How to Enjoy Improving Your Fitness This Year
As December continues apace with plenty of delicious food, Christmas parties and a few more drinks than usual, January looms with the prospect of New Year's’ Resolutions. The classics are always the same: lose weight, drink less, be a better person (whatever that is supposed to mean). All very admirable resolves, but what if there was just one thing you could do to manage all of that?
Getting fitter isn’t about losing weight or building up a pair of biceps that could explode any second. Nor is it about looking good in a bikini. Being fit is most often about being able to run up a flight of stairs when you are late for a meeting and still be able to apologize without being out of breath. Being fit is the ability to enjoy a glass of wine at the weekend, knowing that you have already primed your metabolism to work a little bit harder for you.
Being fit is about being the best possible version of yourself: healthy, energetic and relaxed. You need to enjoy your time working out if you want to keep it going, so make sure that you are having fun as you are getting fitter for the best results.
Join a Gym/ Get a Work Out Buddy
January is a peak time for getting a gym membership but it is also quite often a good time to get a decent discount. As so many people resolve to get fit, gyms lower the price to lure people in, knowing full well that most will have given up by February. Going to the gym is good because it gets you out of the house for some ‘me time’, but also gives you access to plenty of equipment to play with.
Lots of gyms will offer personal training opportunities where you can work with a PT to set a training regime in motion. They will also be able to show you how to use the machines you are unfamiliar with, saving you the embarrassment of falling off/ getting tangled up/ running at a sprint until you find the off switch.
PTs can be expensive, but a workout buddy is usually free. This is because they are a friend you have roped into your resolution and as a friend, you can’t let each other down. Having someone to work out with will help you to stay motivated, to continue working just past your comfort zone and to keep you coming back each week.
Start Gently and Build Up
If you aren’t so fit now, trying to run a marathon tomorrow isn’t just a daft idea, it is basically impossible. Sure you might walk it, but do you really think it will encourage you to do it again soon? Shorter bursts throughout the week are a better idea and much more practical too.
Start gently and gradually build up your workout as your tolerance for exercise increases. This means that you might start with some basic interval training, combining running and walking in 30 second intervals, and slowly increase the amount of running you do until you can just run for 30 minutes, 40 minute, an hour… Even if you can only walk for 30 minutes in the beginning, as your body acclimates to the exercise regime, your muscles will build, your stamina will improve and you will see a difference within a few weeks.
Hack Your Diet
As you build up your tolerance and your muscle it is important that you are eating the right stuff too. While sugar, salt and fat will always be appealing, and even more so after the gym, be more selective about what you choose to fuel your body.
High protein, low carbs and plenty of fruit and veg will give you everything you need to start building your muscle and losing body fat. Lean meats like chicken are the best for this, but vegetarians can enjoy tofu and eggs in much the same way. You can basically eat as much veg as you like. In fact, if you are looking for a great snack, carrot and celery sticks with a bit of homemade hummus can’t get much better.
You could also try fitness products like protein shakes to really hack you diet for muscle gain. There are also completely natural products that are the closest thing to steroids as you can get. While you should never experiment with illegal drugs, these natural supplements can help you to get more from your regime.
Mix Exercise Types
Though lots of people assume that running is the best thing to do to improve your fitness, you will be pleased to hear that this is simply not the case. Aerobic exercise is good for you, and includes running, dancing, rowing, cycling amongst others, but lifting weights and doing exercises like yoga to tone and stretch will bring balance to your regime.
The ideal week of exercise will include some aerobic activity, a session of weights and a session of stretching and toning. These exercises don’t need to be mutually exclusive either, and if you find your legs are exhausted after 15 minutes of running, move on to do some weight exercises with your arms. Consider each muscle group and how you are going to exercise or stretch it and use this information to help you build your routine.
When you hate doing something, you avoid it, right? This is why paperwork always gets left to the last minute. Exactly the same principles are at work in the gym and if you hate going to exercise then you just won’t.
So, don’t go to exercise. Go to enjoy yourself.
If you are constantly pushing yourself to achieve more and more, you are losing sight of the real goal here: to get fitter gradually. It’s not an overnight process so you need to have fun while you exercise and just allow the time you spend here to be part of your week. If you hate the treadmill, cycle instead. If you don’t like the gym, pick another gym or join a team sport that practises every week.
Fitness is a life time project. Find a way to love it and your life will improve no end.