Updated: Jun 12
Tips for being fit, healthy and strong after a hiatus
As spring steadily approaches we start to think about the beach, summer holidays, less clothing, being active, looking good and feeling good. As a result, we start to focus on what exercise and nutrition plan to follow to give us fast results, search Google and you will find an extensive list that has a few things in common. The titles will be as follows:
“How to shed the winter pounds now”
“7 quick-step workouts to ultimate fitness”
“Your best summer body yet”
“Get the perfect body in 4 weeks”
There appears to be no end to the click-bait; though I’ll give it to some magazines for their catchy yet unrealistic, misleading and practically impossible titles. The truth is, if you have been out of shape (however you define that for yourself) for more than a month or two, it’s going to be harder, initially.
Psychologically you are going to have to deal with motivation issues, mental barriers towards starting, a general overwhelming feeling, i.e., where do I even start? Habits die hard and life happens. We prioritize based on our perceived level of importance to that particular thing. If I have spent the last three months working overtime or dealing with finances or taking on a new project, then my health and exercise habits will have most likely taken a back seat. Which is absolutely fine.
We can’t all be Olympic athletes.
So now we have addressed that you are not an Olympic athlete (yet, I don’t want to stand in the way of dreams), I want to address this trend I have seen in myself and while working with people. We all feel like we must go from sitting on the sofa to running, we ought to punish ourselves for getting out of shape, force ourselves to go to the gym 5 times per week, stop eating sugar now or any of the other methods we use to unkindly tell ourselves enough is enough.
So how about we discuss some practical tips that motivate you to get started, are easy to implement, make you feel good about yourself and your body and are more likely to lead to longer adherence?
What can you do today?
Step one, go easy
Start with what you like the most. The less resistance, the easier it is to create a habit or routine and stick with it. If I know I ‘should’ do cardio to build up cardiovascular endurance but I would rather do some body-weight exercises or yoga or go walking, then start there. As you build up the habit of exercising again you can gradually include different types of fitness.
Full-Body Strength Exercises
Going on a treadmill or opting for cardio in general is just not going to cut it. We’ve got limited time to exercise so don't waste it on long cardio sessions. If you enjoy walking, hiking or biking, great, but for those looking at getting lean or getting in better shape, doing body-weight or weight-bearing exercises is much more efficient and effective. Like with step 1, start easy, you don’t need to do push-ups or sprints, start where you are.
Aim for: 3 times per week 30 minute sessions
Eat whole foods
Forget the juicing, cleansing, sugar detoxes. Yes you could drop 5-7 lbs but that’s just water weight. Fat itself doesn’t drop off that fast. The reality is, on average, you could lose 0.5 lbs-2 lbs per week but that will be a mix of fat, water and muscle (in some cases). To encourage fat loss over muscle and water loss we need to stay hydrated, strength train to preserve muscle and most importantly we need to eat (no starvation diets of 1,300 calories or less), preferably whole foods, that is food that doesn’t have an ingredient list label on it.
Reduce exposure to social media or fitness magazines
Instagram is great but when it comes to inspiring ourselves to get fit it can actually demotivate us. Seeing women or men with amazing bodies full of confidence at the beach or just generally looking like the happiest people on the planet can drive us. However, it's likely we are going to feel like we can’t and don’t measure up. Consider what makes you have a negative mindset towards yourself and your body and then reduce/cut off your exposure to it for a short period of time and monitor how you feel.
Some extra quick tips
Carry a water bottle with you and drink plenty of it.
Drink 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in the morning for better digestion and before carbohydrate-heavy meals to regulate blood sugar levels.
Eat a mix of protein and fats in the morning (save the carbs for later in the day).
Eat a big and satiating breakfast to get you through the day, e.g. Oatmeal with plant-based milk, chopped nuts, coconut oil, seeds, coconut flakes, hemp seeds, fresh blueberries and a protein smoothie with protein powder, greens powder, ½ frozen banana, turmeric and chia/flax seeds.
Set an achievable goal for 4 weeks time.
Make a bigger and healthier dinner so you can have leftovers for lunch.
Add a metabolic finisher at the end of your workouts, this means working harder and faster for the last 10 minutes to get your heart rate up.
Eat the majority of carbohydrates around your exercise schedule.
Do HIIT training (no more than 2 times per week).
Write down/organize your exercise plan so that you don’t have to think about what you’re going to do.
Exercising does not burn enough calories to eat a donut, sadly, so keep your salty-sweet delicious treats limited (that doesn’t mean never).
So that's it, for now. Don't punish yourself any longer if what you want is to get back on the right track. Find what works for you, what motivates you and start today, you don't need to wait until you can tackle everything at once.
Gemma, Generation Strength