I used to hate exercise and P.E as a kid. In fact, I'm still a bit traumatised by the memories of hockey sticks across shins and getting hit by the rounders ball... I did, however, love my dance classes, and I was one of those dance kids who spend four out of five days a week in ballet shoes and leotards. Now, I pretty much sit at my desk 9 - 5, Monday to Friday with an occasional walk around the block or trip to the kitchen for a cuppa.
Like 99.9% of the country, I was all aboard the hashtag #NewYearNewMe train. I was on it. And to my surprise (and Dan's) I kept up a regular gym routine, improved my diet and I actually saw results.
Can I get a hell yeah!?
I never saw myself as a gym goer. Now I love it. Or love it 80% of the time... Don't get me wrong, it's so intimidating when you first start going and there's girls with RIDICULOUS bodies and guys who look like they could deflate you with one squeeze. And you're just laying on the floor awkwardly doing clams with your resistance band. #Awks.
I thought I'd share a few tips with you guys on how I managed to maintain my motivation and get started!
Treat the gym like a date
There's no point being fluffy about it. If you don't have a regular routine and make your workouts part of your lifestyle, then it's not going to happen. I treat my gym sessions like a dinner date with Ryan Gosling (or, you know my actual boyfriend who I also love dearly). I look at my diary for the week and I schedule an hour after work. Simples. If you commit to your workouts, you're less likely to miss them. But you know, if a date with Ryan Gosling comes up, totally won't judge you for skipping the gym.
Have a plan
I went to the gym for three months before Christmas and I made no progress. I had no plan, I basically had one PT session and was like yeah, I can wing it. No, no you cannot. It was only when I started following a structured plan that I actually started seeing changes and feeling myself getting stronger. You might want to start with a PT session (most gyms offer the first session free) to get you started or you can find loads of plans online. I use Carly Rowena's Get Gorgeous Guide which sets out a 12-week plan with three circuits to target different areas of your body every week. There are three workouts per week for upper body, arms and legs, plus some extra sessions. I basically try and do all three workouts per week plus a cardio session in the form of a gym class or run. It's been super effective for me and really easy to follow!
Get rid of weight-based goals
On January 1st, I weighed 10 st 8lbs. After six weeks following the gym plan and eating a healthier diet, I still weighed 10 st 8lbs. But I lost three inches on my waist, hips and a few inches elsewhere. I also felt better, was sleeping better and my anxiety was reduced after each workout. So to all those people who say you can only exercise if you want to lose weight, screw 'em. Once I stopped exercising without a weight based goal and focussed on my strength and mental health instead, I wanted to work out more.
Before you embark on your new routine, measure yourself and take pictures every six weeks. I promise you'll look back and be like, "Giiiiiirl, who's that!?"
Diet is half the battle
It's an unfortunate reality that you can't eat like shit and then exercise it all off and have a bod like Jennifer Aniston. My diet was not awful, but it wasn't fantastic either. It wasn't balanced at all, but I found that by making sure I was getting equal amounts of fats, protein and carbohydrates (shock, neither of those are intrinsically bad) was making my body and my brain feel awesome. And I still had a cheeky G&T and some chocolate every so often.
Don't get too bogged down by diet - I started tracking my food on my Fitbit app so I could get an idea of my Macro balance throughout the day. I did this for about three weeks before I couldn't be bothered anymore and basically went about it on my own. If you are trying to build muscle, aim for more protein; if you're trying to shed weight, lessen your fats and maintain a calorie deficit. Pretty simple really, but lots of people try and overcomplicate it. Know your macros and drink loads of water. Basically.
Learn to love it
Exercise and a balanced diet is not punishment for your body. Don't exercise and eat well because you hate your body - exercise and eat well because you love your body. It's capable of awesome things, like going from being able to do zero press-ups to five full ones (thank you, thank you). I love exercising because my mind feels clearer, I feel calmer, my anxiety disappears and I also don't have to do the skinny jean dance every morning anymore. It's so much more than losing weight, it's finding a balance so you can have that chocolate treat or that gin at the weekend and know you damn well deserve it.
If you need an example of someone who is loving her life at the moment, it's Megan Lillie! I've been so inspired by her because she found a love for Olympic Weightlifting, now she does Crossfit and she bloody loves it. Because it makes her feel awesome. You can follow her on Instagram here.
It's also important to switch things up every now and again. I try and go to Hot Yoga once a month or try a new workout I've seen on Instagram (the saved feature is super useful for that!) It's all about finding something that works for you and finding the enjoyment in it is so important.
I hope you found this post useful and somewhat inspiring! I don't profess to be a fitness expert or nutritionist (leave that to the experts 100%) but it's always good to share this kind of advice as there are so many conflicting messages out there. You do you, and have fun doing it.