GYM & TONEIC

New Year’s resolutions: do’s & don’ts

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New Year, new chances, same you, just a few tweaks here and there… this notion of a ‘new you’, come New Year is a load of sh#t! Something I’ve come to realise, accept and embrace. You’re not going to turn into someone else overnight, you’re not going to turn into someone else full stop. You are you, I am me. We all need to stop day dreaming about being someone or something else, about total transformations and all or nothing overhauls. We all need to be a bit more forgiving, accepting and easy on ourselves.

It’s the second week in January and I’m sat here writing this post, a post that should really have been published and posted on my blog on the 1st, because it’s a fitness and lifestyle blog, and everyone is consuming content about New Year’s resolutions and complete fitness overhauls as soon as the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve/Day, (OK, maybe not quite 12 when the drinks are flowing and dancing is in full swing!), but you get what I mean! I’ve had a busy last few weeks moving in with my man and getting myself sorted with work in my new surroundings (The High Peak), and I took a trip down to Devon in-between Christmas and New Year. I’m just getting back on track and back into the swing of writing and planning content for my blog, and that’s OK… As is it totally OK to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions and goals now, if you dreamt up drastic and unrealistic goals on New Year’s Day and jacked them all in within the first week. Start now, start next week, give yourself time to contemplate and consider what you really want to attempt and achieve this year. Make a list of goals, dreams and desires as long as your arm and then chop them down in to a 1, 3 and even 5-year plan. Having dreams is a good thing, dreams can become reality… just be realistic with what you can achieve and by when. It’s OK just to have one goal… smash that and then focus on the next.

Here’s a few do’s & don’ts to consider if you’re yet to set yourself goals, or re-set yourself goals…

Do’s

Be kind on yourself. Before you tear yourself up and get depressed about all the things you think are bad about yourself, and that needs to change. Consider all the positives, what you like about yourself, your good qualities, how to do and be more of that! Less of the bad chat and dressing down, more bigging up and being body (and mind) positive.

Celebrate every tiny victory. You might have only lost 1lb this week and you wanted to lose 3lbs, the fact is you lost weight! You might have managed to complete an additional set, run another mile, lifted a heavier weight, whatever your victory give yourself a pat on the back, reward yourself even (there are still lots of January sales on!), make yourself a gold star chart like we had back in school.

Have a little fun. Resolutions and goals don’t all have to be about health and fitness, losing weight and placing restrictions on yourself. Have some fun, try new things, add to your life instead of taking all the fun away!

Don’ts

Deprive yourself. Starve yourself or buy into these bullsh#t, quick fix detoxes and diets. You’ll end up out of pocket and back where you started, maybe worse off in terms of weight gain. Just be sensible, wean yourself off 3 mince pies a day. Consider things like portion size, healthy food swaps, drinking water instead of wine.

Do too much too soon. Study your list that’s as long as your arm and then break it down, pick two or three goals to focus on, then break them down further. Set mini milestones and realistic timelines. Go all in, but on a few things at a time.

Give up! When the going gets tough, take a break, pause, reflect, refine and then carry on. It’s OK to tweak your goals, change timescales, move the goal posts. It’s your goal!

Don’t stop until you’re proud!

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5 Top tips to minimise festive flab!

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With just over a week to go, Christmas festivities are in full swing… it’s time to let you hair down; eat lots, drink lots, party and socialise lots and generally have a bloody good old time! It’s a time to celebrate with your nearest and dearest, a time to indulge and be merry, a time to relax a little with your weekly fitness routine, and treat yourself to a mince pie or two!

You’re going to put on a few pounds over Christmas, we all are! Don’t over stress it, just do what you can to minimise any weight gain and maintain physical activity levels as much as possible. Think of it as damage limitation…

Here’s 5 top tips to minimise festive flab…     

Easy on the chocolate treats
Easy to say, bloody tough to do… it’s everywhere! Advent calendars, boxes of chocolates brought in to work, tubs of Quality Street everywhere you go and on special offer 2-4-1 at the end of every aisle in all the supermarkets. If the chocolates weren’t enough, then there are the boxes of luxury biscuits to contend with… you need will power of steel to resist! Limit yourself to two or three here and there, it’s all too easy to grab a handful and mindlessly devour one after the other, before you know it you’ve turned into Augustus Gloop and devoured them all! Why not have a go at making your own tasty treats, like protein balls, that can fuel you for longer and are great for snacking on the go. Check out these recipes on Women’s Health website. You could even store them in a Quality Street tub, so it feels like you’re digging in to chocolate treats 😉

Grab a workout where you can
With all the Christmas parties, school nativities, family gatherings and get togethers, it can be difficult to find even 5 minutes for yourself, never mind finding the time to make a trip to the gym! Change up your routine and do home HIIT workouts, just 15/20 minutes is all you need to get your heart rate and metabolism fired up, and get a serious sweat on! HIIT workouts are great as they’re quick and effective, and a lot of the exercises and circuits you can do require no equipment at all, just your bodyweight. Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) is the king of HIIT and has hundreds of videos you can follow on his You Tube channel, check it out and give them a go.

