Guest Post: The Secret to Reaching Your Fitness Goals

The secret to keeping that New Years resolution to living an active life 

It’s that time of the year again…a fresh start, a new beginning. It’s a time when we make promises to ourselves to do more, be more and achieve some of the things that we either dream of or lie in the back of our minds.

It may be a cliché but many of us still have one key aim at the beginning of the year – ‘to be the healthiest and fittest me I can possibly be’.

“I plan to eat better, be more active, exercise more… I want to be happier and healthier.” Sound familiar? While there is no better time than right now, if the New Year has given you the motivation and drive to set some big resolutions around your health, you are probably looking for the key to keep you motivated.

Stop! Before you go off making big goals to work out every day for the next 12 months, let’s take it easy…make small steps to achieve big things. You don’t want to feel completely defeated by the end of the second or third week, sprawled out on the couch demanding someone get you a chocolate bar ASAP to fuel your energy.

Yes, I hear you, not everyone loves slumming it out on a treadmill or spending hours at the gym lifting weights. Yes, running can be a nightmare sometimes and I know you might not be a sports person. So how can you possibly become fit?

Well, there’s a secret and I am about to tell you after a short and meaningful anecdote (you’re going to love it).

So I’m an outdoorsy Australian who has recently travelled to and lived in Canada (yep, I went from crystal blue coastal living to waking up to -40 degree weather and elk creating unmovable live barriers on the snowy walk to work). Over there it’s a completely different ball game! I had to find new ways to stay active in a country that has a serious time limit for how long you can spend outside without freezing to death…you don’t want to get that wrong.

While I had the opportunity to do a bit of snowboarding (which is an intense workout by the way), I ended up joining a gym and trained daily to stay fit. I have had personal trainers before so I had an idea of what to do.

While this was a great way to keep the delicious Canadian treats at bay (well, kind of), after making the transition back from slippery, white slopes to the rather hot but beautiful Australian scenery, I was over it. I didn’t want to lift another dumbbell and I certainly didn’t want the word elliptical to be part of my morning routine.

You’ve been there too, am I right?

Well, I’m here to share what I believe is the secret to finding an exercise regime that will help you achieve your New Years resolution – to be healthier, fitter, stronger, more active…what ever it may be.

Here it is…

The secret…Are you sure your ready for this?

Try everything until you find that magic fit!

Get out there and give a lot of different sports, exercises and activities a go. Try new things like crossfit, unicycling, adult gymnastics, squash, martial arts, rock climbing or an alternate style of dance. Just give it a go. Con your friends to come along (they have to have something you can bribe them with – a trip to the frozen yoghurt shop after?) if your feeling a bit scared.

Don’t worry about how you look to others. Everyone has been there. The athletes and the experts have all been there. They’ve been in your shoes (hopefully not literally – that’s creepy).

Ever since I’ve come home I’ve put myself out there and tried a few things. As a result, I’ve found a few magic sports that are the perfect match for me. Hip hop, burlesque, I’ve dabbled in ballet, gymnastics and I’ve found a love for pole fitness.

If you find something that you enjoy doing, that you feel confident and proud to be a part of, the motivation for your New Years resolution is right there.

If you find something you love, keep at it!

You never know, keeping fit naturally might just come easy.

 

By Alyssa Gill

Alyssa is a persuasive freelance writer and strategic social media expert. She is the Founder and Chief Wordsmith of Squib Communications, a company that is helping lifestyle, creative and home businesses to create more meaningful partnerships with their customers.

She also has a passion for all things active – she’s a pole fitness teacher, hip hopper, burlesquer and basketball-enthuasiast.

Plus she recently started the Instagram page @myactivewear, a site that brings together and showcases real people being active and healthy in their favourite activewear. Follow @myactivewear.

Website: http://www.squib.com.au
Connect with Alyssa on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/squibcommunications/

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Staying Motivated In The Winter Months

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Winter. The cold, dark mornings, the rainy days, the brisk icy air. All of these things make it a lot harder to stay committed to gym plans. If you have been struggling to stay motivated during the colder months, here are some tips and tricks to remember that will help you keep on track.

