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365 Days of Keeping In Shape – Part I

Yup, the summer has come and gone sadly but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to leave your “summer” body behind with it!

Personally, I am not someone who Yo-Yos in and out of being in shape. I find it a lot easier to always keep within 5% of my target shape/condition. I judge this not by using weighing scales but more by whether I’m keeping functionally fit and the good old mirror test (see below). One of my mantras is that I keep in shape year round in a ‘Rule Free’ way i.e. not by following strict diets that are likely to fail. So without further ado, here are some ideas to consider for keeping in shape beyond summer, through to Christmas and beyond!

Get Social Support

This should be top of your list really because we are all dependent in some way on our family, friends and colleagues. So get your friends and family on board and interested in what you are trying to achieve, whether it is weight loss or training for an event. You cannot expect people to see it your way if you don’t take the time to explain it to them. Don’t be put off if they don’t understand your desires but equally be willing to adapt and take heed of what they say. Maybe you are overdoing it? Or maybe you don’t need to lose as much fat as you think!?

There is no doubt about it though, with the support of others, you are vastly improving your chances of achieving your goals.

Water Not Wine

I really don’t want to get bogged down in the facts and figures of how much water we should all be drinking daily but it has to get a mention because it is a powerful ‘staying in shape’ aid (and essential for our survival of course). I don’t go with cup counting or volume measuring myself but I do ensure that I always do the following:

• Keep a 1litre bottle of water topped up on my desk at work.A good cup of fresh tea or coffee is essential for me at work, so I ensure to make up for the diuretic effect of caffeine! Do we need 8 glasses of water per day?

• Drink water when I feel hungry and then eat, instead of mistaking hunger for thirst (which can cause many of us to overeat!)

• Always increase my fluid intake hours before exercise and hours after exercise. (If I’m preparing for an endurance event then I start to hydrate well days before, remembering not to dilute my body’s salt levels too much by eating foods like bananas and avocados.

I’m a red wine and beer fan but if you can take water in place of those drinks now and again, then you will be saving calories. It’s a big ask but cutting alcohol consumption will save your wallet as well as you waistline!

Be Clear About Your Goal

It’s an old favourite but if you don’t have a clear goal in your mind, then what are you going to achieve?
I find that it can be very effective to visual what you want to achieve in your mind first. It helps to mentally prepare before taking on a physical challenge or goal but we can only benefit from this if we have clearly defined goals. I like entering events because the goal is laid out before me – there is no hiding from it. Come the day of the race, I must be ready. For more personal goals that are less defined, I think it helps to look at short, medium and long term markers (especially if you are planning out some muscle gain or fat loss).

Mirror Image

I’m not really one for the scales. It’s too final and can be misleading. It sounds vain but I prefer to go with judging my progress in the mirror. I supplement this with how my functional fitness measures up e.g. how long is it taking me to run to work these days? It’s difficult to progress if we don’t quantify and measure things but be more open minded about your progress and try to think about if you are looking on target and therefore feeling good. I will say that not all mirrors are created equal and that our bodies appear different at morning, noon and night, and pre and post-workout. As long as you keep the pattern constant i.e. same mirror, same time, then you are checking yourself out in a fair way.

‘Exercise’ Everyday (No Joke!)

Before the rest-conscious folk think I’m crazy, I suppose I really mean to say… get active everyday as oppose to doing a set workout everyday. It’s true, rest is essential to staying healthy and in shape. We cannot overcome injuries or hard training sessions if we don’t rest and let our bodies recover. For most of us (who aren’t professional sports people), rest doesn’t have to mean sitting on our backsides for the whole day. So many calories can be burnt unnoticed if you just remain active during your ‘rest’ day. I’m talking, taking the stairs and not the lift; walking as much as possible; getting up from your desk every 30 minutes (max) to make a drink, or go and speak to someone.

I’m conscious of making this an information overload. I have some other tips and tools that I like to use and will share these in 365 Days of Keeping In Shape – Part II, so keep a look out for that article. Hope you have found the above useful and maybe you have some of your own gems for year round fitness that we would like to hear about?

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