A new year is the perfect time to adopt more desirable behaviours in the hope to live a happier and healthier life. More often than not these aspirations will not manifest into victory.
My intention for this blog is to identify the common errors people make when deciding on their new year’s resolutions and how you can construct a keep-able promise in 2020.
#1 Too much too soon
Setting unrealistic goals at the start of the year in the hope that you can transform yourself overnight.
Instead of trying to change everything at once, it is better to make incremental changes that can be more easily achieved. By setting realistic goals that can be altered over time, success is more likely.
If your goal is to start going to the gym, then begin by working out once or twice a week. Once you have this mastered, consider adding an extra visit. Trying to go from no exercise to working out every day is not the way forward.
#2 Not identifying your ‘why’
Not understanding the reasoning behind a resolution.
Having a good motivational drive is integral to success. It’s important to identify why the goal is important to you on a personal level.
You may want to work harder at University, but it is important to uncover why is this important to you? Maybe it is because you want to graduate and secure your dream job. Whatever your reasoning, make sure you identify it and use it to motivate your behaviours.
#3 Wishy-washy goals
Setting a haphazard goal with no specificity or personalisation.
Keep the goal relevant to you and include fine details. The more specific you can make your goal, the more vivid it will be in your imagination and the more encouraged you will be to succeed.
Adopting a healthy diet is always a popular resolution but this leaves much ambiguity. Think about what a healthy diet for YOU would look like. For example, ‘I will eat five portions of fruit or vegetables each day’ is much more specific than ‘I will eat a healthier diet’.
#4 Not checking in
Not measuring or tracking progress will result in the inability to know how you are doing and whether changes need to be adopted for success.
Keepings a written record of your progress with help to sustain the ‘can do’ attitude, keep you accountable, and ensure you are moving in the right direction.
If your goal is to drink more water, then the only way to know if you are succeeding is to track how much you are drinking each day.
#5 Not setting the date
Without a deadline of achievement, motivation can dwindle and often the attitude of ‘I will do it tomorrow’ is adopted.
Set an end date for targets to keep the pressure on and stop any avoidance of the tasks at hand.
If your goal is to run a 10km then enter yourself in an event at the start of the year. The pressure of a looming race is sure to keep you motivated.
#6 All or nothing attitude
Giving up completely when something goes wrong.
Accepting that slip-ups are likely and are a part of the behaviour change process. The ability to pick yourself up and carry on after a setback is vital for triumph.
Does the occasional sweet treat completely undo an overall healthy diet? No, of course not! As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.
#7 Enduring not enjoying
No one can bring themselves to do something they hate consistently, so planning a resolution that you will dislike doing is not going to work.
The best plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life and one which you can appreciate.
Participating in a sport you love rather than dragging yourself to the gym will be much more effective in any fitness venture.
About the author: Laura Smith is an athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
How do I create a Workout Plan?
Getting the right support for your training plan will mean the difference between success and failure. You do not need to identify your SMART goals alone. If you want some free tips, connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app.
Whether you’re an avid runner, a recreational lifter, or a lifelong tennis player, you know that what you eat is key both for optimal performance as well as recovery. However, some people are so enthusiastic about fuelling their workouts with the right ingredients that they neglect the equally important role of their recovery. After all, this is when all of your muscle growth happens and the effects of your training take place to help you advance.
In addition to your macros, which are always vital for your health and well-being, taking care of your micro-nutrient intake will help you recuperate faster and restore your energy more efficiently. One mineral in particular deserves more attention for improving your post-workout healing – magnesium!
Magnesium’s main roles
Just like every other essential micro-nutrient, magnesium is a meddler – it plays many vital roles in numerous metabolic processes in the body. This minuscule mineral takes part in over 300 biochemical reactions, from how your body generates energy, how it utilises other micro-nutrients you eat in your food, all the way to protecting your very DNA.
Your vital organs such as you brain and heart heavily depend on your magnesium supplies to function properly every day. However, it’s also the building block of your bones, just like calcium, and it balances your cholesterol levels, allowing your muscles to relax and recover from physical strain. Even with just these several functions, it’s already clear how crucial magnesium is for everyone who leads an active life, since your energy and performance are based in magnesium availability, as much as any other essential macro and micro-nutrient.
Deciding on your needs
The general guidelines when it comes to this handy mineral state that an average man requires approximately 400 to 420mg of magnesium per day, while women need slightly less, in the realm of 310 to 320mg per day. However, these numbers fluctuate depending on your lifestyle, any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, how active you are every day, what your diet consists of, and whether you are pregnant.
Then again, athletes – and endurance athletes in particular – may need more magnesium to help their bodies cope with muscle soreness and cramps as well as arduous routines. You don’t necessarily need to be a competitive athlete to find yourself depleted of magnesium, since you may need a higher dosage than someone who exercises significantly less in terms of both intensity and frequency – which is where your doctor should step in and check if you should up your intake.
