Get Fitter & Healthier During Lockdown!
Another day in paradise. Sorry, lockdown! The gyms are still closed, leisure centres too, but that’s no excuse for not being active. The government has lifted the exercise rules, so we can now get out for unlimited physical activity. For some, this has been a daily routine, but for others, this may be something completely new and perhaps daunting.
We’ve all heard that exercise is good for us, but what are some of the interesting benefits of it?
Regular exercise helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, two major risk factors for heart disease. If you’re someone that is carrying a little extra weight, then you may be at a higher risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Did you know, exercising three times per week for 45 minutes can prevent the signs of aging both physically and in appearance?
You use 200 muscles when you take one step forward!
Cardiovascular exercise helps create new brain cells. This enhances brainpower and brain activity.
Exercise improves your mood and mental health.
So where do we start?
Well thankfully, to get fit and lose fat we don’t need a gym or even any equipment; we can optimise a small space indoors or better yet, get outside!
Step One: Goal setting
What is your goal? The first step in any successful weight loss/exercise plan is to establish your goal, your WHY. You want to get in better shape and be more active, but why? That’s something only you can answer. Some examples I hear from my clients which you may relate to are:
“I’ve gained too much weight since lockdown; I don’t know how to get back on track.”
“I struggle with energy levels and simple tasks because of my poor fitness.”
“I want to be able to look good for summer and fit into my nice clothes.”
For whatever reason you think of, it has to be specific to YOU. Take a moment to write down your goal. Remember to keep it realistic, if your goal is too big then break it down into smaller, manageable goals.
Step Two: Plan of action
“A goal without a plan is just a wish!”
So now you have your goal written down, great, let’s make the plan!
To lose weight and see a difference physically and mentally, you will need a few things to get started.
Scales at home (these aren’t essential but it will be a valid way of tracking your weight regularly). Sometimes we think we haven’t lost weight because we can’t see it, but stepping on the scales may say otherwise.
Tracking app for food, weight, and exercise. My recommendation is ‘My Fitness Pal’. It’s completely FREE although it can push you to upgrade to premium which isn’t necessary. On the app, you can set your daily calorie goals based on activity levels. Record your food with their huge database of foods and branded foods. Track your weight weekly and add your exercise. Remember that to lose weight, we need to eat fewer calories than we use per day. For example, person A burns 2500kcal per day, but they want to lose weight, they eat only 2200kcal and lose 0.5/1kg per week.
Appropriate clothing including trainers and sportswear (T-shirts, shorts, leggings). None of these need to be a designer label and expensive, and you may already own everything. As long as it’s comfortable and practical, you’re good to go.
Food scales to weigh your food. How can you track what you eat if you don’t know how much of it you ate? Invest in digital food scales that will only set you back £5-15 for adequate ones. A fun game to try is to serve breakfast cereal in a portion you would normally have and compare it to the cereal’s actual serving size. You may be unpleasantly surprised!
Step Three: Food
Most of my clients and even myself at one point believed that there are ‘Quick Fixes’ to getting in shape. A diet pill that would see you drop weight whilst you did nothing. Great! A diet shake that replaces your meals but guaranteed rapid fat loss. Amazing! Ab-trainer belts that would give you a chiselled six-pack in just days even if you’re 20kg overweight. Brilliant!
By now you may have realised I’m being facetious, but maybe you too have tried some of these things and realised you just wasted a lot of money.
The logical and right way to lose weight is to eat wholesome, fresh foods. Simple! A quick way to remember this is to think of how that food was made. If it’s come straight from source (the ground, plant, tree or animal etc.) then it’s a great food choice. Anything else is ‘processed’, and these are foods we must try to avoid due to the added ingredients such as sweeteners and additives that actually make us crave more food! Think about it, how hard is it to resist a second piece of chocolate… but how easy is it to resist another chicken breast and salad.
