At the start of 2020 for the first time in a long time I felt like I had been given a bit of my ‘me time’ back. My youngest child had started Kindergarten which left me with some time in the middle of the day to dedicate to my own personal pursuits. I threw myself into building more of an online presence with my health business and started a structured weights based program at the gym (that wasn’t an afterthought after training a morning of clients). I was super motivated and committed for the first time in a long time and I felt I was improving in all areas of my life. Life was good!
Life for all of us changed forever with Covid 19, a pandemic which threatened to compromise our health and disrupt everything we knew to be familiar and comfortable. I was stood down from a job I had been in for 17 years and on the same day so was my husband. I no longer had a gym to train out of which more than just a physical outlet for me but also a mental one. Everything I had been invested in had been turned on it’s head in what felt like a number of days and weeks. I was concerned about my health and the health of my family and friends, as this pandemic was uncharted waters for all of us.
Fast forward many months later, as we start to regain some sense of normality back what should be a reassuring time for many of us has left us feeling flat, demotivated and like
we are treading water. Conversations with friends and clients is centred around lacking motivation to exercise and some are simply still cautious about resuming their previous routines. Instead of feeling stuck or like we are stalling my approach has been to focus on the things that are within our control and let the things that are out of our control simply be.
Staying ‘fit’ is more than the physical it is also the mental and if we practice the below tips it will help us all feel happier and more productive in everything that we do. We owe it to ourselves to work as hard on our happiness and mental health as we do on our physical health so let’s try to make these tips and tricks a daily practice.
Be Kind to Yourself:
During lockdown some of us felt the pressure to upskill, learn a new language, food prep, crochet or start a new business. I refer to this as ‘quarantine guilt’. What is quarantine guilt? It is the feeling that you should be doing more to better yourself. Now on the one hand if you find yourself with more time than usual and learning a new language is something you have always wanted to do then pursuing this whilst you have more time seems logical and is perfectly ok. However, if on the other hand you want to use any excess time to relax, watch Netflix or read some books that is fine too. A part of what makes us all different is that some people thrive on stress and become uber productive and some people simply do not. It’s important to recognise and accept which one you fall under and accept who you are and what you are capable of. This doesn’t mean don’t push yourself, but make your goals realistic and relative to where you are now. You will be surprised at how much happier you will be if you stop pressuring and comparing yourself to everyone’s achievements around you.
Get a Grip on Your Diet:
With more time to shop and food prep feeling better about ourselves can be instantaneous if we choose to eat more nutrient dense foods and less processed foods.
The way we think and our emotional health is directly related to our physical health, the two are intimately linked and dependent upon each other. If we are filling our bodies with junk and processed foods this disrupts our energy levels, the way we sleep and even changes the way we make decisions.
Start your day off right with a healthy breakfast which can play a key role in regulating appetite for the rest of the day. Opt for protein rich foods, wholegrains and add some good fat into the mix as well. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast are less likely to snack on sugary foods later in the day.
Have a Plan:
This plan needs to be realistic! Committing to training 6-7 days a weeks when realistically you can only fit in 3 is setting you up for failure. The one thing I have learnt about being a trainer for many years is that life gets in the way. People start off with great intentions and then run into a work deadline, an injury occurs or their children need their attention. If you can’t train for any of these reasons suddenly your self-esteem and motivation go and you are no longer training at all. When creating your plan for exercise ensure that it is ‘sustainable’, something that you can realistically fit into your week.
Have a Goal:
Having a goal gives us something to focus on when motivation starts to wane. Motivation is often turned to for momentum to get you started but can’t be relied on for long term success. Why? Because motivation is a feeling and all feelings fluctuate. It doesn’t matter how badly you want to achieve a goal or love doing something – there will be days where you are just not feeling it!
Instead, set a realistic and sustainable goal that doesn’t add more stress to your week. I often hear stories from clients who have a plan and if they mess up one part of the plan up like eating something ‘bad’ they throw it all in and start again next week. The key here is to not expect perfection and to keep your expectations in check.
Be Realistic and Start Small:
Here is the most important thing to remember when you get started, that ‘moderation is the key to fitness success’. The key to success is showing up consistently and making small, achievable changes over a period of time. You are more likely to stick to a plan that works in with your lifestyle and not against it. Take a long-term view rather than chasing the quick transformation. As things start to become easier you can increase your training load to suit. You don’t want to go from 0 to 100 overnight, it is not sustainable and you will burn out or injure yourself.
Consistency is key, consistency gets results!
Make some Lifestyle Adjustments:
It’s often the little things we do outside of our training regime that have the biggest impact on our lifestyle. These adjustments don’t have to be all encompassing but can be little things like having 4 alcohol nights free a week, getting up from your desk every 30 minutes to walk around, changing how we are currently eating or simply moving more. One thing that we can change right away which will have a significant impact on our health is drinking more water. Being hydrated helps detoxify the body, balances our blood sugar and promotes healthy looking skin. If you were to do an audit of your current lifestyle what adjustments could you make straight away that are not serving you? Take some time to have a think about these and then pick one thing you will change for that week. These little changes over time will create substantial positive differences over a period of time.
Get rid of Distractions:
How many times have you heard yourself say ‘if it’s not in the house I don’t think about it/eat it’. With more of us spending increasing amounts of time at home working and self-isolating it is important to get rid of any distractions or things that may derail your plans. Don’t keep biscuits and sweets in the house if you know you struggle with willpower around these types of foods. Limit the amount of alcohol you consume by saving it for 1-2 nights per week instead of every night during the week.
Set up a dedicated spot where you can do your exercise, meditation or stretching everyday. Establish a routine around what time of day you do it so that it becomes a part of your daily ritual. Ensure you pick a time where you won’t be interrupted by work or children even if it means getting up a bit earlier each day to do so.
Finally, stop comparing yourself to other people especially those you see on social media. Most images you see of fitness models/influencers have been training for a long period of time and will only post pictures of their ‘highlight reel’ which in some cases have been heavily edited. Try not to fall into the habit of competing and comparing as what we often perceive to be somebodies ‘perfect life’ is often not the case at all. We feel good when we perceive we are better than or ‘getting one over’ those around us and feel terrible when we seem to be falling behind. This fear of missing out (F.O.M.O) or keeping up with the ‘Jone’s’ is nothing new but it can have harmful effects on our emotional and mental health.
Remember confidence comes from consistency! It’s like anything in life, if you want to be better at it then you need to do it more often.
I like this quote to keep me accountable: ‘You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do’.
50% of your muscle mass is located below the hips so Squatting is a very effective exercise to build strength in the biggest muscles of the body. Imagine you are sitting in a chair that is a little bit too far away perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
Can be performed while travelling or on the spot. Another great exercise for toning and shaping the lower body and boosting your metabolism (3 sets of 15 reps on each leg).
On your knees or on your toes work the chest, shoulders and core muscles. As you improve in strength challenge yourself by doing as many pushups on your toes as you can. (3 set of 12)
Whilst it is not possible to spot reduce it is possible to strengthen and tone a certain area to improve your posture. The Plank can be performed on the knees or on the toes ensure your back is flat and you are drawing the belly in to the spine. Aim for 3 sets of 60 second holds.
Everyone’s least favourite exercise because it is hard. Burpee’s increase your heart rate because it involves working both the upper and the lower body together. So if you want to kick start your metabolism aim for 3 sets of 10.
Can be done virtually anywhere all you need is a skipping rope a flat surface and a good pair of trainers. Aim for 3 sets of 100 skips.