Exercise! What does this word mean to you? Is this something you think about often? Or not? Do you think you need to exercise? At least in some form? How do you find the best exercise options for you? What do you think exercise entails? Are finances or location important? Do you have any idea where to begin? What are your needs? How and where do you look for advice to get started?
Exercise doesn’t necessarily require the latest gym gear. A fitness instructor to guide you through a personal training session. A workout session that leaves you gasping for breath and sweat dripping off your face. Or an immediate switch to only healthy food. And it doesn’t require a healthy bank balance and a daily trip to a gym.
Social media is alive with perfectly shaped, tanned and sculpted bodies all vying for our attention. Also doing a great job of helping us feel inadequate and imperfect. Do you agree?
You cannot look at another individual and compare yourself. Since we are all individuals our exercise, fitness, and health requirements are also individual. Therefore to begin your personal exercise, health and fitness journey you need to assess your personal requirements. What do you require to feel good about yourself? To make youfeel happy and content in and with your body.
I am by no means an expert on health, fitness and food choices but everything I have written has come from personal experience. The knowledge I have gained and benefitted from over many years that worked for me. It may answer some questions you may have. It may help you take the first important step. As a precaution, I recommend you consult your GP with your ideas before you begin your food and exercise journey.
Time to Change
Surely you have thought about your needs. Therefore you have come to a point where you are seeking direction to fulfill your personal needs. So, here you are searching for guidance.
You don’t need an expert on exercise, fitness, nutrition or weight loss. You simply need to know yourself and what particular changes you are capable of sustaining in your life. If you cannot maintain the changes you will give up and return to old, familiar habits. Gradual changes become sustainable new habits.
‘Slow and Steady Wins The Race’
Finally, you are making the decision to begin. Bravo!
What are your personal needs? Do you want to lose weight and wondering where to begin? Perhaps you are looking to lose weight, become fitter and change your eating habits. All of these can be achieved and sustainable if you gear them to suit you. Change to healthier food options you will enjoy and therefore continue to eat. Find exercises or ways to move that keep you interested so you will continue to enjoy the whole experience. Anytime these changes become a chore to us we lose interest. Keep yourself interested and therefore motivated. Following a trend or a friend may not completely suit you. The key to all of this is to find your individual unique idea of exercise, fitness and weight management.
Change For You
There is no need to advertise the fact you are planning a new you. Just do it! As with most changes in our lives if we tell everyone in our immediate lives of our plans this opens the door to the opinions and ideas of others. Sometimes these are not required. So, do your thing your way!
I recommend you plan how and what exactly your changes will be. Keep in mind there is no need to rush. Then once you have decided the direction you want to take and the changes you want to make. Begin!
Stay true to your plans and learn from your body. Your body will guide you to the right food and exercise for you to become fit and healthy. You will know if certain foods or exercises are right for you by the way your body responds or reacts to them. So take note of changes! Implement the foods and exercise that make you feel good. The food and exercise that you enjoy. Make changes to your menu and exercise regime regularly so that you stay interested enough to maintain them, to keep going. Therefore, staying focussed and reaching your goals. Do this for you!
A New, Happier and Healthier Version Of Yourself
In the beginning, I recommend a planner. This enables you to keep track of your food intake. You can plan your weekly menu and exercise. And keeping a record will help you decide when changes need to be made.
When you decide you are ready to begin record all of your measurements in the planner. Measure your hips, waist, thighs, chest and upper arms. If you really need to know your weight that is entirely your choice. Keeping in mind that muscle weighs heavier than fat. Scales may play tricks on your mind if you weigh more when clearly you are toning and losing fat. Entirely your choice. This is your journey after all. I remember becoming addicted to weighing myself in my younger years and it messed with my head a little. I had a pair of jeans I wanted to be able to fit. As I progressed I tried them once in a while. Until one day they fitted perfectly. However, if you choose to use scales. All good!
A Gradual Change to Healthy Food
Firstly, don’t be deterred by the words ‘Healthy Food’ because they are just words. How you define them is also personal.
