A practical guide to increasing your health and fitness this Autumn
Autumn approaches. The time of the year is marked by back-to-school, longer nights and leafy headaches for those who work so hard to keep our streets clean. It is also that time when we look afresh at our lifestyle and recommit to our health and fitness.
For many, the onset of September heralds a last shot at coming good on those promises you made at the start of the year. You know the ones! But past is past. Now, before you grab the running shoes or join a new class...... let’s stop and think. First question – what is your goal? Come December 31, what to do want to look back proudly on having achieved in relation to your health and fitness? Weight loss, a personal best for the 5k, better cardiovascular health or simply feeling as good as you can remember feeling for years. Decide upon this first.
Next, ask yourself, ‘What has worked for me in the past?’ What forms of physical activity do you actually enjoy? Most people never ask this question and rush headlong into a long gym membership or course of classes that they have not stuck with in the past. So what’s going to be different now? Ask yourself:
- What do I want from exercising?
- Do I work best with a repetitive, structured program or would I prefer more variety?
- What did I enjoy as a child?
- Am I ready to try something new?
- Do I want to exercise alone or is a social element important to me?
- What is my budget?
These questions are important to help you choose from the list of options available to you. Gyms, fitness classes, personal training, bootcamps – all of these options and more are available, but asking yourself the right questions will help you make the right choice for you. As a consequence of this, you’re far more likely to stick to what you do.
Once you’ve decided what’s right for you, here are some great tips that I have used regularly to keep me motivated:
The 10 per cent rule
Week-on-week, aim to do 10 per cent more in your training. It may be an extra push-up, or walking/running and extra 100 metres, or adding five minutes to your exercise time each week. This is a great way of ensuring constant progress and challenge for your body.
Keep a training/food diary. Keep brief notes on your daily food intake, your daily exercise and most importantly, how you feel each day. This serves a number of purposes: firstly, it helps when you’re in a slump and you can look back through your diary to see how far your training has come.
Secondly, an honest written account of your food intake makes you far more conscious of what you are eating, making you more likely to change your eating habits.
Thirdly, by tracking your emotional state, you will begin to notice patterns emerging. You’ll see how eating certain foods, or certain forms of exercise can lead to different emotional states. Identifying this can be invaluable to your lifestyle.
Always reward yourself for work well done or goals achieved. You may choose to do this in many ways – buying new clothes, having a massage, going to a movie. Be creative with your rewards. This helps relate an element of fun and excitement with exercise and also helps keep you motivated.