With 2023 safely behind us, it’s time to gather our thoughts and assess where we want to go in 2024. Last year was a year of Tik Tok influencers pushing their calorie restricted meal plans, gym outfit reels, and ‘a day on the plate’ videos. From the ‘POV’ trend to the toxic hustle culture, 2023 told us that we should spend half our day at the gym, have a side hustle, never go out, and cold plunge at 4am. We were told to prioritise muscle building and ignore the other key foundations of our health and well-being. By the end of 2023, we were all burnt out.
Good. Now let’s make 2024 the year we take a holistic approach to our health. Say hello to work/life balance, and say goodbye to hustle culture. Sleep more, enjoy food more, and focus on your mental health and well-being. Let’s end 2024 better than we started it.
Heath & Fitness Ins
We’ve all written up our New Years resolutions, so let’s run through the key ‘ins’ of 2024!
Prioritising Recovery and Rest Days
If there was ever a moment to write ‘THIS 🙌’, it’s now.
Don’t destroy your body for the sake of being disciplined. Missing one day of your 6-day workout plan won’t undo all of your hard work. Life gets in the way; sometimes you have late nights, sometimes you just want to let loose with your friends on a Friday night. That’s okay. You’re allowed to do that (I mean, who are we to tell you otherwise). You don’t need to feel guilty for letting your body recover, and honestly, it’s better for you than burning yourself out.
Your rest and recovery periods are when your muscles start to heal and grow, with this repair helping to increase your strength. It can also help you avoid injury, which, let's face it, most of us tend to ignore the niggles and strains that we experience with constant training (Thomas, C).
Being Kind to Your Body and Your Journey
This one is important. With more and more people working up the confidence to sign up to the gym, it is more important than ever to be kind to your body, and your journey. We all start at different levels, and we all have different goals, so it is fundamental that you ignore the noise around and and be kind to yourself. You should be so proud of yourself for the work you’re already putting in, and results aren’t achieved overnight.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’, so don’t compare yourself to others. And don’t worry who is comparing themselves to you. Nobody is looking at you in the gym. Just focus on your own journey, do your best to improve each day, and be kind to your body and your journey.
Taking a Holistic Approach to Your Health & Fitness
Stop focusing on the gym and ignoring literally every other factor of your health. A holistic approach to your health and fitness means considering all corners of your life, from your mental health to your sleep and recovery. How can you do this? Listen to your body. Give yourself rest days when you’re feeling burnt out. Give meditation a try. Turn your phone off 30 minutes before bed, and let yourself sleep in.
Hustle culture dominated 2023. The idea that you had to wake up at 4 am to a cold shower before hitting the gym for 2 hours, work for 8, and hit the gym again before working on your ‘side hustle’ until late at night orchestrated a global self-neglect of our mental health and general wellbeing.
Small Changes for Big Wins
Think about aggregation of , which is a principle that suggests that if you break down every aspect you can think of and improve it by 1%, you will significantly improve when you combine the sum of these parts. This included everything from redesigning the bike seats to changing the massage gel that the cyclists were using. With hundreds of small improvements, the British Cycling team dominated for a ten-year period, winning 178 World Championships, 66 Olympics & Paralympics gold medals, and 5 Tour de France victories (Clear, J). That’s pretty impressive, right?
You don’t need to overhaul your entire life to achieve your goals. Start simple. Change the socks you wear to the gym. See how you go.
Using AI, Machines, and Wearable Tech
Why not? Times are changing, so you might as well strap in for the ride. If you’ve been listing your exercise plan on the notes app on your phone, give one of those gym program apps a try. Or, if you have CHatGPT handy, ask it to put together a plan that supports your specific goals. You might be surprised by the results. And if you want to your goals one step further, wearable health and fitness tech can help you to align with goals. Think FitBits, Apple Watches, HR monitor straps and more.
Gym machines? Stop ignoring them. Lifting free weights might make you feel like a pro, but machines exist for a reason. Weight machines are not only safer, but they allow you to control your range of motion, and help to place resistance on a specific element of the muscle. This means if you’re targeting certain muscle groups, it is easier to manage your form and movement while focusing on developing definition in specific muscles (McCall, P. 2015).
Taking Hydration to a Whole New Level
If there’s one thing that we all need to improve, it’s our hydration. Drinking enough water each day plays a massive role in regulating body temperature, keeping joints lubricated, preventing infections, delivering nutrients to cells, and maintaining proper organ functionality. It also plays a role in sleep quality, cognition, and mood (Harvard T.H. Chan. 2017).
