Get back to fitness

Are your New Year resolutions a distant memory? Has your self-esteem plummeted? Tricia Wanjala sets out eight simple steps to get you back on the right track…

FitnessMany of us began the New Year with solid fitness resolutions. We paid for gym memberships, workout DVDs and the latest exercise gear. Perhaps you purchased home workout equipment? Or signed up for a fitness challenge on social media to get yourself motivated?

A few months into 2015, the equipment lies in storage and the memberships are mostly unused. We quietly fell off the wagon and remain in a state of embarrassed inertia. We will start back tomorrow. Better still, we will start on Monday.

The good news is, you can kick this inertia and get your fitness groove back! Stop the guilt.
It is counterproductive to beat yourself up. Drifting away from your good habits does not define who you are. Remember that successful people fail more times than others try. They know that failure is part of success, so they just keep trying.

1 Choose compassion
Analyse your routine and pinpoint why you drifted away from your regular workouts. Perhaps it was a change in circumstances. Did you relocate or start travelling more for work? Perhaps it was an injury? An illness? A divorce? A new baby or a demanding job? Acknowledge these changes, and figure out how to adapt and rearrange your scheduling.

2 Renew your energy
Chronic sleep deprivation and exhaustion are not conducive to exercise. If you are sleeping less than six hours a night, it is not advisable to train. Instead, get medical attention or change your lifestyle to improve your sleep. When you allow yourself time to recover, your body will signal a desire to return to exercise.

3 Engineer your environment
What can you implement as a fitness trigger? Some people sleep in their exercise gear to force them to get up and work out. Others pack their gym bag and keep it in the car. Others place a skipping rope or running shoes at their front door. Some programme workout music as their alarm clock.

4 Focus on what you CAN do
Wishes and realities are two different things. You may want to attend boot camp classes or go hiking two hours away but that may currently be impossible. 20-minute home workouts three times a week will yield more results than fantasising about schlepping across the city to your favourite fitness club. When travelling, carry basic equipment like a skipping rope,
running shoes or swimsuit. Use your hotel room, running track or gym. Being adaptable will help you stay active regardless of life’s changes.

5 Beware of vicarious fitness
Social media can be a trap. Spending hours surfing the net reading fitness posts and updates is not a substitute for actually working out. As Fitness Instructor Nathan Reed says, “Get off Facebook and do some squats!”

6 Make yourself accountable
‘I must’ exercise is a stronger psychological push than ‘I should’ exercise. You can mark the dates you manage to exercise on a calendar. Soon you will have a long unbroken chain of checkmarks, which will serve as positive reinforcement. You could also enlist an accountability buddy to check in on you.

7 Start small
James Clear, author of Transform Your Habits, The Science of How to Stick to Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, advises to start slowly with just ten press-ups a day instead of 50. When you commit to doing a little bit every day, you are much more likely to stick to it. In turn, you will feel proud, not guilty.

8 Get professional help
If you have tried unsuccessfully to find a fitness routine that works for you, hire a Personal Trainer. They are not cheap but being unfit and ill is much more expensive. Ask for recommendations and shop around for a good fit. Fitness is a bit like cutting your own hair – you can do it yourself, but the results with a professional are much better.

“Find ways in your everyday life to get more active. Instead of the elevator, take the stairs. Instead of short drives, walk. Stand – don’t sit. Make being fit an active part of your everyday consciousness. Secondly, build exercise into your daily routine so that doing it is part of your plan, not something easily avoided. Thirdly, make exercise fun, challenging and social.”
Nathan Reed, Level 2 CrossFit Trainer