So you’ve made the declaration: ‘it’s time for me to get fit & healthy!!!’.
You’ve said to yourself in the mirror. To your partner, your mum, your best friend.
You’ve thrown out (or eaten the last of) every crisp, biscuit, piece of chocolate in the house and written a shopping list consisting of 0 calorie jelly, carb free noodles and every vegetable you can think of.
You’ve signed up to your local leisure centre, booked in your initiation and been talked through how to safely board and unboard the treadmill.
Or hell, maybe you did yourself a good turn and signed up to MPWR Online ;)
But now what?
This isn’t the first time you’ve tried to initiate a dramatic lifestyle change. But while they seemed like a great idea at the time, the diet books and workout DVDs are now gathering dust under the bed (or in your internet browsing history if you’re a millennial) and somewhere along the line you got back to square one.
But now your intentions are really here, you REALLY want to make this commitment for the last time. You’re SET on transforming your life once and for all.
And you CAN. I promise.
It might just look a little different to what you’ve imagined.
But it should FEEL a whole lot easier, more enjoyable and more comfortable…
Focus on the feeling
When you say you want to ‘get fit and healthy’, what do you mean?
Do you mean you’ve decided to do whatever it takes to squeeze back into the dress you could wear 5 years ago but no longer goes over your hips?
Or do you mean you’ve committed to caring for your body AND your mind a little better, in order to serve your overall health and HAPPINESS.
Hint: OPT FOR THE SECOND ONE.
Because the first one RARELY has any long term gain. Despite popular belief (and what Weight Watchers, Slimming World and every other diet brand that cares ONLY about your money and not your health, would have you believe), it’s highly unlikely that a ‘fitness’ journey revolving entirely on weight loss will have a long term positive impact on your life and your health - and in fact - is far MORE likely to have negative repercussions - both physically and mentally.
Ditching the scales, aiming to do less mirror checking, and instead tuning in to how you’re feeling - more energised? Happier? More powerful? Stronger? More confident? More open? More mobile? - will help you make choices that will enrich your life and bring you actual enjoyment, therefore leading you into a positive cycle of motivation that has WAY more staying power.
Makes sense, but easier said than done right? Because letting go of that aesthetic change is scary. The whole damn world is making you feel like you need to look a certain way, but I PROMISE you - at one point or another - you’re going to realise that a smaller waist or perkier bum is NEVER worth more than your happiness and your freedom! I’m not saying the aesthetic changes won’t happen - they may well - but at least you won’t have sacrificed anything to get them - only gained!
Enjoyment is key
But running DOESN’T make me feel good.
I get it. Me neither. I hate it.
So I don’t run. I don’t even have a gym membership guys! I’ve found my flow in exercise I enjoy. And you can too! I know it’s hard, and exercise isn’t something that we all naturally jump out of bed for, but I promise you, there IS movement out there that will make you feel good.
It might take a little while to find. And there may be some other feelings to work through (self-consciousness and a lack of confidence can often trick us into feeling like we don’t enjoy something), but your body was LITERALLY made to move, so take the pressure off and start with something that sounds easy and appealing - walking goes a long way!!
PS. No judgement if you do love running. Props to you, keep going!
This applies to eating too. There are SO many ways to give your body the nutrients it needs and I promise you, eating nothing but cardboard and kale isn’t even one of them. Finding a balanced diet that brings you nourishment AND pleasure is the only way you’re going to keep it going!
It’s the oldest story in the book: the Hare and the trusty old Tortoise. But it’s so bloomin true! Those ‘30 day challenges’ where you whack out a HIIT workout every day whilst cutting your calorie intake in half, sound like a great idea for ‘kick starting’ your shiny new lifestyle: you have visions of emerging from the other side like a bond girl emerging from the ocean and staying that way for the rest of your life. BUT the far more likely reality is that you burn out, get injured or start hating your life after week 1 and give up for good - falling into a pit of shame and doom that actually has nothing to do with your ‘will power’ and everything to do with society’s ludicrous expectations.
The far less shiny but simpler way forward is to aim for small, incremental, achievable goals, which focus on making minor tweaks to your habits, that over time, will accumulate into a sustainable happier, healthier life!
Workouts don’t have to be an hour long, 5 days a week and every meal doesn’t need to be entirely constructed from whole grains, lean protein and leafy greens. This approach is incredibly elitist and is likely to work only for the Insta celebs that have no other responsibilities and can afford a personal nutritionist and chef to take care of their dietary needs.
You have a life. And that is MORE than OK! Fitness and wellbeing doesn't have to BECOME your life to be effective - just one of many parts of it! Do the best you can, with what you’ve got and build it up over time, working to find that happy balance between caring for yourself and having the freedom to do what the hell you want!
Finding this balance will take time, and it will CHANGE over time, with your lifestyle. Again, this is completely fine! Dear old Darwin taught us that the most successful species is the one that can adapt to their surroundings, so take a leaf from your ancestors and let your fitness and wellbeing regime be flexible to fit around the rest of your life - it will be most effective if you use it to SUPPORT your life, rather than shoe-horning it in as just ANOTHER thing to stress about.
The key to this is ‘intuition’. I know this concept can sound a little woo-woo but it’s important to work on listening to your body, assessing what it needs day to day, so you can work out how to best serve it. As we said before, a routine that’s too strict can lead to burn out and fatigue - making it feel like a wagon that you could fall off at any time! Instead, recognise your fitness & wellbeing as a fluid aspect of your life that will sometimes be more prevalent than others. This way you can never ‘fall off’!
Most of all guys be KIND. Cut yourself some slack and try to appraoch this change with self-compassion and love! ‘Health’ has many many aspects and determinants, only a few are within our control and you don’t need to be at PEAK health to be ‘healthy’. Do your best, take your time and - whatever the magazines say - don’t stop living your life for the sake of a body like J Lo! I think you rock just how you are!
Love, M x