IT WOULD be fair to say this is the time of year when you start to hear phrases like “I’ll start the diet tomorrow’’, “I need to get back in the gym”, and “I need to stop eating rubbish”.
I know it’s hard. I’m a former female endurance cyclist with the body of a sprinter and sweet tooth that means a lot of effort not to feed it, otherwise I will find it even harder than I already do to get up those hills in races.
It’s not that I don’t eat cakes, chocolate or carbs because I do. I just eat them a lot less than I would like to. The big question is how to achieve this. Everyone is different but here is how I make the right decisions and train my willpower.
Going on the “no eating rubbish” venture alone is tough, though definitely doable. However, I have found that having a buddy that wants the same things makes taking on the challenge with support a lot easier. For the two months before Christmas last year my friend and I agreed not to eat or drink chocolate, sweets, crisps, cakes, fast food, greasy food, fizzy juice, alcohol or pretty much anything that was bad for you. We agreed to each take it in turns each week to look up a healthy cake or dessert and main meal we could make to satisfy our cravings.
The first week is always a battle. Your mind knows it’s not supposed to have the sugar so naturally it wants it and the body craves it. It’s like an addiction that comes with some withdrawal symptoms such as moodiness and low tolerance. Don’t worry, as this quickly subsides leaving you with less cravings every day and more willpower. After all, it is the willpower that we are training in this process, and with every day that you move forward with your challenge you become stronger in this area.
After two months of being good, my friend and I had a big day planned at a nice Italian restaurant with lots of pasta, bread and, of course, the dessert.
We were both unsure if we should actually have one. All that hard work only for it to be undone now. All those missed desserts and saying No to the bad stuff only to now surrender. But, after a bit of thought (only a bit, though), we decided to have our cake and eat what we wanted over Christmas and start another challenge again from January 2, to be followed by another cheat day together.
There are bad choices all around us and it’s hard to say no to them all, all of the time. However, setting a few challenges for yourself with friends and family can make refusing the bad choices a lot easier.
It’s not just keeping away from the cake that can help. Here are my top 10 tips to get the most out of your training:
1 Plan your week and highlight the key times you can exercise
Write it down Sunday night and stick it on your fridge or noticeboard so you can see it every day. It’s amazing how much more motivated you will be after setting yourself a plan.
2 Choose a set of exercises you enjoy
It is important to realise that exercise pushes your body so it’s always easier to get the most out of it when you really enjoy what you are doing.
3 Be sure to set yourself some realistic goals
Always set goals that you can see yourself achieving and once you reach this goal you can make new ones. This is how you improve and get closer to your desired outcome.
4 Make rest and recovery A vital part of your routine
The most important factor about exercise is most definitely the rest and recovery. There must be sufficient rest from exercises to allow the muscles to recover, grow and become stronger. Why stand when you can sit? Why sit when you can lie down? Factor in a rest day every week to relax and recover.
5 Concentrate on fuelling and hydration pre and post workout
When exercising it is important to eat most of your carbohydrates around training. Well balanced meals will have a good source of carbohydrates, vegetables and protein. Start your day by downing a pint … of water and drink three litres of water daily. This can also help the dreaded dark circles under the eyes and purify the skin. Also note: there is no point in training every day and going home to eat sausage rolls, crisps and chocolate. This won’t get you the results you are after or help your body recovery.
6 Remember stretching and yoga are key to resetting the body
Working and exercising may be two strenuous aspects of life, building up stress and tension, therefore stretching, yoga or sports breathing definitely helps the body relax and reset itself. I stretch every day and do sports breathing most nights before I fall asleep, I have a very active mind at night. This helps me switch off and turns the body into recovery mode.
7 Remember that the core is the key to every sport
Adding a simple effective core session 2-3 times into your week can make the world of a difference to any sport or exercise you do. When your core is strong it is the perfect platform for you to expand your skills in every exercise and not to mention, gives you a flat stomach.
8 Make sure you keep a regular training diary
It’s a brilliant idea to keep a training diary as it shows what exercise you do every week and will show improvements to help fuel motivation.
9 Make sure you have the right equipment and correct clothing
A good pair of trainers is number one. When exercising it is important your feet are stable. Also, for sports like cycling, padded shorts make the world of difference as well as having a bike that fits you properly. I always have more layers on in the gym, out running, or on the bike. You can always take them off. It’s better to be too warm than too cold!
10 Find a training partner to help motivate you
Having a pal to train with is always a good idea. If you set up a running date or gym session you will be more likely to commit to it if you have someone to meet you. Exercising can be more fun with more people, having that extra bit of motivation can go a long way. Entering events with groups is a great way to get fit and have fun in the process training for it.
Former elite athlete and qualified fitness instructor, Sportswoman columnist Charline Joiner is a recently retired cyclist and Commonwealth Games silver medallist, multiple British national medallist and multiple Scottish Champion. She is an @DynamiqueF coach based at @HampdenSports and with phitglasgow.co.uk. Follow her on: @ChaJoiner