Now that spring is finally here, it’s the perfect time to crawl out from under that duvet you’ve been hibernating under all winter and get fit and healthy in time for the long, hopefully hot and glorious days of summer just ahead.
Thinking about a new health and fitness programme and actually creating and doing one are entirely different, though, and sadly, many of us don’t make it past the thought-process bit. There’s just too much else to do — work, running the household, looking after the kids and a million other errands that keep us away from all kinds of self-improvement goals we’re desperate to achieve.
Many people think they need all sorts of equipment, expensive gym memberships and bundles of time to do anything approaching getting fit and healthy, but that’s not entirely true. Sure, if you’ve loads of free time and tons of cash, you can spend lots of time down at the gym — but the reality is that few of us have such luxuries at our disposal. The good news is that, if you want to lose weight and get fit, and in a relatively short time too, you don’t need much of either time or money.
The first step to any fitness plan is the realisation that you don’t need a gym — either that sparkling new one down the road or one in your home. Getting yourself into shape and peak fitness is all about moving, and it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re not sitting in a heap for long periods in front of the TV. It can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of a lift or escalators — great for the leg muscles — or getting off your bus or train a few stops before your destination and walking the rest of the way. Also, ditching the car and walking to the shops is not only great for your body but for the environment too. Taking it a step further, you can run or jog, or cycle or swim a few days a week. Incorporate bodyweight exercises into some regular home workouts — pushups, planks, squats and more — to get toned using just the weight of yourself.
It’s no good working out if you’re not also working to ensure you’re eating the best food you can get. The rookie mistake of rewarding yourself with an indulgent treat — chips, pizza, burgers, even cake — because you ran for half an hour on the treadmill or did some other form of exercise is the quick road to weight gain and fitness failure. Instead of losing pounds, you’re piling them on, and you may wonder why you’re not shedding weight when you’re doing all those great workouts. The answer is that weight is lost in the kitchen, and you need to focus on wholesome, unprocessed foods and plenty of fruit and vegetables to get into shape and look amazing. So cut out almost everything that’s highly manufactured — look at the ingredients list and if it’s long, as in more than two or three items, it’s probably not good for you and hardly even “food” — and return to the beneficial, health-supporting way nature intended us to eat.
A health and fitness plan is also going to amount to little if you’re still smoking. Seriously — it’s ruinous to your health, and that of those around you, not to mention highly socially unacceptable, and making you smell like a big, dirty ashtray. Help, however, is at hand in the enormously difficult giving-up battle, and it comes in the form of the e-cigarette. It’s also now VApril, the second annual vaping awareness month, and there are lots of free resources you can use to help get you off cigarettes for good. So what is the best e-cig brand for you? You can head to your nearest vape shop, online or down the street and have a chat with the staff, who more than likely will be happy to advise — VApril is running free “masterclasses” at selected vape shops around the country, where you can get an introduction to vapes and what might suit you. And when you’re considering what kind of e-liquid to use, you might like to opt for one that has nicotine salts in them, as they provide a more satisfying “hit” for smokers, which means there’s less chance of going back to smoking cigarettes again.
Making these simple changes in your life will go a long way towards ensuring you’re on the right path to incredible health and fitness, this spring and well beyond.