running and put into place some good habits that we hope will last us through most of the year.
Here are my 10 tips that cover going vegan, goal setting, nutrition and fitness, enjoy!
- Find a Strong WHY
If you’re going to make a big life-changing decision that will be tested by society’s norms, your pre-existing habits and other people with opposing views, then you need to have a strong WHY. For me there was no stronger reason than wanting to live a life that reduces suffering and trauma – it trumps all arguments, but you must find one that works for you.
- Take it Slowly
Any nutritional habits we wish to change in our lives, should be changed slowly over time. Our bodies need time to adapt to new sources of nutrients, and our minds need time to reprogram our long-held habits and belief systems. Changing things overnight works for some but in my experience as a nutrition coach most people fall off the wagon and return to their previous state, as with most diets. We don’t want this to be a “diet” change, it goes much deeper than that, so take it slowly: eat, learn and repeat.
January is the perfect time to equip yourself with the information, motivation and support from Veganuary to see you through the year.
- Make Progress Not Perfection
It’s better to do a little than nothing at all. The temptation is strong to be an overnight perfect vegan once you’ve made the decision to change, but I’ll let you into a secret…vegans aren’t perfect, we mess things up, we say silly things sometimes and we all die eventually, no matter how much kale we eat.
Use that new-found empathy and compassion on yourself, as well as the animals and the environment.
- Focus on Consistency and Commitment
Whether your goals are fitness, career, nutrition or vegan related, it’s important to remember these two key ingredients for achieving any goal. Rome wasn’t built in a day but over a long period of time, in fact over 250 years of consistent and committed hard graft was needed to build one of the greatest cities on Earth.
- Set Outcome and Behavioural Goals
It’s essential to define your goals into two specific types, outcomes and behaviours.
The outcome goal is your end destination, in terms of fitness this could be: “I want to drop a dress size by spring”.
But without your daily behavioural habits you’ll never reach your outcome goal, so you must put in place behaviours that build up over time to achieve this goal. These maybe, “eat three whole food plant-based meals per day”, “drink 2-3 litres of water each day” and “sleep for 7-9 hours per night”.
Look at your outcome goal as a wall and your daily behaviours as your bricks.
- Whole Foods First
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of vegan junk food now and again, it would be a pretty dismal existence if we didn’t have some comfort foods to keep our taste buds tingling, and we are very lucky to have access to such a wide variety of vegan dishes to replace old favourites.
But as the vegan movement grows, so does the access to more and more vegan junk food products. Beware you can still be technically vegan but eat a very unhealthy diet of sugary and processed foods, which will not do your health or waistline much good if you consume them every day.
Try and focus on a whole food plant based diet where you can, consuming foods as close to their natural state as possible, keeping the more refined foods as occasional treats, rather than daily staples.
- Nutrient Diversity
“Eat the rainbow” is the best bit of advice when it comes to easily eating a diverse plant-based diet. All the different coloured fruits and vegetables contain different levels of a range of nutrients, which means if you eat a diet that is varied in colour, then you will be eating a diet that is varied in nutrients.
- Nutrient Density
Focus on nutrient dense fruits and vegetables over calorie dense foods. Calorie dense food groups are those that have a higher ratio of calories relative to their volume, most of the time these are higher fat foods such as nuts, nut butters, oils, and avocados. These are not necessarily bad for you but should be eaten in moderation.
- Stimulate Your Metabolism
Setting your goals, managing your sleep, nutrition and water consumption will all lay the foundations to then support hormonal balance and recovery from some intensive training that will stimulate your metabolism, improving both your energy and body composition.
One of the best ways of doing this is by using High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), short periods of very intensive movement with short rest periods in between. This can be done outdoors, on a treadmill, with kettlebells or no equipment at all and just your own bodyweight movement.
The intensive nature of the activity creates an ‘oxygen debt’ that your body must ‘pay back’ after you’ve finished training, which in turn can elevate your metabolism for up to 36 hours afterwards.
In fact, here’s a little festive bodyweight workout I shared on my Instagram page.
- Move Regularly and Have Fun
Above all move your body on a regular basis and have fun, there’s no point spending hours doing something you don’t enjoy, life is too short.
Just find a movement discipline that works for you and that you enjoy, otherwise you’ll find it near on impossible to stay consistent and committed to your program if you’re not enjoying it, and you’ll never reach your outcome goal.
Being stuck in a gym is not everyone’s cup of tea, maybe you enjoy yoga, animal flow, running outdoors, hiking, swimming, playing sports, whatever it is, find one that works for you and not one that works for someone else.
But also remember that if you want to build muscle then playing golf won’t achieve that goal, likewise if you want to become more flexible then bodybuilding is not for you. Pick something you enjoy but that is also going to be an effective tool to achieving your goal.
We will all change as individuals as we go through the year and although we may feel the same person, we will all be changing and evolving as the Earth moves around the Sun once again, so instead of seeing these tips as set in stone, use them with your life and allow for flexibility as the year moves on, and with it the ups and downs that life invariably brings
Happy Veganuary and a Plant Powered 2019!
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