Sunday, 30 December 2012

Motivating Amy Part 2

In Part 1, I talked about how to stay motivated, in response to a comment by Amy. If you didn't read that post, have a quick look now... It's okay, I'll wait for you...

I love going to the gym, but I understand that for lots of people it's not an option, through cost or availability or sheer opposition to working out in a crowded, air-conditioned gym when there are hundreds of other things to do. For some of these people, exercising at home is the perfect solution... and yes, it can be. But only if you do it right.

Progression is something that happens naturally in a gym. When one level on the bike or cross trainer gets easy, you move up. If you're lifting an easy weight, you choose a heavier one next time. But some home exercise equipment doesn't have that option, or they only have a couple of settings. Or people who like to run always take the same 4 mile route and never deviate or speed up. Can you see the problem?

When you start a new exercise programme, especially if you've been previously inactive, your body is shocked into making huge changes: it has to get fitter very quickly, the lungs and heart have to become stronger to keep the air and blood circulating. Your body requires more fuel, so as long as you're not eating more you start to lose weight.

But when your body reaches the perfect state where it can efficiently match your requirement, using less fuel and muscle power because it's figured out the easiest way to do it, you simply ask it to do the same thing again and again.

Your body will respond (get fitter, lose weight) if you keep pushing it. Here are some great ways to progress:

For runners:
  • Interval training - find a slope/hill, sprint up it, walk down it x 10 (or 20, depending on length of slope)
  • Run your normal route the other way around
  • Lengthen your run
  • Shorten your run, but run faster
For people with exercise bikes/cross trainers:
  • If you listen to music, try speeding up a little when each new song starts until you can't go any faster, then slow back down to your original speed and start again
  • If you watch soaps, sprint at the start of a new scene, then slow down at the start of the next, and repeat
  • If you always cycle for 20 minutes, do one session a week that's twice as long
  • If you're short of time, sprint for 10 minutes
For people who do exercise DVDs:
  • Buy a new one!
  • Take the moves you've learnt from the DVDs and make up your own circuit - time yourself for 30 seconds each station with 10 seconds recovery time:
    • Jog on the spot
    • Squat
    • Star jumps
    • Lunges
    • etc...

Hopefully that's given you a few ideas. Don't forget Part 3 in a couple of days' time.
I'll be talking about how to build muscle and why it's important.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Motivating Amy Part 1

In response to my last post, Amy replied:

I have the motivation problem, I'm afraid. I managed to lose about 12lbs last year - which is about half what I aimed to lose - and then stalled. In the couple of weeks before Christmas I was down below 60kg after trying for a while to lose an extra bit, but now I have frustratingly gone just over 60 again even after thinking I'd try not to put weight back on over Christmas.

I think what made the difference when I did lose weight was keeping a food diary coupled with exercising a bit more (exercise bike at home), but when work got busier I found it harder to find the time and energy to exercise and plan food ahead.

... and without realising it, she's given me enough subject matter for the next few posts.

When you first start losing weight, it comes off quite quickly. Any change to diet and exercise gets you off to a great start, but mostly you're losing water not body fat. Seeing the scales changing every week keeps us going. But it doesn't last, for reasons I'll go into in Part 2.

Here are my top tips to keep going when you hit a plateau:

  • Try measuring yourself instead of relying on the scales. Chest/bust, waist and hips are good areas to measure. Don't get hung up on the numbers, just the difference between the previous measurements. Or, have a skirt/shirt/pair of trousers that you can try on each week. Your shape might keep changing even when your weight stabilises.
  • Look beyond just losing weight. If you've been exercising at the same time as dieting, then you're fitter than when you started. See how many times you can walk up and down the stairs until you're exhausted, and try to do more each week? If your exercise bike measures distance, try to go further in the same time, or do intervals - 1 minute normal cycling, 30 seconds very fast, and see if you can do more intervals every week.
  • Add more activity into every day life. Everyone says it, but it's true. If you can, walk or cycle to work. If you already do that, walk quicker! Get out and about at lunchtime. If you work in a tower block, walk up and down the stairs on wet days (great for your bum!) I'm not sure if I want to admit this, but I jump on the spot or do star-jumps when I'm waiting for the kettle to boil. Or I balance on one leg, which is great for activating your stomach muscles.

Please pop back for Part 2 tomorrow.

Friday, 28 December 2012

New Year, new start!

I started this blog at the beginning of 2012, and then promptly forgot about it except for random postings. In hindsight, 2012 would have been a great year for a fitness blog...

Never mind, 2013 is a new year, and I'm sure there will be lots more fantastic things I can write about. The name of this blog has changed slightly - I've added the word Revived! I'm hoping this will motivate me to write about my other great love - fitness!

So, to get this blog properly revived, I need your help. What would you like to know? Is there a burning fitness question you're dying to ask? Do you need motivation? Are you bored with your routine and looking for a change?

Are you looking to lose weight in 2013? Or gain it?

Or do you have a great tip you want to share with other people?

It's over to you... for a little while, at least!!