About 5 years ago, I decided to overhaul my diet and approach to fitness.
During my 3 years in university, I managed to keep a relatively healthy and balanced approach to food (despite the free reign and endless opportunities for burgers). However, when I moved back home with my partner, I enjoyed all the benefits of living in a well-stocked house and the amazing food that my partner’s mother cooked.
Hello, huge portions of delicious, but not-exactly-nutritious food.
It was great for a while, but I quickly started to feel uncomfortable in my clothing and my body. I was feeling sluggish, bloated and generally not my best.
(Side note: I think it’s important to note here that it never begun as a response to how I looked, but rather how I felt. That’s something I’ve tried to maintain because focusing on your physical appearance can be a slippery slope. Exercise should make you feel good, and not be used to punish your body.)
Over the next few months, I started cutting out meat (eventually going vegetarian), filling my diet with wholefoods and moving my body. And, since then, I’ve never looked back.
I’ve slowly built up a routine of working out around 5 times a week, including strength and cardio, and I love it. I’ve found that I enjoy being active and now feel much more comfortable in my body.
But, not only is exercise great for physical health – it also supports mental health.
Alongside the obvious physical benefits (such as being more flexible and much stronger), here’s some of the top benefits that I’ve experienced with exercise. It can:
- boost motivation (particularly if you workout first thing)
- release tension or stress from the body
- focus your mind on something
- help you to be present in the moment
- help you to feel a sense of achievement in the day
- encourage you to really relax (once the workout is complete!)
There’s so many great reasons to move your body!
Tips to get started with exercise
If this has encouraged you to give exercise a go, here’s a few things that could help you to make it part of your daily routine – and something that you enjoy too.
I think it goes without saying that I’m not a doctor, and these are just things that helped me, so speak to a professional if you want specific advice.
Try a few different workouts
It’s not all about the gym or going for a run. You can try out a few different workout styles to discover what you like and find what suits your needs.
Remember working out should be enjoyable, and not a chore that you put your body through. The more you actually enjoy a workout, the more likely you are to stick at it and put in your full effort.
You don’t have to kick off things with HIIT workouts or weight lifting either, if that’s too much or you’re not interested. You can get started with something simple like yoga or going on a long walk.
Find out when you like to work out
Which time of day suits you and your lifestyle best?
Exercising in the morning can be a great motivation boost for the rest of the day and it means your workout is out of the way. However, the evening might suit you better if it helps you to shake off the day and unwind from any stress. Perhaps you prefer to fit it in the day as and when you please?
Discover what works for you and then…
Make exercise part of your routine
It might help to consistently stick to a specific time period just as you’re getting started so that exercise begins to feel like a regular habit.
Knowing you’re going to get up and work out at 7am, or head to the gym when work finishes is more likely to keep you on track as you build that consistency and commitment.
Set your own goals – and not just weight related!
Goals do not need to be focussed around your weight.
If that’s something you’d like to focus on then you can definitely incorporate it, but it’s better to focus on different goals that make you feel good and motivated to continue to the next step.
This could start with aiming to: run for 10 minutes, work up to lifting a specific weight or trying to increase your reps. You’re much more likely to feel a sense of accomplishment with this type of goal over a weight-related one.
Get a workout partner
Whether it’s someone who joins the gym with you, goes for a run in the evenings alongside you or comes to a weekly class, it can be a great help to have someone to hold you accountable or encourage you when you need a bit of a motivation boost.
Get inspiration online
It’s important that if you are going to follow people on social media or blogging sites, that they make you feel good. They should positively inspire you, not make you feel bad about your own body or progress.
Used in a healthy and encouraging way, such accounts or sites can be a great way to find out about new workouts or exciting new recipes you’d like to try to nourish yourself post-workout.
Try home workouts
If you’re nervous about getting started or hate the idea of joining a gym then you don’t have to!
I started using YouTube workouts – they’re free, you can choose your difficulty level and you don’t even have to buy fancy equipment.
Five years later, I still use Fitness Blender workouts and I highly recommend them if you’re looking for at-home, online workouts.
Sign up for a class or event
Sometimes it can help to have some kind of goal in sight to help you show up for your workout.
Perhaps you could sign up to do a 5k or 10k, or some kind of physical event so you have something to train for. It can be great to see how your body changes and your abilities grow as you head towards this particular goal.
Get creative with food
Another thing that kept me motivated with working out was having fun in the kitchen to make sure I was replenishing my body.
One of the huge benefits of being active is that you’ve got to make sure you’re getting enough food and nutrition – which typically means being able to eat more delicious wholefoods!
Take advantage of this by trying your hand at meal-prepping some healthy, fulfilling meals or baking some nutrient-rich food for after your workout. Don’t worry, it’s way more delicious than you might think!
As I mentioned before, Deliciously Ella is great for healthy, plant-based meals – or you could even have a go at my oaty chocolate bites – perfect for a post-workout snack!
Make sure to stretch and rest
One of the most important things is to make sure you’re taking the time to stretch after working out (which feels great and really relaxing!) and taking rest days.
If you’re feeling super motivated and on a roll with your workouts then it could be tempting to push yourself, but you need to prioritise rest days too. It’s important to give your body the chance to recover so you can see the benefits of your workout and not get any injuries.
If you still want to be active every day then you can use rest days to do some light yoga or stretching-based exercise routines that will help your body but keep you moving.
I hope these tips are useful and you’re feeling motivated to move!
Let me know what your favourite workout is in the comments. Mine is probably upper body strength or HIIT!