#HEALTHYHAPPYBODY: HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED & ACHIEVE YOUR FITNESS GOALS

With summer weather finally arriving, along with the inevitable “Beach Body” inspo barraging our social media feeds, you’re probably feeling the pressure to work out now more than ever.

Because the health benefits of exercise are numerous – including improved strength and mobility, better sleep, and increased levels of energy and happiness – everyone knows they should start a workout program; however, sticking to one is a whole other story. It’s pretty common to go out and buy the new Lulu pants, the Nikes sneakers, and the Hydro Flash Double Insulated Water Bottle, only to sputter out on your new exercise routine within a week or two and resume your go-to position on the couch.

I get it. The couch is super comfy. Give me the newest House of Cards season with a glass of red, and I’ll snuggle up right next to you. But no matter how inviting your couch is, deep down inside (maybe wayyyyy deep down inside), you really want long-lasting change when it comes to improving your fitness.

What’s preventing you from achieving your goals comes down to the big M word: Motivation. Unfortunately, you cannot take a swig of motivation and victoriously push your way through the finish line. More often than not, a tweaked mindset and a few simple tools fuel motivation. Below are a few easy practices that have helped me and my clients stay on track to achieve our individual fitness goals.

  1. Know Your “Why”

Knowing why you want to start working out is key for sticking it out. Your why has to be YOURS and yours alone, so it helps to get really clear and super specific with it. Is it to increase your energy because you’ve got two babies under the age of two that you need to keep up with? Is it for a health reason, like depression?

Your why has to serve your highest good, and it should reflect how you want to FEEL. That means, don’t work out to get a Kardashian/Jenner ass, or abs like J. Lo. Those ego-inflated reasons often leave you frustrated, dissatisfied, and ultimately listless. Once you get crystal clear with your why, you’re able to easily navigate around obstacles and naysayers and create the healthy lifestyle you desire.

  1. Schedule a Regular Workout Time

Most committed exercisers get up really early or work out at night (usually once the kids are in bed). I do both, but I prefer exercising first thing in the morning. That way my workout is out of the way and I am able to enjoy the rest of my day without worrying how to “squeeze” in a sweat session.

No matter what time you choose, commit to it like your life depends on it. Schedule a 45-60 minute workout into your weekly planner like it’s the interview for your dream job. Not committing to a regular workout time makes it really easy to forget it or make up excuses to skip it for something “more important.” But honestly, there’s nothing more important than your health and sense of well-being. Right?

  1. Set a Goal

There’s no better feeling than achieving a goal. Whether you’d like to complete a 5K run or fit into your skinny jeans, having a goal is an awesome way to stay motivated. Once you define your goal, plan a realistic schedule for it that also includes celebrating the small milestones throughout your journey.

Often times big goals take upwards of a year to accomplish, which can feel so daunting that you might want to give up mid-way. NOOOOOO! This is why if you plan for a sweet mini-reward halfway through your progress (like a weekend spa vacation), you’ll be less likely to throw in the towel.

  1. Make it Fun

Exercise can be fun. Seriously. Of course it all depends on your attitude, but it also helps if you spice up your exercise routine. Whether you join a barre or boxing class, or trade in the treadmill for a trail run, mixing up your routine will keep it both effective and enjoyable – which means you’ll be less likely to stop it.

Remember: make sure to do activities that interest YOU. For example, if you hate Pilates but are paying for a Pilates class because you read Miley Cyrus does Pilates, then for the love of Malibu, skip the Pilates class. It’s important to do activities that you really love so that you’ll be having sooo much fun you won’t feel like you’re working out at all!

  1. Make it Cost You $$$

Shameless plug? Maybe. But, let’s put it this way: if you’ve already shelled out some bucks to a personal trainer, you’ll be less inclined to stay in with pizza and America’s Got Talent and more motivated to hit the gym as you’d originally planned. Plus, a personal trainer is not only paid to create routines for you (so you can turn your brain off and not get overwhelmed with equipment), but she’s also there to motivate you with tons of support and affirmations – especially when the going gets tough. It’s an investment that will pay off in more ways than one. You’re worth it!

Brianne Hogan is a contributing writer for She Does the City and a personal trainer and healthy eating coach in the GTA. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook and check out her free Beginner’s 4 Week At-Home Workout series here.

Read the original article here.

Starting Out: Jogging

So you’ve decided to start jogging for the first time – congratulations! Jogging is an excellent way of boosting your mood, increasing your movement and keeping your weight under control.

But before you load up a running playlist on your phone and bolt out the door, first take some advice gleaned from jogging experts that may help you start on the right foot.

Here’s how to avoid the common rookie mistakes people make when picking up jogging for the first time.

Let out the doubt
“New joggers usually worry about how they compare to other people, and how they might look and be perceived,” says Heather Gardner, founder of Toronto’s Tribe Fitness. She advises to come to the experience of jogging “from a place that is personal versus worrying about others and what others think.”

Remember, feeling self-conscious is normal when starting a new activity, but it shouldn’t hold you back from becoming the best person you can be.

“Once upon a time, if someone would have said: ‘Luis you will be a runner in the future’, I would have literally laughed in their face.  I never pictured myself to be a runner,” says Luis Cabrera, a runner of 10 years, who is now a Nike Ambassador. “I always had this idea in my head that runners were these fit people that had been running all their life. I was wrong! Runners come in all shapes and sizes.  I’ve seen older people come out for the first time and seeing that motivates me.”

Don’t over-do it
New joggers tend to go all out, too soon. But pushing past the point of exhaustion and racking up too many kilometres can lead to injury and setbacks.

