Would you like to tick the ‘works out regularly’ box but do not want to die in the process?
This time of year, there’s an absolute glut of health and fitness advice. Headlines and hashtags (#gohardorgohome/#nopainnogain) tell us that if we want it (being fitter) bad enough, we’re going to have to damn near kill ourselves to achieve it! In summation, don’t even bother if you’re feeling blasé about it.
We begin in earnest, start strong, then just…kind of… stop…
Because it’s too hard to sustain!
There is another way.
It is possible to work out and not pass out, because I’ve done it… for almost 10 years now.
Simply, I will let you in on what I do that works.
By ‘works’ I mean, yields a person who is fitter, leaner, stronger, has almost in exhaustible energy and feels balanced (most of the time).
The term ‘health and fitness’ is such a broad topic with many potential pitfalls, so let me just clarify that the purpose of this post is to point towards the possibility of a healthier you, long term by a means that you actually enjoy.
Disclaimer: if you love going hell-for-leather in the gym, more power to you… seriously, you have my respect, I’m just not cut out for enjoying it regularly and I’m hazarding a guess, I’m not alone.
It began with walking… (in all weathers!)
… yep just walking…for an hour at a time, with a heart rate monitor, in my fat burning zone.
No kidding, it was so easy.
Let’s break it down.
This book is really where it all began and without going into lots of detail, if you want to know more I’d just recommend you get the book
. It’s where a fundamental shift for me took place about the ‘why’ of needing to get our bodies moving every day. I both bought and began implementing it early 30’s… it’s never to early to start!
For an hour…Why an hour? The book explains, but in short, it’s about working out at a lower intensity, for longer. So you don’t ‘die’, don’t return home red-faced and exhausted and ultimately, enjoy the process a lot more!
With a heart rate monitor.
This one piece of kit revolutionised my workouts after reading about the benefits of using in the book. One strap goes just under your chest, the ‘watch’ on your wrist and you’re instantly hooked up to exactly what your heart is doing whilst you’re working out. It’s a must because you’ll need to know if you’re in the zone… the fat-burning zone.
In my fat burning zone.
FACT: You will be surprised how low this zone is.
Ït’s the lowest form of cardio.
You’ll wonder if you’re doing any good – you’ll possibly not even break into a sweat.
It will be a fast walk to start with. As you get fitter you may need to break into a light trot, or run now-and-then to get into your zone but then you can revert to walking again.
Yes, these days I do run. I can run for an hour no problems, I can shin up the moors as fast as you like. A bit like a V8 engine – it’s in the bag if I choose to use it.
Zones are addressed and explained in the book or you can Google.
My trainer of choice for the past 9 years is MBT’s (I know, aren’t they just h-o-t!). These rocker-sole type trainers make fast walking so much more easier than regular trainers, you wouldn’t believe. My latest pair I bought here
. Yes they are an investment but being Goretex can withstand all weathers and will last me till I wear them out. I’ve never had a back complaint or pulled anything whilst running in these… Ever.
Whilst we’re on apparel, if like me, you don’t like getting cold, wear your coat! The photo’s I showed at the front end are me in my feather, below-the-knee, sleeping-bag of a coat. Ain’t nobody want to go out and get cold – it’s enough to make you quit right there!
After a while, I Introduced yoga (on DVD)
Getting outdoors is pure soul food and I have run in all weathers but sometimes it’s just so bad you don’t want to be outdoors. After a year-or-so of the walking, I picked up yoga that I’d discovered during pregnancy, enjoyed, and said I’d do again in the future.
Yoga is amazing for core strength and toning.
Using DVD’s at home means you can work out when you like i.e., it’s bespoke to your week.
The DVD’s I use are by Rodney Yee and vary which I choose depending on the duration I want to work out for, or the type of workout (some are fast moving, others, much slower stretches).
Stick at it for 5 Years
Power-walking/running/climbing Ilkley Moor (basically what ever was enough to keep me in that fat-burning zone), and Yoga were my staple exercise for about five years.
It worked because it didn’t feel like a work out.
It worked because at a time of going through personal hell, it felt like going for long walks rather than subjecting ones self to more pain.
It worked because it didn’t require any thinking about.
And on days when it was an ‘I ought to’ rather than ‘I want to’.. I told myself that not once had I been out and regretted it… that was my trump card and out of the door I’d go.
(I only tell you that because there’s never an ideal time to start these things and we’ll find all the excuses in the world some times).
On any day the weather was foul, it was a session of yoga… which despite how easy it looks it requires such strength and balance!
Butt… Butt… Butt!
Three years ago I naturally began to put more weight on and so as to avoid the glutes going South decided 200 butt lifts per night would suffice (all fours lifting a leg up into the air at right angles behind you, 25 each leg then swap).
Some days I do squats instead.
This takes about 3 minutes, it works and these days I aim for 4/5 times per week.
Whilst Yoga has been absolutely sufficient in the past for my upper body strength and toning, I had been choosing cardio over yoga more frequently throughout the summer. That combined with about 5lbs weight gain meant I could see the arms were looking a little soft round the edges so decided to introduce 10 reps of 10 different arm exercises, three times a week. Again, it’s just small adjustments that do not require a big session but 5 minutes in the day.
Last month, after too many days of rain and seriously missing getting outdoors to get my cardio in, I stumbled across the idea of an indoor bike.
It’s foldable, lightweight and has already paid for itself numerous times over (I got it online here
). Using with the heart-rate monitor means I’m still working out in my desired zone and I have to say – I love it for the flexibility it gives.
It even has a slot for iPads so I can work at the same time!
That’s it – that’s what works for me.
This is only one half of the equation (the other being ‘diet’).
And yes, my quest began all those years ago as a means to an end – to keep the weight off, but it’s not the reason I work out now nor has it been for a long time.
The more you see the benefits to every area of your life, the more that is reward enough.
Find an exercise you like – walking is the simplest!
Set yourself a number of sessions per week you want to aim for then keep a record.
You need to keep a record (I use a free calendar I receive annually) and just mark all the little things you do… if you don’t you’ll forget.
Your life needs you well.
It needs you fit and healthy. You absolutely owe noone an apology for time spent looking after yourself.
I have been just over 8 and a half stone and I have been 11 and a half stone.
I have known falling asleep at 3pm on the train – now I’m not even tired come bedtime.
The benefits of sticking to a regime are immense… just begin.
This has felt like an epic post, I hope it helps someone – there’s more I’d say but it’s already long enough! ~ OX