Monday, 18 November 2013

Health & Fitness | 10 Ways To Keep Fit in Your 40s (or at Any Age)

10 Ways To Keep Fit In Your 40s
On the blog I'm often asked about my fitness regime; as I get a lot of different questions about what I do to stay in shape, I thought I'd write a post to share ways to keep fit in your 40s. However, in writing it I've realised these tips are, in fact, applicable to all ages, so I hope you'll read on if you're 18, 30 or 60 - it doesn't matter, because this is not a post about losing weight...!

I didn't want to write a post about weight loss - this is about fitness and getting a strong, healthy body. Losing a few pounds - or a lot depending how overweight you may or may not be - is often a result of a new regime and change of lifestyle.


By the time you reach your forties, you have most likely realised you're not getting any younger (sad but true!), so I have written it from my 41 year old point of view. But I've reflected on my attitude to fitness in my youth, and what I hope to achieve in the future, as well as what I do right now.

Here's my top ten tips for keeping fit, and - more importantly - staying fit!



1. Find your motivation, and your mojo

If you've had long periods of inactivity, or indeed a lifetime of it, finding your mojo is possibly the hardest thing to do. It's hard to imagine ever wanting to exercise, but the attitude you eventually want is not one where you're having to force yourself to exercise, but where it is simply habit, like brushing your teeth. You have to want to do this for yourself, so think about your reasons for getting fit and keeping fit. 

It's a bit like learning how to drive: when you're young you can't imagine what it's like to be able to drive a car - all those things to change and stuff to do with your feet whilst watching the road and turning the wheel... it just seems impossible and far too much to think about. Yet when you're learning how to drive, one day it just "clicks" into place. You can't imagine what it's like not knowing how to drive any more. All the different things you have to do and concentrate on just become second nature - and you find yourself wanting to drive because, well, you're growing up and you need to get places.

Your motivation to learn to drive is being able to get from A to B, by yourself, for the rest of your life. To become fit and strong you have to work out what your motivation is - but make it good. Not, I want to fit in that dress for my sister's wedding next year; rather, I want to be able to do yoga when I'm 80. Or I want to stay fit so I can run around with my children - and my grandchildren. Your motivation has to last the whole of your life, not just till your sister's wedding or next year's holiday.



2. Start right NOW, today

If you're reading this and you've been thinking about getting fit - don't start a fitness regime tomorrow, next week, or worse: in the New Year. GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING TODAY. Go for a 15 minute brisk walk, do half an hour's housework at lightning speed, run up and down the stairs 20 times. The sooner you start the better - start that positive thinking with some action today. As you get older time seems to pass so much more quickly so act now - don't waste the new few weeks or even the next few days.

UNLESS YOU'RE READING THIS JUST AFTER CHRISTMAS, NEVER, EVER START A FITNESS REGIME ON JANUARY 1ST - START RIGHT NOW.

My best tip is this: Unless you're readjusting this just after Christmas, never, ever start a fitness regime on January 1st. I have always done this in years gone by - New Year's resolution, I'll start after Christmas, after New Year. RIGHT NOW, five weeks before Christmas, is the best time to start. I did this last year for the first time: I got myself 'reasonably' fit before Christmas. The inevitable food onslaught and general laziness happened over the festive period of course, but because I'd started my regime in November, I didn't go crazy because I'd already found my mojo weeks before. So yes, I put on a few pounds over the festive period, but here's the thing: it was nothing like the usual 7-10 pounds I usually put on. I was actually really keen to get straight back into my new routine and found the first week of January so much easier - my head was back in the right place within a few days, because I'd trained myself to think the right way before Christmas. Which brings me onto...


