If you’re new to exercise, just doing some brisk walking or jogging at a pace you can handle is better than nothing!
If I can’t make it to the gym for whatever reason then I make sure I do a workout at home. For cardio I can go for a run (I am very blessed to live by the sea and find it very inspiring to run along the seafront) or I can follow parts of a workout DVD, and for resistance training I can use the weights I have at home (dumbbells ranging from 1-4.5kg) to do various exercises.
Now the gym is always better because they have a better range of equipment and weights - but this is almost as good and a million times better than not doing anything at all!
It is well worth investing in some weights to have at home if you don’t have any. Cardio is great but you need to work those muscles and bones of yours! More on the importance of resistance/weight training in another post.
"Fad diets can change your weight. Working out can change your body."
#2 Go to the gym at least twice a week (aiming for 3x)
Why: Exercise is vital to keeping good health and a healthy figure, and the gym is the best and most motivating place for me to get an effective, varied workout (cardio, weights/resistance training, stretching, etc).
How: I’ve been a fairly regular gym go-er since last summer (averaging twice a week), so this is a realistic goal for me, as long as I schedule it in ahead of time. Going with my husband also helps motivate me - and reminding myself how good I feel afterwards, even though my body usually hates doing it for the first 20 minutes!
Let’s face it: almost all of us who make New Year’s resolutions end up quitting by around February (if we even make it that long). And what is probably the most popular resolution? Yep, to get healthier/fitter/slimmer/etc.
I think resolutions are a bit of a trap to be honest - set up from the start to fail. Why? Well from a practical point of view, I believe it’s because we often set ourselves unrealistic goals and want to attain them NOW.
For example, we haven’t kept up any regular exercise for years but the new year swings around and we sign up for the gym, with the aim of going three times a week and becoming super-fit and super-buff almost overnight.
Or our diet has never been very healthy, and we have forever carried the effects around on our body, but we resolve to throw out the junk food and put ourselves on some ridiculous fad diet (don’t even get me started!) thinking we’ll instantly turn into some breed of virtuous health freak who drops two clothe sizes and remains that way forever.
But the truth is it just doesn’t work.
My advice? Be realistic with yourself, and set realistic goals. I like to call them “habits”.
If you want to get fitter and the only movement you currently do is walk to and from your car then begin with something small, like walking for 15 minutes each day. Might not sound like a lot but that’s almost 2 hours a week - a vast improvement!
And if your diet needs a serious makeover (which applies to more of us than we realise), why not address just one thing at a time until it becomes a habit? The first thing could be to make sure you drink enough water each day. You can read some tips I wrote for how to do this here.
If you start small and achieve these little goals then it will give you motivation to continue and to move onto a slightly bigger ones. The key is to keep doing it and keep progressing - only then will you, over time, start to reap a harvest and see real, long-lasting effects.
Happy New Year everyone! Praying that 2012 is the best year yet.
I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to ushering in the New Year!
I am particularly looking forward to getting back on track with my healthy eating and fitness habits as they have, shall we say, fallen to the wayside a bit in recent months…. Being married to a personal trainer certainly helps keep me motivated but, at the end of the day, it is me who has to make the decision to eat well and do regular, effective exercise.
I’ll be posting more in detail about my habits in the new year. In the meantime, I’ve got a few posts lined up for the next few days so watch this space ;-)
So right at the beginning of April, something very exciting happened - I got engaged!! And we are getting married this October. So, as you can imagine, things like this blog have kinda taken a back seat in recent months.
However, my interest in health, fitness & nutrition certainly hasn’t. My fiancé is a personal trainer afterall so I’m not sure that would be possible anyway! And so I do want to get back into blogging here - it may just be a little less frequent with all the wedding plans and other life-changing events going on.
I did consider doing a whole load of posts on all the topics I said I while ago I would write about (why women should do weights, why fat is not the problem but sugar is, protein vs. carbs, etc) - and then I discovered something even better. Female fitness expert, Flavia Del Monte, has put together a fantastic ebook called "5 Big Fat Female Fitness Myths Exposed". Downloaded it for free here.
With a Masters in Precision Nutrition and other various accolades under her belt, Flavia is a lot more knowledgeable and experienced to be able to write about this subject than I am. And I have benefited so much from reading this material. It has helped me in understanding how our bodies work, and why going low-fat diets and running on the treadmill for an hour is not going to help us lose weight.
Flavia’s website is also packed with tons of useful info, videos and more: flaviliciousfitness.com. I’ll leave you will those two things for now!
Those of us with busy lives can sign up here for a set of free “4x4” workouts by fitness expert & personal trainer, JJ Virgin. They take just 15 minutes to do (so no excuses about not having time!), you can easily do them at home, and they will work you hard! Remember, it’s not so much about how long you exercise but about how intense the exercise is. Enjoy!
Currently I have two favourite workout DVDs that I like to do regularly at home:
1. ‘Lasting Results’ by Beverley Callard
I have had this DVD for about 4 years and I honestly never get bored with it! You might know Beverley Callard from Corrie, but she has also been a fitness instructor for years (which already sets this apart from other celebrity workout DVDs). I particularly love the fact that this DVD uses very real women (all mums except one, and all around middle-age) and that it’s filmed on a beach in Spain! Makes me feel like I am there….
2. ‘Davina Body Buff’ by Davina McCall
Although so many of the women I know rave about Davina’s workout DVDs, I have to admit I’m not a major fan of the Big Brother presenter (nothing personal, she is just a bit too quirky for me as someone to do exercise with). But I also have to admit that the workouts on this DVD are brilliant, especially in terms of cardio. My favourite one is the “Buff Boxing” - it lasts 30 minutes and will very much keep your heart rate up for the whole time!
I read a great article recently by Dr David Parrish over at The Resurgence, called 'Truth & Lies About Exercise: This Post May Save Your Life'. It’s practical and to-the-point and is the perfect place to start for everyone.
I particularly appreciate its Christian slant - but even if you are not a Christian, it is still very much applicable.
Doing exercise in the morning is quite simply more optimal (especially if you are trying to lose weight sensibly) for 3 reasons:
- It kicks your body into gear and gives you energy for the remainder of the day.
- It increases your metabolism so that you burn off calories/fat/etc quicker during the day.
- By exercising first thing, you can hopefully avoid the situation of trying to come up with excuses for why you shouldn’t exercise later in the day/after work.
However, make sure you don’t buy into the the popular myth that exercising just after you’ve woken up and before you’ve eaten anything somehow taps into your fat stores as your source of fuel, and therefore burns off your body fat rather than the food you’ve previously eaten. In fact, the exact opposite is more likely the case.
As well-known personal trainer Joel Marion put it, eating before a workout means better performance during your workout. And better performance = more calories burned = more fat loss = improved cardiovascular functioning = even better performance = even more calories burned = even more fat loss, etc.
So make sure you have breakfast! Something high in protein or some fruit is best.