Getting Beyond the Four Walls of a Gym
Gyms are great! But it’s 2024 and there’s a whole world beyond those walls where you can also meet your health and fitness goals. Grab your friends and go for a hike in nature, go for a swim in the creek, kick a football around at the park, or, if you feel the gym equipment calling your name, try out the free gym equipment in the park. Outdoor activities can do wonders for your mental health, and it’s not a bad idea to make time for physical activities that aren’t listed on your gym plan.
If you haven’t heard of the flexitarian diet, it might be time to tune in. The flexitarian diet is a (yet another) increasingly popular diet that encourages focusing on plant-based foods while still consuming meat. The point of this diet is to get more fibre and plant protein into your diet without cutting animal products from your lifestyle. This diet can support your body goals, health and environmental impact and is derived from the blue zone diet. One of the key benefits of such diets is longevity, with studies indicating that more plant-based foods, particularly whole foods, can aid in longevity (Pritchett, L).
You’re probably sick of seeing pop-up ads for ‘the portable ice bath that will change your life’, or maybe you’re a summer gal who hates the cold. Either way, you should put your prejudice aside and give this one a try. Ice baths are perfect if you’re trying to improve your recovery and health, with ice baths helping to relieve sore muscles and inflammation while helping your central nervous system and decreasing the effects of heat and humidity (Lindberg, S. 2023).
Either fill your bathtub with a few bags of ice, invest in a portable ice bath, or visit a recovery centre and indulge in their state-of-the-art ice baths. Follow the Wim Hof method, which involves using breathing exercises during cold exposure as a meditative approach to health and wellbeing (Villines, Z. 2023).
If you’re not already utilising the weights at the gym, now is the time to start. Weight training isn’t just for bodybuilders (or males), and it’s not just about getting huge. Resistance training with weights can be used to improve muscle strength, helping to protect your joints from injury for both men and women. It is also important for maintaining flexibility and balance as you age while helping your body burn more calories in a resting state (Better Health Victoria).
So, if you’re relying on cardio as your sole source of exercise, give the treadmill a rest and venture over to the weights section. It may seem daunting at first, but trust us, it’s worth it.
You already know how important sleep is, so this is your annual reminder to get that 7-9 hours of sleep that you need to perform. It’s 2024 now, so there’s no more room for excuses. Use a sleep tracker if it helps, or experiment with the temperature in your room. Have you heard of white noise? Play some rain sounds and close your eyes. Most importantly, AVOID YOUR PHONE IN BED. If you can’t turn your screens off before bed, at least try to use blue light-blocking glasses. Also, stop drinking coffee in the afternoon!
What does that even mean? Basically, it means focusing on your blood sugar, blood pressure, waist circumference, cholesterol, and triglycerides and making sure you keep them within a healthy range. You can do that by exercising regularly, reducing unhealthy fat and sugar consumption, eating more plant-based foods, and following a healthy sleeping pattern (January. 2023).
Health & Fitness Outs
Let’s look at everything we did wrong in 2023 and vow to be better in 2024.
Ignoring Recovery and Overexerting Yourself
We touched on this already, but it’s so important we’re going to remind you again. Stop over-doing it. Let your body rest when it needs to rest. Your progress won’t fall apart if you take an extra day to rest and reset. In fact, it will actually benefit you. So, next time your body is aching and tense, take that as a sign to rest. And this can be more than just pushing through a training session while you’re sore, this can actually put you at risk for injury. You can get back to training tomorrow.
Negative Self-Talk and Comparison
As we mentioned earlier, comparison is the thief of joy, so stop comparing your progress to others, and just keep working hard on the things that you can control. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, results won’t show overnight, so it is important not to get into your own head about where you think you should be, and not to feel down on yourself just because you think you’re not as fit as the people around you. Nobody is watching you train, and nobody is judging your results, so just keep putting in the effort and practice more mindful thinking.
Not Prioritising Health & Fitness and Blaming Time
This is a big one, but it really shouldn’t be. People often say they don’t have time to exercise or eat healthy, but that simply isn’t true (well, at least sometimes). We get it, life gets pretty heavy and there are times this prevents getting a gym session in. Whether you’re working three jobs, travelling for work constantly, or you’re an exhausted parent, it may feel like you don’t have time, but you do. If you have time to binge-watch TV, you have time to prepare food, or to exercise. Remember, you don’t need to spend 2 hrs in the gym, in fact, you don’t even need to use a gym. Start by going for a walk somewhere near your home, or set aside a specific day of the week where you will commit to exercising. Better yet, if you can’t get out of the house, housework is better than nothing (and will burn a few calories while you’re doing it). If you really want to achieve your health & fitness goals, you can. You just need to have the drive (and a spare few minutes in the day).
Sugary Supermarket Sports Drinks
While you might think these drinks give you some sort of edge, they still aren’t good for you. These beverages, while disguised as ‘sports drinks’, are still loaded with sugars, with research suggesting that these sugar-sweetened beverages can amplify the genetic risk of obesity. If you’re working towards specific body goals, your best bet is to limit your consumption of sugary drinks and instead focus on healthier options (Harvard T.H. Chan).
