In an ideal world, everyone would eat a nutritious diet perfectly balanced between protein and locally grown plants. We would exercise daily to keep our bodies in peak condition and meditate regularly to ease anxiety and calm our inner critics. I understand, as most people do, why we should aspire to the principles of this ideal but ...

The reality is last Sunday my children ate chocolate eggs for breakfast and as the rain fell steadily all day any ambitions to get out and “run it off” were scuppered. To compound matters they spent a fair chunk of the day watching TV as I had a college assignment due.

This accord with my children was preferable to my “inner calm” being disrupted by repeated requests for the TV. My own day, seated in front of another screen, didn’t reach any ideal either.

Taking action

Physical inactivity and poor diet contribute to obesity, lack of sleep, mental health issues and chronic disease but, despite our best intentions, habit change is not easy. There are many obstacles to people living a more active and diet-enriched life.

Research has identified lack of self-motivation, busy schedules, a lack of time and a lack of support as barriers. Economics is also a factor. Global IPSOS research (2021) revealed that 40% of people actively looking to lose weight said cheaper healthy food would be the most helpful initiative, while only 17% think easier access to healthier food would help with weight loss.

This week, we have an eight-page sports focus covering healthy eating, exercise and fashion. I have taken something valuable from each article. Coach Paddy Coady from Phoenix Strength and Conditioning advises that when it comes to changing poor lifestyle habits, everyone has different challenges.

Often when you dig deeper, there has been no new discovery – it’s just marketing.

For some it could be going off-track at the weekends, for others it could be not prioritising breakfast or not eating enough whole foods. He supports tackling one thing at a time for success, as when you start something new and try to change multiple things at once, you are more likely to fail.

Nuasan Skincare founder Dara Scott wanted to move beyond marketing claims and create functional products that help people to recover post-exercise.. We can all get taken in by marketing – the fast fix is very appealing. False promises include claims you can lose weight and eat whatever you want (you can’t) or that a product/pill/gym/exercise programme will produce results with little effort (they won’t).

Another way scammers are targeting people is through fake news websites, blogs, banner ads and social media. One example is the creation of “news” reports detailing how an ingredient – like garcinia cambogia, a tropical fruit – is “producing amazing weight loss results”. Often when you dig deeper, there has been no new discovery – it’s just marketing.

I could get dismayed by my failure to achieve a healthy Sunday but with the assignment completed and a week of Easter holidays still ahead of us, I will take the advice on board and try to do a little better every day.

I won’t give up on the two TV addicts either – sure the McCarthy sisters from this week’s cover story did not start playing rugby until they went to university. It’s never too late to start a new habit if it’s a good one.

Read more

What food is more sustainable? "That would be an ecumenical matter!"

Going native in our hedgerows: flowers and their symbolism