Finally I feel like I’m getting somewhere in my mission to get back to fitness.
After coming up with 6 ways to get your fitness motivation back, I finally found my groove again and have done really well in the last two weeks. My energy levels are back up (still some room for improvement), I have almost been able to avoid sugar altogether, and the exercise has been tough but regular.
Results: 4lb lost in two weeks, which is twice as much as I’d planned to lose so I’m more than happy with that. I can start to see a little improvement in both what I see in the mirror and how my waistbands are feeling, i.e. no longer uncomfortably tight. I’ve been able to get back into at least one pair of trousers I’d previously abandoned which is always encouraging.
As I’ve upped my exercise since the last #notlambFIT update (or rather, as I’ve stuck to it this time) and I’ve had results, this week I thought I’d share my 5 top tips for keeping fit over 40. This may well work for any age, but being in my 40s I’m finding that this is what works for me.
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1. Walking every day
I honestly, truly believe in this one, and have done it for years. When I worked in an office I tended to go for a walk at lunchtime just to “get out of the office” and found that it refreshed me, cleared my mind and stopped me being stuck in the same position behind a computer all day: This is one of the biggest barriers to staying fit and healthy. The NHS’s website explains just how bad sitting too much is for your health, regardless of how much exercise you do:
“Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and premature death.
Prolonged sitting is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.
Many adults in the UK spend more than seven hours a day sitting or lying, and this typically increases with age to 10 hours or more. This includes watching TV, using a computer, reading, doing homework, travelling by car, bus or train – behaviours referred to as sedentary.”
In other words, scary stuff and a bit of a wake-up call for anyone who sits all day, not least bloggers.
I take a long, brisk walk every morning (about 35-40 minutes). I get some fresh air, say good morning to the regular people and dog walkers I see every morning, give my whole body a good stretch and get some vitamin D from the daylight.
An early morning walk is a great thing to do if you work from home because it gives you a “morning commute” – I time it so that after getting up and getting dressed, etc. I do all the household bits and pieces, then have my walk. When I get home I’ve basically “arrived at work” – I have breakfast and make myself a cuppa and it’s 9am, ready for me to start my day. I know many people who work from home start much, much earlier, but I like to keep normal office hours if I can, and that means a 9am start to stop myself being a slave to my work (and to my computer, see point 1 above).
You’ll often read that 10,000 steps a day is the recommended amount you should be taking. I have a FitBit to track sleep as well as steps – it’s amazing how few steps you take when you’re sitting all day, but equally amazing how many you take when you’re being generally active with a walk, the housework, or shopping.
2. Always take the stairs
This is a non-exercise way of getting exercise: Whenever you have the opportunity to take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, take it. If you only need a few essentials, walk to the supermarket if it only takes two minutes to drive there (plus carrying the bags will give your arms a workout).
I go up to London quite a lot for work, and tube travel is one of the best ways to give your legs a good workout: I always walk up the escalators instead of standing on them. If there are stairs as well I’ll take those instead. Some of the tube stations are so deep that you’ll start to regret taking the stairs when you’re halfway up – but boy can you feel it in your thighs.
Running isn’t for everybody, and I get that. Before I started running when I was about 27, I was one of those people who couldn’t understand why on earth anyone would want to run.
But after a few months of trying it and sticking with it, I went from not being able to run for more than three minutes at a time (the walk-run-walk method) to running for about half an hour. I’ve kept it up (albeit intermittently) ever since, and when I’m “in the zone” I find there’s nothing more satisfying than coming back from a run and knowing I was just a little faster than the last time I went.
I enjoy getting outside, the feeling that my heart is getting a thorough – a really thorough – workout, my legs are working at full pelt. It’s a fantastic way of burning calories and if I keep it up regularly (two to three times a week) I always see results.
4. Workout DVDs
I love doing DVDs at home. I have several that I do so that I switch it up a lot and am working different muscle groups and doing different routines. I do some that are purely cardio and some that are a mixture of cardio and resistance training (with weights). My favourites are:
Erin O’Brien – Strong Body Fit Body
Described as a workout to “burn fat and build muscle to help you lose weight”. You’ll really feel it after this one (and Erin is so lovely) – a 45 minute workout with weights but you’ll be seriously out of breath because it’s a real cardio workout as well.
Bob Harper – Body Rev: Cardio Conditioning
A full hour of intensive cardio and resistance training. If you want to absolutely kill it in the exercise department, this is the one for you. Don’t expect an easy ride at any point in the hour.
I have quite a few of the 10 Minute Solution DVDs. Each DVD has five 10 minute segments that you can mix and match so they’re great if you only have 20 minutes (better than doing nothing at all) and they stop you getting bored because you can play them in any order.
10 Minute Solution: Blast Off Belly Fat
I’ll often add one of the 10 minute segments from this DVD onto another cardio-only workout. It’s a lot more than just crunches – loads of different exercises to really target your belly. I always find this makes a difference if I can do this a few times a week.
Yoga is one of those things that I want to be able to do when I’m 80. I don’t do it nearly as often as I should (I’m trying to aim for at least twice a week), but although I tend to think it’s not anything for me cardio-wise I do know it’s so great for staying supple. I’ve been to classes in the past, but if there aren’t any near you then there are (yes, you guessed it) lots of great DVDs on the market. My favourite yoga DVD is so old I can’t even find it online, but unlike exercie DVDs or celebrity workouts yoga just doesn’t date or succumb to trends. Your Downward Facing Dog, Warrior II and Eagle Pose will still be the same in 20, 30 and 40 years’ time, so doing them now and keeping them up will stand you in good stead for your old age.
I always feel every muscle in my body ache the next day after doing yoga, and I love the satisfaction I get from stretching just a little further into a pose compared to how I did it the last time.
WHAT ARE YOUR TRIED-AND-TESTED EXERCISE REGIMES – AND HOW MUCH DO YOU ENJOY THEM? OR ARE YOU LOOKING TO START A FITNESS PROGRAMME, IF SO HAVE I GIVEN YOU ANY INSPIRATION TO START? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!
P.S. LIKE THIS POST? YOU MIGHT ALSO WANT TO READ…
GETTING BACK TO FITNESS | MY LONG-TERM PLAN FOR FUTURE HEALTH (THE POST THAT KICKED OFF THE #NOTLAMBFIT SERIES) AND
WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER TAKE BEING ABLE BODIED FOR GRANTED (AND NOT NEGLECT THE BODY YOU HAVE)