Fitness as a lifestyle and not a quick fix… 10 practical tips to get you started!

We unfortunately live in a world where the rat race has taken control of our lives, and health and fitness has been given the back seat.

We live in an instant pop a pill generation. You can pretty much pop a pill for everything nowdays. People’s health and lifestyles are going backwards. Disease and illness is on the rise.

Some statistics quickly:

  • Obesity is on the rise not only in adults but also in children. A survey done in 2002 in South Africa with 13000 people over the age of 12 showed that 30% of men were obese, and 9.2% had abdominal obesity, and a staggering 57% of women were obese with another 42% having abdominal obesity. That’s basically 99% of South African women falling into the obese category.
  • Between 1997 and 2004, 195 people died per day because of some form of heart and blood vessel disease (CVD) in South Africa.
  • About 33 people die per day because of a heart attack, while about 60 die per day because of stroke.
  • For every woman that dies of a heart attack, two men die.
  • About 37 people die per day because of heart failure.
  • More than half the deaths caused by chronic diseases, including heart disease, occur before the age of 65 years. These are premature deaths which affect the workforce and have a major impact on the economy of the country.
  • Premature deaths caused by heart and blood vessel diseases in people of working age (35-64 years) are expected to increase by 41% between 2000 and 2030. The negative economic impact of this will be enormous.
  • The highest death rates for heart and blood vessel diseases in South Africa are found in Indian people, followed by the coloured people, while the white and black African people have the lowest rates.

These are some scary statistics and they all in some way or another have something to do with our overall health and wellness.

Throughout history man’s pursuit for fitness was driven by a need to survive. Man had to journey to find food or visit neighbouring tribes. “Being Fit” as it were was a way of life and in essence was a lifestyle necessity  rather that something that some people did. If you weren’t fit you didn’t fight, hunt, farm and ultimately survive.

In modern society we no longer need to hunt for our food or plough the field, it is all done for us. And the invention of the engine has made transport simple. We don’t even need to get in our car and go to the library everything is available on the net. After the introduction of mix it and BBM kids don’t even need to get up from their desk and go to the kitchen and talk to the family they now message them. This has caused fitness to no longer be a necessity but rather a sport or hobby. Fitness through history was something that people just did; now in modern day society fitness is something that must be taught to people from an early age.

When I started out in the fitness industry, I had a burning desire not only to train men and women physically, but also to educate and empower them with tools and skills that would help them to changed their bodies and lifestyles. The reason for this was that I realised there wasn’t one person I came into contact with that didn’t want to get into shape, but most of them had no idea how to do it. Notice I said body and lifestyles, they go hand in hand.

Nelson Mandela said that Education is the most powerful weapon; you can use it to change the world.

And I really believe that. I can train you for 6 months but if after the time spent together I have taught you nothing it was all worthless. I don’t believe that getting in shape is only based on what you do in the gym but more importantly built around what you do throughout the day.

I want  to share some simple thoughts and ideas with you that I hope will not only help you but also empower you to go out there and break barriers in your health, fitness and lifestyle.

I am a firm believer in and outside/inside transformation principle. What does this mean you ask?

Fitness – If it came in a bottle, everybody would have a great body.

– Cher

So let’s get to the practical tips on how to get into shape and on track. Before I get going on these few practical tips, I want to say that these are not the only ones out there, but they have helped me on my journey and I believe the will help you.

1. Get active on a daily basis.

One of the most common excuses I have come across when it comes to getting in shape is, “I just don’t have time to get to the gym” or “I am a working mom and can’t juggle work, kids and exercise”. Excuses will always be there unless you decide to not make excuses. Stop looking for every excuse under the sun not to exercise.

You have to start somewhere. Even if it’s just a walk around the block every day for the first few weeks.

If one of your reason why you can’t exercise is because you are too busy at work or you don’t have time because you are a mom, you need to ask yourself what good am I to my work and kids if I don’t have my health. You need to get active in some way or another on a daily basis.

The easiest and most convenient way to get in shape is in the comfort of your own home. Now, I guarantee you, a thought in a few of your minds is, “but I don’t have any equipment?”

