With spring in the air, but the uncertainty of vaccine deliveries and never-ending restrictions, it has become even more important for us to start focusing on our fitness.
Physical activity and healthy nutrition can be linked to both a stronger immune system and a healthier mindset. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on individuals and families, not only financially and physically, but also emotionally and mentally. Stress levels are at an all-time high.
As a CanFitPro professional trainer, my recommendation to clients who are struggling with weight gain, low energy levels, brain fog, a lack of motivation and living a high-stress life is to actually put your body under a different type of physical stress – also known as exercise!
We all know what healthy eating looks like and the benefits of exercise. But for many of us, we just don’t know where or how to start.
Here are my six steps to “SPRING” into fitness this spring.
Step 1: Start
It sounds simple, but it’s true – just start!
There is no perfect day, or perfect time, to begin exercising. If you are always waiting for New Years Day, the first of the month or even Monday to start, that day will always be pushed forward and may never come.
For many of us, we may be waiting for gyms to re-open, the kids to go back to school, or maybe just a few more restrictions to be lifted. But by doing this, we are letting the days go by, which basically means we are wasting time – and more importantly opportunities – to become better.
We don’t need to be great to start, but we need to start in order to be great. Just start, and you’ll feel better, I promise.
Step 2: Plan
OK, so you have actually started to exercise. Now what? You need a plan. Start slowly, so you do not get overwhelmed or put too much pressure on yourself. Start with a plan to work out two times this week, for 30 to 45 minutes each time. Plan to drink more water each day, and maybe plan your meals for three days for the first two to three weeks.
Are you going to download a fitness app? Find a You Tube video to work out to? Maybe you can find a friend to work out with and use as an accountability partner. Will you join an online fitness community? Hire a nutritionist? Work with a personal trainer? Honestly, there are so many tools and resources available now.
As the weeks go by, start increasing the duration of your workouts and/or days of healthy eating. Once you start feeling your energy levels increase and your mood change, it becomes easier to keep going!
Step 3: Run
Many of us are lacking in the Vitamin D department – and the best way to get Vitamin D is to get outside and embrace the sunshine. The fresh air will also do wonders for your brain, mood and heart. Go outside, go for a run, jog or walk.
Living in Airdrie, our opportunities under the sun are very scarce, so we need to take advantage of what we can get. Aim to get outside at least three to four times a week. It’s as simple as going for a 30-to-45-minute walk!
Step 4: Intensity
This does not have to be scary or intimidating. Everyone is unique and will be going through their own personal journeys – so a high-intensity workout to one person may be a low-intensity workout for another. Do this for you and train at your own level of fitness to match the “intensity” of the workout.
What I recommend is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). These are quick and effective workouts that not only work on your cardiovascular conditioning, endurance, stamina and muscle strength, but also make the body burn fat even hours after you have completed the workout. These workouts are usually 30 to 45 minutes long and don’t require a lot of exercise equipment, so even if you are short on time and don’t have access to exercise equipment, you can do HIIT.
I’d recommend reaching out to a fitness professional to get more information on how to start a HIIT program.
Step 5: Nutrition
We also know that abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. Basically, we cannot out-work a bad diet. However, dieting does not have to be restrictive or super strict. It is as simple as drinking more water, consuming more fruits and vegetables and reducing your sugar and processed food intake.
Practise portion control, take vitamin supplements and make sure your meal is colourful, meaning that there are greens for your vegetables and bright colours for your fruits. Your plate should not be just one shade of colour.
Step 6: Goals
This really could have been first on the list, but I have worked with so many people who set their goals and refuse to get started or take action toward them. (It would have also wrecked the acronym!)
Goals are important to get you started, keep you going and guide you in the right direction. Your goals will help you make the right decisions when conflicted on what you should eat, or if you should exercise today.
Your goals will help you remember why you started in the first place. Therefore, they must be personal enough that it creates an emotional connection to you. As you progress through your journey, your goals might change and that is OK, as long as you are still progressing.
So, just remember to Start, Plan, Run, Intensity, Nutrition and Goals your way into spring this year.
Jay Raymundo has been in the fitness industry for over 14 years and is the owner/operator of NRG Fitness Inc. He is also the head trainer and part franchise owner of F45 Training, the head strength and conditioning coach at the Airdrie Martial Arts Centre, a fitness instructor for the City of Airdrie and a CanFitPro personal training specialist.