My relationship with my health & fitness over time has been a bit of a rollercoaster. It’s been a very twisty-turny journey and more often than not, this rollercoaster was more one that was continuously malfunctioning and struggling to get off the ground. This comes to mind because yesterday, I was demonstrating to Levi how I did a jumping spit squat with a plate and that it was such a killer workout that he should definitely try out. Shortly after, he left to go and hit a bit of chest in the gym. It brought me back to the days of uni when we would struggle to even fit one workout in a week (despite all the time that we had), back then I was a cardio bunny that was actually afraid of the treadmill (the thought of the gym back then made me feel physically sick), and Levi would jump around the gym doing anything and everything that came to mind.
I must say, it still surprises me sometimes that I made the decision back in summer 2017 to prioritise my health and fitness and over a year later… I’ve actually stuck to it. Even crazier than that – I kind of… like it. The gym has become my therapy, and when I eat good, I feel great. Back when I was first starting out in this journey, I’d have a lot of upturned noses shot my way as people asked me how long I was going to keep up this “gym thing”. And am I really still going to the gym, even though my summer holiday to Greece is over? These days, the questions I get are more around motivation. And I get it – because for me, finding motivation was always the hardest thing. So, I thought I’d whip together a few quick tips on how to kickstart a health and fitness journey… and actually stick with it!
You guys know – I’m an advocate for sustainability. In the past, this wasn’t quite the case (and probably explains why I dreaded my so called “health & fitness” journeys so much in the past). I had always been all about quick fixes: cutting my calories, skipping meals, cutting out/down vital macronutrients; I didn’t really care for long term changes and I always wondered “is this really what I have to do… forever?” This time around, I had to get my mindset right. I wanted to do things the healthy way, and I wanted to do things such that I could keep up the lifestyle over the long term. For that, I also needed to learn patience (something I’m still practicing every day). I learned to enjoy the journey to my goal, rather than wanting to transport myself straight to the finish line. Plus, getting your mindset right means you do better for your body. It’s easy to not really care because for example, you’re young and have no physical health problems whatsoever; but that sh*t can indeed catch up with you over time.
It’s not always easy to roll out of bed and make it to the gym. Sometimes my motivation can be in negative territory. However I can say, for the most part, I really do enjoy working out. You know what they say – it’s genuinely hard to regret a workout, even if it’s not a great one. Our bodies are programmed to feel good after some physical activity such as a workout (endorophins, ya’ll), so it makes sense to want to chase that high. That said – you need to find what works for you. When I was going to the gym and doing 45 minutes to an hour of all different variations of a cross trainer – it’s fair to say, I really didn’t enjoy it. Pulling myself out of bed and to the gym just seemed oh so very bleak, knowing that was all that was in store for me. This time around, I figured out that weight training totally works for me. Actually, a lot of the time I can’t wait to get in a good workout when I know what I’m going to be doing. People make weight training seem like the holy shrine when it comes to working out – and although I love it it’s not by force. Maybe your thing is yoga, body weight training or maybe you genuinely do enjoy a good cardio workout – it’s all about finding what works for you.
I’ve never really cared much for nutrition, as I said above I was always looking for quick fixes and often that meant not really eating much at all. When I started on my health & fitness journey it took a while for me to add in the element of nutrition, I was still sort of eating the same way, perhaps just with slightly reduced carbs (I thought they were evil). It was after doing a full medical screening this time last year that I realised I had to do better by my body. I downloaded My Fitness Pal, and for the first time ever I started tracking my calories and macros. Through that, I learned so much more about how to have a better, balanced diet and actually every few months I like to review how I’m eating and what I can do to eat better. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not the most healthy eater ever. It’s rare that you’ll ever catch me eating just a salad at lunch, and today as I write this (I’ve been hungover), I’ve had a McD’s breakfast, plate of soy wings and way to many sweet drinks to my name. But what I can say is that I eat fairly balanced: some good carbs, protein and veg – that’s typically what my meals consist of. In terms of tracking – it’s something I would recommend trying but not getting too obsessed about. It was a good way for me to learn about what I was eating, and I still do track sometimes, but if you get too obsessed with it the likelihood that you’ll drive yourself crazy and be maybe too restrictive is definitely high.
What I love about working out specifically is that usually input = output, and there are no frills around it. But, it requires consistency and a whole lot of discipline. Back when I used to try to go the gym I would probably reach a 60% effort level. Not to say that now every time I work out I’m on 100, but more often than not, I’m giving it my all and pushing myself to my limit. In the earlier days to getting on a consistent health & fitness routine I think discipline is more key than ever as it’s yet to become a habit. So – get organised. Make yourself a plan (or better yet – purchase a plan to get things kicked off), make every effort to make it to the gym when you’ve planned to, stay disciplined and give it 100%. Eventually, it’ll become a lot more effortless to eat better and workout, but you need to first take the initial plunge. I’m a lot more laid back when it comes to my training these days, I decide what I’m doing in the gym just before I get to the gym and if I miss a day of training I really don’t beat myself up about it, but I had to be a lot more stringent in the earlier days to make sure it wasn’t another repeat situation of barely managing to get things off the ground.
When I was first, first starting out with daily workouts, the initial adrenaline of wanting to actually get in shape is what pushed me out of bed every morning. I also followed a ton of Instagram “fitness models” at the time too which acted as a constant reminder for me to keep pushing. The third thing that kept me motivated/accountable is that I had recently won 10 free [Psycle] classes – the classes actually expire after some time if you don’t use them, plus, I announced on my social media that I was attempting to do 10×10 weeks of Psycle, which was another source of accountability. A little later down the line, I also purchased my first guide – again, putting money on something makes it less likely that you’ll let it go to waste. Once I had moved onto gym-based workouts, I was working out often with Levi, so we could keep eachother accountable that way. Essentially – find a way to stay accountable, and find something that can motivate you. These days, I’m still following a bunch of fitness influencers and it motivates me when they post up a new workout that I think would be fun to try. Also – results can be pretty motivating too!