Karl Henry: In it for the long haul
As 'Operation Transformation' comes to an end, our fitness expert shares his top tips on staying motivated after the experts and weigh-ins leave our screens
As the 'Operation Transformation' celebrity special has come to an end, our leaders have faced up to the fact that they needed to change their lives for their health. Just like people all over Ireland, our leaders came to a crossroads in their lives.
If weight loss is something you need to do, you will come to a similar point where you realise just how bad things have become. It's actually a really important starting point, because if that point is deep enough, you will stay motivated through the tough days when you want to give up.
Any viewer who watched the show can apply the very same lessons that the leaders did to their lives. Those lessons were mainly planning, cooking and exercising. Nothing extreme - just a long-term balanced approach.
I suppose that's the best element of the show: we can all see aspects of ourselves in the leaders. The tools that they take away from the show are tools that we can too can utilise in our own lives.
However, the four weeks also reflect something that is also all too common in Ireland. When people begin a health journey, the first four weeks are always the easiest. That's when people are more motivated to get over the little bumps in the road that come along the way.
It's always after four weeks when things get tough. Just like with our leaders, they are facing into life without the weekly weigh-in, the cameras and the experts around them. Like any weight-loss and health journey, this is the hard part. It's where extreme diets become near impossible and people fall off the wagon.
So this got me thinking. What's next? How can the journey that the leaders are going through now as they face the big bad world, help the viewers that followed them? From my experience, here are my top five tips to help people maintain a healthy lifestyle once the initial determination has waned.
1 Measure up
Without a doubt, constant measurement is the most important starting point. A weekly monitoring of something, not necessarily weight, will mean you can track your progress. When you see progress, you stay focused. If you have a bad week, it will act as a reset point. It's something I do with my clients on a weekly basis, and one of the reasons they do so well. You can measure your resting heart rate, your waist line, your strength, your weight, your fitness. Just choose one that you can measure at the same time on the same day each week.
2 Rewards are key
Now that the initial four weeks are over, rewards can be a very simple tool to apply positive reinforcement for hitting targets. It's always important to be working towards something, but even more important to pat yourself on the back when you hit it. I recommend having a reward in place every four weeks. It can be something simple like a book or a meal out. The cost isn't important - it's simply the structure.
3 Stay connected
You are a direct result of the people you surround yourself with, so if you want to get healthy in the long term, then you need to be sure you are surrounding yourself with healthier people. I do it with my own friends and find it a great way to stay focused and on track. WhatsApp is a great way to do this, providing a platform to share tips, food and workouts.
4 Don't go all-or-nothing
All-or-nothing diets are not sustainable in the long term. You will always give in to that treat that you have promised never to have again. So why not take the 80/20 approach and have the odd treat each week? One treat meal can often suffice and create that balance that will make such a big difference to your approach to your health.
5 Work hard
In terms of exercise, it's crucial to remember that you have to work hard to get the benefits. As you get fitter, you need to continue to work harder to ensure that the results keep coming. You can up your weights, change your workout, increase your distance or decrease your time for the same workout. Mixing up your workout helps you get the best results.