Sunday, 10 January 2021

How to stay motivated and on track with daily workouts

How to stay motivated and on track with daily workouts

Hi everyone! Long time no... blog?  Haha. I know, I know... I haven’t blogged at all in 2020, but I’m forgiven, right? Pandemic and all... If you follow me on Instagram, you might already know that I dedicated the whole of 2020 to self care, fitness and working on myself. It was blissful! I trained to climb Ben Nevis and I did it in September and it was the best feeling ever! In the process, I lost 120lbs and I look like a different person, but this is not about weightloss. And guess what? That’s the key to changing your mindset! Let me give you all the tips for staying consistent, finding motivation and moving your body for reasons other than weightloss!

EXERCISE IS NOT A CHORE! 
Let’s get things straight! Exercise should never be a chore! If it is, you will hate it, it won’t be pleasant, it won’t be something you look forward to. You have to realise and tell yourself that being able to exercise is a privilege in many ways. Whether it’s being able bodied, having the time or even space/equipment to workout is a privilege. 

YOUR ABILITIES/PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS ETC
Speaking of privilege, if you’re able bodied and an average size, like me, you probably don’t have any physical limitations and you can do any form of exercise. But not everyone is in this situation and we all have different bodies and different abilities. Find a workout suitable for you. When I was living in an obese body, I didn’t want to put too much strain on my joints so I chose incline speedwalking and outdoor walks/hiking. Make sure you don’t put too much strain on your body and work with it, not against it. 

FIND OUT WHAT YOU LOVE 
Continuing the subject of finding a workout suitable for you, make sure it’s something you actually enjoy. I’m a huge fan of walking (yes, it’s actually exercise!) and I can’t recommend it enough! You don’t need equipment for it, you can either go outdoors or even walk on the spot in your living room. I can easily walk for hours and hours each day and I don’t get bored of it. I walked 5.5 million steps in 2020. 15K steps a day on average, some days I did over 30k steps (6 hours of walking). I absolutely love it! But do you like walking? You might hate it, but you might love swimming! Cycling? Yoga? Aerobics? Dance? Weights? I’m sure there is something you enjoy. 

ASK  YOURSELF WHY?
Why do you want to workout? Is it because you simply realised that you don’t move your body enough? Do you want to get fitter, stronger, healthier? Find the reason and please try your best to not make it about weightloss. I know it’s easy for me to say,  because I already lost weight, but please realise that when I stated working out 3-4 hours a day, I did it to train for the biggest hike of my life, not for weightloss. Having a fitness goal helped me stay focused and on track. 

MAKE IT WORK WITH YOUR SCHEDULE/LIFE
There is no point for me to sit here and tell you what exercise and how much of it you should do because I’m not YOU! I don’t know your schedule and your situation. I am able to exercise a lot and my life allows me to find the time for it easily, but if I was working a regular 9-5 job, it would be a different story. I will say though, that I always found time for exercise, even when I worked 12h night shifts. What is your schedule like? Can you find 30 minutes a day for YOU? If you have kids, can you maybe go for a daily walk with them? If you’re an early bird, maybe find some time before work for a quick spin on an exercise bike? Or gentle yoga to help you wake up. 

BE REALISTIC
Don’t try to copy what someone else is doing and don’t compare yourself to others. Be realistic about your own goals. If you can hardly find time for exercise as it is, don’t give yourself a goal of 3-4 hours a day, it’s not realistic! I wouldn't actually recommend it to anyone, because I only did it to train for Ben Nevis. 30 minutes a day is a great goal to start with. If you can do that, that’s great! That’s 30 minutes of daily movement your body needs. And remember, a simple walk is exercise! It’s all you need! 

BIN THE EXERCISE FOR WEIGHTLOSS MENTALITY FOR GOOD!
Please do! Don’t focus on losing weight, it’s a vicious cycle and it ruins your relationship with movement. Exercise is amazing for everyone’s health, it’s a behaviour we should all be encouraged to include in our daily life regardless of our size. People used to look at me and laugh when I told them I exercised daily as an obese person. Why are you still fat then, they asked... It’s so insulting! I exercised to be healthy and strong! To give my body what it needs, like a plant needs water and sunshine. Exercising is being kind to your body! It’s not a punishment for eating a cookie! STOP!

PHYSICAL BENEFITS
We all know that movement is amazing for our bodies. I feel like it’s pretty obvious. Maintaining muscle mass is crucial to staying fit and healthy and it’s what keeps us ‘young’. The less we move, the more muscle we lose and everything becomes harder and harder to do. I have never experienced it, because I’ve always stayed fit and active but when I was training for Ben Nevis, I gained a lot of muscle mass and I now have Hulk level legs, haha. Maintaining muscle tone helps us keep a good posture too and makes us less prone to injuries. I love feeling strong, fit and flexible. Again, this has nothing to do with weight. I have maintained a high level of fitness at every size because fitness is not a size! Your whole body needs exercise to function properly, from cardiovascular health to simply being able to walk and move your arms.

MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS
A huge factor for me is the plethora of mental health benefits of exercise. I love the release of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, all the feel good stuff! Without exercise, I would feel low and my mental health would be completely out of control. I suffer from a lot of mental health conditions and regular exercise helps me massively. It not only makes me feel good from all the endorphins, but it also helps me take my mind off things and focus on movement and my physical health. I love a long walk, listening to music, admiring nature, getting fresh air, feeling the sun on my skin and the sense of freedom it gives me. 

SET SOME ACHIEVABLE GOALS
I mentioned previously that you should be realistic about your goals in terms of the daily amount of time you can dedicate to exercise, but let’s talk about different kinds of goals. As a general rule, anything under 5000 steps a day is considered as being sedentary/inactive. Now let me tell you, it takes an average person a whole hour of walking to do 5000 steps! My personal goal is a minimum of 10k but I average 15k daily (based on 2020) with my maximum daily step count being 30k on a super active day. I only count active steps, nothing to do with what I do in the house etc. My goal is to do all the steps during actual exercise. Anyway... set yourself a step goal you can achieve. If you’re sedentary, 5K is a good start. Depending on your pace, you can achieve that in 30-60 minutes. If daily step goals aren’t your thing, think of something else you want to complete, a certain speed or personal best your want to hit, a hill/mountain you want to conquer. 

MAKE IT YOUR NORMAL, A BASIC HUMAN NEED
Think of daily exercise as a normal activity, like eating, sleeping, breathing, personal hygiene. It’s part of human life, but it was stolen from us by diet culture and made us all think it’s only a weightloss tool. It’s not, it’s like your breakfast or dinner! We need it to thrive and stay strong. 

ENJOY IT
Most importantly, enjoy it! Don’t put the treadmill on a setting you hate, don’t run if you don’t feel like it or if it’s going to ruin your joints. Don’t force it, just enjoy it! Focus on your body moving and embrace it! I love looking in the mirror when I do upper body workouts, I love seeing my muscles move and witnessing what my body is capable of. I don’t push it, I stop when I feel like it.

GET COMFORTABLE CLOTHING
Make sure you are comfortable. There is nothing worse than trying to workout in uncomfortable, restrictive clothing, or your leggings rolling down and sports bra rolling up. Get some comfy high waisted leggings, a properly fitting sports bra, a nice hoodie to keep you warm and good trainers fit for purpose. I invested a lot of money in some amazing sportswear last year and let me tell you, pockets in leggings are life changing! If you can afford it, get yourself a whole new workout outfit you feel good in. But if you simply want you go for a nice walk, just make sure you’re comfy and focus on good shoes and don't feel pressured to have all the 'gear'.

ROUTINE OR SPONTANEITY?
Do you like routine? Or are you more of a spontaneous type? I’m a bit of both. I know I want to do the treadmill once a day and a long walk outdoors and I just do both whenever I feel like it. Sometimes one right after the other, sometimes I will do even more than I was planning. I usually start my day with an incline speedwalk then go outdoors later and it works for me. You might like doing a workout at the exact same time each day, perfectly slotted into your schedule and that’s fine too. 

BE SELFISH
Be a bit selfish, exercise can be your ‘me time’. I leave the kids with my husband and I’m off for a long walk. They get to spend some quality time with him and I get to be alone with my thoughts and getting space and peace I need to function. You deserve time for YOU and of you have a partner and they simply don’t ‘get it’, they’re not a good partner. 

BE SOCIAL
On the other hand, you might want to make exercise a social thing. After all, humans love socialising (not me, lol). Go for a walk with a friend, or with your partner/kids or as a family. Sometimes having company is good for the soul. Or maybe you don’t feel safe alone and you need someone with you. (since, we're still in lockdown in the UK, please stick to the rules though).
 
FRESH AIR
Try combining getting exercise and getting fresh air at the same time. Good for your body on all fronts, getting movement and vitamin D. 

EAT WELL
To have the strength and energy, you have to nourish your body with good food. You can’t possibly workout if you’re not eating enough, make it your priority. Lots of healthy carbs. protein, fats, plenty of fibre and a lot of water. Hydration is so important, especially if you’re doing high intensity workouts and sweat a lot. 

DON’T GIVE UP 
If you ‘fell off the wagon’ in terms of exercise, don’t dwell on it. Just get back to it and remind yourself why you’re doing it! 

REST
I personally don’t like the term ‘rest day’. Exercise is part of my daily life and low impact stuff like walking is a normal human activity you can safely do every single day. I will only have a complete ‘rest day’ if I did a big hike and my legs are in agony. I needed 3 days of rest after Ben Nevis because of how demanding it was, it’s the tallest mountain in the UK after all. So if you need a rest, your body will tell you. 

GOOD LUCK!
I hope you found this post helpful and it gave you more of an insight into my relationship with exercise and how I stay so focused and committed to it. It’s a mindset and something you might struggle with at first, but believe me, once you truly ‘get it’ you will never treat it like a chore. My DM’s on Instagram are always open of you need some motivation or advice and I hope 2021 is a good year for all of you. My goal is to do another 5.5 million steps this year and I’m pretty sure I’m going to smash it. 


Sandra xxx




  
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