Thursday 18 July 2019

Karl Henry: The final week of the Christmas-ready plan - Here are the key points

The final week: Let's recap what you have learned on your fitness plan

Karl Henry at home with his two dogs. Photo: Fran Veale
Karl Henry at home with his two dogs. Photo: Fran Veale
Well done for making it this far, now go out and have a fabulous Christmas - but don't overdo it
Karl Henry

Karl Henry

So here we are. The final week of the Christmas-ready plan. How time flies. Over the course this plan, you have cooked more, eaten better, exercised more and taken a more sustainable approach to your health than ever before. I hope that it hasn't been too hard for you - those small changes are very much what I have aimed to achieve over the last four weeks. Small changes that are simple to make, but will really impact your health. So a really big well done to you.

This week, in the final instalment I want to look at three things. To remind you to review your progress; to give you some key learnings; and alsoremind you of the reasons to love exercise.

In the first instalment of the plan, I asked you to measure three elements of fitness and health each week. By doing this you could see the changes you were achieving by following the plan. Measuring on a regular basis is one of the key ways to stay fit in the long-term, yet so many people miss it. No matter how good or how bad your week, you need to track your progress. If you haven't done so yet, don't forget to fill in the three key components of health.

A quick refresher:

⬤ Resting heart rate: Simply take your pulse rate at your wrist or the base of your neck, or on your smartwatch. Don't forget to take it in the morning and write it down. As you get fitter and less stressed that number will begin to come down. The heart is a muscle that gets stronger as you get fitter, hence the number coming down.

⬤ Waistline: Take a tape measure, place it around your stomach and meet it at your bellybutton. Again with health that number begins to come down. Aim for sub-below inches. High waistlines are associated with pretty much every health condition, so measuring is really important.

⬤ Weight : The one that most people do and probably the least important, but it can certainly help to keep you on track, so a weekly weigh-in is always a good idea.

Keep up your measuring long after the plan finishes, it's crucial and will make such a big difference to your motivation levels. Keep a diary and fill in the numbers each and every week. It is one of the key things I wanted you to take from this plan over the five weeks. Measure more and you WILL be healthier.

Some of my other key points:

⬤ Cooking from scratch is easy and with batch cooking you can stock up your freezer with healthy meals.

⬤ The importance of doing your large food shop once a week.

⬤ Intensity is key when you want to get the most out of your exercise.

⬤ How beneficial sleep is for your body, your recovery and your stress.

⬤ In order to age healthily, movement is crucial.

⬤ The importance of resistance exercise - it is far easier to do that you thought.

⬤ By standing more each day you can get stronger, burn more calories and improve your back strength.

There are more key points that you will have got from the plan over the five weeks, but these are the important ones.

Just remember how good you feel now, having made those changes, having put the hard work in. Nothing feels better than that feeling. That's one of the best things about exercise. The feel good effect. When you exercise you produce endorphins and a whole load of other hormones into your blood stream. You feel positive, empowered, happy and above all healthy. You will never finish an exercise session feeling worse than when you started. It's one of the many reasons to love exercise, in any form.

Remember all of the cardiovascular workouts you did over the last four weeks and don't forget about the resistance work too, so few people do it, yet it's the one that will deliver the most benefits if you had to choose one. The other crucial element of exercise is to find one that you enjoy, when you enjoy it your more likely to keep going, if you don't like it then move on and find something else.

Above all, I want to thank you for taking on the challenge over the last four weeks, I know it may have been tough - but you did it.

Well done.

* Every week, Independent.ie features The Real Health podcast with Karl Henry, in association with Laya Healthcare. In this week's podcast, Your Christmas Survival Kit www.independent.ie/realhealthpodcast

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