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7 tips for fitness that we’re determined to stick to

Really need to do something to counteract those 8,000 mince pies? Us too. But breaking out that neglected Lycra (or in Hillary Swank’s case, that itty bitty bikini) is flippin’ hard, especially when it’s cold and dark outside and Netflix is emitting its siren call. But look people, there are ways of eassssing yourself, Muddy style, into a non-terrifying new year fitness regime. Steve Carvey, triathlete and superstar PT has some properly helpful, insightful tips for Muddy readers whether we’re gym bunnies,  freeformers, or morning-dodgers (hit the snooze button, I’ll get up when I’m good and ready).  Here he is, below, in full fittie mode. You ready to join him?

HOW TO NAIL YOUR FITNESS THIS YEAR, BY STEVE CARVEY

Take it slow

Silver-black pen lying on opened notebook

Don’t feel obliged to make huge, punishing, scary New Year’s resolutions [OK, thanks! Anna-Lou x]. If you order yourself to go to the gym 6 times per week without fail or to lose a stone by February, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Make a start in January but mentally frame it as tweaking your routine rather than completely overhauling your life. If you’re going from sitting on the sofa to training for the first time, start with small steps and set realistic goals. For example, if you aim for two gym visits per week rather than every day, you’ll see it as a hobby rather than a chore. It’s really important that you don’t push yourself so hard that you’re burnt out after a month. Planning ahead is key – put your sessions in your calendar or diary, like you would any other appointment, and map out your training for the first 30 days, including rest days and active recovery days (on those days do something like a brisk walk with the family).

Weights are your friends

It’s easy to get into the habit of jumping straight onto your favourite cardio machine and staying there for the duration, but don’t forget about weight training – it’s a great complement to cardio work and adding in some resistance training helps burn calories for longer after a session. Mix up your weekly sessions – say, weights on a Monday and cardio on a Wednesday. Not keen on pumping iron? Ease yourself in with body weight exercises, with something like a press-up challenge over 30 days (google for details). The benefit of these type of exercises is that you don’t need any equipment so you can do your reps at home too.

Plan, don’t plod

The David Lloyd pool. Now start your 200m warm up!

Now start your 200m warm up!

Approach your gym sessions like a PT would – which means planning them out, rather than making it up as you go along, which can end up with you plodding through the same old workout time and time again. Write down your session plan on a piece of paper and take it with you (you can even laminate it if you’re poolside!). If you’ve got 30 minutes to swim, some days a steady pootle is fine but on other days add in some interval training. For example, set yourself a challenge to swim 10 rounds of 100m in 3 minutes or less and really push yourself. Whatever time you have left over from each 3 minute round is your rest time, so the faster you swim, the more recovery time you get. If you prefer the treadmill, you could try a 2 minute walk, followed by a 2 minute jog, then a 2 minute fast run, and repeat.

Get excited about new gear and gadgets

Just as buying a new party dress ratchets up excitement levels for a night out, switching up your workout kit and accessories can boost your workout. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune – treat yourself to a new pair of running socks or, when swimming, borrow some of the poolside equipment such as floats or pool buoys – just ask swimming teachers for advice on how to use them.

Use your gym’s PTs – they won’t bite

Don’t feel that you’re obliged to book a personal session to have any contact with your gym’s PTs. The ones roaming around the gym? Believe me, they’d much rather help you with your workout than be disinfecting the rowing machines, so do grab them for a chat. And please don’t be intimidated if you’re at the beginning of your fitness journey – we get huge satisfaction from helping people of all abilities and levels. We can show you how to use equipment properly, write training programmes for you (and reassess your existing programme), maybe even give you a free taster PT session. It’s good to talk!

Ditch the food mountain

Don’t make the mistake of thinking about your health and fitness solely in terms of exercise. Fuelling your body the right way is just as important. Forward planning your food is key when you’re busy. First though, get rid of the lingering Christmas goodies – round up those last Ferrero Rochers or lumps of Stilton asap – take them into work, give them to the kids, whatever it takes. Make a meal plan for the week ahead (this will save you money as well as being good for your diet). Ensure there’s protein with every meal (you’ll be fuller for longer), don’t be afraid of good fats (hello avocado) and avoid anything processed (ie anything that has more than one ingredient). Ditto anything marketed as fat-free – the fat will have been replaced with sugar. It’s a bit boring but spend a few hours on Sunday prepping for the week ahead – break out the Tupperware, bulk cook and freeze healthy dinners and sort healthy snacks (you could boil up a batch of hard-boiled eggs, for example). This will hopefully stop you from grabbing a last minute pizza on the way home on Weds night.

Get social

With the best will in the world, we all have days when we can’t make it to the gym. That’s OK, but just make sure you have some other strings to your workout bow so you don’t lose momentum. Find a likeminded friend who you can train with – play tennis together, meet up to do a yoga class, or both enter a 10k race. Fear of letting them down will make you more likely to stick to the plan. Stuck at home? There’s a huge variety of workouts available on YouTube or via apps. For example, yoga fans might like The Yoga Studio (yogastudioapp.com/) for a living room workout – you choose your skill level and duration (they start at 15 minutes), and each session comes with a video and teacher commentary.

Good luck mes braves, see you on the other side…

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