Setting Long-Term Health Goals in 2021

Family out walking in park

Finally, we say goodbye to 2020. Though there’s still plenty of uncertainty around Covid, we’ll be glad to put that year behind us, and look forward to some sense of normalcy in our day-to-day lives in the coming months. If you’ve been feeling stressed or anxious because of lockdown, focusing on your own well-being is a great way to start the new year, as Performance Nutritionist Evan Lynch explains. He’s been kept busy creating bespoke plans for clients, helping them make small but important changes in their lifestyle.

Dealing with Covid Anxiety

“When Covid hit”, Evan begins, “I was worried. I thought nutrition was going to be low on people’s priority lists. But that hasn’t been the case at all.” Instead, from summer onwards, he’s been inundated with bookings. What was it about this year that motivated people? “Coronavirus is out of our control”, he says. “For those who suffer with anxiety, not having a sense of control over their life can really throw them off-kilter. Nutrition is one thing you can always control – you can choose to eat a better breakfast, serve more moderate portions, or make small food swaps.”

Dad and daughter cooking in the kitchen

Everything in Moderation

For Evan, the messaging we’re bombarded with in our social media feeds at the beginning of the year actually sets us up for failure. We’re encouraged to make dramatic changes, set unrealistic goals, and expect instant results. Take ‘Dry January’, for example. “It has an end point”, says Evan. “What happens at the end of the month – you go back binge-drinking? It’s the same thing when you reach that target weight, there’s no reason to continue on this path.” Instead, his approach is all about moderation. “There’s no evidence to suggest that a really strict approach is better than a moderate one. In fact, extreme diets increase the risk of eating disorders and nutrient deficiencies. They create an unattainable, unrealistic standard.”

Irish Life Health Presents Runuary

With that in mind, if you’re looking forward to a healthier, more positive 2021, why not join us for Runuary? This series of dedicated training programmes will help support you as you walk or run your way through January. It’s free, and open to runners of all levels. What’s more, you’ll receive virtual support and advice from a panel of mentors, including Evan. The MyLife app is another great resource to help you stay focused on your fitness goal. It generates a health score based on the information you input, meaning you can track your progress and stay motivated long-term.

Whether you’ve always been active, or have taken up running as part of our Runuary initiative, it’s important to take care of yourself before, during and after an exercise session. We asked physiotherapist Ciara McCallion how to aid recovery after a run; here are her top five tips. Nutrition is also key when it comes to maintaining optimum health. Click here to read sports nutritionist Evan Lynch’s advice on the best foods to eat before and after training.

Find out more about Evan here, or follow him on Instagram