Post run cup of coffee. Beautiful!

When I first started my health and fitness journey, a little over a year ago, I wanted to get rid of my holiday weight and tighten up my tummy a little. Apart from that, I didn’t set any firm goals. I knew it’d be nice to feel healthier, and fitter, but I didn’t think beyond that. To say “I want to lose 25lbs,” or “I want to get into a size 10,” might sound well and good, but it’s putting pressure on yourself that you really don’t need. Not only that, but it gives your brain the impression that you are only striving towards that one goal, and once you’re there, the hard work is done.

That’s not the case.

Brains are impressionable things, and they need no encouragement to misbehave. Ever heard the phrase “life is a journey?” Well, so is your health. If you decide “I am now on a diet,” that’s great, but your willpower can only last so long. How many meals can you have out with friends where you anxiously scan the menu to find something without carbs, or where you try and make a mental tally of how many ‘points’ your Carbonara will be? Can you really be disciplined enough to deny yourself the occasional slice of cake or bowl of ice cream, because your diet doesn’t allow it?

I am well aware that many people are more focused and determined than I am, but what happens when you reach that goal? When you’ve lost your 25lbs and someone offers you dessert, are you going to deny yourself, or will you think “Well, I’ve lost my weight, so go on, then.”

I know what I’d do.

So here’s the alternative. Be in this for the long haul. Set goals, but realistic ones that don’t involve a dress size or a number on the scale. “I want to look great for my sister’s wedding,” is my current long-term goal. Not a specific size, or weight, just good in my bridesmaid dress. Short term goals include “Run 10km without dying,” “Don’t eat the Christmas pudding before Christmas this year,” and “Understand what goes on in Chester’s head.”

The latter is entirely unrealistic and unobtainable.

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Post workout sweatiness. Trying to look happy at 6:45am!

Success WILL happen if you follow the basic 80/20 rule that Jo (my fab coach) teaches us. Eat well, exercise, be active for eighty per cent of the time and you’ll be on the right track. The other twenty per cent is not your licence to eat a family size pack of Twix, drink seven bottles of wine and eat four pizzas in a night, but it’s basically a “don’t worry about it” buffer. Eat a slice of cake, have that meal out, share that bottle of wine. Your body will cope, your weight will still drop if you exercise regularly and eat well for most of the time.

And by well, I mean eat a wide range of foods, not follow a faddy or restrictive diet. As Jo pointed out to me; eating well basically means cutting out the majority of crap. Wholegrain bread contains more calories than white bread, yet one will taste good, the other like cardboard, and one will fill you up whereas the other will have your tummy growling ten minutes after eating. I know which I’d rather choose. A handful of nuts might contain fat, but it’s healthy fats and, in moderation, those are good for you as they give you energy and fill you up.

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It’s not rocket science. If it was, I wouldn’t be blogging about it, but it is easily achievable. Don’t set unrealistic goals; don’t focus on a number on a scale. Have fun, enjoy life, eat well, exercise, sleep well, and good things will come. Not only will your body change shape, but you will feel so much happier, too. Start your journey, and make sure you’re in it for the long haul.

In other news…. running after a morning cardio workout is torture. I need to organise myself to run on days where I’ve done something like Pilates or Yoga in the morning. On the plus side; I am running further and for longer and today’s run was along the beach. It was beautiful. It’s hard to be mad about exercise when you’ve got views like these.

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