Begin with your first exercise ‘The List’
To begin your food choice journey make a list of all the food you consume in a week. Include everything and be honest with yourself. After all, it is only you who will read the list.
You can approach this on a daily basis or categorize the foods. For example, you may list all drinks, then all snacks, then meals, alcoholic beverages, sweets, and candy. Oh! Include takeouts as well.
Once the list is complete break it down into a daily list. Much in the form of a food diary. So you would have breakfast and beverages. Morning snacks and beverages. Lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner, treats and so on. Make the list as close to actuality as possible for the seven days of the week.
For every high-calorie intake, you switch out for a better lower calorie option you will lose weight. Therefore cutting your calorie intake is the first step. Or cut out the option altogether, even better. This is entirely your decision. Remember it has to be sustainable.
Begin a new daily planner with the heading week one. Referring to your food intake on your first weekly list where can you cut or switch out?
For example, on Monday of your first list if you consume say, six cans of soda cut out two of them. Or, switch out with another choice, for example, water or soda water. If you consume a large pack of crisps in an afternoon, cut it back to a small pack. Cut your chocolate treat by half, to begin with, and so on through the list.
Another idea regards takeout. If you have takeout often during the week there is no need to cut it out completely. Start by cutting the size of the order and portion sizes. Gradual changes are sustainable. One day further down the track you will make a choice to cut out the takeout completely. One day at a time, one week at a time. Trust me!
Continue for the whole week completing cut-outs and switch-outs for every day. Week one food diary is prepared now all there is to do is follow your changes each day.
By continuing with this process each week healthy food choices will eventually come into play in your fooddiary. You may not notice at first, but gradually you will replace high-calorie foods with healthy food options without much thought. And you will begin to choose foods with less sugar, less saturated fats and you will begin to eat fresh foods instead. Fresh fruit and vegetables. You will begin to notice a decrease in body fat. Your clothes will alert you to changes. There will be changes in your overall health and wellness. You may notice you sleep better and have more energy during the day.
Good on you!
SCROLL DOWN FOR SHOPPING TIPS TO KEEP YOU ON TRACK
Exercise and Fitness
Along with your weekly food changes it is in your best interest to begin a simple exercise plan. Fitness begins with exercise. Begin small and slowly build on it. Every little step helps you reach your goal!
As with your food intake changes you should work out an exercise plan specific to you. A plan that you are happy with and you can sustain and build on. Gradually!
Begin every session with some simple stretching exercises. Stretching the muscles is important before exercise to warm muscles ready for the workout. Stretch the muscles in your arms as well before beginning. Not sure of how to warm-up? Google stretches to find the best exercise for your needs there are many options.
Repeat stretching exercises at the end of your exercise session as well. This is also essential for the muscles. Like a cooldown of sorts.
Walking for Weight Loss
Your walking for weight loss and fitness plan may begin with a 15-minute walk once or twice per day. I recommend you invest in a comfortable and suitable pair of walkingshoes or joggers.
Depending on your personal needs you may not want to walk in public so maybe a walk around the boundary of your back yard might be the ideal place to start. Perhaps up and down the length of your driveway is another option you may consider. To get your heart rate up all you need to do is swing your arms back and forth as you are walking. Don’t worry about what it may look like think of the benefits you will be gaining. If you need a distraction put your earphones in and walk to your favorite music. Before you know it time is up.
For those who are cool with venturing outside your boundaries begin your walk on a level path. It is easy to walk for half an hour. Walk 15 minutes in one direction, then turn around and begin the 15-minute walk home retracing your steps. Thirty minutes is easy. Again swing your arms to raise your heart rate. Puffing is a sign your workout plan is successful. Take a bottle of water to keep hydrated. Also, consider a wet cloth or towel for wiping away the sweat and keeping refreshed and comfortable on the go.
When you feel the need to step it up, find a path with a slight gradient and incorporate a set of 2lb dumbbells, one in each hand. Swing those arms and step up the pace a little at a time. This is a simple workout routine to begin your physical activity and a simple answer to the question, “How to burn fat?” Cardio is the common term for raising your heart rate resulting in burning fat. Simply raise your heart rate. Puffing is the simple indication things are starting to happen. Before you know it your fitness level will have noticeably changed. Time to walk further or introduce more exercise activities.
