You’re conscious about your health so, of course, you try to avoid obvious bad habits, like pigging out on junk food and being a couch potato. But according to the health and wellness experts from A Season of Change – the free online 12-week body, self image and lifestyle event kicking off on September 1 – some of the habits we think are doing us the most good could actually be hindering us when it comes to achieving our health and wellness goals.
A panel of experts have teamed up to reveal six so-called “healthy habits” that may be leading us astray and share their top tips on how to right those habitual wrongs to get back to track to better health and increased happiness.
1. Reaching for ‘low-fat’ foods: Opting for foods that are labelled low-fat or fat-free in the pursuit of a healthier option is often a misguided attempt at healthy eating, says A Season of Change’s resident nutritionist, Dane Fuller.
“In many cases, these products are loaded with hidden sugars and chemicals, which aside from being unhealthy, are digested much faster, resulting in sugar crashes that leave you reaching for the next snack in no time,” he says. “Nutritious foods will be more satisfying and will keep you fuller for longer.”
2. Thinking that coffee doesn’t count: While there’s no shame in craving a little caffeine to kick-start your day, Fuller explains that too often we don’t think of our liquid calories when tallying up our daily food intake. “Remember that a latte is a cup of milk, so if you’re having two or three a day, with sugar added, those calories count just as much as the ones on your plate, especially if you’re trying to lose weight,” he says.
3. Repetition, repetition, repetition: You’re committed to a weekly exercise regime, which is brilliant, but if you’ve been doing the same routine for months you may not be getting the most out of your efforts, according to personal trainer, competitive athlete and one of A Season of Change’s resident fitness experts, Anna Bramley.
“Someone who does the same activity all the time is likely to plateau much sooner than someone who varies their workouts. Just as you can get bored by always doing the same exercises, your body can also adapt so that the exercise you’re doing doesn’t offer the same benefits it once did,” she says. “You should be looking to change your routine at least every 4 to 8 weeks to keep your muscles challenged, your body guessing and the results coming!”
4. Relying on willpower: The most common challenge in achieving health and wellness goals is relying solely on your willpower to make positive health choices in your day to day life. If you are easily tempted, don’t make the mistake of relying on willpower alone, instead take steps to make sure you’re prepared, says Fuller. “It’s important to replace willpower with strategy. Set yourself up for success by cleansing your home and personal work space of all temptation foods and replace them with healthier options. Why make it hard for yourself, you’re only human,” he says.
5. Hitting the gym daily: Exercise is vital to good health and vitality but, if you’re not giving your body any time to recover, you could be putting yourself at risk of injury or illness. “Even Olympic athletes have scheduled rest days in their training plans, in order to allow the body time to recuperate,” says A Season of Change’s lifestyle coach and former professional football player Luke Sniewski.
According to Sniewski, what you do on your rest days will depend on your level of fitness. If you’re just starting out, you may want to take a real rest day, in which you do no activity at all, but if you’re a more seasoned athlete, you could still do some really light activity like gentle cardio or a yoga class. “Either way, use your rest day to reflect on how far you’ve already come and to be grateful for your body and dedication!”
6. Falling hard for ‘healthy’ foods: When we set about to eat better, even the healthiest options can lead us away from our goals when we overindulge, says Fuller. “Foods like nuts, hummus and protein smoothies are all great options, but just because they are healthy doesn’t discount the need for moderation. Focusing on nutritional value and portion size is the best way to keep healthy foods healthy – eating anything in excess is not going to have the desired benefits.”
To help you spring clean your life and develop healthy habits for good, A Season of Change is a free 12-week online program, designed to help women on their path to better health and happiness. Participants will receive free weekly digital TV episodes on their mobile device or computer containing expert advice on nutrition, health and fitness as well as self-image and styling. Registrations are now open and close on August 31.