3. Realise that getting fit is 70% attitude, 30% action

There's a reason why modern day athletes have sports psychologists. No amount of training, hard work or the right diet will get them a gold medal or win that tournament if they haven't got a winning attitude. If you're steadily working towards improving your health by making small changes and keeping them up every day, one day (like when you're learning to drive) something will just click in your head - that's the winning attitude. I won't pretend that finding it is easy; it's not. I'll be absolutely honest and say it took me years to find that click... but I didn't know it was mostly about getting my head in the right place. Gaining a strong, fit body is simply the consequence of changing your attitude.

Realise that getting fit is 70% attitude, 30% action
I'll share with you what clicked with me: it was seeing my parents age, and realising that ageing (or rather, becoming elderly) will also happen to me one day. I've always had youthful, fit parents, despite them having me much later in life, and I thought they would be invincible forever. But in recent years they've both had their knees replaced, heart problems and arthritis, amongst other things - and it dawned on me that despite them being healthy and fit, these things can still happen to us.

So if I were to continue doing exercise sporadically, and doing it because I want to fit into my skinny jeans, then that wasn't enough to see me through into old age. I realised I was suddenly in my forties and I had to become fit for the rest of my life, to be able to cope with whatever life threw at me because I wasn't 20 and as resilient as I used to be. I had to start straight away and make it part of everyday life for my own health and well being.


4. Stop making excuses

Ever said any of these things?

I don't have the time to exercise.

I can't afford a gym membership.
I can't see any appeal in running.
I don't want anyone to see my flabby bits.

If you've ever thought anything like that before, consider the alternatives: lack of energy, trouble sleeping, skin problems, headaches, bad times of the month, constant colds, health complications in later life... those things are not worth putting up with for the sake of the excuses you're making. All those things should improve if you get yourself fit. If I've stopped exercising for a while, I always get three-day headaches, and terrible cramps at that time of the month... if I'm in the zone and exercising regularly, the headaches stop and my time of the month gives me no pain at all. Those two things alone makes it all worth it.


No time? Unless you never, ever watch TV and have six children to look after, everyone can find 15 minutes to do something that'll get your heart racing. Turn off the TV and just move instead.


UNLESS YOU NEVER, EVER WATCH TV, EVERYONE CAN FIND 15 MINUTES TO DO SOMETHING.

Gym too expensive? I've never stepped foot inside a gym, let alone bought a membership. Buy an exercise DVD to do at home, run up and down the stairs for 15 minutes till you're out of breath, or look at a Health & Fitness Pinterest board for workouts you can do without forking out any money at all.


Hate the thought of running? So did I when I was 28. But I tried it and could only run for three minutes before I had to stop and walk. But now, aged 41, I like to run for between 20 minutes and half an hour, so I'm ten times fitter than I was in my twenties. It doesn't have to be running - simply try something new, because you never know, you might just like it.


And if you're worried about others seeing your wobbly bits, remember you don't have to wear skin tight lycra, or exercise in public. You can put on a dance playlist at home and dance to your heart's content all by yourself in sweat pants and your oldest t-shirt - who cares what you look like?



5. Find something that works for you

There's no point me suggesting particular exercises or workouts, what sports are good to take up, or how often to exercise and at what time of day. Everyone is different and has different lifestyles, jobs and home situations. Once you've got your motivation, and found your mojo, what you do and when will fall into place. Getting your head in the right place means that the fitness regime you take up will become habit, and your positivity will make you want to try new things. Running 2-3 times a week and using exercise DVDs such as the 10 Minute Solution DVD range worked for me, but only after I tried all sorts of other things first. I also accepted the fact that I cannot function in the early mornings - I prefer working out after work when my body's had a whole day to loosen up, and my head is clearer.

This short article entitled Want an Exercise Routine? Ask Yourself These Questions has some great questions to ask yourself when you're trying to work out what is best for you. Don't try to compete with your best friend, or copy what Jennifer Aniston does, or think that being a gym bunny is the only solution. This is your call - unless it's achievable and personal to you, it isn't going to work and yield results.



