How to keep that 2016 fit & healthy dream alive
So… about that gym membership you signed up to – how’s it all going? Are you still hitting the gym and pounding the pavement three or four times a week like you drunkenly swore you would on New Year’s Eve?
Have you been putting in the hours of sweat and toil in a bid to hone that winning, beautiful 2016 body you lust for so badly? Oh, and how about cutting out the junk – are cream cakes, sweets and treats a thing of the past?
No? Well if it makes you feel any better, us neither.
The New Year’s goal of achieving Greek God or Goddess athleticism and a beach body fit for a slinky bikini or some winning tight shorts, à la Cristiano Ronaldo, is easy to aim for, but the everyday reality of putting in the hard work to get there can come as an unpleasant shock. It’s the old destination versus journey dilemma. When this happens – when we realise the true scale of the sacrifices we have to make to achieve a buff body – our motivation can simply disappear in a puff of smoke.
It’s not easy sticking to a new healthier living regime when you find out that, actually, it’s going to be really, really tough. But it can be done!
If you’re eating a sausage roll and wondering how you’re going to climb back onto the healthy living wagon (if you ever climbed onto it in the first place), this is for you.
If you’ve already paid, actually go to the gym
You’ve paid for it now, and if you’ve signed up to a fixed-length gym contract somewhere, you’ll continue paying for it for a fair old while. So rather than waste the money like everybody else, just go – don’t think about it, just do it.
Many first time gym-goers avoid the gym out of fear and misconceptions about what the gym is like – overcoming this is the first step. The thing is, while Facebook is awash with toned and rippling-muscled gym selfies, not everybody at your gym will look like that. Many of them will be unhealthy, uncomfortable, red-faced and sweating, just like you. . Your lack of athletic grace and poise will be a problem shared. And about those guys and gals who are beautiful and perfectly sculpted, don’t worry that they are watching and judging you – they won’t be. Those gym selfies aren’t going to take themselves.
You might have your feet up, ready to open that bag of Doritos and flick on the telly at the time of reading this – don’t. Get to the gym. And don’t forget your padlock!
If you’ve not yet joined a gym, do it – and choose one nearby
Whatever your initial thoughts on joining the gym-going hoards are, be rest assured that it will be an integral part of your new fitness plan. The equipment on offer, opportunities for classes and coaching, and the sheer motivational boost that a trip to the gym provides make all the difference. And as far as finding the money for gym membership goes, different gyms offer prices for all budgets. It would be strongly recommended to take advantage of free trials so you can get a feel for what different gyms are like before parting with your money.
As an off-the-cuff recommendation, The Gym chain of gyms can be found across the length and breadth of the country. Membership there is super cheap too, and the rolling contract means you can cancel your membership whenever you want – click here to find out more.
The one bit of advice we would offer when choosing a gym is to join a gym nearby – it’s all but guaranteed that if you pick a gym which is three bus journeys and five miles away, you won’t make it beyond a week. Never will doing the washing up look so appealing.
Go to the gym or exercise with a friend
We humans are competitive beasts, always eager to get one over on each other – it’s pure Darwinism. So why not take advantage of our deeply buried competitive spirit by going to the gym with a friend. As any seasoned gym-goer, fitness fanatic or athlete will tell you, having someone to share the pain with, and push yourself against will see you go faster and harder for longer than you would on your own.
It’s the best when you last that little bit longer on the bike or treadmill than your pal, push a little more weight, and get ahead by that extra length when you swim – on the flipside, nothing acts as better motivation to improve than when your smirking gym friend gets the better of you. If you want something which is more friendly and collaborative though, it doesn’t have to all be about one-upmanship and shame – gentle motivation works great too.
As a final note, if your gym friend gets all flakey and starts bailing, ditch them fast – speaking from experience, it’s not worth it.
What passes the lips stays on the hips… remember this
If you’re anything like us, you love food in all its glory. This is why it’s so painful to write this, but there is some truth behind the old saying that getting fit and strong is 80% diet, 20% exercise.
Now this isn’t a cast-iron rule – there are variables which mean that even those consuming thousands of calories can still be in great shape, so long as they are putting in hours and hours of hard exercise to burn it off. After all, professional rugby players commonly eat up to 7,000 calories per day.
But we’re not professional rugby players, and for those of us living average lives, and especially those of us working average desk jobs, we will need to change both the quantity of, and types of food we eat to make this healthy living malarkey happen.
This is a huge topic in itself, but conferring with Google and your doctor to discuss a new healthy eating plan is a good place to start – you’ll get some really great advice. And if you don’t feel you can start-up a healthy eating plan on your own, we’d advise Slimming World – a weight-loss organisation which has mastered the art of showing its members how to make really, really tasty food and still lose weight – its absolute wizardry. Visit them here to find out more about them, and where they’re based in your local area. Something that we can’t discourage enough, however, are fad diets – avoid them, they are terrible, and ultimately pointless in the long run.
Park Run – the ultimate weekly running extravaganza
How does the thought of going out running in a park on a cold Saturday morning sound? Initially it sounded like madness to us too, but upon doing it we can confirm the experience was incredible, as was the sense of achievement afterwards.
Park Run UK is a free nationwide event, held at parks and green patches up and down the UK, where runners of all abilities gather to take part in a 5km timed run – that’s 3.1 miles, in case you were wondering. Everybody from Olympians to your average Joe to the utterly unfit take part, and you’ll find participants of every age there, from barely walking to pension age.
It’ll be tough, and you’ll feel like you’re going to die if you’re not a very good runner. But afterwards the endorphin rush you’ll get will hand-on-heart be one of the most powerful experiences you’ll ever have – this is otherwise known as the ‘Runner’s High’.
We can’t recommend this enough – you can find out more about Park Run here.
Manage your expectations and be realistic about how much you can achieve, and how quickly – you’re not going to get a beach body overnight
Lastly, the key to success is coming to accept that you’re not going to get healthy, fit and buff overnight – it’ll take time and a lot of work. But stick at it and you will get there. If you’re still going after 6-months, you’ll be pretty much almost there.
So, lace up those trainers, remember your padlock and key and off you go. Glory awaits!
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