I don’t know about you, but I am well and truly in a fitness rut at this time of year. After a back injury last year followed by a LOT of festive indulgences I feel like I’m right back at the beginning and fitness has seriously taken a back seat in my life.
So just how do you get back to it when the thought of the gym terrifies you and you just can’t seem to resist temptation in your diet?
Well, I think I’ve cracked it. Here are my top tips for getting back to fitness when you’re stuck in a rut…and there isn’t a depressing salad or stroppy personal trainer in sight…
Don’t Call it a Diet – I don’t know about you, but as soon as I say to myself ‘I’m on a diet’ I can’t stop thinking about all the foods I’m not supposed to touch. The cravings get more and more until I’m dreaming about chocolate and end up surrounded by McDonald’s wrappers in a greasy daze filled with regret!
When you start, don’t call it a diet, simply clean up your eating a little and be more mindful. Even if it’s just cutting down on one thing per day, or adding a bit more ‘value’ to every meal with another vegetable or grain will make a world of difference and really help you kick things off without feeling trapped.
Go To The Gym For ANY Other Reason Apart From Losing Weight – Whether it’s getting a bit stronger, making some new friends, finding a new hobby, feeling fitter and being able do more. Go for any reason you like that isn’t weight loss. If you pick up your gym time then the weight loss with follow – but focusing on other things will be less likely to cause feelings of failure. I go to strengthen my back, and by building up my time on the cross trainer or the weight on my bars I find real accomplishment as I see everything moving in the right direction…and that number on the scale always follows.
Find Alcohol Substitutes – I like booze. I’m not a party girl who screams SHOTTSSSSS at da club every weekend but I do enjoy a nice bottle of wine, a good gin or a couple of mid-week beers. The thing with alcohol is, not only does it stack up the calories but it also triggers bad food choices during or after too! So I made a decision to cut down a little by finding substitutes for those midweek pub nights or evenings in with friends. Becks Blue with a slice of lime, Brewdog Nanny State, Slimline Tonic with half a lime (minus the gin), Elderflower cordial with Soda in a champagne flute. They all make pretty decent substitutes and help me set a few no drink days a week and stick to them.
Buy a Nice Outfit for Now – Looking fabulous will give you the confidence to carry on being fabulous. I don’t like to set myself treats for when I’ve lost a certain weight or when I look a certain way. Why wait? Treat yourself now, make yourself feel fabulous and that will give you the motivation to strive for even more. You may not fit into this outfit for long if you’re slimming down, it will be worth it to see everything getting looser!
Don’t Weigh Yourself – Not long ago I wrote a post about why I threw my scales away and I stand by this tip so much! Don’t weigh yourself until you’re about 2-3 weeks into your routine and you’ve re-caught the fitness bug (if you have to weigh in at all). Yes you’ll miss out on knowing the numbers for your progress at the start, but you’ll also be taking away that potential disappointment if the weight doesn’t fall off at the speed you want it to – which let’s be honest, when we first start we want to see at least a stone a day going! Focus on how you feel, how your clothes fit and how you look in the mirror, not the number on the scale which can be so fickle anyway.
Keep Eating The Things You’re Used To…With a Twist – This ties into our first point a little, but if you’re used to eating certain foods that have become a habit and you’re really struggling to break away from, substitute. For the first two weeks carry on with your favourites but be a bit smarter. Find ways to cut a little fat down or trim your portion sizes. For example, I’m a sucker for a bagel at breakfast time with cream cheese (yum!). I recently found some skinny bagels which were half the thickness (and calories) and switched to a half fat cream cheese. It’s the same food but less of it and less fat, but I still get my bagel comfort with my morning cup of tea – and I add smoked salmon for some extra protein and omega 3. Cut things down slowly until you’re into the swing of it and you actually WANT to cut them out more permanently or switch them for something different. Going from a diet of indulgence straight to salads is miserable. Stick to things that are familiar but just cheat yourself a little by making them a bit healthier!
Set SMALL Fitness Goals – It’s unrealistic to go from couch potato to lifting 60kg in the gym or running 12 miles overnight. You’ll only end up disappointed with your progress or with a massive injury if you go too big too soon. Set small, manageable goals at first – even if you used to do so much more – a 30min walk outside, a 10min stretching session at the gym, booking in for one gym class in the week. Give yourself chance to do well and catch the bug first, because once you’ve caught that bug you’re IN!
So, charge your Fitbit, start recording calories (even if you go over), book into a class (even if you cancel) – you won’t realise but every step no matter if it’s a ‘fail’ or not, is getting your mindset closer and closer to that fitness goal.
Even just reading this post means you’ve got something sparking in that noggin of yours – pick one point and follow it tomorrow. And if you make a mistake, have a glass of water and start fresh the next day. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and we’re doing it to make ourselves the healthiest we can be, not just the slimmest – always keep that in mind.