6. Accept what you can and can't change

We're always reading that should stop comparing ourselves to other women, stop thinking that the bodies we see in magazines are what we should be trying to achieve. This is another part of changing your attitude, and the "click" going off in your head. Concentrate on YOU, and no one else. Learn to appreciate your best bits (read how to make the most the most of your best feature here), and forget your small stature / lack of long legs / round face shape. Aim instead to get fit so you improve your posture and stand tall; get strong, shapely legs no matter what their length; optimise your circulation to improve your skin and make it glow. Optimise the things you like, improve the things you don't.

ACCEPT what you can and can't change. OPTIMISE the things you like; IMPROVE the things you don't.


7. Walk regularly, and everywhere

Even if you don't do any exercise at all, ever, then do take this one piece of advice away with you: Walk. If you're able to make a 15, 20 or 30 minute walk part of your everyday routine, so you do it automatically, then you will see your fitness levels improve. All other sports and fitness become easier if you're walking regularly, and walking fast - literally as fast as your legs will go; don't amble along. Incorporate a walk into your lunch hour if you have an office job, or go the long way round to pick up the kids from school. Do it at the same time every day and aim to make it habit.


8. Sleep

A lot of people don't realise this, but the less sleep you get, the less chance your body has to refuel, burn calories and improve your mental state. If you have trouble sleeping, start with the exercise - keeping active helps you sleep better. If you are able to get into bed earlier every night and do it regularly, combined with the regular exercise, the cycle of not sleeping and lack of energy should start to improve.


9. Set yourself realistic goals

I know I said that this post isn't about weight loss, but in our forties weight gain is all too easy if we're not staying active. So if you know that you have some pounds to shift but it seems like such a daunting task - stop thinking about the amount as a whole. Give yourself a realistic target to achieve - for instance, losing one pound a week sounds more than doable, don't you think? If you consider that springtime (let's say mid March) is only about four months or 17 weeks away, you could lose 17 pounds between now and then if you set your mind to it, depending on how much you need to lose to shape up. Break down your targets into realistic goals and they won't seem so unattainable.


10. Do it for your health, forever

I do despair a little when I hear women of any age saying that they couldn't possibly contemplate doing any exercise, or that they envy girls who eat junk food all the time and never put on weight. Why do that to your body? I'd rather be heavier but strong and healthy, than very slim but getting sick all the time. It's never too late to realise that we only have one body, and we should look after it. YOU'RE in control of changing your body, no one else, and that change has to come out of a respect for the one body that's going to see you into later life.

YOU'RE IN CONTROL OF CHANGING YOUR BODY, NO ONE ELSE.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


On a more practical level, if you're doing any sort of impact exercise (i.e. where your feet leave the ground), make sure you get yourself two things: the best sports bra you can afford, and a really good pair of sports shoes. In the pictures I'm wearing the Nike Free 3.0 V5 running shoes from JD Sports that were gifted to me for review - I usually have to buy a new pair every year to 18 months and have tried a lot of different makes and styles in the 15 years I've been running.

However, I've not worn Nike shoes for a long time and was keen to see if all the improvements and changes in sportswear design over the years would help my performance.

Nike Free 3.0 Running Shoes

The first thing I noticed about these shoes is how incredibly light they are - they weigh next-to-nothing and it feels like you're running on air. A great feature is that there isn't a separate tongue - it's incorporated into the shoe upper so there's no annoying slipping of the tongue down either side of your foot.

It has the usual mesh upper that you'd expect from a pair of quality running shoes to allow your foot to breathe, and I love the styling and colour combination (neon yellow and grey is perfect).

Keep Fit In Your 40s

I haven't run in them enough to know for sure, but I certainly noticed a difference in wearing such a light shoe. The best way I can describe it is that it feels like running barefoot, but as if your feet have a thin cushioned sole to take the impact, and you simply don't notice them. Most other running shoes I've had make me all too aware that I'm wearing them, with thick soles and a high supportive arch - and I liked the change.

You can buy the Nike Free 3.0 V5 here at JD Sports, or check out their other style running shoes if something else takes your fancy.

