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As we come out of this lockdown period, many of us will reflect on our ‘lockdown diet’ and the weight many of us have gained during this period.

We all started with good intentions but as the lockdown progressed, our best intentions were replaced with lethargy towards training, impulsive visits to the fridge and a reduced frequency of healthy meals.

Gyms re-opening marks the start of getting back to normal. For many of us, July 25th is our January 1st.

But as we know from previous January 1st resolutions, seldom are our nutrition goals met and often our best intentions seem to slip within the first three weeks.

So, as The Marlow Club opens its doors once again, we are asking you to join with us in a 21 day ‘Re-Focus Challenge’.

THE CHALLENGE

1. Pick ONE HABIT from one of the below list:

a. Increase Veg Intake– aim to ¼ – ½ plate of salad or veg with every evening meal

b. Increase Protein – aim to have a visible form of protein with every lunch and dinner

c. Reduce alcohol Intake – insert glass of water between each glass of alcohol

d. Increase water Intake – aim to drink 2 litres of water each day

e. Reduce Impulsive Eating – Aim to only eat junk with a main meal

f. Increase Training Frequency – Aim to complete X sessions during the challenge

These habits focus on promoting health or reducing dependence on stimulants.

Vegetable intake, water intake and protein intake are three of the core constituents of almost every diet out there and for my clients are usually one of the first ports of call for changing body shape.

2. Create and track your progress every day using a tracker like the one below:

3. Aim for a target of between 80-100% success rate over this 3 week period to allow yourself to be human. No one is perfect so give yourself room for trial and error.

4. The challenge starts on 27th of July and finishes on 17th of August and we would love to hear from you during this period. Let us know via Facebook, Instagram or at the bottom of this blog about how you are getting on. Pop us some photos of you doing your habit and inspire other members in the process. If you have any questions, ask away. We would be more than happy to help.

Now you know the challenge, let me share some useful information I tend to work through with my clients. It should give you some tips and tricks to help you create success in your challenge.

Understand Habits

Understand that your unwanted lockdown habits grew to make your life easier, even if it doesn’t seem that way. If your unwanted habits didn’t solve a problem you wouldn’t have adopted or kept them.

Usually, poor nutrition habits either:

· Give you more time

o Takeaways/microwave meals save you time and energy

· Change our state of mind

o Over indulgence or impulsive snacking relieves boredom, loneliness, anxiety, frustration or stress.

Changing a habit is fundamentally about changing your self-talk and focus. It is easy to create excuses or justifications to exempt you from following through with your new habit. In regards to food habits, the most common justifications I hear are:

a. ‘I don’t have time’

b. ‘I’ve been good so I deserve time off/a treat’

c. ‘I’ll start again tomorrow’

Listen out for these and don’t accept them. Justifications create inconsistency of thought and make it easier to repeat poor behaviour in the future. Consistency is THE most important trait for creating a new habit.

Over these 21 days you will encounter multiple pinch points when you know you should be practicing your new habit but the voice in your head will tell you to not bother. Remember, inconsistency of thought or even allowing that internal debate to occur promotes inconsistent actions. When this inevitably occurs, stop debating with yourself and without thinking, actively start your new habit!

It is Easier to Evolve a Habit than to Break One

You will notice that each of the habits on this challenge focuses either on adding a habit or evolving a bad one. That is because giving something up is difficult and your reasons for adopting your lockdown habit in the first place are probably still there. If you have been

eating to relieve boredom whilst working from home and you adopt a habit of stopping impulsive eating, if your boredom is still present you are unlikely to maintain your new habit. However, saying ‘I will eat these treats but in an hour after dinner’ curbs impulsive eating without going cold turkey. In effect we make the new habit more palatable for your mind to accept whilst still creating change.

Change Your Environment

Your environment has a huge impact on your thoughts and actions. If you have chocolate in your kitchen and your goal is to reduce chocolate, temptation is bound to occur.

Whichever your chosen habit, try to fix your home so that it supports your goal.

· Take out anything that will encourage poor behaviour

o Take junk food and alcohol out of your home

· Add in anything that will support good behaviour

o Buy veg and have it cut and prepared at the weekend

o Place your gym kit out the night before your workouts to remind you to train

o Buy a water bottle you will carry with you

Success is a Zone

Aim for a success of between 80-100%. Success is always a zone, not an exact figure. Aim for 100% and you either score 100% or 0%, it’s that black and white. The very first time you aren’t successful in completing your habit you’ve failed. If you miss a habit in Day 1, that’s you done. That isn’t healthy and just creates a sense of fear of failure rather than a sense of progress and improvement.

Pick Just One Habit

Research shows us that humans are terrible at multi-tasking hard tasks.

In fact, it is estimated that those who only change one habit at a time manage a success rate of up to 80%. Those who change two habits as a time drop to a 35% and those trying 3 or more habits simultaneously drop to a frightening 5% success rate. No wonder diet plans that request multiple changes at once have such low success rates.

This challenge is about changing just one habit and really focusing on that habit without other habits distracting your focus. Hopefully these 21 days will create a stepping stone to allow you to change other habits in the future so remember, this challenge is just to get change started. It isn’t supposed to be an overhaul of all your lockdown bad habits.

Check In and Review Daily

We all lead busy lives and one day often blends into another. So it’s easy to forget new habits as our focus is pulled elsewhere. It’s even easier to routinely repeat the same bad habit day in day out without noticing.

Therefore when working with clients, I always try to start the day with a ‘5 minute focus’:

· What is my goal for today?

· Is there any time of today that might be challenging?

· How do I plan respond?

In effect we mentally prepare for the day and rehearse pinch points.

Set your alarm to remind you to check in half way through the day to see how you are getting on and whether you are still focused on your present habit. This gives you time to notice and halt any poor choices you may have made today and change them for the afternoon.

Finish your day with a quick 5 minute review of what worked, what didn’t and what you will change tomorrow to improve your chances of success.

Finish your day by filling in your Habit Tracker and celebrate any successes you may have had today.