Sources of magnesium
This crucial mineral is as hard to come by as it is essential to your well-being, making it one of those elusive dietary requirements that is hard to meet, especially through diet alone. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and dairy as well as dark greens such as spinach and broccoli have high amounts of magnesium, although its bio-availability may vary. Typically, your body will absorb as little as 30-40% of the eaten magnesium, which often leads athletes to rethink their diets.
For those who exercise vigorously, it’s often recommended to take magnesium supplements in order to improve their energy levels and recover faster. They are designed to be absorbed more easily without causing any harm to your digestive tract, increasing your daily intake without increasing your calories through magnesium-packed foods.
Symptoms of a deficiency
Although some of the following symptoms are very commonly associated with other health issues and they can be seen as mere reactions to a stressful situation, it’s important to listen to your body and notice if these symptoms persist:
- General fatigue
- Muscle spasms and cramps
- Trouble sleeping
- Carb cravings
- Numbness in your hands and feet
- Irregular heartbeat
If you feel that your workouts are becoming increasingly difficult even though you’re resting properly and not increasing the intensity of your workouts, chances are that you are starting to experience a magnesium deficiency. It’s best to talk to your physician and do a few tests to confirm if you have this particular issue in order to find the best solution – your body will thank you later!
Key perks to expect
Finally, as difficult as it may be for some to believe that this one micro-nutrient is so priceless for your muscles, bones, and energy, you can begin by getting a deeper insight into how you’ll feel when you actually provide your body with enough of this mineral.
- Improved muscle gains – Since magnesium is one of those vital ingredients in the process called muscle protein synthesis, which occurs well after you finish your workout, it stimulates your muscles to repair and build new tissue. Without it, your muscles cannot repair and recover properly, making it very difficult to advance in terms of improving your physique with lean muscle.
- Better carb and fat metabolism – Yes, this little rascal also plays a key role in how your body uses carbs to generate energy, and how efficient you are at burning fat. So, if your goal is to improve your body composition and replace those love handles with lean muscle, magnesium is your body’s best friend.
- Quality sleep – As the third pillar of a healthy lifestyle, right next to diet and exercise, sleep is connected to your magnesium levels. Enough of this mineral helps your body relax after training, reduces inflammation in your body, replenishes energy stores, and soothes your entire central nervous system to sleep.
There can be no muscle protein synthesis, or restored energy without sleep, so magnesium is the ingredient that closes this recovery cycle and turns it into a powerful bodily process you need to advance in your athletic endeavors and stay healthy.
About the author: Luke is a fitness and health blogger at Ripped.me and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.
Especially if your university accommodation is catered, it can be tough to stay healthy at college. Beat the Freshman 15 by following our tips for staying healthy while you study.
I have always loved cooking and adore being able to use fresh fruit and vegetables to make my meals. So, deciding to live in catered over non-catered halls was a tough decision, but eventually I gave into the idea of Sunday brunch always being ready for me. However, this meant I sacrificed a kitchen and also a lot of freedom over what I could eat and when.
The food in my hall was tasty but a lot of the time very unhealthy. Combinations such as pasta with gravy and fish and chips with samosas came up regularly. I found myself having to creatively avoid these options by becoming a part-time vegetarian. This worked most of the time, but I was still being served pasta a lot or puffed pastry with cheese…still not my idea of a healthy balanced diet. To my hall’s credit, there was a salad bar, but this was the same every single day and got very boring. I ended up ordering in food a lot, but even then, those options were also unhealthy with pizza and Chinese usually being the winners amongst my friends.
Eventually, I turned vegan as I realised there were only 4 other vegans in my hall and therefore the food was cooked specially for us and with a lot more care than to feed the other 300 students. Other than veganism (which was broken pretty regularly by the odd chicken breast or egg) I managed to learn a few tricks in order to stay healthy whilst living my best student life. I didn’t want to restrict myself and I still wanted to have fun. Drinking is also a big dilemma as a student as nights-out are unavoidably part of the experience.
Tips for staying healthy at University
The following are tips anyone can follow in order not to gain lots of weight without having to go vegan:
- Make the most of your university gym.
- Do not get a late-night McDonald's after a night of drinking. Instead, save yourself a banana and put it in your room so you can eat it when you get home.
- Try not to eat anything fried. Curly fries were often my weakness.
- If you know you’re going to get hungry after the gym, buy some carrots and celery to snack on.
- If your university's gym has a cafe, the food there is more likely to be healthier.
- Keep yogurt and seeds in your fridge so you always have a healthy start to the day.
- Take a hand-held food processor to university with you. This means you can whip-up smoothies (or even soup) without having a kitchen.
- Take a nice selection of herbal teas and make sure you have your own thermos - I love the Sundried eco coffee cup. Most cafes will give you a discount on coffee when you have your own reusable cup.