Drink gin!
Yes you read that right… drink gin! You’re going to lots of parties, drinking lots of booze… that’s a lot of calories you’re going to consume (empty calories that have no nutritional value). So plan your poison and stick with a clear spirit, like gin or vodka, that isn’t as calorific as something like larger or cider. Drink it with tonic or soda, and stick with the same drink all night… the dreaded next day in the office, with the hangover from hell won’t be as bad that way too! Check out my gin blogs for gins I’ve supped and sampled, my all-time favorite is still Bloom gin, I really like Manchester Three Rivers and Manchester Gin too!

Drink more water
I go on about this to everyone, all of the time… water is life! Drink water in-between your alcoholic drinks, and drink plenty throughout the day, between 2-4 litres. There are so many benefits to drinking water; increased energy, healthier skin, teeth and bones, increased metabolism and improved digestion, to name a few! Next time you think you’re hungry, try drinking a glass of water, it may just be that you’re dehydrated and mistaking it for hunger. I’ve written a separate blog about the importance of drinking water, you can read more about the many benefits here.

Lastly, plan as much as you can
If you’re out for a Christmas lunch and get to see a menu beforehand, choose healthier options such as turkey (minus the skin) and veg, a great source of lean protein! Choose a healthier starter, such as a fish dish and go easy on the dessert – do you really need one?

When it comes to the Christmas food shop, write a shopping list and stick to it as much as you can. Don’t be sucked in to the 2-4-1 Quality Street and chocolate treat offers! Also, never go shopping hungry, you’ll go wild with insatiable temptation.

If you have lots of social events in the week, plan meals around them. Try to have healthier home-cooked dishes and prep meals in advance where you can. More often than not, it’s the dirty, salty, greasy food you crave and eat on a hangover that leaves you feeling the most bloated and bleurgh!

Remember… everything in moderation! 

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Ladies lift: benefits of resistance training

Break the stereotype

Women that lift are… manly, masculine, bulky, strong! 

Following on from my previous post ‘5 tips to overcome gym fear‘, I wanted to bust the BS and dispel fears around resistance training (lifting weights, heavy weights!). Lots of women (and many men) give weights the wide berth in the gym, fearing that lifting will make them ‘bulky’. I’ve been working as an instructor for 5 minutes and I’ve heard this a hundred times… with images of the incredible hulk in their head, it’s all the stereotyping that puts people off.

What lifting weights will do is help you to live in a healthier, stronger body. There are so many benefits of strength training, and it most definitely should be included as part of your fitness regime! Here’s a few reasons why…

It’s more effective for fat loss. Weight training increases your metabolism, it’s more effective than cardiovascular exercise for burning calories both during and after exercise. Also as you increase strength and lean muscle mass your body uses calories more efficiently; the more muscle contractions you have in a day, the more calories you burn.

Creates killer curves. As you build muscle your body composition (shape) changes. Muscle takes up less room in the body than fat, strength training helps create killer curves and definition.

It’s so important for bone health. As the skeleton ages it loses calcium and bone mass, which increases the risk of osteoporosis (increasing risk of fractures). This happens earlier for women. Weight training increases bone density and reduces risk of osteoporosis.

The term ‘bulky’ should also be considered, what does bulky actually mean?

It means different things to different people… it’s subjective. One mans bulky is another mans buff! When it comes to our bodies, desired muscularity is personal preference. I appreciate muscle definition; I want to put on a good gun show, improve strength and increase muscle size. What I consider desirable may be considered ‘too big’ to someone else.

Everyone has different goals and aspirations. When it comes to resistance training it should be specific to the individual; whether it be for endurance, hypertrophy (increasing muscle size) or strength.

There’s literally hundreds of people and publications that have written about the benefits of resistance training and busting the many myths surrounding it. Do a Google search to read and find out more, and speak to a fitness professional about your fitness goals and incorporating weight training into your workouts.

Act like a lady. Lift like a boss.

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5 tips to overcome gym fear!