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is arguably the most important thing on this list, so it’s time to kick bad sleep from your 2024 routine. Sleep is vital in supporting your brain function and physical health, supporting everything from your hormone balance to your muscle mass. If you’re a fan of Andrew Huberman, you’ve probably heard him talk about the topic at length. Sleep impacts your metabolism, immune system, and respiratory health, so make sure you’re getting enough rest in 2024 (National Institute of Health. 2022).
Restrictive Diets & Extreme Exercise
Delete My Fitness Pal. We’re kidding, but seriously hear us out. Restrictive diets and extreme exercise may seem like a disciplined way to achieve your goals, but it can also be detrimental both physically and mentally. 2023 was a year of ‘watch me eat 1,200 calories’ and ‘a day on the plate’ Tik Toks, but the obsession with calories can often do more harm than good. Stop forcing your body into a calorie deficit and instead focus on more manageable and beneficial factors in your health. This includes monitoring the types of foods you eat and the order in which you eat. Restricting calories and enduring extreme exercise can lead to an increase in cortisol levels, so instead of worrying about the amount of food you eat, focus on the quality of food you are eating.
Limit Processed Foods
If you love snacking and you have no self-control, make 2024 the year you cut back on processed foods and aim to reach for healthier options instead. We’re not telling you to drop your favourite foods, but instead consume them in moderation. A packet of M&Ms once a week is a well-deserved treat, but a packet of M&Ms every single day is going to set you back. Aim to follow an 80%-20% split, so that 80% of your diet is clean, healthy, nutritious and unprocessed foods, and that the remaining 20% can represent the almond croissant you grab at the bakery on the weekend. Plus, snacks always taste better when they’re a rare reward!
The Bottom Line
Let’s make 2024 the best year of our lives. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, take a holistic approach to your health in 2024 and make sure you’re caring for your mind and your well-being with as much conviction as you apply to your gym routine.
If you’re trying to get started in 2024 and you’re not sure where to begin, our friendly team can help you hit the ground running. Just head in-store or reach out online to get started.
Thomas, C. ‘The Importance of Rest Days’, The Body Coach, accessed January 2024, https://www.thebodycoach.com/blog/the-importance-of-rest-days/#:~:text=When%20you%20rest%2C%20your%20muscles,less%20effort%20in%20the%20future.&text=If%20you%20skip%20rest%20days,longer%20spells%20out%20through%20injury.
Clear, J. ‘This Coach Improved Every Tiny Thing by 1 Percent and Here’s What Happened’, James Clear, accessed January 2024, https://jamesclear.com/font-family:Arial,sans-serif;font-weight:400;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;white-space:pre;white-space:pre-wrap;">
McCall, P. 2015, ‘6 Benefits of Using Weightlifting Machines’, Ace Fitness, accessed January 2024, https://www.acefitness.org/resources/pros/expert-articles/5561/6-benefits-of-using-weightlifting-machines/
Harvard T.H. Chan. 2017, ‘The Importance of Hydration’, Harvard School of Public Health, accessed January 2024, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/the-importance-of-hydration/#:~:text=Drinking%20enough%20water%20each%20day,quality%2C%20cognition%2C%20and%20mood.
Pritchell, L. ‘Why A Flexitarian Diet is The Only One That Matters’, Live Kindly, https://www.livekindly.com/why-flexitarian-diet-matters/
Lindberg, S. 2023, ‘Ice Bath Benefits: What the Research Says’, Healthline, accessed January 2024, https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/ice-bath-benefits
Villines, Z. 2023, ‘What is Wim Hof Method breathing?’ Medical News Today, accessed January 2024, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/wim-hof-breathing-method#:~:text=The%20method%20involves%20breathing%20exercises,improving%20health%20and%20well%2Dbeing.
Better Health Victoria. ‘Resistance training - health benefits’, Better Health Victoria, accessed January 2024, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/resistance-training-health-benefits
January. 2023, ‘What is metabolic health? A comprehensive guide’, January, accessed January 2024, https://www.january.ai/blog/what-is-metabolic-health#:~:text=Metabolic%20health%20is%20defined%20as,set%20by%20scientists%20and%20doctors.
Harvard T.H. Chan. ‘Public Health Concerns: Sugary Drinks’, Harvard School of Public Health, accessed January 2023, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/beverages-public-health-concerns/#:~:text=Sugar%20sweetened%20beverages%20are%20associated,the%20genetic%20risk%20of%20obesity.
National Institute of Health. 2022, ‘Why Is Sleep Important?’ National Institute of Health, accessed January 2024, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep/why-sleep-important