The run up to Christmas can be one of the most confusing times for people health and fitness-wise. On one hand you’ve just finished a summer of holidays and over-indulging, and then you are getting invitations to Christmas parties. If you haven’t been keeping a regular fitness regime, it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of panic dieting and last minute ditch attempts to start a new exercise regime. The time of year can also make exercise seem less appealing, with dark mornings and nights to contend with.
Millions of people start a diet on 1st January, and thousands fall ‘off the wagon’ by the same evening! I don’t like people to put too much pressure on themselves, but it is important to set smart goals, otherwise your health and fitness can turn into a ‘tomorrow’ affair, which can still be ‘tomorrow’ a month down the road.
I hate the thought of people starting New Year saying they will never eat crisps, chocolate, takeaways ever again. It’s completely unrealistic for the majority of us, and the mere fact that it is a negative, I think, can really de-motivate people.
Instead set achievable goals, and positive goals. I never like to set a diet that focuses on excluding things. I much prefer to have a goal of adding more nutrients into a diet. This can be as simple as adding a vegetable to every meal, e.g. order spinach with your scrambled eggs, add some peas to a salad, and always have a side of vegetables like broccoli with your supper.
The same goes for setting fitness goals. Be realistic, don’t scare yourself with goals you won’t achieve. Long term plans start small and work better in the long run. I am a huge advocate of walking as an exercise. I think it’s amazing for both body and mind. Walking can lead to running in the future, and a lot of runners start out with a ‘you’ll never get me running’ mind-frame. Even if you never enjoy running, you will enjoy walking, and the great thing about this exercise is that it can be solo, or social, and as soon as you take one step, you are doing it!
As with your diet, set positive goals, so rather than saying I will walk for an hour every day, because if you do miss a day you’ll feel negative about it and yourself. Write down a goal that you can achieve, like ‘I will walk for 20 minutes three times this week’. As long as you can fit in three walks a week, you’ve achieved a goal, and once you start getting into a routine, you can up your goal, in time, distance, or maybe taking a hillier route! You can do it in your lunch break, grab a friend, the fresh air does wonders for your mental and physical health.
If you want to start doing some simple exercises at home, I’d recommend a ten minute core workout. Your core is so important. Think of it as the tree trunk holding your body together and you will appreciate how much it does for you. Having a strong core also helps you hold yourself well, giving you better posture and an air of confidence.
Here is a simple core workout you can do at home. You could fit this workout into your weekly goals along with your walking. Even if it seems quick or simple, this is deliberate, so that you are not intimidated by it, and can add to it when you are ready. Good Luck and remember, anything is better than nothing, so have a think about what you know you can actually stick to, write it down, and get going. As soon as you start, you will feel better for it!
SIDE PLANK HIP DIPS X 10 EACH SIDE
Lie on your side, with one elbow on the ground, and one foot on top of the other. Come up into a side plank and then dip the lowest hip to the ground and bring back up. Repeat x 10 and then turn to do the other side plank.
TOE TAPS X 10 EACH LEG
Lie on your back with your legs in table top position (knees above hips, feet level with knees). Slowly breathe out and tap one foot on the floor. Return to tabletop, and then tap the other foot. The straighter your leg at the floor the harder the exercise, but only go as straight as your back is comfortable with.
FRONT PLANK X 30 SECONDS
If you are a newcomer to planks, or are pregnant, you may wish to start with a plank on your knees. Once on your knees, push your body so you are in a straight line down to your knees, with your feet lifted behind. If you are a pro-planker, come off the knees on to your feet. Hold the body in a straight line and breathe.
CYCLING X 30
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet in the air. Place your hands on your head (keep your elbows wide), and twist from side to side as you cycle with the legs. Keep your breathing steady and try to hold the last one on each side for 5 seconds.