With so much health and fitness advice out there, and a zillion different goals – tone, build, burn fat, sculpt the bottom- to a new exerciser, it can be a confusing minefield and knowing where to start is difficult. And when things are difficult, we put them off….
Here’s 5 things you can do NOW which will kick start you on the right path to improving your health and fitness.
Ditch the sugary treats
Yes, sadly, you can’t out-run a bad diet. Often, it’s not taking on an exercise programme that people find the toughest – it’s getting rid of those comfort foods, the snacks, the mid-afternoon pick-me-ups. This doesn’t have to be an all-out sugar cull. However, if you recognise that everyday at 10 am and 4pm you find you’re salivating over the biscuit tin, or standing by the cupboard spooning a choccy-nut spread out straight from the jar (yes, guiltyyyyy)…cut it out! Substitute for a large glass of water, a piece of fruit, handful of nuts. It’s important to recognise those habits and break them. Fill that void with a healthy activity or alternative. If, like me, you just know if it’s in the house, you will eat it, then REMOVE THE TEMPTATIONS. See ‘Guilty-not-guilty snacks’ blog for some yum alternative ideas.
Again, it’s not rocket science, but all too often we don’t value ourselves enough to give us the time to get exercise. Give yourself this ‘me time’ at least 30 mins a day where you are getting your heart rate elevated, getting a little breathless, and getting your step count up. This can be a brisk lunchtime walk, or walking to or from the bus. Where safe, stick on some music and do some step aerobics on a low step on your home (no-one’s watching, channel your inner-Jane Fonda). There’s no end to the 30-min workout videos on the internet which you can follow. You will never have to do the same one twice! Adding this time into your day can happen NOW (go on, get off the computer!)
Keep a food and exercise diary
Once you have nailed the two above points, keep a track of it! To help us stay on track, we need to be accountable and responsible for our progress. A great way to manage this is through a food and exercise diary. There are several apps out there you can use, or just good old notebook is enough. Be HONEST with yourself – don’t miss out that biscuit or spoon of jam – it’s not a punishment, but a record to help you identify your habits, and change them for the better. A good idea is to keep a track of your mood also – did you eat more or less when tired or stressed?
Make a short term goal
No, this doesn’t have to be weight related! Yes, the end goal may be ‘fit into my size 10 jeans’ or ‘weigh X lbs less’ but the shorter term goals are easier to keep on track. Such as, 30 mins exercise 5x per week at least. Another might be ‘change my 11am chocolate fix to an 11am banana’. How about ‘10,000 steps every day’? Or ‘Walk to the shops every time I go for the next month’. Goals will be different for everyone, and you will know what will be an achievement for you. Don’t take it upon yourself to make massive changes in one go as you may find it hard to keep these going and this can affect your motivation. When you achieve your goal, add one more!
Share with your friends or family
As stated above, accountability and responsibility is important to sustain changes successfully. When you decided to make a change, however big or small, tell a mate or a family member. When you start to lose motivation, if you’re anything like me, you will start to think ‘I want to show them I can do it’ and their knowledge of your efforts may well cheer you along (silently or otherwise). Even better, a friend may want to join in with you – it’s not a competition, as everyone is different and this MUST be remembered. However, if you know a little competition gets you going, then you can both encourage each other to keep focused and moving forward.
It all about making changes which work for YOU. Don’t be hard on yourself when you have an ‘off day’, just get right back on it tomorrow. Keep on going 😉
For more specific training and to learn fun and interesting new ways to exercise and improve health and fitness with the support of a professional, get in touch via the contact page to see how I can help you reach your goals.