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The gym can be an intimidating place. This is felt by many… you’re not alone! The feeling that you’re the novice newbie that knows nothing, compared to the die-hard gym junkies who seemingly know it all! Don’t beat yourself up and put yourself off, before you’ve even begun. Everyone (every pro) was once a beginner, also very often the die-hards are doing it wrong…

I recently devised a gym programme for one of my good friends, Clare, and trained her through it, which made me consider this fitness fear notion in more detail… Now I’m not implying that Clare is scared of the gym, she’s been a member for donkeys! But she is was a self-confessed cardio queen, that didn’t feel confident or comfortable using weights (until last Sunday, when she smashed our session!), and also didn’t have a structured programme to follow. So didn’t really know how to train efficiently and effectively, and succumbed to being a slave to the treadmill.

Here’s 5 top tips to crush the fear

  • Take advantage of your gym induction and ask for help – a gym induction is mandatory in most facilities, for health and safety. This is where an instructor takes you around the gym, showing you how to use the equipment before you go it alone. Now these tend to be quite whistle stop, as in you’re not shown every single piece of equipment and all of the different programmes you can do. But you should come away from this knowing basic set-up of CV (cardiovascular) kit and weights machines. If you still feel unsure of anything ask, and keep asking for help until you do feel confident. That’s what instructors are there for and are more than happy to help.
  • Ask for a gym programme or PT sessions – these are either included in your membership, you get a few free PT sessions or it’s worthwhile investing in that support and guidance. You’re there for a reason, you have fitness goals you want to achieve, make sure you’re training efficiently and effectively to reach those goals. Otherwise you end up wandering aimlessly from piece to piece, not really working or doing anything other than passing time.
  • Focus on you, only you – in a gym full of junkies it’s sometimes hard to zone out and focus on you, you’re watching what everyone else is doing, or are paranoid thinking that everyone else is watching and judging what you are doing. They’re not! They’re in there for the same reasons as you – to workout, get the job done and leave (on an endorphin high!). Zone out and focus on your workout, having a banging playlist can help with this.
  • Bring a buddy – for many it’s the fear of going it alone, safety in numbers is the name of the game. Bring a friend and become the best of gym buddies – support, encourage and motivate each other to smash your fitness goals.
  • Treat yourself to some snazzy exercise clobber – if you look good, you feel good and new exercise clobber or funky kicks can be just the ticket. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending a small fortune either, you can pick up great gear at most supermarkets nowadays, in discount sports shops and online; and with the summer sales in full swing now is the perfect time to bag yourself a bargain!

Fear… forget everything and run… or face everything and rise!

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5 top tips to maintain your mojo

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Mid-January sees flocks of new faces hitting the gym, come early March it’s only the reliant regulars that remain. A cycle you see year in and out – great for sales targets, but that membership is an expensive piece of plastic in your wallet if unused.

Maintaining your mojo can be tough at times! We’re all human, have off days, weekend binges and fall off the bandwagon. The important thing is not to beat yourself up about it and throw the towel in.

Writing a list of New Year’s resolutions as long as your arm probably wasn’t the best idea, as was thinking you would tick them off in quick succession. Don’t despair, take stock and review your goals.

Here’s 5 top tips to get back on track…

  1. Tone it down

All too often people go from doing no exercise, to training every day. It’s New Year and you’re on fire – but it’s only a matter of time before you burn out. Tone it down, build it up gradually over time. Create a routine that fits in with your work/life schedule, this may mean making a few changes here and there, but it shouldn’t be so drastic that you can’t stick at it.

  1. Try something new

Mix it up, try different exercises, classes, sports and activities; the gym isn’t always the answer for everyone. Exercise should be fun and enjoyable! Try out as many different things as possible, until you find your mojo.

  1. Review your goals

Be honest… Are they realistic? Are they achievable? Do you actually want to do them, or did you get caught up and carried away with the new you notion? It’s OK to change track and review your goals – that’s life!

  1. Prep like a boss

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite saying this… This is my first to do to get back on track. Plan your weekly exercise sessions in advance, so you know what you’re doing on what day of the week. Create a workout log to track weights, reps/sets, distance and time, to show your progression.

  1. Ask the experts

Ask a fitness instructor for tips, guidance and support, that’s what they are there for. In many gym facilities you can get tailored exercise programmes or a PT session as part of your membership package – take advantage of this! They’ll talk you through and show you exercises suitable for your specific areas of focus, to meet your personal goals.

Got more top tips to get back on track? Share your suggestions in the comments link at the top of the page…

#MaintainYourMojo

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