“By jumping into it without stretching and warming up properly, joggers risk injury or they can be very sore afterwards and so they won’t be able to run again for that week,” says Colin Matchim, head coach of Ajax Boxing Club, which will hinder their progress. Adopting a pre-workout warmup and stretch, followed by a post-workout stretch, is a good way to combat injuries from occurring.

Fuel your body
Also dangerous to a new jogger? Not eating or drinking enough. “A lot of people don’t realize the importance of proper nourishment and hydration before the start of run and quickly find out why it’s a bad idea not to be prepared,” says Matchim. “Stay hydrated throughout the day before you run and make sure you eat properly — but not within 45 minutes of your jog.”

Use the right shoes
New joggers can also suffer from repeat use injury, like shin splints, if they are not wearing the appropriate gear. “Many people are worried about sore knees and hips when jogging,” says Garner. “But with the proper program and attire, like running shoes, those injuries don’t generally happen.” So, go ahead and splurge on those new sneakers – it will be well worth it!

Have a plan and stick to it
Without a plan in place, many new joggers might begin to feel overwhelmed. Whether you are starting on a treadmill, a trail, or on the road, it’s important to find a route that feels comfortable for you, and to stick with it.

Gardner recommends finding a plan online from a reliable resource, or joining a class like the Learn to Run program at Tribe Fitness, a run/walk progression that requires no past running experience. “It is all about breaking it down into small accessible pieces,” she says. “So the program is broken down into small jog and walk chunks. You jog for one minute and walk for two minutes. The time slowly changes and the increments slowly morph throughout the program between jogging and walking. It is finding a program for the beginner jogger and giving them something that they can follow along.”

For those who are going it alone, Matchim suggests picking a route and timing yourself. “Setting goals within the route is always a good idea,” he says. “Jog to a pre-set landmark before you stop, and then on the day, you jog to another landmark.  Improving your time is another measurable method of tracking your improvement.” For example, see how it long it takes you to jog around the block one week, and compare it to your time for the next week.

Don’t go it alone
A great way to keep motivated with your new routine is finding a jogging buddy.

“When you know your friend is waiting for you in the park or on the corner, you won’t stand them up. You are going to go,” says Gardner, who recommends finding friends who have similar fitness goals. “The people who you are surrounded with impact what you do, including fitness and hobbies. I think finding like-minded people in your community who want to do what you want to do is key.” She suggests beginner joggers connect with others by joining a running program or finding a coach. Gardner also says that posting your fitness goals on social media, like Facebook or Connect is another way to stay accountable. “Post something like, ‘Hey, I just started this new jogging program. Ask me how it is going!’ Because people will ask you how it is going. Enrolling people will keep you accountable to your goals.”

Jogging can be a great addition to your fitness routine, or a terrific start of your new healthier you. Like everything else in life, you need to commit to it in order to be successful,” says Cabrera. “Jogging is one of those things that takes work and dedication.”

Read the original article on the Weight Watchers Canada website.

Starting Out: Swimming

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise, especially in the summertime. It’s one of those sneaky fitness regimes that burn just as many calories as it provides many hours of enjoyment.

“Swimming isn’t just great for weight loss, but it’s also great for the mind and spirit, too,” says Mindy Barfield, the office manager of AquaMobile Swim School, which offers private swimming lessons across Canada and the U.S.

But if you’ve never swam before, or are re-entering the water after a long absence, swimming can seem daunting, particularly for adults.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind before starting your swimming program.

You’re never too old to learn
Generally, when we think of swimming lessons, we tend to think of them as something that only children do. We often assume – wrongly – that swimming is a skill that every adult already possesses, or, at least, should know. It’s usually this negative thought pattern that will deter adults from learning how to swim in the first place.

“When I talk to fearful swimmers who are adults, a lot of that fear comes from a childhood event,” says Barfield. “The lack of learning as a child makes them embarrassed. They think they shouldn’t talk about it because they believe they should have learned it when they were young, but that’s not the case.”

As Barfield succinctly points out, “You’re never too old to learn anything, ever.”

Wear the right gear
With any sport, it’s important to ensure that you’re wearing the right gear in order to get the most out of your time and body.

“You don’t want what you wear to impact you negatively,” says Shelley Dalke, Director of the Swimming and Water Safety Program for the Canadian Red Cross. “For example: men wearing big, baggy shorts or women who are wearing bathing suits with excessive material that floats up. You want to wear something that you’re comfortable in, and that you’re not adjusting all the time.”

Finding the right goggles is also crucial. “I recommend investing in a good quality pair of goggles,” says Barfield. “Then that is one last thing that adult swimmers don’t need to worry about and then they can open up their eyes comfortably in the water. [Opening eyes underwater] tends to be a large concern for adults, especially those who wear contact lenses.” Barfield recommends consulting with your instructor on what type of goggles you should invest in, and ensuring they are fitted correctly.

Fuel your body
Even though we’ve all heard the “wait an hour after eating before swimming” idiom, both Barfield and Dalke suggest that fueling your body before swimming is a good idea.

“You have to ensure that your stomach isn’t working on digesting a heavy meal,” says Dalke, which probably explains the intention behind the common phrase. “But you want to ensure that you’ve eaten sufficiently to keep up your energy.”

Barfield recommends eating a high protein snack, as well as listening to your body. “If you’re the type who needs to eat before your workout, then do so. If not, don’t worry about it,” she says. “Just like any activity, you need to have endurance and you don’t want to lose your lunch, so to speak.”

 

Read the original article that I wrote for Weight Watchers Canada, here.