After 18 months of staying indoors, the motivation to work out fizzled away – let’s be honest, a movie night with pizza was way more appealing than a run and some oatmeal.
Now, restrictions are lifted, lockdowns are (hopefully) a thing of the past and social gatherings resume at last! Que the panic of our lockdown bodies being exposed to the world.
Don’t fret just yet, with these five useful tips you can pick up where you left off before lockdown, start a completely new fitness journey from scratch, or (if you were one of the lucky ones that couldn’t be swayed by the excuse of isolation to survive off take-outs) have a refresher on what you should be doing when working out.
As a quick disclaimer, this article is solely meant for those who want to workout in a safe and healthy way for personal gain, if you can’t because of medical reasons or simply don’t like to workout then that’s fine too! All bodies are beautiful, and never feel pressured to change the way you look if it’s not on your own terms.
Starting off with a seemingly obvious but very important tip: diet. And no, I don’t mean live off water and a granola bar. A healthy diet is key to seeing the results you want from your workouts.
For example, if you are working out to gain muscle remember to eat lots of protein and cut out carbohydrates and saturated fats. All are good in moderation, but a high-protein diet will help build those muscles you desire.
If you are exercising to lose weight, don’t stress and think you must eat less – just control what is in each meal. Fill your portions up with fruit and veg to give yourself a fuller looking plate that leaves you just as satisfied as an unhealthy meal. Some ideas include stir fry, chicken with cauliflower rice and veg or baked potatoes with veg.
(Pinterest is great when searching for new healthy foods!)
The website https://www.calculator.net/macro-calculator.html can be very helpful for figuring out what kind of diet you should have for the results you want.
Downloading MyFitnessPal or another calorie and macros tracker is also a good idea when starting a fitness journey.
These apps are generally free, and let you log what you have eaten throughout the day as well as the calories you have burned.
You can set up a profile including your height, weight, gender and how active you are on an average day and the app will calculate how many calories a day you should consume to reach your goal weight.
If you’re watching your macros, most apps have a free option to see those as well, showing how much protein, fat and carbohydrates you consume daily.
Next is your form. When starting out, it can be tempting to get carried away and lose the correct form or just go for the heaviest or most difficult looking weight or machine to “push yourself”.
Of course, pushing yourself is good but make sure you know your limits and research the correct form before starting a new exercise, as incorrect form can cause serious injury to yourself or those around you.
Consistently performing exercises incorrectly can cause damage immediately. It can also cause long term damage that may not affect you until the future such as back problems, joint problems and general aches and pains.
- You Don’t Need a Gym
Motivation can be lost when people cannot find the time, money or transport to get to the gym a few times a week. There’s a stigma that to workout you must buy a gym membership and take hours out of your day to work out, that’s not the case.
Social media can push this stereotype with the popular ‘gym-selfies’ and cute workout-fits, but you can also find a ton of great home workouts online.
With the pandemic closing gyms temporarily, there was an influx of people working out from home.
Youtubers such as MadFit and Chloe Ting have a ton of great at home workouts available for free on YouTube, including no equipment and no jumping options, so you can get a sweat on without spending a lot or annoying your neighbours.
- Stay Motivated
Staying motivated. Sounds easier than it is, I’m sure many of you know. The late-night promise to yourself to wake up early and go for a morning run then cook a nice healthy breakfast? It’s never as appealing the next day when your alarm blasts at 6am.
Everyone has their own way of staying motivated, having a stable routine can help. Following fitness influencers on social media to be inspired when scrolling or to see other daily routines can also help.
Meal prep is handy for when you have a busy week and can’t have a spare second to think about dinner, just prepare a few days in advance to save you from fast food (the notoriously ‘easy option’).
And never forget, rest days are important!! Without rest days, your body will start developing muscle memory and you will be working out with no gains, just because your body is that used to the workouts.
So don’t be afraid to go a walk instead or switch up a workout one day to give your body a well-deserved break.
Look after your mental health and listen to your body. Push yourself, of course, but if your body is screaming for a rest or a bit of unhealthy food then never be afraid to indulge. Everything in moderation!
With all these tips, working out won’t be as daunting now you have a rough idea where to start. Just remember, motivation and diet are key, and stay safe on your fitness journey. You can do it!