Introducing more exercise activities at home is also a personal choice especially for those who cannot afford the time or money for a gym. All you need to remember is movement is all that is required in the beginning. How you choose to move is entirely up to you. Just be sure it is safe and you do the exercises correctly to avoid injury. Google or Youtube can be your best friends for guidance.
Move To Improve
Your home and the things in and around it can become your perfect workout sanctuary. Not suggesting you purchase a home gym. Simply use what is available in and around your home as your gym, to begin with. Easy!
Step It Up
Do you have a step in your home, say between two rooms? Or, do you have a step at your back door? Just one step you can use as an exercise tool.
Simply stand at the bottom of the step, step up onto the step, first one foot then the other. Then, step down, one foot then the other. Changing the lead foot every ten steps. This may seem strange to begin with, however, you will get the swing of it. Stick in your earphones and step away! Grab a couple of cans of beans, one can in each hand, or your 2lb dumbells and swing those arms to accelerate your heart rate. Puffing and sweating are your signs it’s working for you. Keep hydrated!
Another option for those with a staircase inside your home. Up and down the staircase for 10 minutes with your beans or 2lb dumbells. You got this!
Home is Where the Start is
Think about other ways you can exercise your body at home. Look around and you will begin to think in terms of resistance, movement, and weights. The items you choose to use need to fit into these categories. Are you noticing anything you can use while you look around?
Let’s make some suggestions to help you out. Some may not be ideal for your particular circumstances. However, these suggestions may help you see things you do have and therefore help create your home gym and exercise plan.
Walk the boundary of your property no matter how big or small it is. Dig a hole in a sandy area of your property, refill and dig again. Chop some wood. Push a wheelbarrow up and down the driveway, gradually filling it with bricks or sand to create greater resistance as time goes on. Another idea put one of your kids in it and make it a game. Kick a soccer/basketball around the yard by yourself or with your kids. What about a little handball against the wall of your home? Bounce a ball up and down your driveway or the path at the front of your home. Five or ten minutes is enough.
Play your favorite music and dance like no-one is watching for half an hour or so. Go silly!
Mark a spot on the wall a little higher than you can reach and jump up to touch the mark, changing hands each time. What about a game of hopscotch, that can be done alone or with the kids. Go to the local park and shoot some hoops alone or with a friend. Hike a mountain/bush trail. Then there is always the trampoline and skipping rope. Yes!
Involve the Kids or Companion
So many options that will get you moving. Involve your kids in some of the above or invent more. There is always a game of chasey, cricket, or football. Create memories and get fit. Awesome!
Another idea if you cannot find the motivation to exercise alone. Call a friend, join a group of like-minded local residents. There will be someone willing to help you reach your goals. Check the net! If you are a new mom walk with the baby stroller either alone or with someone from your local mom group.
Once the results begin to show, either in your clothes or on the scales you will be motivated. Without a doubt!
Keep a record in the planner of your weekly exercise and the results obtained as a reminder. It’s all worth it!
After a short time treat yourself to some activewear. A sure-fire way to help you feel good about your achievements. Exercise clothingwill definitely inspire you to keep going. All the trend!
Normal Everyday Activity
Any movement your body makes is exercise. For example, consider your everyday activities. Depending on your job you may be moving quite a bit during your workday and not considering this as exercise. For example, my job in retail has me walking 6000-15,000 steps per day. The steps add up at the end of a five day week to between 20-30 kilometers per week (12.4 – 18.6 miles). Of course, it is not puffy or sweaty, however, it is a significant movement tally. A tally I happily consider in my weekly exercise total.
If you have the opportunity to choose a ride on a lift or a flight of stairs, choose the stairs. Do you live within walking distance of your local grocery store? Choose the walk over a car ride. The groceries you purchase will act as weights on your walk home. Win!
Normal everyday activity is an option to include in your daily workout. Do not replace it, include it as an integral part of your exercise plan. Continue with this daily activity and where you are able, amplify it. Every bit helps!
