Wednesday 25 April 2018

100 Days: Searching for the key to keeping motivated

Healthy breakfast options
Healthy breakfast options

Deirdre Hassett

I've been following Yvonne's 100 FIT Days progress with interest. I love this stuff - fresh beginnings, food plans, the promise of a better you. I think it's fair to admit firstly that I do live, eat and sleep the FIT lifestyle. Thoughts waking up are usually in this exact order:

1. Great ­- there is coffee…

2. What's for breakfast? Eggs? I love eggs.

3. What kind of training am I going to do today?

Unlike Lady Gaga, I wasn't born this way. It's taken years to work out my nutrition and get to a fighting race weight; through trial and error, reading and nutritionist advice. Most days my food already looks a lot like Yvonne's 100 FIT Days food plan - berries and eggs for breakfast, salad and protein for lunch, chicken and sweet potatoes for dinner after training. The important thing is that I have found combinations of food that, while healthy, are what I like to eat, that keep me full, and sustain training before or after days in the office. I've realised that managing nutrition is not a 100-day plan - it's for life. Just as well I love eggs.

I've pulled some of my Irish work colleagues out here in California into the 100 FIT Days experiment and we've got our own little challenge going, tracking along with the nutrition and exercise. As one of them put it: "When you get to your 30s and beyond, it's no longer just about looking good - it's about the bigger picture: cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar - you want to be healthy." The key question is how to make new nutrition and fitness regimes sustainable life changes beyond 100 days?

My own big Achilles heel is scheduling time for strength training, with the subsequent result that I struggle to do a single full push-up. It's time to sub in some simple bodyweight strength workouts, which will hopefully reset my habits.

One colleague, who had let her nutrition and fitness lapse for a while, has already been following a focused gym and low-carb nutrition kick-start back to fitness, but she admits that it's sometimes a struggle. "I've got used to eliminating the bad carbs from my diet and I'm feeling really good with the high-protein food plan and exercise, but it's tough to stay motivated to train." She finds it hard to push herself to complete her strength training if she is alone, so I suggested that she join a boot camp or circuits class.

It's vital also to find a sport that you like to maintain aerobic fitness, or it will be a constant struggle to motivate yourself. My friend Susan, who tried running and simply hated it, went back to her childhood hobby of Irish dancing as an adult - every hour of dancing was an intense workout.

Another colleague has just got married, and while she worked really hard on her fitness prior to the wedding, training hard and eating well in order to look fabulous on her wedding day (and she did), she laments that without that beautiful white dress as a goal, it's much harder to stick to her training and food plan.

We decided that what she needs is a new fitness goal to give her a reason to get back to the gym and running trails. So we're setting up a target of completing a 5km race later on in the autumn, and meanwhile we're following along with the 100 FIT Days programme. I'll report back on progress in a few weeks.

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