A New Start
A New Start
– It’s hard to believe that we’re already half way through the year and summer is well and truly here. Those that put in the hard work and dedication over the winter months are now getting to show of their summer bodies.
The last twelve months have been a struggle, an epic struggle. My fitness hadn’t just gone downhill it had jumped off a cliff. My drinking had increased month on month to the point where I was, some weeks, sinking between 20-25 pints in various local establishments around Brighton & Hove. With this excess drinking came the usual bed fellows; poor diet, lack of motivation & concentration at work and with life, depression, anxiety, weight gain, low self-esteem and confidence. I could carry on but you get the gist.
Today however, things are different.
I hit a particular low point a couple of months ago, my weight had risen to 87kg very little of which was actual muscle mass, my body fat was hovering the 30% mark and it showed. I’d hit 40, I had that beer belly, a fatter looking face and was always tired (both physically and mentally). Something had to give.
Time to get some help
In life you need to know when to ask for help. There’s nothing wrong in asking for it, we all need it from time to time. Drunken texting my old personal trainer might not be the best way to go about it.
It did do the trick however.
Now, finding a good personal trainer can be hard enough but finding one that pushes you, is always motivated, is someone that you can trust and be honest with is even harder. JP (John Paul Temple) is good like that, annoying as hell and not even remotely funny, he is an excellent PT though. We’d lost touch over the last few years but luckily he still had his old number.
So, together we started a six week training plan for this new start and it was back to the basics for me. Those basics being: Diet, Training and Control. This is what I have come to realise over the last few months and for what it is worth I thought I would share it with you all.
Form a habit
For things to stick you need to follow a pattern until it becomes habit. For it to become habit, it needs to be part of your routine for approximately six weeks – give or take. Hence the six week training plan. Start off small and add new items to your daily routine as you go. Little and often is a good guide.
JP and I started running a couple of times a week first thing in the morning, every week without fail. From there I then added in an extra run, usually in the evening and usually with a friend or work colleague to keep up the motivation. Now, seven weeks on running is now part of my routine and I don’t even really think about it – it’s happening whether I like it or not.
Diet is the same, now I plan and prep the next day’s meals the evening before. I’ve swapped white bread for brown. White potatoes to sweet potatoes. Granola to Special K. The list goes on but you get the idea. Swapping out an item for a healthier alternative is easier than cutting it out altogether and where ever possible I limit the bad carbs as much as I can.
Realistic, measurable goals.
Firstly, the cold hard truth. I am never going to be ‘Instagram attractive’. I won’t ever be a Sports Model or an ‘Influencer’. It will never happen for me. And now thankfully, I don’t give a fuck.
You might know what I’m talking about, right? The god damn genetically blessed individuals that can take the perfect selfie without thinking about it. The body shot that’s always on point, no hair out of place. Tanned and toned to Adonis perfection.
So why would I set myself a goal to look like that? I might actually not say it out loud but I would think it. In my head I would think ‘this time next year I am going to look like that’ and of course it’s not realistic in any sense of the imagination. Why set yourself up for fall, why not accept yourself for what you can be, a healthier and happier version of you.
Set realistic and measurable goals. For example, in 8 weeks I want to lose 5kg in weight. You have a set goal to work too as opposed to a subjective pipedream and you have a measureable goal to monitor during the 8 weeks and to achieve at the end of that time. Sounds simple but setting short term goals you can track does help. When that one is complete, move onto the next.
Have a long term goal, then break it down into these shorter markers. You’ll be more motivated and have a greater likelihood of hitting that mark.
Be a saint and a sinner
Be a saint first and a sinner second. What I mean by this and I have learned this over the years is that cutting out all the good stuff is only going to make you cave, eventually. You can’t go from drinking 20-25 pints a week, eating a shed load of junk food & ready meals, giving up on sweet and savoury treats to an ‘eat clean’ regime and expect it to last. It just won’t happen. You have to accept that and use it to your own advantage. Take control.
In my case, I have allowed myself to drink twice a week and when I do I’m allowed two beers (swapping pints for bottles) each sitting. This is my reward for a week of exercise and fitness. This is me taking control and allows me to still socialise with my partner & friends. Each week I also allow myself a cheat meal – usually pizza with sides.
You are far more likely to stick with something longer, so that it becomes habit, by allowing yourself some of the good stuff still. If you are anything like me than you are trying to change so much already that then to add extra pressures and temptations are just going to break your resolve. Instead use them as a motivator as a reward for a session well done.
Fitness is never ending.
The thing with a project is that you have an end date, an objective and goal. Fitness isn’t like that It’s always and relentlessly ongoing. I never really got that into my head until now.
So, you hit your goal weight and have the abs, job done, right? No, of course not. Even if you don’t want to change your weight and are happy with your killer abs you can’t just stop. You need to maintain the physique that you’ve earned.
Being fit doesn’t stop and the sooner you accept that and enjoy the fact that you will always (god willing) have to be active the quicker you’ll enjoy it as part of your routine. You’ll start thinking about starting a new sport, going on a more fitness orientated holiday, make new goals and targets to aim higher for.
For me, my weight is dropping and I have a goal of 79kg lean muscles mass with a body fat % in the low to mid-teens to aim for over the next few months. When I hit that I’ll focus on increasing my muscle mass. I want to try some new sports and perhaps do a couple more half marathons.
So, it’s a new start for me. It’s a never ending road that I am on but at least I am heading in the right direction now and, finally, enjoying the journey as I go.