Just read this great article which has tips on exercising. I’ve used it as a framework to talk about where I’m at at this point with my physical fitness self-care and where I’d like to be.
I’ve come such a long way. I come from a family that didn’t have much money when I was growing up, so not being able to have the nice sports clothes, or access to gym and after school sports clubs, meant that I arrived at university with a very low fitness level as well as a very low level of skill (throwing, catching, hiking, swimming). I was also painfully self-conscious about how I looked, especially when exercising, and was still following patriarchal beauty regimes that sap women’s time and energy on a daily basis.
1 Focus on your sleep.
I turn my phone on to flight mode at dinner time, and try to read or listen to an audio book before bed.
2 Do not fear carbs.
I have felt pressure to be “thin” most of my life, so much so that as a teenager I starved myself and wanted breast implants. I stopped worrying about being fat when I was caring for my dying mother. She weighed 40k at the end. All I want is to be healthy, so I try to eat more veg (which I really don’t like, but I make myself!) and less chocolate, alcohol, and crisps, mainly because I’m stingy and I’m sick of spending a fortune at the dentist!
3 Start the day with water.
I usually start my day with tea and a banana. I hate breakfast, and am slow and sluggish in the mornings. I don’t shower in the mornings as I tend to forget to wash shampoo out etc.
4 Track your workouts.
I like to log exercise in an excel spreadsheet on drive. I have one for abs, one for arms, one for running… I try to write a rough guide of what I’ve done afterwards. When I stop I loose rhythm and the little devil on my shoulder says “You can stop you know. Why are you doing this unpleasant thing? Go lie down. That’s it…”
5 Keep a visual food diary.
This is an interesting concept. Might help me know how much booze I’ve drank on a night out… Could also work for keeping tabs on spending. Where has all my money gone? Ah right…
6 Watch while you work out.
For me, this is just not an option (except for podcasts while swimming). Firstly, I hate the gym. Why on earth would I pay to sweat in front of a mirror? No thanks. Secondly, as I’ve mentioned before, I need to get in to a rhythm, zone, and be mentally switched off in some way, to trick myself in to doing exercise, which I generally don’t like (although I like the feeling afterward). I envy my friends who listen to podcasts while they’re running. I need a banging dance mix that lulls my logical brain to sleep though.
7 Set one goal at a time.
I love this. I’m already very active (I’m lucky to live in a place where I can go outside most days and walk/cycle to many places). I would say one of my goals now that the weather has warmed up is to go swimming more. I really love doing a bit of pilates plank, then having a bit of a swim (I listen to a spiritual health podcast while swimming. I absolutely love it! Really chills me out), then having a nice big stretch after. Bliss!
8 Stay hydrated. Coffee and tea don’t count. Fill up a two-litre bottle and keep it at your desk (I squeeze a lime into mine), so you can track how much you drink.
Wonderful idea. I’m going to try to do this this week in work!
9 Don’t forget to stretch.
10 Look around you.
I would love to start a women’s exercise group in my local park. Let’s see if we can start something when it’s less rainy in March.
11 Find a fitness buddy.
This doesn’t work for me. I end up psychologically depending on the other person, and then when they bail I won’t go either.
12 Be prepared.
I’m lucky that in my job I can wear comfortable clothes.
13 Do little and often. New mums can keep active and healthy with this mantra. You’ll see much more benefit from fitting in 15 minutes of exercise every day, rather than a once-a-week gym session. Work out at home while your baby naps (or watches Fireman Sam in my case!). Follow @mum_hood on Instagram for mini workout ideas specifically for busy mums.
Jesus. Leave new mums alone, please! Let them just chill the fuck out.
14 Mix up workouts.
I like to do high intensity at the weekend.
15 Have fun. Exercise and nutrition should ultimately be about achieving a healthy mind and body, not always pushing yourself to your limits. Choose exercise you enjoy and that makes you feel great. If you love it, you’re more likely to keep it up, so don’t worry about what the new trend is or what’s going to burn the most calories; think instead, “What’s going to put the biggest smile on my face?” and choose that.
100% agree. This is why I love dancing!
16 Get your gear on. Joan: Put your workout clothing on as soon as you get out of bed, or as soon as you get home at the end of your working day, and start exercising as soon as possible; it requires much less willpower than getting off the sofa.
Yep. As soon as I sit down on the sofa it’s game over!
17 Batch-boil eggs. Have a bowl of them in the fridge ready to grab and go as a healthy snack.
18 Wear gear you love. Look good and you’ll feel good, energised and ready to take on the world. Slip on an old T-shirt and… well, you’ll probably end up back in bed.
Basically saying “allow your self-esteem to be dictated by the capitalist patriarchy”. I’m trying to move away from this. It’s a daily challenge.
19 Take the stairs. It’s easy to avoid them – I always used to. But if you walk up and down stairs at every opportunity, it’s a great way to sneak in some really good cardio exercise.
I hate climbing stairs in doors. Stuffy and dark!
20 Plank every day.
I need to do this!
21 Don’t compare yourself with others. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, the temptation to see how you match up is always there and for ever futile. You don’t know their motivations, goals, insecurities. Just focus on yourself – way easier and ultimately more satisfying.
22 Be patient and consistent. Don’t hammer a workout regime for a week and expect to be an Olympian. Change takes time, so don’t create an unrealistic schedule. If you’re just getting into fitness, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to go to the gym five times a week. Ease yourself in, allow yourself time to build up.
23 Stop eating lunch at your desk. Get up, move around. Your mind, body and soul will thank you for it. And, yes, you do have time.
24 Eat for recovery. There is a lot of focus on what to eat before a workout (ideally, nothing for 60 minutes beforehand – if you’re starving have a date or half a banana), but what you eat after can really make a difference. For the muscles to recover, they will need protein to repair tissue, carbohydrate to replenish glycogen, and vitamins and minerals.
25 Push yourself in classes.
Only you know what your body can take. I try not to listen to other people who are shouting at me. Fuck off. Thanks.