Next Monday: Part two of this post will concentrate on the food side of keeping fit, and how I changed my eating habits for life, so do check back next week for that.


I'm really interested to know how many of you regularly keep fit, whether your age has made a difference to your regime, or whether any of my tips have helped you or inspired you to act now. Let me know!
Catherine x
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JD Sports kindly gifted me these running shoes for review. All opinions are my own, however, and 100% honest.
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44 comments

  1. Great post! I'll add my top tips:

    - Fresh air is free and fun. It makes you feel fab. You never, ever regret doing an exercise session (unless you hurt yourself!) - and will often regret skipping one.
    - Don't skimp on footwear. Your knees are for life. Run no more than 500 miles per pair.
    - Do wear a good sports bra. This one is the best I have ever had - it is amazing with ZERO movement: http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/run-sports-bra-p166831?gclid=COru1Yrw7roCFaoKwwodcmcAnA
    - Always wear high viz tops in the dark. Reflective strips are not enough, as I nearly found out last year when a Land Rover threatened to kill me.
    - No-one cares what you look like, especially if they're exercising too as they'll be too engrossed in their own thing. And if someone does care, you'll never see them again anyway.
    - JFDI.

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    1. These all excellent tips - thanks so much for sharing! I'm with you on the "who cares what I look like" when exercising!!

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  2. Listen to all of this great advice...so you will not be like this 60 year old struggling to get fit now when I ignored it in my 40s!! If only.....

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    1. But Pam, if you're doing something - anything - that's great!! It may seem like a struggle, but it sure beats being a couch potato, no matter what age you are :))

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  3. I agree! And finding something that works with my life and my schedules was so important to my follow-through. And if a day is just crazy, I do 15 min of yoga at bedtime, ahhhh. xo

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    1. Yes the scheduling thing IS really important... and I must do more yoga. I'm worried I'll lose my suppleness (if that's a word?!) Thanks Patti my lovely xo

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  4. This is all such good advice, I'm in my late 20s and was massively unfit in my late teens/early twenties but now I've done a triathlon and planning on beating my time next year. I really like exercising! I'm not great but little and often builds great stamina!
    http://ahandfulofhope.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Wow Helen that's amazing! Well done you. Stamina is another important factor - it all counts towards that feeling of well being, doesn't it? Thanks so much for commenting x

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  5. well i'm definitely following your tips if i can have a figure like yours in 25 years! I have Nike free 3.0s too an I know exactly what you mean about the barefoot feel; I can run 11k or so in them without the blisters I'd get from any other trainers. I love how you've made this post more about the thoughts behind exercising rather than workouts themselves too. Do you do any strength/weight training as well as running and DVDs?
    lily x
    www.jolihouse.com

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    1. Lily thank you!!!!!!! That's really flattering of you :) Yes I also do some light weight training - again at home, with workout DVDs. No gym equipment required, just some 2.3kg (5lb) weights and the DVDs. I have to be careful not to do too much with my arms - as you've probably noticed my arms are exceptionally bony and thin, so I want to bulk them up a bit... but there's the danger of getting horrid veiney Madonna-style arms (no thanks)!

      If you or anyone wants to know a good workout DVD, the one that I can THOROUGHLY recommend is this one by Erin O'Brien - Strong Body, Fit Body - it's essentially weight training combined with cardio. It will build what I call 'gentle' muscle but also get you totally out of breath - however you need to be reasonably fit to start with! I'd recommend it for those who have found their mojo already and are exercising regularly and wanting to kick it up a gear. I promise you, you'll see RESULTS with this DVD...!

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  6. My fitness plan is pretty simple. I walk on the treadmill and have a few exercise videos I like to do. My promise to myself is to do something positive for my health at least 5 days a week. Today we had to be gone so I parked as far away as I could and hiked into the stores. Since I knew I'd get less exercise I wa even more diligent about my meals.

