Celebrate the end of exams with a bang!
Flash forward to January 1st 2020, will your New Year’s resolution sound like...
this year, I will go to the gym?
It’s okay, we’ve all been there (and probably more than once).
I know it seems too early to be harping about goals for the new year, but hear me out. If you want to incorporate exercise into your routine, the best time to start IS NOT January.
Personally, I roll into the new year still recovering from the food and alcohol I’ve consumed, so the last thing I want to do is challenge myself to a new fitness regime.
So here is my proposal… START NOW.
We’re starting to come out of winter, it’s a little lighter in the mornings and it's not the hectic exam period. Spend the next couple of months getting into a routine, and by study break and people tell you to “exercise to relieve stress,” you won’t look at them like they’re crazy.
Better yet, when it's January 2020, you can ease your post-holiday body back into a routine, which is a million times easier than starting new.
If I’ve managed to convince you so far, here are a couple of tips to get started:
1. Find the type of exercise you enjoy!
Everyone will have preferences for what exercises they like. There are SO many ways you can move your body and improve your fitness – whether that be running, group fitness, pilates, swimming, yoga, spin, weight-training or even a traditional sport.
It can be daunting at first, so give a couple of things a go. If you played netball back in high school, see if there is a social team you can join through uni. Or do free trials at different gyms around you, and figure out whether a membership is worth the money. There are also heaps of free workout videos on Youtube you can do in the comfort of your own living room.
When you’re trying out a bunch of new things, it is really important to persevere and think about why you like or don’t like it. Ask yourself these KEY questions to evaluate whether it's for you.
- Did I enjoy it? (if the answer is no, move onto question 2)
- Did I not enjoy it simply because it was challenging?
Exercise is meant to be a little uncomfortable and challenging, so try things out a few times before you move on. And maybe even come back to it later on.
A wee personal anecdote – I maintained for years that I didn’t like cycling/spin, but I went to a few classes at Les Mills, and now I’ve been going to that same class every Sunday evening for almost eight months straight!
2. Start with a realistic goal
It's tempting to say you’ll start exercising 5 times a week, but in reality you’ll probably be sore for half of those days. There’s no point in going from zero to a hundred, so be realistic!
It is far more motivating to achieve a small goal and build from there, rather than falling at the first hurdle, saying f*** it, and giving up on exercise for another year.
Also, reward yourself when you do achieve a goal – new workout clothes are always a great incentive (Lululemon leggings, I’m looking at you), or treat yourself to lunch.
3. Eat the ‘right’ food
Did you really think I was going to make a whole post and not mention eating or food?
The truth is, there is nothing revolutionary about the way you should eat before or after a regular workout. Here are some tips that YOU definitely need to know:
- Most people prefer eating something heavier in carbohydrates the hour or two before a workout, and maybe something with a little more protein afterward, but unless you’re a hard-core athlete doing multiple training sessions a day, it isn’t something I would stress too much about.
- If you’re participating in an endurance event (like a marathon), carbohydrate loading is an effective way to enhance your performance.
- You don’t need to spend money on protein powders or any other supplements for that matter. For one, your body doesn’t require protein immediately post-workout, usually the next meal you have in the day is sufficient to refuel.
- If you’re hungry or on-the-go, a handful of nuts, a boiled egg or some peanut butter on crackers are all perfectly good sources of protein. If you do want to use protein powder, you could add it to a smoothie or incorporate it into oats, or baking!
- And finally, fluid. There’s not much to say other than plain water is the best choice. Don’t listen to advertisements about sports drinks “replenishing electrolytes”, because you can get the same electrolytes from the food you eat, without all the sugar and food colouring.
Easy Blueberry Pancakes - no protein powder required!
1/2 C rolled oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1/4 C milk
2 tbsp honey
Handful of frozen blueberries
Yogurt, berries etc. to serve
1. Combine dry ingredients in a food processor, and blitz until everything is ground up. You can also add chia seeds or flaxseeds here if you want to make this vegan and omit the egg.
2. Whisk together egg, milk and honey, then stir in dry mixture. Mix until smooth, then fold in blueberries.
3. Heat oil in a non-stick pan, and add spoonfuls of batter; you can make lots of mini pancakes or 2-3 bigger ones.
4. Serve with yogurt, a sprinkle of seeds and any other toppings that you like.
Overall, what you eat really depends on what feels good to you. Just because you start exercising doesn’t mean you have to overhaul your diet – there are a lot more benefits to exercise that aren’t based on weight loss or physical appearance.
While I’m a huge advocate for eating well and nourishing your body, I think it's important to address that everybody’s fitness goals are different.
You don’t have to aspire to be lean or shredded in order to go to the gym, you don’t have to lift heavy weights or run marathons if you don’t want to.