Top News

RYAN CAIRNS: Don't feel guilty about the holidays, start making healthier decisions today

Fitness columnist Ryan Cairns says September is a great month to start a new routine and move forward with better fitness choices.
Fitness columnist Ryan Cairns says don't feel guilty about what happened over the holidays - start making healthier decisions today. -Stock photo

Well done. You survived another holiday onslaught. If you are like a majority of people, you probably went a bit overboard on eating and drinking.

If you are one of the few that didn't, you are ahead of the game.

For the rest who got uber festive, don't worry about it. Don't feel guilty. That is your past. Don't look back, you aren't going that way. Today is what counts. You can start to make healthier choices starting right now. Here are some things to think about as you approach 2018.

Make sure you are drinking enough water, getting enough sleep and have as little stress in your life as possible. The first two are a little easier. Even if you think you eat well, you may not be absorbing all the good nutrients if you aren't hydrated enough or getting enough rest. I know this seems so simple, but most people don't do it. A lot of people get out of routines on the weekends. They drink less water, more alcohol. Be conscious of water consumption. We are water. We need to make everything in our bodies run efficiently. Get regular sleep. You can't catch up on sleep. You may feel better after getting more sleep than normal, but imagine how good you would feel if you got a little extra every night.

When I talk about mindset, I mean changing the way you think about fitness and eating. Most people dread exercise. When did this start to happen? Kids love to be active. They love to hang off of things. They love to jump, dance, roll, spin, etc. Find something you like to do – dance, walk, skate, bike – but just move. We were designed to move. We definitely weren't built to sit in chairs for long periods of time. If you lunge down to get something and struggle to get back up, that is not normal. Getting up off of the couch should not be difficult. If you mess up, so be it. Fall down seven times, stand up eight, as they say. Know that it is OK to mess up. Your fitness journey won't be perfect. You'll eat a few Timbits, have a few wines and maybe even a poutine or two. You don't have to start on Mondays, firsts of the month, full moons or whatever.

Food is information for your body. It gives your body the permission to do certain things. If you give your body bad information, it is going to have a bad result. You spend a lot of money on your car. You don't put the wrong oil in the engine. That would ruin your engine. Luckily the body is more resilient than your car, but it is also more precious. You may have many cars in your life, but you will only have one body. A common question I get is: what should I be eating? The answer is eat as much real food as possible. Eat whole foods that have as little packaging as possible. Eat meat and vegetables. Make your plate as colourful as possible. Dark leafy green and bright coloured vegetables are best. Eat lean cuts of meat. Avoid highly processed meats. Aim for whole grains. Supplements can have their place but aim for the real stuff first. Another question I get is: how much should I eat? At first I would write down what I eat for one week. See if you can make healthier choices to those meals. I would then add in exercise. If you don't have any change after a couple of weeks, reduce your food intake by a little bit

This has to be the most confusing part of getting healthy. What should you do to get six pack abs? How do you lose 10 pounds? Here’s the key. Do what you can with what you got. In my opinion, the most important part is consistency and progressively getting better. Aim to get stronger. Don't always lift the two-pound weights. Try to do a little more every other workout.

Don't know what to do? Hire a professional. Invest in your future.

Just get in the gym and try to get stronger. If you are stronger, exercise will become easier. You will metabolize food more efficiently. You will be able to eat more. It will make your everyday life easier. I have trained countless women over the last 10 years and none of them have left me looking like a man. It is all in your head.

Flexibility or mobility is more important now than ever before. We sit for long periods of time. We lean forward and look at screens. We look down at our phones. This all equals rounded shoulders, bad lower backs, neck pain and very tight hips. If you can already identify with this, start working on this immediately. Try a yoga class. If classes aren't for you, get educated on foam rollers, trigger point release balls and stretches. Increasing your mobility will have a profound impact on your daily life and make exercise easier and more enjoyable.

If you struggle with motivation, start a group. Accountability is helpful.

Have fun. Being active is meant to be fun. We should celebrate the fact that we can still move.

I hope everyone has a great new year. You can do this. Remember to celebrate the little wins. A lot of little wins make huge changes. Happy new year.


Ryan Cairns CSEP-CPT is a certified personal trainer from Charlottetown. He currently resides in Sydney, Australia. Fit Happens is published monthly in The Guardian. You can reach Ryan at or on Instagram @tattooed_pt.

Recent Stories