Every bit of movement leads to improvement!
Benefits of Walking
Even if your walking starts with 10,000 steps per day this is better than nothing. After one month even walking 10,000 steps will become a habit and you won’t even notice that you are doing it. Walking as your exercise and changing your diet will become a way of life.
Each change you make benefits your overall wellbeing. You will sleep better and therefore longer. Sleep will help your body digest foods and repair muscles. Because you are eating better and exercising you feel healthier and happier. Your immune system will be stronger as well.
You will automatically choose healthier food options and cut out the unhealthy options. You will have more energy to get through the day. Every small step you take to improve your diet and movement is a positive step forward.
After six months of walking, you will notice benefits have kicked in. A visit to your GP will be proof. Make the time to visit your doctor and have a physical and blood tests it will be good for you to know how well your body has responded to the changes you have made. Do it!
Once you have completed your daily food switch out list plan a weekly menu. Yes, another list!
Shopping is important for your transformation. How often you shop is important. Visiting the grocery store once per week at the commencement of your new changes is recommended. Why? Because this will cut down the chances of impulse buying. Foods have at least seven days of best buy date so be sure to check the date as you shop.
Impulse buying usually ends with a cart full of snacks and sodas you won’t need. Also, not good for the budget. These are the consequences of impulse buying. Unnecessary food and wasting your hard-earned money. Resulting in negative feelings afterward.
All the treats, snacks and sodas you have chosen to reduce to for the week will be on your list. Purchase them all in one shop. No need to return. Using your menu as a guide to make your shopping list it should have all of the ingredients you need for your meals. Check it to make sure you have included everything. This cuts out the chance of forgetting something and having to return to the store.
While you are shopping start the habit of reading the labels on your food products. This information gives serving sizes per container, calories per serving size, sugar and fat content per serving. This is a great habit to get into moving forward. Trust me you will automatically read labels one day because you will care.
As your journey progresses shop a couple of times per week once you begin to purchase more fresh foods such as fruit and vegetables. You might want to ensure freshness with these new healthy food choices.
ALWAYS STICK TO YOUR MENU AND YOUR SHOPPING LIST
Once you know the products and have read the labels. You have educated yourself with the knowledge of the contents of the products. This allows you the option to shop online. Not having to go to the store alleviates any chance of impulse buying. At least at the beginning when you may still give in to your weaknesses. Because we all have those moments, right? I still do.
Choose the food you know you will continue to enjoy for longevity. The reason fad diets do not work is that they are not always sustainable.
It is difficult to suddenly stop all of the foods you have been eating and change to foods you aren’t used to eating. Cutting out your foods one at a time over a longer period of time is more sustainable than cutting everything at once. True story!
The idea of cutting everything seems great at the time but then you begin to crave certain foods and eventually you just give up and go back to old habits. Be kind to yourself as you go because it is ok.
Treat yourself as you progress and you won’t crave and end up bingeing. If you manage to cut out takeouts make them a treat once per week or fortnight. On the weekend have cake with your coffee. Have crisps or popcorn while watching a movie. Enjoy the odd glass of wine with dinner.
Denial evokes cravings and once you give in to cravings it is a downward spiral. You are better off to have treats than to give them up altogether. Unless that is the choice you are happy to make, eventually.
Plan your menu with three meals and snacks in between. Consider snacking in small quantities, often to cover those hunger pangs that creep in through the day. And try not to eat after, say, 8 pm.
Maintaining Your Weight
During your fitness and weight loss journey, you may have times where you plateau. Meaning after a period of progress, you may not achieve visible results for a few days or more. Maybe change your food choices or change your exercise plan. Don’t be alarmed just continue on.
So you reach your goal weight. Good Job!
Maintaining your weight is now your goal. Using everything you have learned, changed and begun to enjoy with regard to healthy food choices you can maintain your weight. Give or take a few pounds of course.
Your body will tell you the foods that you should stay away from especially if you over-consume them. Too many carbohydrates or dairy are my personal warning foods I know I will gain if I eat too much of either of those.
