This new year, let us resolve to change our fitness beliefs. Rather than deciding that you will stop eating junk food, start exercising daily and do this, that or the other fitness thing from a standard list of 10 dos and don’ts, think differently. Those of you who have made such resolutions year after year, will know by now how hard it is to follow them.

It’s time to substitute your done-to-death fitness resolutions with a simple yet empowering set of new fitness beliefs. These will help you make some ground rules and your attitude towards fitness will influence your day to day health. Such thoughts will also help you assess the overdose of fitness information available today. For instance, if you are faced with a situation where you cannot exercise every day because of a wedding in the family or too much work, rather than giving up completely, you might want to adopt an approach of moderation by cutting down on the wine, eating half a serving of dessert, avoiding fried snacks at your desk and taking a walk around the office whenever you can.

Below are three ideas that will hopefully help change your idea of fitness completely.

Think of nutrients, not just calories

Calorie counting of food does not do justice to the nutrients it contains and what it can do for you. For instance, take the case of sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. Both have similar calories, in fact, the sweet potato is more calorie-dense. But it is loaded with more vitamins, especially from the vitamin B complex group, and antioxidants. It also has a much higher fibre content, and it is this feature that makes sweet potato slow to digest and, therefore, provides sustained energy.

Interestingly, the world of nutrition and foods is replete with such examples. Kidney beans have more calories, but more soluble fibre than regular dal. In smaller quantities, kidney beans are more nutrient-dense and offer satiety, especially when teamed with brown rice and lightly cooked or raw vegetables like red and yellow peppers. Take the example of a rich pastry and nachni wrap, both having similar calories. The calories in the nachni wrap, stuffed with guacamole made from avocado, grilled chicken, and a low-fat sour cream, are healthier because they are nutrient-dense. Get into the practice of thinking about your food choices and choose nutrient-dense foods over calorie-dense ones.

Remember to rest well

Sleeping at odd hours can compromise your metabolism

Sleeping on time most days of the week is important for the body to repair and recuperate itself. Sleeping late and at odd hours could make you binge on sweets, compromise your metabolism and make you feel lethargic.

Think about being active

Do some exercises at your desk in office
Do some exercises at your desk in office

If you miss your gym workout or yoga class or morning walk because of the weather, too much work or plain laziness, there are various ways in which you can stay active. Start by taking double the walking steps than you are used to and make that a non-negotiable fitness habit. Always take the stairs at least until the second floor of your home or office building, carry your own shopping bags, get your own glass of water, do some exercises at your desk, and walk around the block or in the office two-three times a day.

Keep a Swiss ball at home and sit on it to exercise your core and improve your stability. Remember to choose one according to your height. An active body can improve metabolic interactions, neutralize hormonal activity, relieve constipation and regularize hunger patterns, so you stop craving the junk. Keep your mind active as well by engaging in recreational activities such as chess, bridge, Sudoku or poker with friends. Not only do these activities help you de-stress, they also regulate immunity.

Madhuri Ruia is a nutritionist and Pilates expert. She runs InteGym in Mumbai, which advocates workouts with healthy diets.

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