A Health and Fitness Journey

journey

Beginning on the path of improving your health and fitness is rarely if ever straight forward and easy. To expect it to be so would be setting yourself up for dissapointment.

You have to expect some hard work and effort if you are to get the results that you want to achieve. In the beginning most days you may not feel like exercising or following your healthy eating plan but do it anyway and keep doing it because it will become easier and you will eventually feel like doing it.

Achieving a good state of health and fitness is the same as any success goal, you have to push yourself, really focus and give it all you’ve got and the rewards will come. The beginning is often the toughest part and we all have to start at the beginning at some point. This is where you need the most support and encouragment so surround yourself with people who do that for you and don’t forget to do this for yourself also. Associate each exercise session with a reward of feeling good from it or a chance to meet new people, (but not a chocolate bar afterwards:)

The reason I wanted to identify the struggle in the beginning is because, when we are aware of something we can deal with it much better, as with any challenge in life. Do whatever helps you to overcome it and you will eventually feel like doing it. (Please refer to my post on exercise motivation for more on this.)

Remember though that almost everyone goes through this phase when they begin exercising so you are not alone. The super fit people you see and the instructors all had to start somewhere.

A little bit about my health and fitness journey; I wasnt one of those kids who did loads of sport at school, in fact I did little P.E at all. I began my fitness journey 13 years ago at the age of 17 when I was introduced to martial arts and started going to the gym regularly. My goals back then were fairly small, just to improve my fitness and feel good, but these gradually changed and became more defined.

I specifically remember to this day, the feelings of really having to push myself to go to a session, at this time my mind and body where not accustomed to the benefits and this took a few months to kick in. This would also happen if I were to have a break at any point. Our bodies become accustomed to that which we habitually do, so it is very important to maintain the habit as much as possible, Particuarly in the beginning.

What began to happen was that I noticed after a while I was becoming naturally more motivated and excited before my exercise sessions, getting my kit ready in advance (the day before) and planning everything around my exercise sessions.

It had become a habit and one that I loved, no two people will have exactly the same experience with health and fitness, but the process of motivation is always the same. It is tough in the beginning but if you keep at it and stick to your plan and goals you will soon become more motivated. Your goals and plans will adapt but make sure the habit sticks.

Things do come up such as holidays, illness or injury and when they do , do your best to maintain what you can and perservere through any setback. Don’t let it stop your progress to achieving your goals. As soon as you can get straight back on to your plan and then push yourself to get back in to the habit.

It is a journey to optimum health and fitness and there can be some tough points, but each and every bit is worth the effort and the more effort you put in, the more you will gain from it.

Ultimately in the beginning it is you that has to push yourself but do what you can to gather support from friends, family, a coach or trainer. Most importantly from the very beginning believe you can do it, because you can.

‘Use everything you’ve got to get to the top.’

You can have a teacher, coach or trainer and this helps a lot with motivation and guidance, but it is you that does the work and gets yourself there and you that will have the victory in the end.

I hope you find this guidance helpful, particuarly if you are new to exercise. Please contact us for further guidance, motivation and information on our exercise plans.

teacher bruce lee

Why Exercise is so Important – A Different Approach

Exercise Benefits

There is much focus today on why is exercise important – For that of improving our physical health, with the current obesity epidemic and increase in health problems such as type 2 Diabetes it is all the more important for people to become aware of why they need to exercise regularly and the benefits of doing so.

Throughout my time as health and fitness coach I have seen many people motivated to improve their health with exercise by their physical needs/ desires. Either they want to improve how they look or they have been forced to take notice of their health through a difficult health experience which has motivated them to do so.

When someone has a bad experience with their health, or their doctor tells them that they need to do something otherwise their health could deteriorate dramatically this of course is very powerful and usually enough to motivate them in to changing the habits of a lifetime.

However my desire is that people don’t have to wait for something awful to happen before they become motivated to improve their health. In addition the first common motivator that people have to improve their appearance is often not enough of motivation to be able to sustain the habit. It can be a good one, but then when immediate results are not seen or not as quick as a person would like then they become unmotivated and often give up, to then go on to repeat the cycle perhaps the next year.

I choose to take a different approach because I know that exercise is much more than just the physical benefits and that this is too often not enough to motivate someone to exercise regularly. The great thing is that when you begin to exercise you will notice immediate benefits in terms of improvement in your psychological wellbeing. You will feel more positive and energised from your first workout and this benefit will always be there for as long as you continue to exercise.

Regular exercise promotes an inner change as well as an outer change but it is always the inner change of feeling good from your workout that will come first. So if you do struggle with motivation or are motivated by purely physical ideals, I put it to you to try something different and use the the psychological/emotional benefits as your motivating force and see if you notice a difference in your desire to exercise. How many of you want to feel better or happier now? Exercising is a sure way to increase this state no matter what your situation.

