28 Jan How to make exercise work for you. 9 steps.
It comes as no surprise to my regular blog readers that my life revolves around a few simple things- God, my family, my friends, travel and without a doubt exercise!
You can read about my health and sickness journey here.
One of the main influencers for the name of my blog was my Darling Granny Edna who passed away a year ago this week. She was, unlike myself, not a gym addict but she lived well.
By that I mean she didn’t drink alcohol ( at least not during my lifetime.), she picked salads over carbs (not that she would have seen it that way. Her love for heinz salad cream over scallions, cucumber, iceberg lettuce and garden tomatoes ran deep) and she drank lemon and hot water every morning along with her porridge which was steeped from the night before (she was on the bircher overnight oats before any of the rest of us!).
Perhaps living consciously with regards to my health is in my genes, who knows? Either way I love it and I’m passionate about sharing my journey with you.
Now, let’s talk you!
I am so aware that social media has bombarded you with “new year new you” slogans and “get fit quick” diet plans or exercise routines.
I’m sure I am not the first to break it to you – There is no quick fix.
Since the birth of our third born I have worked endlessly at sculpting my (often weary) body into shape and it’s been flipping difficult albeit worthwhile.
There is no need for a rant from me but please, when you see my little fitness videos linked below or my body in a bikini sucking in for the camera on holiday – remember that I am not perfect. I power walked 15,000 steps a day post birth, I wore a waist trainer for six solid weeks during the SUMMER months sweating my backside off and, I returned to daily exercise and healthy eating (80% of the time) when my baby was five weeks old.
I did NOT whip back into shape three weeks post birth. See more on that here in my postpartum post.
The grind has been real and stark and stressful at times. There are bigger concerns in life and I hope my words or actions regarding my body don’t show my life in a fickle self obsessed way.
It is more that I want to be truthful with you if you are thinking of embarking on a journey of change- either in your overall health or your body shape.
The good news is that it is possible!!
Here are my tips for making exercise work for you. I have a post on healthy eating that you can tie in with it and use my recipes here.
Please send messages to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below. I am by no means an expert but I love feedback and will answer questions from my own perspective. More importantly I can cheer you on from the sidelines!
- If you have a goal, write it down
There is no need for you to put photos of you on your fridge which you feel will “shame” you into exercising more or making better food choices. Look at those photos, accept that they were a stage in your physical life that perhaps you are no longer happy to associate yourself with, and move on.
Get a pen and piece of paper or bring up the notes app in your smartphone. Write down your goal and speak aloud.
I was listening to a podcast this week and the results of an experiment in social psychology noted that when we say anything out loud which has previously crippled or scared us we are actively facing fear head on. Freeing ourselves in one sense but also accepting the need to move forward.
If needs be break your goal into small achievable chunks i.e.: “This month I am walking every day whatever the weather.” ,”I will improve my shoulder strength”, “Strength training four days a week”.
2. Join a gym or sign up to classes convenient for you
I am not a serial gym hopper, someone who signs up to gyms, never goes and then signs up to a different gym. I was a member at a gym fifteen minutes from my house two years ago. It really worked for me. I was also a member at a council run gym ten minutes from my house after my second born five years ago. This worked well because it introduced me to classes.
Then when I fell pregnant with the third baby, knowing my love of exercise (and how much I would be saving a month on not drinking prosecco and red wine!) I joined David lloyd Belfast as a solo member. Later, because I loved it so much I changed to a family membership where my kids now swim there (I was driving a two hour round trip for two years previously for their swimming lessons). They go to the kids club almost every friday night (free baby sitting=winner!) and my husband has found his abs for the first time ever because he uses the programmes set up by the PT’s in the gym. We make it work for us.
Convenience plays a huge roll in my life juggling the kids, their after schools activities and my own business. I know it’s not possible for all of you to have the luxury of a gym around the corner. If there is one near your work, on way to your work, near your kids School then sign up and commit to it.
