1. Starting an intensive workout routine
At the start of a new year, one of the most common resolutions is to improve fitness levels, prompting many to sign up for gym memberships or exercise classes. Although exercising can improve your health, the excitement from wanting to start off strong may result in sports injuries like sprains and muscle tears.
Tip: A new workout routine should be started gradually to ensure you don’t push your body too hard. If you don’t exercise often, start with 20 minutes of exercise each day for 3 times a week, and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your exercise. It is also important to start each workout with proper warm-up and stretching exercises to avoid injury.
2. Cutting out carbohydrates
Many people think that cutting out carbs completely is the key to quick weight loss, but that is not exactly the case. While cutting down on refined carbohydrates like white bread, rice and processed foods is in fact good for you, carbohydrates remain an essential part of a healthy diet. Carbs are important as your body coverts them into glucose, the sugar that provides you with the energy you need to function. Removing carbs altogether can even tamper with your body’s metabolism!
Tip: Instead of giving up carbs completely, try substituting them with healthier complex carb options. Switch rice with quinoa, or use sweet potatoes instead of regular ones. Carbs are also present in wholegrain foods, beans and some starchy vegetables such as pumpkin, yam and beetroot. So make sure to stock up on those, too.
3. Going on a fad diet
Trendy fad diets may be seemingly simple to follow, but are not always sustainable. Fad diets result in weight loss as they are low in calories, but this can slow down your metabolism and drastically decrease your blood sugar level. You may also be susceptible to nutrient deficiency, as fad diets also eliminate food groups that aren’t bad for you. Although following fad diets allow people to lose weight quickly, they don’t help with maintaining the weight loss. Hence, once you stop the diet, you’re most likely to gain back all of the weight you’ve lost.
Tip: If you are actively looking to lose weight and improve your diet, the best thing to do is maintain a balanced diet. Include plant-based foods, healthy fats, and avoid unhealthy snacks and sweetened or alcoholic beverages. To get more guidance on what changes you should be making to your dietary habits, consult a dietitian.
4. Eating ‘healthy’ snacks
Snacking can be part of a healthy diet, provided we consume a healthy balance of foods at the end of the day. But many snacks marketed as ‘healthy’ may not be so. Low-fat yoghurts, dried fruits and even granola bars are marketed as healthy convenient foods, but they are actually high in sugar. Although snacking may briefly satisfy hunger and promote a feeling of fullness, it adds on to your daily caloric intake. A proper healthy snack should be high in protein and fibre to help reduce hunger and keep you full for longer.
Tip: Choose real foods instead of packaged snacks and bars. Plan ahead and stock up your kitchen or office desk with healthier snack options like fresh vegetable slices, hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, cherry tomatoes and cut fruits.
5. Getting lots of sleep
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a lot of people set ‘sleeping more’ as one of their resolutions. But did you know that sleeping too much can be as bad as sleeping too little? Several studies have revealed that oversleeping is linked to mental health problems like depression. Too much or too little sleep also decreases cognitive function and memory, making it more difficult to carry out everyday tasks.
Tip: To ensure your body is getting the optimal amount of recovery time, it’s recommended to sleep about 7 – 9 hours a night. Research shows that people who get closer to 7 hours of sleep a night generally perform better on complex mental tasks than those who sleep fewer hours. So while sleeping more is definitely good for you, make sure you’re not sleeping excessively. Some medical conditions linked to oversleeping include diabetes, obesity, headaches, back pain and heart disease.
Article reviewed by
Louis Yap, dietitian at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital
Apple Chan, dietitian at Gleneagles Hospital
Dr Othello Dave, deputy medical director at Parkway Hospitals
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