As a reminder and an outline, here are some of the main psychological/ emotional benefits you can experience from your very first workout;

  • Increased energy
  • Improved Mood
  • Feeling of Wellbeing
  • Increased self – esteem
  • Increased self confidence
  • Feelings of enthusiasm
  • Feelings of accomplishment – leading to increased self development and motivation.
  • Feelings of courage and determination- increased ability to persevere and overcome obstacles
  • Focus
  • More productivity in your day
  • Increase in Concentration and improved memory
  • Improved self belief and confidence
  • Relief of stress and tension

These are some of the many benefits you will receive from exercise and when you continue to exercise regularly these benefits will increase and the physical benefits will follow. In my opinion these psychological/emotional benefits are equally as important as the physical benefits and far more motivating because they are there instantly and they continue to increase. So it is an immediate and constant reward system if you choose to focus on it.

With these immediate improvements you can notice an improvement in your relationships due to improved mood and self confidence, an improvement in your productivity at work or in study amongst others. These results alone are important enough reasons for you to exercise and you will notice this very quickly.

If you are motivated well by physical outcomes then of course this is good and use this to continue if it works well for you.

But if when your next thinking about going to the gym or doing any form of exercise and you are struggling to feel motivated, try to think about it differently in terms of these emotional reasons and benefits you will obtain from it, and see if this helps, don’t wait until your doctor tells you or your scared or feel pressured in to going.

Take action now and you will FEEL better for it guaranteed. We need to take more responsibility for our own health and wellbeing and better to do so before waiting until our bodies are telling us to do so through the symptoms of ill health and non- activity. Try a different approach.

 

runduo

‘It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.~ Cicero

Forming good routines for healthy habits.

habit

Having had a recent break from regular routine, it only confirms to me the importance of it, in the formation of good habits. For me having a good routine is very helpful in forming good habits. Sticking to regular workout times for example helps it to become part of your daily/ weekly rhythm to the point you can become naturally motivated to do your workout without having to think about it. This can apply to any healthy habit we wish to form – meditation, healthy diet etc.

With any healthy habit I have formed such as regular meditation , exercise and healthy eating this has always been the case. There are also other benefits to some of these routines such as an increase in metabolism when eating at regular intervals.

I have come to a point now where I even consider it to be essential , through experience of how well this works I find myself being far more effective and motivated when I have formed these good routines which then become habits. This is something I also recommend to anyone who lacks motivation to exercise. If you can stick to the same time and days each week for long enough then it will become habit, you will then without doubt be motivated to do it. It will become part of your physiology, you will feel like you need to do it, just like how you naturally feel the need to brush your teeth and wash everyday.

This is also how many of us form bad habits where they have become a fixed part of our routine, such as when we come in at night and may veg in front of the T.V, or get drunk on a saturday night. It could even be said that such routines have become habits of the nation, even to the point where those who spend their evenings at the gym or choose not to drink or get drunk are seen as ‘fitness freaks’ or somewhat abnormal.

The saying that ‘we are creatures of habit’ is a very true one and we will naturally form habits throughout our lives. But ultimately we are in control of our habits as long as we choose to be, we just have to make the choice. Decide what to do and who you want to be.

Forming a good routine is one very powerful way to form good habits as it puts you back in the driving seat of your life. Habits are not mindlessly formed, at one point we have to learn them and it is then formed through repetition.

We can therefore, at any time choose to learn and develop new ones. If forming new healthy habits is something you want to do then it is very helpful to begin by adding it in to your routine. Start by writing in your diary the times and days that you will workout in each week, the same for your healthy meals and any other new healthy habits. Then be strict with yourself and stick to it, no matter what, no excuses, and within a month you will have formed yourself a very good habit that if you keep it will serve you well for life.

This can also help with quitting bad habits, use the new routine to form a good habit that will replace the bad habit. Taking your focus off the bad habit and onto something new in a new routine will actually make it much easier than just trying to quit the bad habit, because your focus will be on something new that will drive you to quit your bad habit when your new routine becomes more important.

This is not to say that spontaneity doesnt have its place, of course it does, so allow for this also and dont be too hard on yourself. Many things in life cannot be planned and will occur naturally but the good routines you have formed can hold you in stead and keep you focused on your health, work and success when these unplanned things do happen.

Like many things in life it is about balance but ultimately which would you prefer; a life of health and vitality, feeling good and in control of your life or one of following the herd and being a tv or junk food junkie. Of course choose the one which you think is right for you, but know which serves you best and that it is you that has the choice.

Habits are said to be hard to change but this only makes us less likely to do it, make the focus positive and part of your routine and it will feel much easier.

Some helpful tips:

  • Define your goals and what you want to achieve – use the SMART approach.
  • Write down your goals and break it down in to actions that you will add in your daily and weekly routine.
  • Write down the days and times that you will be doing your new activities such as going to the gym/ meditating etc
  • Stick to it without fail if any excuses enter your mind – ignore them.

For the first 4-6 weeks it may feel difficult, but focus on all the positives ( such as how good you feel from a workout or meditation.) – also keep these written down and remind yourself of them regularly. Then once you have formed the habit it will become an enjoyable and life changing part of your lifestyle worth every single bit of initial effort.

habit2
‘The self is not something ready made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.’ ~ John Dewey