When you go food shopping you should look to pack your trolley with fresh vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, salad, and spinach are some of the best nutrient-packed vegetables. Fruit is okay within reason; it certainly has its qualities but can also be loaded with a lot of natural sugars which can prevent you from losing weight. For example, a client had got into a rut because they weren’t losing weight. We quickly discovered it was because they were consuming a whole punnet of grapes each day on top of other fruits which added too many sugars (carbohydrates) and calories into their daily intake. I recommend one serving of fruit per day.
Additionally, try to load up with good quality carbohydrate sources. If you’re a sucker for bread, try Danish bread. It tastes the same but is much lower in carbs and calories than standard-sized white bread. Other great sources of carbohydrates are; sweet potato, rice, quinoa, and oats.
Sources of fat you may be looking to add to your shopping list may include, extra-virgin olive oil (packed full of good cholesterol and nutrients). Eggs and nuts such as almonds are a great source of fat. If like me, you love peanut butter, try to get the healthiest one within your budget.
Last but definitely not least, protein! This is important in everyone’s diet. Protein is responsible for the growth and repair of tissue, especially muscle. Not only that, but a high protein diet has also been linked with fat loss. Great sources of protein are:
Poultry (Chicken and Turkey)
Low Fat Mozzarella
Get familiar with reading food labels, checking for calories per serving, carbohydrates (especially of which sugars), fats (definitely avoid saturated fats), and protein.
Step Four: Moving more!
Now that you have everything to get started, you just need to choose your physical activity. Some people hear the word ‘exercise’ and panic because not everyone has a good relationship with exercise.
To lose weight, you need to follow two simple rules:
1. Eat less calories than your body needs (calorie deficit)
2. Move more. This could be anything from an hour gardening, a long dog walk or a leisurely bike ride. Be creative, it doesn’t have to be ‘exercise’ to be active.
Listening to your favourite music can improve the quality of physical activity by 15%! Or better yet, the activity could be dancing to the music. A solid 30 minutes of dancing with music will see you burn through calories and leave you feeling great (and a little sweaty).
Maybe you have difficulty sleeping? Whether that’s getting to sleep or staying asleep, exercising regularly will help clear your mind and leave you feeling relaxed as you have made your body tired from physical activity. Furthermore, getting outside and active will give you your daily dose of vitamin D from natural sunlight. Important? YES! Did you know that a hormone called melatonin regulates our sleep pattern and helps us get to sleep? The exposure of sun will increase your melatonin production leading to you getting to sleep much easier, and staying asleep!
Tip: Too much time in front of screens and artificial light inhibits the melatonin production and prevents us having a good night’s sleep.
One of the coolest perks of exercise is that it keeps your metabolism elevated even after your ‘workout’, and continues to burn more calories even at rest, win, win!
Take out your notepad again, start writing down ideas that come to mind that are considered physical activity/exercise. These have to be things you can or would actually do. Now that you have a few ideas, write down when and where you can do them. For example, circuit exercises every weekday in your garden or living room, or cycling three times per week outside.
Make the activity enjoyable and realistic. If you want to start jogging/running then you have to build up to it. I would recommend the first session be a one-mile distance where you walk for one minute and jog for 20 seconds and keep repeating. This will give you a feel from jogging without overdoing it straight away leaving you with injuries like shin splints. When you are comfortable and that gets easy, extend the distance or the period you are jogging.
Be open to trying new things and exploring what’s available to you. Optimise the Internet for ideas and even YouTube for some quick workouts. At the start of lockdown, I created some home workouts varying from beginner to advanced, and even a glute workout for people looking to build their ‘booty’ since we are sat on them so much lately.
I have made these workouts completely FREE for anyone, just follow the description and enter the discount code on checkout for a 100% discount!
In addition, I am looking to speak to individuals who are committed to their weight loss but have struggled in the past. Perhaps the weight has been a yo-yo up and down or you can’t figure out what works for you. I want to chat and see how I could help, so feel free to contact me through my site and let me know your story.
Remember to track your progress and recognise where you’re going right and wrong. Don’t be afraid of failure and make healthy living a habit, not a quick fix.