Exercise has always been a part of my life. There have been times where this has simply been because I enjoyed it, but other times I have used it as a way to punish my body and “earn” food. When done for the right reasons, exercise has countless benefits from helping you sleep better, to keeping your heart healthy. I truly believe there is a form of exercise out there for everybody, so here are my top tips for approaching fitness in a sustainable, forgiving and inexpensive way.
Looking after your well-being
Health is so much more than weight, so it’s important to take a more holistic look at your lifestyle.
- Consider what a typical day looks like for you. Are you quite sedentary in your job? Maybe adding some cardio such as walking, running or swimming will make you feel fantastic. Do you find yourself feeling stressed throughout the day? Maybe adding in yoga will help calm you down and stop your body from reacting to those stress signals by entering into fight-or-flight mode.
- Exercise should never be a form of punishment. There was a time that I thought I had to burn calories at the gym in order to justify eating my baseline amount of food for the day. Not cool and not at all true. Exercise can and should be a way that you look after yourself and invest in your health.
- Try and reward yourself with something other than food. A common mistake is to think that because you ran for twenty minutes, your body suddenly can handle eating an extra bar of chocolate or fast food meal that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. And while those foods can be a part of a healthy lifestyle, when eaten all the time you can undo the progress that you would otherwise be making.
- Tracking calories or fixating on your weight is a slippery slope for a lot of people. Eat real food, stop when you’re full and ignore the scale (easier said than done sometimes, I know). There was a time in my life when I thought that I needed to weigh 60 kg and then I would be happy with my body. Spoiler alert: That never happened. My body was never meant to be that weight and had I got there I probably just would have dropped my goal even lower.
- Be real with yourself about what your goals are and why you’re doing it. Aesthetic goals are fine, but to make exercise a consistent part of your routine, it helps to have something more than that going on. Focus on how it makes you feel and what it allows you to do. Focusing on function and strength is a great way to keep yourself motivated. Set yourself distance or flexibility goals rather than a weight goal.
- That being said, motivation is a fickle thing. Try and make exercise a habit, a time that you carve out of your day that is just for you. The quicker it feels like routine the easier it will be to stay consistent.
- Don’t let it take over your life. Unless you are in the fitness industry or a professional athlete then there’s no reason why you can’t skip a workout in order to catch up with a friend or do something that is good for your health in a different way. If you are skipping time with your loved ones in order to exercise then you may need to take a step back re-evaluate.
Keeping it cheap
- Perhaps the easiest way to get in some exercise and perhaps even save yourself money, is it walk or cycle when you would otherwise have driven or taken public transport. This simple switch is good for your health, wallet and the environment.
- What do you enjoy? If you hate the gym, don’t go and get yourself a gym membership and expect a miracle to happen. Try a team sport, a dance class or maybe you have a bike gathering dust in the garage that you can dust off. Of course it is possible to learn to love something but don’t invest financially in something that you don’t enjoy doing.
- On that note: Don’t go out and buy all the kit for something that you haven’t even tried yet. Borrow, use what you’ve got and if you do need some gear, try shopping second-hand. Lot’s of people buy fitness equipment and clothing that never gets used so it’s pretty easy to find stuff either in charity shops or auction websites. often times all you need is a pair of trainers and maybe a good sports bra.
- Do the free trials. Don’t sign up to a contract unless you know that a) you enjoy it and b) you can fit it into your routine. There’s no point on getting locked into a membership that you aren’t getting any value out of.
- Use YouTube. The fitness world on Youtube has exploded and you can find anything from hip-hop dancing to boxing to yoga classes. I personally rate Yoga with Adrienne for beginner to intermediate yogi’s, but I would say that if you are trying yoga for the first time, it is valuable to go to a class every so often to check on your form so you don’t end up doing yourself some damage. On the flip side, there is a lot of unhealthy advice and pseudoscience out there, so be wary of videos that tell you how someone lost 25 pounds in one month or something ridiculous. There is some great info and inspo out there but don’t get sucked into the click-bait bs.
- There are also a tonne of free fitness apps. I like Nike run because on the rare occasion I feel like running, I like to try some of their training programmes that force me to mix it up and push my pace or distance.
- Don’t think that you need powders or supplements in order to see any results from your workouts. Protein is available in so many foods that you probably eat anyway. Understanding nutrition can be really helpful but check your sources. As long as you are eating a variety of food then chances are, you will be getting enough protein in your diet.
To sum it up
All of these tips are things that I have learned but still need reminding of sometimes. The most important thing is to come at it from a place of love and never compare yourself to anyone else, particularly to anything you see on the internet.