Here’s Why You Should Do It Anyway
That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. And it sucks!
In fact, I’ve been feeling like this ever since allowing my general health and fitness to subside.
It’s for those exact reasons that I’ve decided enough is enough.
I’ve told myself that I must start making my health and fitness a priority again – like I previously did in the past.
What is the point?
I’m by no means unfit, but I’m definitely far from where I want to be.
This time last year things were completely different.
I would be out doing 5km runs 3 x a week. Playing 2 games of basketball every single Wednesday. Attending fitness classes at my works gym daily throughout Mon-Fri.
And those fitness classes were no joke. It was constant HIIT work – High-Intensity Interval Training (for those who don’t know) – and it was always killer!
However, over the better part of this year, I’ve completely fallen off the wagon. It’s not just my exercise regime that’s been shattered. My diet has completely fallen apart, my bedtime routine doesn’t know what adequate sleep is and my once daily habit tracking is now non-existent.
I guess the mixed blessing with me is that I don’t put on weight easily. I say it’s a mixed blessing because it means I’m always on the cusp of completely letting myself go, consuming everything & anything that is bad for you. Just because I don’t put on fat easily, doesn’t mean I should allow myself to eat all the damaging things imaginable. After all, you can be both lean and unhealthy – it’s not just about whether you’re fat or not.
I’m 6ft 4″ and naturally slim (feel free to hate me for that – plenty of people, especially my fiance, already do) so it’s easy for me to get caught in the trap of I don’t HAVE to exercise, it’s not like I’m going to get fat anytime soon.
But this all changes now. I’ve had enough of feeling like a demotivated piece of shit.
Months of shitty eating and lacking exercise have gone by, and believe it or not, I’ve actually managed to lose weight. Granted, the weight I’ve lost is most definitely muscle weight, but that’s beside the point. Like I said, I don’t get fat easily, so I’m always walking that dangerous line of letting myself go.
I’ve realised that this is completely the wrong mindset for me. I should be living a healthy lifestyle for my mental health first and foremost. It’s my mental health that starts to struggle way before my physical health. Physical changes can take a long time, but mental changes seem to happen at a much swifter rate.
Exercise Can Be Addictive
So if I don’t get fat easily, then why would I even bother to exercise in the first place?
Why did I ever do it?
Quite simply, I found it addictive. Those post-exercise endorphins are powerful things if you keep them coming.
That high you get from exercising really does feel extraordinary. It does a brilliant job of clearing your head and making you feel like you’ve got the mental clarity to get things in your life under control. I completely understand why so many of the most influential people in the world recommend exercise as one of the keys to life.
Exercise should be perceived as one of the legs on a 3 legged stool.
Go long enough without any form of exercise and you will most definitely feel the negative effects. You’ve most likely already experienced this at some point in your life – maybe you’re experiencing it right now?
For example, have you ever noticed how much better you feel by simply going for a walk? Walking helps lift that mental fog that’s so desperately clinging on to your brain. In fact, regular walks have even been recommended as a promising treatment for depressive symptoms.
That’s why I was able to stick to my exercise regime for so long this time last year. It wasn’t to lose weight. It was simply because I loved the positive feelings that would flood my brain after a workout.
I was addicted.
When Life Gets in the Way
Then, of course, life got in the way.
As it so often does.
I moved house, my works’ gym closed down and a lot of things in my personal life started to go wrong. Relationships with certain people around me began to collapse and things, in general, began to feel extremely strained.
Being honest, they still do.
But I’m not allowing this to be an excuse for not getting back to my former, better self. After all, life is always going to get in the way.
It’s the hard times that show us who we really are.
Yes, it’s always going to be easy to make excuses when it comes to your health and fitness. Until the day when it’s too late. But taking the easy route is not what I want.
It’s the same boiling water that softens the potato that hardens the egg, it’s about what you’re made of, not the circumstances.
I’ve mentioned previously how I tend to feel extremely restless when I’ve not done something productive during my off days. I get that exact same restless feeling when I’ve not done any form of exercise for a period of time. It’s horrible.
It’s time to stop allowing life to get in the way.
So What Am I Going to Do About It?
For me, diet and exercise go hand in hand.
If I’m not bothering to exercise regularly I will most likely eat crap and be impulsive with my food and drink choices. In contrast to this, if I am exercising regularly, then I will also ensure my eating habits are in check; lots of healthy proteins, carbs, fruit/veg and bucket loads of water.
I need one in order to stick with the other.
I know others differ with this. Other people – maybe even you – might feel that if they’re sticking to some sort of exercise programme they can afford to eat all the bad things they want and not worry about it. They’re simply exercising in order to excuse the negative aspects of their diet. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, as long as it’s carefully managed.
However, just because you’ve done half an hour of exercise for the day doesn’t mean you can go and eat 3 takeaways or so. Again, life is all about balance.
Here’s the 3 things I’m going to be keeping to, for now.
Staying Well Hydrated
I’m tracking my water intake again, aiming for a minimum of 3L per day. I use this handy app on my phone called AquaAlert to figure out how much is recommended for my gender/height and weight.
We all know water is absolutely essential to us – it makes up an average 60% of our bodies so drinking enough water is a big thing to get right!
To make things easy for me, I carry around a simple 600ml water bottle and down the lot at random intervals throughout the day. I then open up my AquaAlert app on my phone and log it, which only takes a few seconds.
The key is to not think about doing this but to just do it. Water is important, we perform better on all levels when we have enough of it, so make sure you’re getting enough of it.