3. Try new things
Walking, dancing, hill sprints, yoga, bikram yoga, cycling, spin classes, body pump, body balance, pilates, core class, swimming, tennis ( My hubby and I are taking up rackets at our gym next month. So we can play squash and tennis. Right now only our kids have it and we’re at the stage when we can have two teams- so the competition is on!!).
Each week I am filming a short circuit with the PTs in my gym. Here are circuit videos one, two and three for you. There will be one posted to my Facebook page and instagram weekly. Add one to your training!
4. Lower your expectations
A bit like with marriage (!) where you lower your expectations of your partner from time to time, you may have to lower your expectations of what you want from your exercise journey. As with point one, small achievable goals smashed every week or fortnight will be your key to a longterm change of mindset and inevitably a positive change in your lifestyle and body.
5. Embrace change in routine
As Sheryl Crow once sang “A change would do you good”. Often it doesn’t feel that way. Shopping lists change, habits of tea and three fingers of a kitkat change, night time wine is put on the back burner until the weekends. All of these can be intimidating and actually quite debilitating or overwhelming.
Take a breath, read your goals again (aloud!) and remember that this is a journey you know will be all the better for undertaking.
Try standing with your arms high and wide open. Like an open air hug to the sky. When we stand with our arms high and open we are leading ourselves with our heart and phycisally showing we are open to change. Try it.
Read more on living authentically from psychologist Livia Kohn here.
6. Get good trainers
Every colour, every size, every shape and every brand is, for the most part, available to us. Investing in decent supportive trainers which you love the look of will add to your enthusiasm for reaching exercise goals.
7. Take ‘before’ pics.
You will be happy you did. Unlike the shaming photos mentioned at the beginning, this before shot is only for your eyes, can be logged away and only pulled out every 6-8 weeks as a way for you to note physical changes.
At times we can’t see the wood for the trees and feel slumped when changes are less obvious than maybe at the start of our journey. Before pictures and progress pictures every 6-8 weeks keep perspective, especially if weight doesn’t shift but you build muscle and feel confused. I talk about the weight myth in my post here)
8. Meal plan
In all walks of life a plan is the key to success. So making exercise work is no different.
Planning meals or eating healthily pre and post workout will stand you in good sted. I have let go of the guilt of spending money on restaurant food lately when work is so busy. After my workout sometimes I eat in the cafe at my gym, the breakfast special of avocado, beef tomato and poached eggs on bloomer loaf is my fave.
This week I have got back into meal planning (see my wholefood guide and recipes here) after a trip to my local butchers.
I am not big on prepping meals days and days ahead of time but I do like to have two lunches ready. It takes the hassle out of your day by so much. Also I have stripped down my breakfast to this pretty calorific but wholesome and delicious protein shake.
Whatever makes your life easier will keep you on track so you don’t get hangry and reach for the crisps at every opportunity .
9. Workout with friends
I don’t mean talk all the time. I workout with friends but keep my headphones in and talk between sets.
I am also lucky in that recently I have made friends in my gym who make the workouts all the more fun when we natter on the stepper or push each other to do another rep (a number of us have our babies in the gym creche at the same time.).
Attending classes with friends keeps you accountable and can be a real bonding time. Don’t feel isolated by exercise. When you join a new club or class get talking with people. It’s amazing how stepping outside your comfort zone can get your fired up and inspired.
I hope these tips are of some use to you!
I unashamedly love exercise and my gym. This post is not sponsored by David Lloyd Belfast. There are just times when I shout about things I love and that have enriched my life a little. This so happens to be my gym (says so much about me, doesn’t it!? Love me some gym time) and all the extra facilities it provides for an active family like ours.
Keep trucking and enjoy your journey. Even the bad days when you hate every footstep of your run or eat your weight in chocolate, they all teach you something about yourself.
Move forward and be practical in your choices and goals.
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