I recently took a week off work for some quality relaxation and fun time away from the daily grind of Zoom, endless emails and stress. I had a lovely plan in my mind for exactly what I was going to do to maximise my holiday time in this post-Lockdown world.
I had 12 months worth of accumulated clutter filling my house after various bouts of online shopping and gruelling 10 hour work days. I was going to clear it all and spring clean my house from top to bottom. I was going to go for walks with my partner and outings to National Trust parks and the pub. I was going to really enjoy my time off with a bit of pottering and a lot of doing whatever the hell made me happy.
Or at least, that was the plan. The week before my holiday, I was so busy trying to get all of my work done that I rarely left my desk chair during the day and barely moved from the sofa in the evenings. The result? I spent most of my week off crippled by lower back pain. The reason? The pandemic has seen me gain a vast amount of weight (more than a few extra stone), work longer hours from home sitting in my desk chair every day and neglect to do any exercise because I just can’t find the time.
I’ve been putting my self-care last and consequently, I’m now ridiculously unfit. The extra weight around my middle is putting pressure on my back, my muscle mass has radically diminished and what little good posture I had is a distant memory. I get out of puff walking upstairs. I’ve always got some pain in my back, neck and shoulders and I now have quite a large double chin. Physically, I’m a mess…. and I know I’m not the only one.
It’s time to take back control of my body and start putting it’s needs before my job and my post-lockdown appetite! In that vein, I’ve been looking for advice about how to get fit after a significant period of downtime and I thought I’d share the top tips that I found with you all. I don’t care about being thin but I do care about being healthy and I hope that some of the things I’ve found will be helpful in getting you back on track with your fitness and self-care:-
Be Kind to Yourself
We’ve spent the last 12 months in unprecedented times, dealing with the uncertainty and grief caused by a worldwide pandemic. We’ve been shut indoors for months on end with a complete disruption to our usual routines. It’s okay if you’ve hit the gin more than the gym. It’s okay if your chocolate break has replaced your daily workout. We have done what we needed to do to deal with the way we were feeling. It’s in the past now.
Whatever the last 12 months has done to your fitness and your diet, it’s nothing to be ashamed of or depressed about. We can’t all be doing Joe Wick’s workouts and posting insta-pics of our new aerobics outfit – some of us have been working flat out the last 12 months whilst others have had to deal with new, upsetting realities. It’s time to forgive yourself, draw a line under it and move forward with getting yourself happy and healthy again.
Personally, I’ve had very little movement over the past year. I think I’ve gone from completing about 10,000 steps per day to just under 2000 steps if I’m lucky. My body aches when I lift something heavy or move too quickly. As much as I’d like to just blitz a 40 minute workout routine, I have the sense to realise that it would probably do me more harm than good right now.
Short, regular, low-impact exercise is the way to go for starting to build up your fitness levels again. If you can fit in a brisk, 10 minute walk per day then you’re on the right path. You want to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on your joints and muscles because they have not been used to doing much and may be carrying a little extra weight. Experts recommend that on average we should be doing between 150 and 300 minutes of regular exercise every week. Start small and build yourself up.
You can make yourself a daily schedule, you can spend time planning your menu for the week and then a little blip in your day can completely throw you off track and make you think, ‘maybe I’ll try again next week…’ Stop right there! You can plan until the cows come home but the only way to make a change is to START. Stop putting it off and just go for it.
Once you’ve gotten yourself into a daily routine with at least 10 minutes of exercise, the endorphins will get going and you will find yourself doing more and more on a daily basis. Exercise is not just good for your body, it’s good for your mind too. You’ll surprise yourself with how much you start to enjoy it.
Don’t Get Frustrated
Weight gain causes frustration which can ultimately lead to procrastination. Be realistic about your expectations. Weight goes on faster than it comes off. This is particularly true the older you get! For a more effective fat-burning workout, try fitting some weights into your exercise routine. Lifting weights helps to burn fat and build muscle more effectively than cardio-based workouts alone.
Ultimately, your goal is to be healthier and happier. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there, what matters is that you commit to the change and stick to it. Our bodies are all different. Some people lose weight more quickly than others – that’s just life. We can all lose it though, you just have to stick to your goal.
Find a Diet That Works For You
There are so many diets out there right now. You’ve got diet systems like ‘Weight Watchers” and “Slimming World” as well as diets touted by the likes of fitness gurus like Joe Wicks and then you have lifestyle diets like “Paleo”, “Mediterranean” and “Intermittent Fasting”. The important thing is to find a diet that works for you.
Take a look at your daily schedule and work out what fits. If you’re going to choose a diet then make sure it’s one that you find easy to follow. Choosing a diet with lots of complicated recipes and meal prep is not going to work when you have a hectic job and a demanding home life. Be realistic with yourself. Alternatively, you could just eat the same things you always do – Reduce the portions and add a bit more fruit and veg in and you could be on to a winner!
Getting fit requires that we move around more. There’s nothing to say that the movement has to be a fitness exercise. Increasing your daily activity will help to get you feeling more energetic again. If you have kids, take half an hour to play with them in the garden. Walk up and down your stairs a couple more times during the day. Turn the radio on and get your groove on in the kitchen whilst you’re cooking dinner. There are so many ways we can inject a bit more activity into our days – do what works for you.
Celebrate Your Success
Once you’ve done the work, don’t forget to celebrate the victory. Lost half a pound this week? Have a luxurious bubble bath to celebrate. Walking up the stairs without panting? Treat yourself to that new pair of trainers you’ve been eyeing up. Make sure that you celebrate every win in your fitness journey. You’re putting this work in for YOU. It’s important to mark each milestone and appreciate the benefits that your new healthy routine is bringing to your life. Importantly, it will help you to keep going and to achieve your ultimate fitness goal.
We hope that these tips on getting back into shape post-Lockdown will help you to move forward confidently and prepare for any fitness journey you plan to embark upon. As we’ve said before, we’re not really into diets and being skinny but we do understand the importance of maintaining your health. I’m gonna give it a go to save my back but I will still be treating myself to the odd G&T and chocolate bar…. I’ll just have to earn it first!