Fun fact about me – I don’t like drinking ice cold water. It’s not because my teeth are sensitive or anything like that, it’s because I can’t chug ice cold water as easily as I can water that’s at room temperature. After all, I don’t enjoy drinking water. It’s boring. I would rather drink coffee/tea or literally anything else all day. But I don’t drink water for the taste, I drink it because I know how important it is for ensuring your body is working at its absolute peak.
I genuinely believe the reason I rarely get headaches, or even hangovers, is because I keep myself so well hydrated.
How do you know if you’re drinking enough water?
Is your pee near enough the same colour as water? You’re well hydrated. Is it yellow? Better get some of that h20 into your system pronto!
Cutting out all Obvious Sugars
I’m cutting out all the obvious sugars from my diet. By obvious sugars, I mean the types of food and drink that you just know contain too much processed sugar. You don’t have to go looking into it too much to know what’s what.
For starters, I’m stopping taking sugar in my coffee and teas. I’ve managed this relatively easy before, but this time around it’s definitely a lot harder.
I think this is because I’ve been used to the sugar in these drinks for the past few months, and I’m not just talking a single teaspoon either. I was having 2-3 teaspoons of sugar in every single cup. In the past, I was only having 1, maybe 1.5 teaspoons’ worth of sugar, so I’ve effectively double my intake per cup over these last few months.
My body is most definitely noticing that I’m not feeding these cravings, and I’m struggling. The good news is you do soon get used to having your drinks without any added sugar. You just need to stick with it.
Next up is the abstinence of chocolates, cake, biscuits and sweets.
Obviously, all these types of food are full of sugar. Why does everything bad have to taste so good?
Now, I’m not cutting these things out of my life completely. I’m allowing myself to eat them on a Saturday which is effectively my ‘cheat day’ – I do want to enjoy my life after all. But as for the day-to-day snacking on that type of food? That’s getting stopped dead!
I’m an all or nothing type of person when it comes to snacking. I can’t just open up a chocolate bar, have 1 piece, and put the rest away for another day. If I’m going to have a piece of chocolate then you better believe the rest of that bar is getting absolutely demolished too, along with any other bars that come with it! (Christmas and Easter can be a difficult time for me).
I’m getting back into my workout regime by first of all resurrecting my old habit of 50 push-ups a day.
This time last year I could bang out my 50 push-ups with relative ease. Yesterday, I went from 0 to 10 and had to pause for a break. That’s how significant the degradation has been! I did end up doing my 50 push-ups, but the last half was all done in increments of 5.
And damn, my chest and arms are killing me today!
Talk about disappointing. But there’s no point in crying about it. I can’t expect to be as good as I once was if I’ve stopped doing what made me good in the 1st place.
Along with these push-ups, I’m walking for a minimum of 8,000 steps a day. This takes roughly 1 hour depending on my walking pace. I’m not setting a hard rule for this, some days I’ve been going way over my target, and other days I’m slightly under. As long as I’m staying consistent and moving as much as I possibly can then I’m happy.
I’ve found that the thought of going out to exercise is always worse than the actual exercising itself.
Once I’ve got all of the above nailed down, I’ll be throwing my once loved 5km runs back into the mix. It’ll be interesting to see how bad my running times are after such a long time off. That may call for another blog post.
One thing to remember here – in terms of exercise, it’s always easier to stay ready than it is to get ready.
Keeping the Momentum Going
As with anything, it’s easier to keep moving once you’ve already started.
I recommend starting out small. Smaller than you probably think necessary.
Ask yourself this – What small thing can I do today to improve my health or fitness in some way?
Maybe it’s cutting back on that daily can of coke you have every lunchtime? Or simply moving more throughout the day? If you’re not currently eating any fruit, try telling yourself you will have half an apple as a snack – the likeliness is you will end up finishing the whole thing. Struggling with eating more vegetables? This is a big one for me too! Just try adding a small handful of salad to your main meals at night and take things from there. Looking to improve your pushups? Aim for 1 ‘as perfect as possible’ pushup every single day. If you end up doing more that’s fine, as long as you manage to do at least 1 so you’re keeping yourself accountable.
As Will Smith says – You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid.
You should take this same approach when it comes to working on your health and fitness. Don’t go overwhelming yourself too soon and inevitably quitting. Just do something small that’s beneficial and take things from there.
You should definitely check out my last post – Start Living Your Life with No More Zero Days – if you want some real actionable advice on getting started with improving your life one tiny step at a time. It’s a real eye-opener to everyone, especially if it’s your 1st time reading it!
I guess the real key to everything here is to get good at making, and sticking, to habits.
Tracking my habits daily helps to keep me going. I use an app called HabitBull to do this. It works so well because you can see a visual chain of your habits over the month – you soon start to build this up, and seeing this chain grow helps to keep you motivated.
Eventually, you will start doing these habits without any real conscious thought. That’s when you know you’ve built up a successful habit.
Returning to your once fit and healthy self is hard. There is absolutely no denying that.
If you’re trying to get back on the health & fitness bandwagon, then the best thing you can do is get started TODAY!
Begin as I recommended by picking 1 small thing that you can do and just make a start.
Go for that walk like you said you would. Drink that glass of water instead of the coke. Eat that bag of fruit which you’ve been putting off – even if it is just 1 little piece!
Just get yourself going, because that really is the hardest part of all.
And remember this.
Your future self will thank you for it.
If you were able to relate to this post, please let me know in the comments section below. Maybe you’re currently trying to gain your health & fitness back? If so, I want to hear about it. What things are you currently doing to try and get back on track? Have you got any tips or ideas of your own?
I’d also really appreciate if you could share this post with your friends. Bonus points if you’re able to share this with someone else who can really relate.