The imminent end of party season is a great time to start considering rebooting your health. But changing the mindset that led to that extra handful of chocolate peanuts and seventh mince pie, can seem impossible. It's no wonder many of us often feel overwhelmed and defeated before the New Year has even begun.
Thankfully, getting back to your healthy self may not be as daunting as it seems. Below, experts debunk some common myths around diet, exercise and losing weight -- post silly season and beyond.
Myth: You Must Train Every Day
While staying active daily will increase the likelihood of reaching your training goals sooner, too much too soon can spoil things, exercise physiologist Jonathan Freeman said.
"High intensity training is not necessary (every day)," Freeman said. "In fact, too much can lead to overtraining -- a known factor that may prevent you reaching goals like weight loss." According to Jonathan, the trick to getting back into a fitness regime is taking things slowly.
"You see it all the time – people go hard and then give up. The key is to start slowly, something that fits into your already busy schedule will set you up for success," he said.
"Beginning with something unrealistic will do the opposite and you'll realise it's not sustainable." Counting steps and increasing your incidental activity is Jonathan's suggestion to get you started.
"From there, get a movement screen completed to identify any injury risk factors you may have. This will set you up with a good base prior to starting any strength training or repetitive running."
Myth: You Need To Say Goodbye To Carbohydrates
Nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin explained that it's all about picking the right type of carbohydrates and the right amount depending on your level of activity and state of health.
"Carbs are very supporting to health as they offer a supply of energy, fibre and B-vitamins," she said. In terms of what's best to eat, Zoe recommends any complex slow-release and fibre rich carbs including brown or black rice, quinoa, sweet potato, green peas and fruit such as apples and pears.
"Rice is a great source of carbohydrates. Brown rice has the fibrous bran intact, which is where a lot of nutrition is stored," Bingley-Pullin said. In fact, depending on the type of brown rice product you use, it can be a source of a number of nutrients -- including protein, fibre, magnesium and niacin.
When it comes to mealtimes, Zoe recommends adding a spoonful of miso paste to rice for added taste and nutrients. "You can also toss cooked rice through salads to increase the fibre content of the salad," she said.
Myth: You Are Not Allowed A Cheat Day
As long as they're treated as "occasional" foods, Dr Lynda Ross says there's no harm in having a treat every now and then. "It's important to treat those types of foods as little extras," Dr. Ross said.
Bingley-Pullin said that restricting your favourite food is not necessary and only leads to feelings of deprivation.
"Feeling low and deprived makes having motivation to live a healthy life and take care of yourself much harder," Bingley-Pullin said. "Be easy on yourself and avoid feeling guilty after 'indulging' and instead use it as a lesson to assess what may be lacking in your diet or life."
"Mindful eating away from distraction is the easiest way to eat according to natural hunger cues."
Myth: You Need To Go Cold Turkey (Figuratively, Of Course) In The New Year To Be Healthy
There's no need to punish yourself with a gruelling post-Christmas routine, particularly if it's not something that will work for you in the long-term.
"Making sure changes are sustainable is important," said Bingley-Pullin. "This means changes to your diet should complement your lifestyle while also not causing restriction and deprivation."
Bingley-Pullin explained that how you should implement changes to you diet comes down to how you work best. While some people prefer incremental small changes, others work best when their entire routine is shaken up.
"Making changes in the way that works for you will lead to sustained change," Bingley-Pullin said.
Myth: 'No Pain, No Gain'
It's arguably one of the most repeated catch-phrases in the fitness world, but there's little benefit in sticking to this motto.
Exercise Physiologist Jonathan Freeman said the definition of pain in relation to musculoskeletal conditions is "a perception of further danger."
"That perception can lead to future injury and halt or even stop your weight loss goals," Freeman said. While Jonathan admits it is important to push and motivate yourself during exercise, if the pain is based on a musculoskeletal condition you have or are experiencing, it's better to ease up.
"Start by adapting your training then alter the incentive in order to achieve results," Freeman said.
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