SIMPLE! You can get in great shape with minimal equipment. You can go online to companies like http://www.mifitness.co.za and for roughly R1000.00 you can pretty much get everything you need. They will even deliver it to your door. Examples of what you might need is, a Ball, one set of dumbbells, theraband, exercise mat and a skipping rope. You might look at these items and say “but I have no idea what to do with them”, options here are either get a trainer for a month or so to help you get the basics going, or even better subscribe to a couple of fitness magazines. Most magazines have great exercise sections. Cut the exercises out and keep them in a file that you can look over whenever you need inspiration. The great thing about training at home or in your garden is that there is equipment all around you; you just need to be creative. You can use stairs, chairs, tables, the options are endless. One of the biggest mistake people make is spending hours in the gym. This is really not necessary; you can spend 45 minutes in your garden and do a calorie crunching workout. It is always best to try and get your training in first thing in the morning. Another thing I wanted to mention is something that I’m sure you have all heard before and that is try and stop using all the options that man has made to “make life easier”, things like elevators, lifts and so on. Why not use the stairs, or your legs…

2. Get someone to be accountable too.

You have three options when it comes to getting accountable. Training on your own cannot only be boring but it can also become monotonous. We often get ourselves into a routine and we stay there.

Option 1 is to get a training partner

Get someone can train with you. This will help to keep you motivated. It helps to push you if you know that someone is either waiting at the gym or on their way to your house to train. Choose your training partner wisely. Make sure that your training partner is also motivated to get into great shape. If you training partner isn’t as motivated as you, you might find yourself missing sessions because there are “more important” things happening or you might end up spending the session in the gym chatting away about the day. Training partners are great as a support system and will also help to bring their own ideas to exercise sessions which will keep the sessions new and fresh.

Option 2 is get involved with a group class. Group classes are a great way to get in shape. They also provide an avenue to get into a class instructed by a qualified fitness professional at a fraction of the cost of a one on one personal trainer. Group classes also offer a social, fun environment to get in shape. When choosing a group class though, make sure that you are choosing a reputable business with some sort of mission statement. Not just some trainer who has decided he wants to make some money. Check out our group class options @ http://www.urbanfitness.co.za/ufo-group-boot-camp-class/

And your third option is to hire a Personal Trainer. For those of you who can afford the services of a trainer, this is also a great option. Try and get a trainer that will come to you though. This way you can’t “forget” to go to the gym. It’s a lot more difficult to miss a session when the trainer arrives at your door. Very important when using the services of a trainer is making sure that he or she is up to date with the current trends in the industry. If you are going to be paying someone you best be sure you are going to get value for money. Make sure your trainer doesn’t spend most of your session talking about themselves and what’s going on in their world instead of training you. Most trainers will also take more than one person in a group so why not get some friends together to bring the costs down. Check out out personal training option @ http://www.urbanfitness.co.za/ufo-personal-training/. Another option of coaching is getting a health and lifestyle coach. This is someone who can provide the more practical side of getting into shape through assessing you, prescribing a program and monitoring you as your progress.

3. Set goals and don’t make resolutions.

 ‎”One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.” Henry Ford

Something you need to realise is that weight loss and getting in shape doesn’t happen overnight. Getting into shape has to become a lifestyle rather than something you do for a few months. You need to set yourself achievable goals to work towards. Don’t make resolutions, resolutions 9 times out of 10 are broken and then you feel disappointment which can cause you to take you eye off the tasks at hand. If you set goals rather, this give you something to aim at and when you achieve them you will feel a sense of achievement rather than disappointment.  A great thing to do once you achieve your goals is to reward yourself. I make all my clients go out and buy and expensive pair of jeans in the size they would like to wear. It is a great feeling when you can suddenly fit into that pair of pants you always wanted to wear and never could.

4. Track your progress

You should record everything including your goals, your meals, and every workout along with a picture of yourself once per month. It might not be a bad idea either to get someone to do a full assessment where they take your measurements and follow up on a monthly basis. If you just want to do basic measurements you can get a family member to do them or your training partner. Get a volunteer. Something that is very important is THROW YOUR SCALE AWAY, DO NOT get on the scale every day, it will only depress you. Some of you really need to throw your scale away. All a scale does is discourage you; you might find that you don’t see results on a weekly basis but rather on a monthly basis and scales will amplify that. The best thing to track when getting into shape is monitor your body measurements. Focus on losing centimetres.

5. Add resistance to your training.

RESISTANCE, RESISTANCE, RESISTANCE. Combining resistance training with aerobic exercise doubles the chances that you will lose body fat and gain more lean muscle mass. Resistance can be added using weights or using your body as resistance. Own Body-weight training is probably the safer, easier and more accessible option. If you want to change the way your body looks, you have to add resistance training. Strength training is going to firm the body, add more muscle definition, and more importantly, boost and revitalise your metabolic rate. The faster your metabolism is running, the faster you will be burning off fat, 24/7, meaning the closer you will get to your goals.  For the ladies, Woman often say “I don’t want to do resistance training because I don’t want to bulk up.” Firstly, you are a woman, you don’t have high testosterone levels, and this means you can’t bulk up.