1. Summer bodies Are made in the Winter

It may be cold right now but in a few short months the jumpers, scarves and jeans will become redundant and it’ll be all about bikinis and board shorts. When that first warm day hits, wouldn’t you rather reveal the bangin’ beach bod you’ve been training tirelessly for, rather than some extra winter layers? Put the hard work in now and you’ll be set for the summer sun as soon as it comes out to play.

2. Buddy Up

Having an exercise buddy is one of the best ways to stay motivated on your health and fitness journey. Plan your workouts together, arrange to meet at the gym, keep each other in the loop and boost each other up. Having someone else to check in with every now and then, especially when temptations are rife, keeps you accountable. Not to mention, if you plan to meet your friend at the gym you are less likely to bail because you won’t just be letting yourself down anymore, but your gym buddy too. Plus working out with a friend is always more fun!

3. Set Goals

Setting goals is so important. When you have something specific to work towards you’ll have more motivation to achieve it! Start with small achievable goals first and gradually build on them as you reach a new milestone. With each little win you’ll be even more pumped to keep up the hard work.

4. Reward yourself with Incentives

Woke up at 5:00am to exercise 3 times this week? Didn’t skip a single workout? Stayed committed to your clean eating? Well done! You deserve to be congratulated. Yes, your transformed fitness is reward enough, but sometimes having little incentives can help boost that motivation just that little extra. Put $1 in a jar every time you workout, get a new PB or drop a kg and in no time you’ll have enough money to treat yourself to some new workout clothes, a well-deserved massage or that little something you’ve been eyeing off at the shops for a while. Just don’t reward yourself with food (your not a dog).

5. Before and After Pictures

Another way to remain accountable and track your progress is with before, (during) and after photographs. Whenever you need a little reminder why you started or feel like all the effort you are putting in is going to waste, take a look back at those ‘before’ pics to compare your progress. Sometimes the scales won’t budge but change is happening! You just need to see it to be believe it. Also take note of how your clothes start fitting you differently.

6. Prioritise Your Priorities

Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now. Always think back to why you started and what your goals are. When your alarm goes off at 5:00am on a cold rainy morning, the lure of your warm bed may be more inviting, but just think ‘does the short term satisfaction out way the long term satisfaction’? 30 minutes extra sleep, or dream body? Weigh it up.

7. Get Organised

Fail to prepare, prepare the fail. Being well prepared and organised can make all the difference between succeeding and failing. Book your gym sessions in advance, meal prep at the beginning of the week, lay your gym clothes out the night before an early training session and schedule your workouts in to your diary.

Now, if that doesn’t help kick start the motivation during the winter months, I don’t know what will. Always remember, the only workout you’ll ever regret, is the one that you didn’t do.

Love Eloise xx

Running Tips for Non Runners

Running. It’s not for everyone. Some love it. Some hate it. Me? I fall into the latter category.

I am not a runner. I never have been. Probably never will be. I am a gym junkie. I love my HIIT workouts, combat classes, group fitness and strength training. I love lifting weights, plyometrics and challenging my personal bests. But running? Nope not for me. It’s just not my exercise of choice. Yet for some crazy reason, I have signed myself up to for the 2015 HBF Run For a Reason* Not just the 4km run either, but the 12km!

Why? Well firstly, to challenge myself. I had intended to register for the HBF run in previous years but it just never happened. Mainly because I hate running and also because, I hate running. However, this year I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and give it a crack. More importantly though, I am running for a reason. To inspire the people of Perth to get active, to do something for their health and fitness as well as support a worthy charity if they wish. I have chosen to support the MS Society WA, for which I have started a fundraising page.

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Having registered 8-weeks out from the event, I thought that would be plenty of time to get run ready. That was until I ended up with an ankle injury that left me out of action for almost 5 weeks. Not ideal. Once I finally start training, I very quickly learnt a lot about running. The good, the bad and the ugly. As a result I have come up with the following 

9 Running Tips for Non-runners

1. Start Small

Set small goals. Just like no one expects you to bust out 20 reps of 20kg biceps curls the first time you set foot in a gym, no one is expecting you to complete a half-marathon distance the first time you head out for a run either. Set yourself small achievable goals – goals you can build on. You might start by running to a street sign, then move on to running 1km on, 1km off. The next time you go out aim for 2km without having a break and keep building on that. Aim for progress not perfection.

