Getting Fit – it’s January, so it’s pretty hard to hide from, isn’t it?
You hear it from everyone, everywhere;
“It’s a New Year, it’ll be a New Me.”
“This is the year I’m REALLY going to do it.”
“2023 is definitely the year I finally lose weight/get fit/actually GO to the gym I joined (three years ago)/swim every single week…”
And of course, we all mean it. We really really do.
But doing it? That’s not quite so easy.
All the best will and good intentions in the world don’t make you get up off your chair and go for a run, do they?
As regular readers know, I have been, and lived with, a serious couch potato for way too many years. But then Mr LittleStuff was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, and it was exactly the kick up the bum we both needed, at exactly the right time. Over the next nine months he proceeded to lose over six stone in weight, and find the joy in exercise (and I lost three stone almost by accident, just keeping him company).
The benefits of the weight loss go so much further than he ever expected. Not only is he now no longer a diabetic, but he also no longer suffers from IBS, reflux, back pain, knee pain, sleep apnea… and of course he bounces around the house with a spring in his step, not really sure to what to do with the masses of energy he has.
So I wondered if sharing some fitness tips from a couch potato – things that worked for us – might help. And no one can say ‘yes, but..’ because we probably started from a far worse position than you’re in. Trust me.
You do not need a body beautiful to just get started.
We both had a mountain to climb – Mr LittleStuff still isn’t done, even after vanishing six-stones-worth before my eyes. And I may have dropped three dress sizes, but I’d like to drop some more yet.
So here’s our top 5 tips on making it stick:
1. Choose the fun.
Don’t for goodness sake start a running programme if you hate running. Or join a gym if the thought fills you with dread. That’s never going to work long term, is it?
Exercise is only fun if you make it so. If you love to swim, then choose swimming. If you like walking the dog – that’s a great start. Cycling after dark so no one can see you? Perfect. Join a boxing class, start Zumba or learn to Lindyhop… It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you’re moving, and smiling.
During lockdown I took up kickboxing, purely to get my teens to continue classes over Zoom. During the first session I thought I might die. I definitely did wet myself. And yet, here I am three years later, only four belts away from a black belt, whacking out press ups and sit ups and with a spinning heel kick I’m genuinely proud of. I train for three hours a week and am never happier than when I’m in class.
Find the thing you love.
2. Keep It Simple
If it’s complicated, you won’t do it. If you’re just intent on getting fit, then you don’t need an enormous amount of technical gear to get on your bike. Just… get on it.
Pump up the tyres, check your brakes work, and start moving your feet.
Exercise is the cheapest thing there is – all you have to do is move.
Wearing appropriate gear certainly helps (don’t try cross-country running in jeans. It’s not good. *cough*), but you genuinely do not have to spend a fortune – check out supermarket own-brand fitness clothes, for example. Or look for discount vouchers like a mirafit voucher code if you feel there’s equipment you need.
3. Start Small
The very thought of a cycle ride would have caused the husband palpitations when he was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes (though to be fair, a bar of choclate was enough to cause palpitations back then) – it was quite frankly far too much for his already over-strained body to handle.
But that didn’t mean he couldn’t start moving.
He began with very simple baby steps. He walked the dog every day – and then he made it a power walk, keeping himself just slightly breathless. He found reasons to go into town – and instead of jumping into the car, he walked, with a backpack to carry his shopping or post. The difference in his fitness level was visible in a very short period of time – small changes can make such huge differences, and are so much easier to just keep on doing.
4. MAKE time.
You’ll never ‘find‘ the time, there’s always something else more important to do.
So diary it, schedule it, and keep it.
Tell everyone that Friday morning you’ll be in your Yoga class. Thursday night is Boxing night. Monday afternoon you’ll be walking for an hour.
But if you don’t think you can fit exercise in every single day for the rest of your life, that’s no reason not to go for a walk today. Even 20 minutes walk a day makes a huge difference. And any activity is good activity—don’t cheat your body out of it today because you don’t think you’ll be able to do it again tomorrow, or the next day.
5. Be Patient, and keep going.
Just because you’ve just hoovered up a whole pack of biscuits, or haven’t made time to exercise for a week, does that mean you stop bothering ever again? Of course not.
One bad choice does not ruin a day.
One day off doesn’t ruin a week.
One week off doesn’t ruin a month.
Every choice you make takes you closer to or further away from your ultimate goal. Stop worrying about the fact you haven’t made it to the pool for a week, and focus on the next trip instead.