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    1. I love the idea of making a promise to do something five days a week, S - that's a great way to do it! And parking further from the shops is another thing - why do people insist on parking their cars as close as possible to the shop entrance??! Like they can't be bothered to walk 50 yards...! Thanks so much for commenting and your input x

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  7. i need my fitness mojo back - thanks for this...hopefully this will get me out of my rut.

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    1. Getting out of a rut IS the most difficult thing, so do take my advice and do something today, start now - before Christmas! Don't leave it till after, it will be ten times harder then. Good luck and let me know how you get on (are you "moving" today?!!) I'm glad to be of some inspiration to you x

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  8. All so true!! I think we need add eat right too. I have found that for me personally, it's more about what I eat than the exercise I am getting. I have always been pretty active with my workouts and if I miss a day, my body feels it. It's all about setting a routine that works for you.

    Alice
    www.happinessatmidlife.com

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    1. You may have missed that I mentioned I'm doing food next Monday, Alice! And I totally agree with you about the food - for me it's both, they're inextricably linked. Good for you for looking after yourself so well, thanks for sharing your thoughts xo

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  9. Wonderful and motivating post. I agree 100% with every word of this, even when I travel I never leave home without a pair of my free runs, and work out gear. I can usually find somewhere to take a run and what an excellent way to start the day.

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    1. A girl after my own heart! Though I'll admit being away from home is my worst time - I take my gear and rarely use it. That's something I have to sort out (when I'm out of routine). Well done you x

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  10. I'll be the first to admit that I am NOT a fitness buff, but your tips here are by far the most motivating and accessible I've ever read...somehow you managed to get to the "heart" of what true fitness should be about. I used to walk the 15 minutes from home to work; but now I don't, because my doctor (my doctor!!) had the nerve to tell me that it "didn't count!!" Talk about anti-motivation!!

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    1. Monika I can't believe your doctor said that!!!!! In my 20s I used to walk a total of 1.5 hours every day to get to and from work - I used to go to the pub regularly (ahem), not eat very well and NO other exercise... however the combination of all that walking and my age meant I never put a pound on. It all changed when I turned 30 - I drove to work and gained a sedentary lifestyle AND about 30lbs. Walking every day helped me back on the path to getting fit again! Surely you don't have to be a doctor to realise that brisk walking everyday is good for your heart, your legs, your head even (my walks are my thinking time away from phones and emails). I always find a run or a workout in the evening is easier if I've been for a fast walk at lunchtime - I've been loosened up to some extent.

      I say take it back up Monika - forget what the doc says! And surely you'll be saving petrol or money for public transport too won't you...? Anyway I'm glad you liked the tips, let me know how you get on x

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  11. Fab post Catherine, I work from home so it is really important to me that I do something everyday, unfortunately due to a hip injury I can no longer run, but have a selection of fitness DVD's Jillian Michaels is currently my favourite very motivational and on days when I'm busy or not feeling in the mood !! I do her 20 minute video, like you say we can all spare 15-20 minutes. Will take a look at Erin Obrien too, I like a bit of variety.

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    1. Thanks Tracey - and good for you for not letting the injury make you want to give up! I've read a lot about Jillian Michaels, I think I will likewise check her out. C x

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  12. As always, you give such great advice. I enjoy reading your posts very much. Thank you for all the work you put into them.

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    1. Susan thanks so much, you've made my day by knowing that you enjoy them! xx

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  13. I love your positive, encouraging tips here! I'm 44 and have definitely noticed a metabolism change in the last couple of years. I've made a commitment to get outside and go walking several days a week, and I do feel better because of it. I love your running shoes. What kind of socks (if any) do you wear with them?

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    1. Yes I've noticed the metabolism shift too for a few years now!! And thanks for confirming my thoughts about walking (especially with regards to the comment left above by Monika about what her doctor said)!!