Another tip is to carry healthy option snacks with you to avoid impulse buying an undesirable snack. Pack a snack or two in your handbag or glove box of the car. For example, a protein bar because you just never know when you will need one. Right?
Gyms, personal trainers, fitness apps are not for everyone. Walking will start your weight loss journey and improve your fitness levels. If you want to incorporate other exercises to tone and shape your body you don’t necessarily require a gym or personal trainer. As listed in the previous home gym options.
Joining a gym may not be within reach for everyone. A gym may be financially out of reach for some. For others, the location or distance may be an obstacle. Location and finances are key factors when considering a gym. Or it may just be some of us do not want to train in the company of others and would rather do it privately. Perfect!
There are those who do not want to be tethered to a gym membership year after year. In my experience after a couple of months, I found other exercise options and therefore had wasted money. My experience also taught me the gym was not a sustainable exercise option for longevity. Personal choice!
Down the track joining a gym may be a consideration for you. Again, personal choice. Nothing against gyms they are simply not for everyone. There are always other options.
Thinkoutside the square and use what is available within your square.
To finish I would like to share a story of a personal journey which prompted me to write this blog.
Shortly before I met my partner he was a maintenance worker on a pig farm. Pork and bacon were in abundance at mealtimes so he admittedly pigged out on. Along with other indulgences most of the bad snack and beverage kind.
He experienced a severe heart problem and ended up in the hospital where he was awakened to his reality by a nutritionist assigned to his case. The nutritionist asked him to list in detail his food consumption over a week which she noted.
The nutritionist returned the following day pushing a food trolley with the contents covered by a sheet. She removed the sheet to reveal a mountain of containers filled with a gel. Each weighing about 500g (1.102 pounds). The gel was used as a visual aid to make my partner aware of the amount of fat he had been consuming per week.
At the time he was aged in his mid-thirties and weighed 150kg (330.7lbs) at a height of 6ft. The heart specialist advised him if he chose to continue to eat as he was and consuming this amount of fat he would not be around in the next few years.
The visualization was very effective and the whole experience changed my partner’s life. Reality kicked in!
What He Chose To Do With This Information
After a couple of weeks, he returned to work at the pig farm and began to implement the changes to ensure his longevity.
At mealtimes in his own words, “Instead of eating a whole pig I cut back to one chop with vegetables.” He also gradually cut out the bad snacks and beverages he had been consuming and replaced them with healthy options.
The exercise he chose was to walk the boundary of the farm which was about 8km (4.98 miles). A daily walk that began at a slow pace and gradually increased over time.
When he and I met a few months later he weighed about 110kg (242.5 pounds). As the years passed he continued to lose weight and at 57 years of age he now weighs 85kg (187.4 pounds). He has maintained this weight for fifteen of the twenty years we have been together. Losing a total of 65kg (143.3 pounds). Because it was a slow loss he did not have any excess skin to deal with either.
So, it is achievable and also maintainable. The journey begins with the first brave step and belief in yourself. You can do it!
10 Steps To YOU!
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE There is no time limit. Set small achievable goals.
DO IT YOUR WAY Make sustainable choices with food and exercise.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY Take note of the effects of food and exercise choices. Your body will tell you if they are wrong because changes will occur.
CUT DOWN vs CUTOUT First cut down and gradually cut out for sustainability.
MOVE YOUR BODY TO YOUR LEVEL OF COMFORT Begin slowly with exercise you enjoy.
NO NEED TO ADVERTISE YOUR DECISION Telling everyone your plan places pressure on you. Just do it and the changes will be noticed.
KEEP A JOURNAL Use your journal (planner) as a record of progress and a motivation tool as you progress.
SET SMALL ACHIEVABLE GOALS FOR YOURSELF Keep your goals small they all add up in the big picture.
SETBACKS ARE NOT FAILURES THEY ARE LESSONS Don’t be hard on yourself with any setback just pick up and move on because they will happen.
ENJOY YOUR JOURNEY TOWARDS YOU Make this a fun, and memorable experience and a story for the generations to come because it is a true and achievable story.