6. Don’t cardio yourself silly

Cardio vascular training is not the only way to lose weight. It is a great way to lose and maintain weight but if it is not coupled with some sort of resistance training you end up getting flabby. Running without resistance training can also cause joint related issues as you get older. What most people do when they want to lose weight is basically go and strap themselves to a treadmill or bike and go for gold. Treadmills are not great for the knees and are dangerous if you are not as fit as you think you are… Not only is this boring and monotonous but also doesn’t always get the results.

7. Diet vs. lifestyle decisions.

The first thing I would like to chat to you about when it comes to dieting is not to go on a diet. Diet should not be something that you go on but it should be something your do on a daily basis. Rather than going on some fab diet you got out of shape magazine start making better decisions when it comes to your lifestyle and what you put in your mouth. Fab Diets often fail because expectation exceeds reality. Eating tuna and lettuce for 8 weeks is not a diet, that’s just silly! Think about this quickly, if all you eat is sweets, you are still on a diet. Diet should not be something you do for a certain period of time but rather a lifestyle you adopt. Some lifestyle changes you should make could include:

  • Eating healthy food and cut out junk food.
  • Drinking lots water, you should be drinking water all day long in order to keep your body hydrated. Water is also a great detoxifier.
  • Don’t stop carbs and fats. Prior to contrary believe carbs and fat are not from the devil. In fact your body needs carbs and fats to survive. The big difference is that your body needs the right carbs and fats. Carbs firstly are burnt up by the body and provide the body with energy which we need to perform our daily tasks as well as exercise. Good fats have amazing benefits like shifting toxic belly fat, freeing up your internal organs to work properly, reducing inflammation and improving blood circulation.
  • Make sure that when you are choosing meats to put in your fridge you don’t pick the steak portion with the huge piece of fat to tempt you. Rather choose lean meat.
  • Greens are so important. In the common South African diet we don’t eat a lot of salad and vegetables. We end up living on braaivleis, borrewors, and beer.
  • Know your weaknesses and stay very far away from them. If you know you have a sweet tooth, don’t stand staring at the sweet aisle in Woolworths, trying to resist. Just keep walking.
  • Clean out your pantry. Some of you I’m sure have pantries that are full of all sorts of yummy things that need to be thrown away in order to resist any temptation.
  • Keeping a food diary, this is a good way to have a look at what you are putting into your body on a daily basis. Do the experiment, keep a diary for 2 weeks, I guarantee you; you will be shocked when you review it at the end of the two weeks.

8. Make sure your workout is fun!

Personally i find that there is nothing more boring than running on a treadmill day in a day out. If you want to keep yourself interested, keep varying your workout and make sure that you never get into a rut of doing the same thing over and over again. A great way to bring a fun aspect to getting in shape is to join group classes or get a training partner as mentioned before.

9. Strengthen your core and get flexible!

Flexibility training is an important component of any exercise program. Being flexible helps to reduce your chance of injury when performing physical activities not only while exercising but also when working or doing things around the house. Working on your flexibility is so important because without flexibility your joints will not move properly through their full range of motion, leading to other muscles trying to do the job that the tight or inflexible muscle is trying to do. These muscular imbalances lead your body down the wrong path when they force other muscles to compensate for the tight ones.  For example: If your calf muscle is too tight or inflexible, other leg muscles will force the knees to move outward or inward which could cause tightness in the hamstrings, which in turn could cause lower back pain. When for example you squat down to pick something up off the floor.  The body is so tightly connected that if one part is not functioning at optimum is can cause issues everywhere else. So the bottom line is, always include some flexibility training in the warm up (dynamic stretching or stretching on the move) and cool down periods (static stretching) of your workout. A key with flexibility that people always get wrong is stretching before a workout. You should never stretch before a workout. Stretching cold muscles is not a good idea. Your workout should include a cardio based warm up, the body of your workout and then a stretch at the end. Stretching also helps to flush the lactic acid out of your muscles after a workout.

10. Get started!

I always tell my clients that if you are walking around the block once a day you are fitter than the person on the couch! So, just get started. If you need help in this regard, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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