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It is one of those resolutions that is added to most of our lists and always fizzles out after a week or two of the best intentions. So how do you get fit and stay fit? 2018 was the year I finally got serious about fitness – my strength and my general fitness levels improved massively and I finally found the confidence to go to the gym on my own and actually work out rather than spending 20 minutes on a treadmill and leaving.
It’s funny that this year, with a new baby etc. was the year that I actually managed to do it, despite having less time available and a stricter routine than ever before.
Having a baby was part of the motivation I think – not just for vanity and wanting my ‘pre-baby body’ back (which wasn’t brilliant before anyway); but for my mental health and wellbeing and just having a little bit of ‘me’ time – the gym became the only few hours a week I had to myself – and I wasn’t willing to give them up no matter how little sleep I had.
So what tips can I give you to get motivated and stick with it?
Saying you want something and actively trying to get it are two completely separate things. You have to have a bit of willpower. We all know that we will feel better after we’ve worked out – so why is actually pushing ourselves to go in the first place so hard? When you have those moments of ‘I don’t want to’ you have to remind yourself of the bigger picture. Think about where you will be in a few months if you do go and where you’ll be if you don’t. Remember, as cliché as it is – if you change nothing, nothing changes.
Schedule it into your diary as if it is any other necessary appointment and then make your plans around that. Find the best part of your day that fitness works for you. Pre-baby for me, it was after work – and I would take my kit with me and go straight there. If I had gone home first, there’s no way I’d have got back up off the sofa.
Now morning workouts suit my lifestyle better and we’re lucky enough to have a 24/7 gym a few minutes away, so if I’m awake at 4/5am I can get there and have a nice quiet workout before most people are even up.
Go with a friend. If you’ve arranged to meet someone at a class or the gym you’re more likely to go because you won’t want to let them down or leave them hanging around wondering where you are. When you’re struggling your buddy can motivate you and vice versa. Having someone going through the same thing makes it so much easier.
But if that isn’t an option…
If you’re heading to a class great, but if you’re going to the gym know exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it before you go. There’s nothing more off putting than getting there, not knowing how to use equipment, what exercises to perform etc. Ask a member of staff to show you how a machine works, get on youtube/Instagram for demonstrations. Search online for a program that suits you and what you want to achieve.
If you’re going to be lifting weights, start low with a light weight and build yourself up gradually. Focus on technique and form. Don’t risk injuring yourself before you start. If you’re not sure, ask someone who knows.
I know this is predominantly a money-saving blog, but I’m not so strict with money that I won’t spend ANYTHING – particularly if it’s something that will improve my health and wellbeing, so I invested in 8 weeks of personal training and it was worth every penny. There was no way I was missing a session after spending that money, believe me! The results speak for themselves – yes I probably could’ve been better with my nutrition and done better, but overall I was happy with the progress I made. I lost 10cm from my belly and improved my strength massively. You can read the full details here.
I don’t like wasting money, so paying for these blocks made me go. Likewise with kit – I treated myself to new trainers, new leggings and vests. Spending a little money on the kit forced me to go because I didn’t want it to go to waste.
I also have a gym membership – but at £17.99 a month for the facilities I get I’m more than happy to be paying this. I used to pay £38 a month for a gym that was miles away, had half the facilities and wasn’t 24 hours.
There’s so much you can do for free at home – you don’t need equipment, there’s plenty of bodyweight exercises you can do. Try HIIT, yoga, whatever suits you – Youtube is a goldmine. Go for a run – there’s plenty of apps out there to track your progress or even apps that will design a program for you if you’re a beginner (like couch to 5k). Myfitnesspal is free – track your nutrition. You can make so many positive changes for free. There’s no excuse.
Track your calories and become more mindful of what you eat. You can make plenty of small changes, which add up into big calorie savings. You don’t realise how easy it is to massively overeat until you track your calories. It can take a bit of getting used to, particularly if you’re cooking from scratch but it quickly becomes part of your routine. If you’re exercising frequently it’s important that your nutrition is right and you’re hitting your macros. Protein intake is especially important. I’m definitely no nutritionist so please don’t take what I say as gospel, do some reading and do what’s best for you.
Make sure whatever you’re doing you enjoy. I hate running. I used to force myself to go and I never got a buzz out of it. Even after I did the Cardiff Half Marathon I didn’t feel as good as I did when I got my deadlifting PB – find the exercises you enjoy and you will want to work out. Don’t force yourself to do yoga if yoga’s not your thing. Don’t go to Zumba because all your friends do if you don’t enjoy it. Another cliché for you – but you do you.
Find your motivation. I like to follow ‘real’ people on Instagram – I don’t follow the top fitness accounts with amazing bodies and millions of followers because that doesn’t motivate me personally (if it motivates you, great – go for it). I like to see the normal, average Joes just starting out and documenting their successes and failures because it’s more achievable and I can relate to that. Find what motivates you. Take before pictures to have something to compare to in a few months and see your progress. Don’t worry about weight – think about how you feel. My body looked completely different at the end of my personal training but my weight stayed almost exactly the same.
Set goals and mini goals and each time you achieve a new PB, hit the gym 4 times in a week, finally do a proper push up – whatever your goals are, reward yourself. Treat yourself to a haircut, have a pamper, buy some nice new clothes. Give yourself a reason to keep going.
These are all things which I personally found beneficial when finding a routine to suit my lifestyle, I hope you can take something useful away and move forward with your own fitness goals!
I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about all things money with a little life organisation thrown in for good measure. Join me!