      Running socks: yes I do wear socks normally, but the shoes just looked better for the photos without them. I wear proper sports socks, either those cropped ones made to be invisible (which they never are) or longer ones - depends how cold it is!

      Glad you liked the tips, hope they've inspired you to continue x

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  14. Great post! I appreciate your very realistic approach. I've recently adapted a "clean eating" lifestyle and managed to lose 20 lbs. since June (even went on a cruise last month and didn't get terribly set back). I'm still struggling with getting an exercise routine that I'm happy with and find it's a constant challenge to get in a workout. This is the second phase I need to work on since the clean eating is now in place. I'm determined to lose another 10 lbs.even though eating season is now upon us. Looking forward to your follow-up post :-)

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    1. Well done Lori - I hope you'll come back on Monday after I've done the "eating" part as a follow up post? Finding what you like doing and sticking to it IS really difficult, but all the more reason to not give up and find what suits you. I think we read too much about how it's better to exercise in the mornings, then you read it's better in the evenings - the only way it'll be effective and become a habit is if it works for YOU. I'm awful in the mornings, always have been... there is no way I would ever be able to commit to working out early, so I'd be giving up at the first hurdle. Start simple and keep it reasonably brief but REGULAR. Hopefully you'll make it such a habit you'll never want to look back and will only go on to try new things :D

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  15. Wonderful post. There was a column in our local paper awhile ago by a fitness trainer that said you cannot get fit by walking. I snorted with laughter, because I have a neighbour who, in the seventeen years we've been living here, I see bright and early every morning, without fail, walk an hour in all types of weather (I'm talking everything from mid-thirties in summer to minus forties in winter). She is slim and trim and has the best legs going.
    I have found the Couch to 5k running program to be an easy introduction to running. Unlike my neighbour, I hate the cold weather, so I switch to a stationary bike then, but every spring I go through the C25K program and continue running until the cold weather hits in the fall.

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    1. Wow... all htese sorts of articles - whether it's saying "walking doesn't get you fit" or "eating burgers won't make you fat" are so dangerous in my opinion - it's basically giving unfit, uninspired people the green flag to be proud of being a couch potato because apparently getting up off your bum and moving your legs quickly for 20 minutes a day won't do anything for you. What a load of rubbish... it's common sense that walking will improve your fitness levels, isn't it?

      Anyway you should be proud of your achievement - well done!! Thanks so much for coming by and sharing hun xx

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  16. Great points. The points are really very useful and informative for me. Keep sharing.

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  17. Such a powerful call to action lady, totally agree with you on all. Might have to print this and pop it on my fridge! You rock! Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

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    1. That's a great compliment (and comment), thank you so much Vicki! Hope it gives you lots of inspiration... I'm having to re-read it myself after the Christmas bloat-out I had...!!!!

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  18. Brilliant post Catherine! I am 34 years old (today!) and over the past year have changed my attitude to exercise. I now exercise regularly, I even love running - albeit on the treadmill. I feel so much healthier and can now literally run around with my children. You've made some really great points and I agree with all of them.

    I bought some Nike Free earlier last year and I love them. You described them so well, they're so comfortable. I'd definitely recommend them.

    #BrilliantBlogPosts

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    1. Happy Birthday for Friday, Morgan!! So glad you liked the post... I must write another either this month or next as a follow up. And thank you for featuring it on your blog, I really appreciate it :))

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    2. Oh yes, I'd love to read another one, you must let me know if and when you do. And you're welcome hun. xx

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  19. You look amazing and you make staying fit look easy. My main problem is procrastinating. I always say tomorrow and tomorrow never comes

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    1. I was hoping that these tips would help you FIND that motivation to get started, Joy (see point 1)! Hopefully I've explained that staying fit isn't easy AT ALL... it takes a lot of hard work!! Have another think about why you want to get fit, make it a good reason and think what small change you can make today to get the ball rolling :))

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    1. Thank you Shon - I'm so glad you liked it! Hope it helps :))

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  22. I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job! 5K Workouts

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