Is your fitness plan going as expected or are you struggling to stay afloat?
We don't know about you but we're grappling to stay on the bandwagon.
It's common practice to set high (read: demanding) fitness goals each year hoping to finally achieve our 'dream' bod. Although many strong-willed (NOT us), and determined (also NOT us) people manage to achieve their goals, others falter after a strong head start at the starting line (TOTALLY us).
Fret not, fellow mortals, Team Images got in touch with some of Pakistan's top fitness instructors for advice they each swear by to help lead a healthy lifestyle and drop the pounds.
Here are 8 ways to help you achieve your fitness aspirations:
As a yoga instructor I believe being healthy is a lifestyle choice and a conscious decision.
Food is your source of energy, so one should ask themselves whatever they put in their mouth is it nutrient-dense? What am I getting out of what I'm eating?
You need to be more aware of what you're putting in your body. It's as simple as that. Honour your body and yourselves by being aware and practice mindfulness when you're eating so that you don't overeat.
Become aware when you're emotional eating or eating out of stress.
Portion control. That's all it is.
You can workout for 2-3 hours in the gym but if you're not paying attention to your meal portions, you'll never reach your desired weight. 70% of losing weight constitutes your diet, and 50% of that diet consists of portion control. You can have as many meals as you want in a day, but be sure to ration it.
All those burpees aren't going to do anything for you if you don't control how much food is going in your body.
Fitness brands have a way of shocking you into submission at the year's close. They know that by promoting the "New Year/New You" platform across the media and retail space, many people fall for the hype and lose sight of real, achievable goals.
Start by taking baby steps: adding steps to your day. Make your own tea. Pick up your own stuff. Vacuum away and move those arms. Go up and down the stairs. Meet your man/woman at the front door. In a word, become more physically alive.
Forget the fancy gym membership, the pricey equipment, the contraband of delusions. It must begin with you, only you, and the mirror in front of you. Let your mirror tell you the truth. The rest is up to you.
Eat clean, drink well and workout everyday, even if it's for 15 minutes, just don't give up.
Most people think killing it at the gym for half a day is the way to a fit bod, but that's not true; as long as you keep that body pumping, you're working towards your goal. In the end, who wins the race? The rabbit or the tortoise?
And don't forget to consume water.
Keep stocking up, there's no such thing as too much water. Your body needs to be hydrated at all times.
A lot of people, in my opinion, worry way too much about how to start, what Monday to begin a diet on, search for the perfect training plan and build up an album of motivational quotes on their phones, as if these are the prerequisites to what are bodies were built to do: move.
It is really much simpler than that.
Can walking while talking on the phone work for you? Can setting computer reminders to get up and stand for chunks of time throughout the day work for you? Can taking the stairs and not the lift work for you? All these things will increase your daily activity and therefore your calories burnt through the day, allowing you to eat more, recover better (from training) and eventually DO MORE!
Small things go a long long way. Even fidgeting counts for Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) which is basically the energy expended for everything we do, that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. You do not need to sprint on an incline and starve to hit your goal body weight and composition - all you need is a little bit of logic, a lot of consistency and a conscious effort to 'muv'.
There is no perfect diet or plan - there is only what works for you!
Through time I have realised that in Karachi, no one makes New Year fitness resolutions. The influx of people you see abroad at the gym in January, you don't seem to see here. New Year resolutions begin in Feb! That's when people feel like they need to make changes in their life and get ready for the summer. Attendance peaks.
My advice for wanting to achieve your goals is to be REALISTIC. Meaning goals you can accomplish, achieve and reach. Give your body time to transform, be patient with the progress and stay positive. Every little change, lost pound, 1 inch less moves you closer to your goal. Eat healthy, workout at least 4-5 times a week, incorporating different exercises so that the body keeps using different muscles groups to help burn calories, thus, increasing your metabolism.
When you make unrealistic goals: losing 10kgs in 5 days, working out 3 hours a day, starving the body to get results in a short period of time, yes, you might see results but these changes aren't sustainable. Your body starts working in overdrive, exhausting the mind and muscles. What happens? When the body gives up, we get disheartened. We begin to believe it's not possible and lose direction and hope. We fall back on our unhealthy habits because it becomes easier.
So remember, be realistic and believe that you can - your mind is stronger than your body. The process is long and the process is hard, but the work you put in, the results you see, the feeling you get of accomplishment is priceless.
Whether you're looking to shed fat, gain muscle or improve your overall fitness, you need to let go of New Year resolutions - they're mostly rubbish that people start off with and can't keep up.
You need to ask yourself: Why am I looking to change my body? What are the benefits of eating better and exercising? How is that helping me? How can different programs, gym and yoga help me? Once you think and have the answer, you change your 'lifestyle' instead of keeping short term goals.
Start off slow and build it up, see what works for you. Some people might feel personal training is for them while others enjoy group classes more.
Three things to remember: 1) Ask yourself, 2) Find an answer, 3) Change your lifestyle.
For me, each day is an opportunity for self improvement. Why we as people depend on the passing of a year, the stamp of a new date as an anchor for deliberate change, and then wait for such a time to come (and in this case, pass), is beyond any real logic.
My advice to those interested in leading a cleaner, more active lifestyle is that you should first draw up a schedule of how exactly you want to go about it i.e. have a solid plan to begin with and then only will you have a course to be able to stick to. Plan out how many times a week you will workout, the approximate duration of the workout, an outline of your daily nutritional requirements to supplement that activity and bring you closer to your goals, etc.
Basically, you need a plan.
Life, like fitness, cannot be left to be a curious or freakish concurrence of ad hoc happenings, and fitness, like life, cannot be left upon chance.
This article was originally published on 9 February, 2017.