(written by someone who is relatively unhealthy)
I’ve realised a fundamental flaw in the post-Olympics obsession with sports and exercise: people are taking up cycling under the impression that they’ll become a shining example of peak physical condition in months, and just by exercising. In my experience, an experience based, once again on that strange concept of ‘reality’, it’s changed in diet and sleeping patterns that result in real, noticeable changes to one’s health.
1) Drink water
I got addicted to Diet Coke about three years ago, and would drink at least litre of the stuff a day (a 500ml bottle on the way home from school and another half a litre at home); this meant that, for about a year, I was running off three hours of sleep a night. Not a good idea.
I’m not suggesting your drinking habits are anywhere near as bad, but I’ve found that healthiness is largely achieved through little changes to one’s routine, so substituting an energy drink that you take throughout the day with water will leave you much healthier as a result.
Also, you’ll end up drinking just to quench your thirst; when I drank Diet Coke, I’d drink it because I liked the taste, not because I was thirsty. Now that I only ever drink water (seriously), I only drink it to stop being thirsty, which, over time, becomes as relieving and relaxing as drinking a flavoured thing.
2) Cucumbers are awesome
Keeping with the theme of minor changes to one’s diet, eat cucumber! These are easy to eat in small portions and frequently, as they are sold in cylinders, so you can eat half a dozen slices in one meal very easily; psychologically, it’s easier than the feeling of having to eat an entire apple or banana in one go, because you’r literally eating a fraction of the entire vegetable.
Cucumbers are also easy to hide in other foods so you don’t realise you’re eating them; the slices are so small that you can slip them into sandwiches or wraps that you eat for lunch, and you don’t have to think about them. I find the hardest bit of eating healthily is convincing yourself to change your lifestyle and actually do it; if you don’t realise you’re eating differently, a thing we all approach with a little apprehension, this problem becomes non-existent.
3) Treat milk like medicine
I’ve got Osgood-Schlatter Disease, do I drink milk every morning to strengthen my bones; problem is, I hate milk, and I always have – I eat cereal dry for Christ’s sake. However, by treating it as a medicine that I need to take all at once really helps me to actually drink it – instead of having to drink a little throughout the day, which would provide a constant source of bad taste for my tongue, I can get it over and done with in the morning.
You can apply this idea to eating healthily yourself; if you don’t like the above cucumber idea, but need to eat more fruit and veg, eat the required quantity all at once in the morning so you can forget about it for the rest of the day. But try both this method and the one above, to see which you prefer, and for which foods you need to eat; so the first method works for me and cucumbers, but the second works for me and milk.
4) Just run
Do it. Do it now! Stop sitting on your arse, reading this drivel, and go fix your deteriorating corpse you call a body! I found that in planning exercise routines and sporting activities, I’d spend way too long on finding out how far I should run, and for how long, and how many calories I’d burn in comparison to how many I’d need to burn to offset the garbage I was eating, and all the rest of it.
I’ve noticed that just going out and trying a distance and an intensity will give you a better idea of your fitness level and reasonable goals than months of planning. Simply going out an exercising also leads onto my final point:
5) Do something now
And I mean starting tomorrow. The more you delay, the more time you waste, and the harder it will be to get into a thing. Ultimately, you’ll want to change your lifestyle, albeit in a small way, and so the faster you start bringing new elements into your routine, the faster they will become part of that routine; remember, everything you do as a habit had to be introduced to your life by you, so you have the power to implement new aspects to your routine.
Actions speak louder than words to a great extent when it comes to healthiness (I say, with words, in a blog post), so whatever you do, do it now. That way, you’ll find what works for you and you’ll be able to stick to it easier now that you’ve already started. I find that any change in routine is easy to maintain, but hard to start, so stop reading this already, and go out and be healthier!
– Osgood-Schlatter Disease ( I thought it was a ‘syndrome’?)