2. Invest In Decent Running Gear

Comfort is key. Wear exercise clothes that fit you well. The last thing you want is to be pulling your pants up or tugging on your shirt every two minutes. Even if it’s your oldest, daggiest clothing – comfort comes first! Most importantly, get yourself a decent pair of running shoes. Without good quality and supportive running shoes, you are setting yourself up for pain and injury. Get your shoes fitted by a specialist and ask for advice on the best shoes for your feet and running style.

3. Distract Yourself

Distractions are a blessing in disguise, making the time go faster and keeping your mind off the task at hand. Run with music, run scenic routes, zone out, let your mind wander – all these things will keep your focus off the sounds of your breathing, puffing and the distance ahead of you.

4. Mix It Up

Some people like to run on the treadmill. Others like to run outdoors. Some have to know the exact route and distance, while others prefer to wing it. Personally, I find mixing things up keeps things interesting and stops me from getting bored on a run.  Changing up your running route also conditions the body to all different types of terrains including, hills, slopes and stairs, which will build up your stamina and endurance.

5. Buddy Up

Running with a friend or partner is not for everyone but for others, having a running buddy can provide that extra little boost of motivation they need to get them out the door. Whether it is just having someone there by your side as moral support or you need someone to push you (maybe even literally), training with a friend can make all the difference. As running etiquette goes, always run at the pace of the slowest runner and if one person stops the other stops. Just be sure not to let each other down. Still encourage and challenge one another.

6. It’s All In Your Head

Running, like with all exercise, is very much a mental thing. Your mind will give up long before your body does, so the key is to train your brain. A strong mindset will result in a strong result. Delete the words ‘I can’t’ from your vocabulary and focus on telling yourself ‘I can’. What your mind believes, your body achieves. When I start to feel my body giving up I speak words of strength to myself. For example ‘I am strong’, ‘I am fit’, ‘I am full of energy’, ‘this is easy’ and ‘I can do it’. It really works!

7. Stretch, Warm-up and Cool Down

As one of the top techniques for injury prevention, stretching pre and post run is so important. Never sprint straight out the front door. In order to signal to your body and muscles that they are about to start working, warm up with a brisk walk, then increase the pace into a jog. This will also minimise the stress on your heart. Rather than coming to an abrupt stop, follow your run with a 5 minute cool down. If you feel your muscles cramping during a run, don’t be afraid to stop along the way to stretch. If you have a foam roller, I suggest rolling out post run too.

8. Listen to Your Body

Some days you just can’t do it. Your body is aching, your joints are sore, you’re feeling foggy and your energy is low. You may have set your alarm, put on your shoes and stepped out the front door but your running mojo is just not there. That’s ok. It’s important to listen to your body on these days. Don’t push yourself to the point of breaking. Have a day off. Go for a walk, do some yoga or hit the gym instead. Listen to your body and respond accordingly. Rest days are important for recovery!

9. Get The App

This year HBF developed an amazing Fitness App to help participants get the most out of their training in the lead up to the event. I found this app, which guides users through a exercise program and keeps track of progress, an extra little bit of motivation. It was so helpful, for a beginner runner like me, who had absolutely no idea where to start. It even notifies you the night before, what your training schedule is for the next day. Genius!

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If training for the HBF run has taught me anything, it’s that running just isn’t for everyone. Our bodies are all made differently and conditioned to different types of exercise. I’m a gym girl through and through. My joints, in particular just don’t cope well with the impact of running. That being said, I’m no longer a hater. I actually don’t mind the whole running thing now and will probably continue to run once or twice a week. Even if it is just a half walk half run (or as me and my friend like to call it, a ‘ralk’).

So now with less than 2 weeks to go until the event, I am admittedly starting to feel a little nervous. But I have also accepted that I will not be running the entire 12km. Whether I run, jog, walk, crawl or a mixture of them all, my goal is just to finish the race. When I do I will be proud of that achievement.

See you all at the starting line!! Good luck Perth!

Love Eloise xx

*For those who are not familiar, the Perth HBF Run for A Reason is an annual charity run, encouraging West Aussies to participate for charity, health and fitness, to support a loved one or just for fun. With the option to register for the 4km, 12km and (new this year) 21km half marathon, the event is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. For more information or to register for the run visit the HBF Run website.