Now you’re more than likely back at work there’s less excuses to hit snooze on the alarm clock every morning, right?
It should also be a time for finding less excuses to keep fit and healthy, with holidays just about done and dusted.
Our last fitness guide was so popular we decided to back it up with some more insights from our health and fitness experts.
With summer weather still at our fingertips to enjoy, it's an optimal time to be getting outdoors for a run or a swim to move those post-Christmas kilos.
Accredited sports nutritionist Chloe McLeod told Hit that setting realistic fitness goals was her number one piece of advice to clients.
“If you do need to lose weight, how much weight is feasible to lose in the time frame?” she said.
“When I’m working with clients on a weight loss diet, realistically we’ll be aiming for half to one kilogram per week, sometimes it’s a little bit less than that, sometimes if they’ve got lots of weight to lose it will a little bit more.
“But be realistic and get some advice from a health care professional around what is realistic if you’re not sure.”
Work fitness around your schedule
Life doesn’t stop and you shouldn’t either. McLeod said to factor in the other things you’ve got going on in your life as well and plan accordingly.
“It’s a really busy time of year, planning when you can fit the exercise in, being realistic and organised with your food means you’re more likely going to be able to make those healthy choices,” she said.
“If you know you’ve got a healthy lunch that you take to work with you and put in the fridge, it’s much more likely that you’ll choose to eat that for lunch, than head out to the shops and be tempted by many more less healthy options.
“If you’ve booked in that morning run with your friend or that afternoon exercise class with one of your work colleagues, it’s in the diary, you’re more likely to attend, instead of saying “maybe I’ll go” and something happens and you don’t end up making it.”
Nutrition is the easiest thing to tweak
McLeod says working on what you fuel your body with is often the smallest and easiest change you can make to get started on the front foot.
“Have a look overall at what you’re eating, for the majority of Australians vegetable intake is not being achieved to the recommended amount,” she said.
“We’re aiming for five serves of vegetables a day, if you’re already achieving that, that’s fantastic, but something like 92 per cent of Australians don’t actually eat enough vegetables.
“The first step you could take would be looking at how you could cut back some of the less healthy foods in your diet, and replace them with fresh salads, sauted vegetables or something similar because they’re nutrient dense, lower in calories, and can also fill you up quite well.”
Invest in a personal trainer
Having an effective trainer or performance coach can really help deliver positive fitness results alongside structure to your workout, explains Christian Woodfood, Director of Athlete Performance at Woodford Sports Scientist Consulting.
“Hiring an appropriate fitness professional is a big one. Someone who has a knowledge base and someone who actually get results,” he told Hit.
“Not just going off and doing it by yourself, but having some sort of structure behind what you do.”
While Woodford said clients tend to set good intentions in January to get fit, forgetting to create a roadmap to get there is where many people fall down.
“In 99 per cent of cases where people exercise and there’s no structure to it, they lose motivation,” he said.
“I think the big thing you need to do is get a professional to at least write you out a program, a plan moving forward where it’s periodised, what I mean by that is you’ve got some sort of goal, you’ve got some sort of structure, you have a plan.
“When you have that and you hire someone to implement that plan, it might be once a month, once a week, once every fortnight, but at least they’re showing you the proper exercise and the progression that’s needed.
“You have structure. Instead of exercising you train with a purpose, and you can reach your goals.”
Woodford said good intentions can sometimes see people try and rush the process – don’t do this.
“If you’re early on in your journey and you’re a little overweight, you don’t need to do anything high intensity,” he said.
“It might be a slow walk just to start with around the block, especially if you’re a little deconditioned. You don’t need to rush that process. It might just be a five to 10 minute walk a day and you just build yourself up.
“Day one you might go for a walk for 10 minutes, day two you go for a walk for 12 to 14 minutes, and then you just build up slowly from there.
“The biggest thing is when you’re overloading your program, when you’re putting extra stress on your body, you don’t overload too soon. You just take small steps, and you don’t rush the process.”
Don’t just chase ‘aesthetics’
Building a strong fitness base should not be just based on how you look, explains Michael Cunico, the National Fitness Manager at Fitness First Australia.
“Let’s be honest, most people will be going after aesthetic changes, so whether it’s something on the scale or a look they’re chasing down or a look in the mirror, you tend to find the scale can sometimes lie, particularly if someone begins to do any form of strength training, which I would definitely recommend,” he told Hit.
“Muscle is a little denser than fat, and therefore purely focusing on a scale number may be a little bit misleading.”
Instead, Cunico suggests setting more inappropriate physical goals such as performing a certain amount of reps or sets of a weight.
“Once you start exercising, you immediately feel different, we know that comes from all the hormone changes that happen,” he said.
“We may not see those changes immediately on a scale, or exactly what we want to look at right now, but focusing on that feeling may keep us motivated that little bit longer."
Small changes add up
Cunico says most people will pick a date like a Monday to kick start their fitness – but why not right now?
“You can start small changes at any point, and that could be something as simple as drinking a little bit more water,” he said.
“How do you go about that? Sip water bottles everywhere. In your car, at your desk, next to the lounge, wherever you can put a water bottle that might help you become less hungry at night, or wake up 10 minutes early and simply walk around the block when you start getting ready for work.
“Small changes will add up over time, and anyone can start that at any point in time, you don’t need to wait for a specific date or a specific date of the week.
“I encourage people to think about that and instill that into their day as soon as they can.”