- If you’re going to drink alcohol (which I did) drink tequila or vodka with soda and lime as they contain fewer calories than drinks like wine and beer.
- If you’re going to order take away try to go for Thai, Vietnamese or Sushi (always better than pizza!)
By Siena Barry-Taylor
If you're as much of a fan of cycling as we are here at Sundried, chances are there'll be a few things we have in common. We take a look at some of the things we do as cyclists that might make us seem mad to outsiders.
1. 5am starts are the norm on a Sunday.
Nothing compares to the peacefulness of a Sunday morning ride. No cars on the road, no pedestrians, just you alone with your thoughts on the open road. Bliss.
2. The road is safer than a bike path.
People stepping out without looking, opening car doors in front of you, and dogs off leads are all potential hazards when cycling on a designated bike path. Sometimes it's just easier to cycle along the road.
3. That split second of panic when your shoe won't unclip.
We've all been there; you're approaching a junction or a set of traffic lights and your shoe just won't budge. I've seen it plenty of times myself where cyclists have had a tumble because of unruly cleats. Just brush it off and pretend no one saw.
4. Watts, VO2 max, FTP, and elevation gains are every day speak.
How many watts did you put down up that hill? What was your max elevation gain? These are all things we love discussing with fellow cyclists which probably make no sense to anyone else and frankly, they probably don't care!
5. You can convert miles to kilometres easily in your head.
Some of your friends prefer miles, some prefer km. Some races use one or the other and now you don't even think twice about converting the distance. Oh you cycled 80km this morning? That's 50 miles, nice!
6. When people talk about going on trips, you wonder if you could cycle it.
Why fly to Amsterdam when you could cycle it in a day! Family holiday to Europe? You bet I'm taking my bike! It took you how long to drive to London? I could cycle it in 2 hours!
7. The hillier, the better.
There's something strangely satisfying about destroying your legs up a 15% incline only to be able to whizz down the other side at 40mph. Oh, sorry, you prefer km? 64kph then.
8. The soreness is worth it.
The curse of the numb bum, achy back, sore shoulders and neck after being on the bike for 5 hours is all worth it for the stunning views, sunrises, sunsets, and spending time with like-minded enthusiasts.
As a first time author, this month was supposed to be a very exciting one. My book, "5 Simple Steps to Releasing the Real You", was published on March 24th and a book launch by my publisher had been scheduled for that evening in Central London. A more local book launch was planned for Monday 30th in North London. And then boom, Coronavirus hit the UK hard. Events got cancelled right, left and centre. What should have been a very exciting time was suddenly totally in limbo.
My publisher cancelled the central London event, while I decided to still host mine, but move it online. Many people learned how to use video conferencing tools they never used before. The reason why I decided to push on with my book launch, in its new format, is that if we learned anything from this pandemic, being healthy is a lifesaver.
So far, on top of the elderly and those with an autoimmune disease, those suffering from high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes are as much at risk as the elderly. Except for type-1 diabetes, the other ones are lifestyle related, hence totally in our hands. I myself struggled with my health and weight for many years while working in the corporate world. I didn’t know how to juggle a healthy lifestyle and a very demanding job, while adding some social events in the little spare time I had.
I was always told that I just had to eat less and better and move more. Unfortunately, as much as I knew that was the answer, I had no idea of how to implement it for long term results. Yes, I always loved healthy food. And I’ve always been sporty. But when you are traveling a lot for work, entertain clients a lot, and come home too tired to cook and move, it’s not easy, or at least I didn’t find it easy, and I didn’t find anyone that understood my lifestyle and issues and could help me change. All I got was the all or nothing approach. And that didn’t work.
After tearing the ligaments in the knee and doing rehab, I found a personal trainer course that I could combine with work. Studying on the train and plane was ideal. Ten years ago, I made a massive career change and became a personal trainer. Somehow, I thought that if I got my clients to workout well, they’ll want to eat better as well. Even after adding nutrition to my qualifications, most clients were still not compliant with what I suggested. So I had to dig further, and realised that unless we also work on our mindset, our habits and behaviours, sleep enough and reduce stress levels, "eat less, move more" won’t work.
It’s only when you set up your environment both mental and physical to support your efforts that you will achieve long term results. By being stuck at home, and being forced to slow down, we now have an incredible opportunity to review both our mental and physical environment. Working through "5 Simple Steps to Releasing the Real You", the reader will be asked many questions that will help them recognise their downfalls and their barriers, while finding ways to surmount them and build a new and healthy plan around the 5 steps of Mindset, Habits & Behaviour, Nutrition, Exercise & Movement, Sleep & Stress.
Are you ready to make a change? Join the online book launch on Monday March 30th at 7pm UK time, and get a signed copy of the book. Buy your ticket on https://anneiarchy.com/book-launch
If you can’t make it, then buy your signed copy on my website https://anneiarchy.com/book or your kindle edition on Amazon.