Three Two One GO!
I’ve had a lot of friends and family recently ask how I started on my fitness journey and how I stay motivated.
To be honest, I’m still a little surprised when I find myself at the gym, as in half way through a press up I’ll be like “Huh? Where’s Netflix gone? Who took my Cheetos?”
So when I’m faced with, “What do you eat?! How much do you lift?!” I find myself making lame arse jokes about my only exercise being the 10 steps from the sofa to the fridge.
Now that may have been true two years ago (that’s what Uni’s for, right)? However, that’s definitely not my life now – although saying that, where are those Cheetos?
To make life easier (and to stop putting my poor family and friends through my poor attempts at humour), I thought I’d start sharing my fitness experience here instead.
Now, I definitely don’t claim to be an expert and I still have a long way to go. I’m just a regular human being who manages to juggle 12 hours days alongside a pretty hectic workout schedule. I’m not PT, I don’t have a ‘perfect’ body and I certainly don’t have a degree in nutrition. I’m just me and I do what works for me.
It’s taken nearly two years to discover what that actually is, and yes I’ve given up many things along the way (living closer to work being one of them), and although what may work for me may not work for everyone, I do hope I can at least help you get a kick-start. My advice will always be really personal to me, but I’m not going to give advice I’ve been told is true but have no first hand experience in. I’ve tried many things and my body has been through many (some not so pleasant) changes, so everything I say is from my own experience.
I’m positive that eventually you’ll find a way to make health and fitness slot into your busy life, but your first step is to actually do it. You’ll find out what works for you in time; it’s always a work in progress, but I promise you won’t regret it!
Possibly one of the most important aspects of starting anything new is to take your time. Fitness is the same as any first time challenge; you’re not going to be great when you start out.
Things will wobble, you might want to pass out a lot and you might cry at your reflection in leggings (I still do), but have you ever started anything from scratch with perfect results? Probably not, no.
Start working out from home if you can’t face the gym (I hated the idea of people seeing me exercise). Some people love being thrown in at the deep end and yes that does work for some, but if you’re deeply self conscious then signing yourself up to something you’re not going to be comfortable doing is already setting yourself up for failure.
Don’t do five sit-ups and expect to see a six-pack (I mean, come on). Everyday I speak to people who’ve given up because they’ve tried working out for three days and saw no difference so, “Oh, I’m not skinny yet, I guess it doesn’t work”… *eye roll*
2. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Beating yourself up because you ate a TimTam and didn’t go to the gym in the morning isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Yea you probably shouldn’t have eaten it, but worse things in the world have happened. Just appreciate that the TimTam was fucking delicious and make the most of that extra hour in bed. Then tomorrow just remember to get your arse up at 5:30am and give the rest of the TimTam’s to your sister. Job done.
3. Get a good guide
Another incredibly important aspect to keeping motivated is to have a plan with a clear start and finish.
When I eventually joined a gym I’d already finished Kayla’s first BBG guide yet still freaked out at the torture chamber-esque equipment and sidled up to the most recognisable thing there (other than the vending machine); The treadmill.
Don’t get caught in the cardio trap. You’ll spend hours on that thing and barely notice a difference, so cut down the cardio to maybe one or two sessions a week, and get a good workout guide to help you with the rest.
Plus a good e-book is a hell of a lot cheaper than a personal trainer and doesn’t shout at you.
4. Build a community
There’s nothing more motivating than having a group of friends to get you inspired. However if your friends love their lie-ins and takeaways a little more than you do, then let’s just be thankful for social media.
Online communities are a great way to stay motivated, make friends (I’ve actually made a lot of friends IRL through Instagram of all places), and share advice. I love seeing people’s progress – it’s so inspiring! Plus the support network you get is next to none, so start utilising that instagram account.
5. Throw out the scales
I hate bathroom scales. They’ve never made me happy. They’re a poor way of tracking your progress, they don’t take muscle into consideration and like me, you may find yourself weighing your lettuce leaves and surviving on jelly cubes just to please them.
Do yourself a massive favour and throw them in the bin. A good old fashioned measuring tape will be your new best friend. That and a camera. Taking full body photos is a great way to document your progress. You don’t often notice the changes in your body on a day-to-day basis, but when you compare two shots a few weeks apart I can guarantee there’ll have been some huge changes.
The first ever photo may make you want to vomit but the worse you look in the beginning, the better you’ll feel when you compare it to the photos two weeks later. For those of you who want to be put off your lunch, here’s one of my earliest progress photos.
6. Be respectful of yourself
Your body is incredible and it’s the only one you’ll ever have, so be kind to it! Nurture yourself, feed yourself delicious healthy goodness (and the occasional bag of Cheetos), don’t abuse it or bully it or put your body down. Your journey won’t always be an easy one and sometimes you’ll find yourself crying over your thighs, but remember that those thighs are YOURS. They carry you and they’re a part of you and they deserve your respect.
7. Don’t count calories
Oh so controversial! But honestly after the whole burning your scales thing, ignoring calories is probably the best thing that can happen to you.
Think of all the ‘diet’ products out there- all low in calories but stuffed with sugar. Avoid them like the plaque. I say this because that’s what I survived on for years and not only was I pretty chubby but I had awful skin, no energy and crippling anxiety. Counting calories makes my anxiety ten times worse, so I just avoid it.
And you know what, I haven’t gotten fat and I haven’t died. Of course, don’t then binge on a box of Magnums because you’re not counting it. Just pay attention to what you’re eating and why you’re eating it. Your body NEEDS food. Good, wholesome, nutritious and full fat food. Eat well and move your body and the results will come. It’s actually really bloody easy.
8. Make exercise a priority
I mentioned earlier about making sacrifices. If you want something enough you’ll be prepared to put things aside for it.
I wouldn’t be able to afford a gym membership or ballet classes if I lived closer to work in London. Yes I now have longer commutes and a slightly more stressful day, but you know what? It might just be the best sacrifice I’ve ever made. For those of you who rely on that evening glass of wine, it may seem like a massive deal to say no to yourself, but you don’t get a flat stomach reaching for the vino. Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean being ‘boring’ or unsociable. I’ve met some amazing people through exercise classes – people who get my lifestyle and who fit neatly into it. Having people around you who understand that you choose not to drink, or that you want to wake up at 5am makes life so much easier and so much more enjoyable. If they don’t respect your lifestyle choices then let’s face it, they’re not your friends.
9. Treat yourself
Before you assume I mean extra biscuits with your tea, no. Although I’m sure once in a while won’t hurt. What I do mean is regular non-food related treats. Not just a reward for having made it to the gym five days that week, but rewards for just being you. I treat myself to regular massages, or new trainers. Next will be some fancy dancewear. Little things to remind yourself just how wonderful you are.
10. Enjoy the journey!
Your body is a work in progress – it’s always changing! Treat it with kindness and enjoy seeing that change. It feels amazing and like anything is so much more rewarding having WORKED for it. Stop focusing on the end result and you’ll be more surprised when your body does change. It’s the best feeling in the entire world and one that makes all the hard work actually feel worth it.