As someone who has been exercising regularly for the past 15 years, through 2 pregnancies and now mid-life, let me tell you being regular is not easy.
Staying consistent with your fitness and health goals is even tougher. But you can do it even if you fall off the wagon multiple times.
My younger son calls me the fittest mom my age, and I take that as a huge compliment and motivator. After all, I can outjog the kids during my 5K runs.
It is Achievable
For someone who was utterly unfit in my school days, I have come a long way. I had stiff limbs and big fitness issues while being really slim.
I am sure many envied me for my slender figure while I wanted to get fitter.
Grass is always greener on the other side.
Yes, you can get fit if you put your mind and a plan to it. Believe me!
Take Baby Steps and Grow Progressively
Let’s face it. Most of us workout to lose weight or stay in shape. The other benefits like increased stamina, better emotional wellbeing, flexible joints, stronger bones and better muscle tone unveil themselves slowly.
If you have lead a completely sedentary life, start slow. Start 3 days a week with just a 15-minute walk.
Document your journey somewhere. Maintain a journal. Tick on a calendar. Try social media. But track you must.
I am doing a 100-day fitness challenge on twitter. You can follow my updates there. My handle is @rachnaparmar.
Increase your pace as you go along. If you are stuck at 15 minutes per day even after a month, you need to push.
When working out, your body gets used to a certain workout and will stop showing results.
Hence, you must progressively increase either time or intensity or both with passing weeks.
It is very important to progressively challenge your body more. Else, your results will plateau.
Make a Workout Plan
Optimally you should workout 5 days a week and give your body 2 days of active rest (light yoga or just stay physically active).
Cardio activities include: Brisk walking, jogging, running, cycling, treadmill, swimming, sports, cardio routines like burpees, jumps, aerobics routines, Zumba and dance routines .
Muscle work includes: Strength training with weights or body weight. Things like lunges, squats, curls, pushups etc.
Never do muscle work on the same muscle groups two days in a row. When starting out, it is best to do muscle work with a trainer to avoid injury.
Some workouts have a combination of both.
It is very important to incorporate strength training in your workout. It tones your body and strengthens your bones.
Women in late 30s and early 40s really must do it for their bone health. For some reason, women shy away from lifting weights. Trust me, there is no reason to.
My workout plan typically for a week is:
Day 1: Run/Jog 5K. I have progressively increased my speed to about 8-9 km. per hour.
Day 2: Strength Training: Lower body + core with some HIIT (cardio)
Day 3: Yoga/Run/Jog
Day 4: Strength training: Upper body strength training + some cardio
Day 5: Run/Jog
Day 6 and 7 Active Rest
Create your own plan to cater to your fitness level and goals.
Start with Small Goals:
It takes a lot to stay on track and lose weight steadily. Even the best of people fail. It is best to start small and keep realistic goals.
As you go along, keep increasing your goals every month. A loss of 10-15 Kgs. looks very big and defeats you even before you begin. But, a loss of 1-2 Kgs. per month is achievable.
Remember, regularity is the key. Despite the best intentions, work deadlines, sickness, tiredness etc. may cause you to stop working out.
Just get back on. Keep doing it till it becomes a part of your routine. Research has shown that it takes about 20 – 40 days for a habit to form till it becomes a part of your lifestyle.
Make Rules You will Stick with:
For me such rules are: I will exercise once every 3 days. I make sure that I stick by this rule. It is doable, isn’t it?
I will not eat more than 2 meals without eating enough protein. This keeps me in check with regards to complete nutrition.
I will drink 3 litres of water daily. This helps me to keep a filled bottle with me that I keep sipping from.
Also avoid fitness mistakes like diet fads, yoyo diets and so on. Reaching out to a nutritionist that can customise your diet plans to your needs is quite helpful.
Stay on Track:
It helps to have a fitness buddy. My husband and I have been working out since years. We may run/jog together but do our muscle work individually. We motivate each other to carry on.
These days, we also take our dog for a walk. And now, come evening, he is charged up to be taken out. Who can refuse him? 🙂
Find a friend/spouse/colleague. Find a fitness group on social media. Do what works for you. Join a class.
Most importantly, seek internal motivation. That will egg you on in the long run.
Switch with Seasons:
I prefer to jog/run outdoors, as it lifts my moods. Some of my friends prefer gyms or treadmills in their homes.
I also enjoy working out to FitnessBlender.com videos at home. My husband does weights at the neighbourhood gym.
Find what suits you and choose that. Also, during rainy season, you may end up missing out workouts due to rain and wet streets. Switch to a gym or workout at home.
During summers, outdoors may be too hot, try swimming or indoor cardio then or workout early mornings and evenings.
Switch the mode and time of workout to ensure that you stay consistent and regular.
Don’t Obsess over Weight
Losing weight is important when you are overweight but don’t be obsessed with it. I don't weigh myself regularly.
As a matter of fact, I know I have gained weight purely based on how my clothes fit. But if you are starting with a weight loss goal, weigh yourself once a fortnight/month to check your progress.
Don't climb on the scale daily or after a heavy meal and demotivate yourself.
Choose sensible goals like losing a kg or two over a month.
Pay Attention to Diet
I can’t say this often enough. If you don’t pay attention to your diet, all your work at workout is down the drain.
One day of binge eating and you are done for. This is not to say that you have to contend with eating boiled/tasteless food for the rest of your life.
Understand what is a nutritionally balanced meal and watch the portions you eat. I would recommend maintaining a food journal.
It is a bit tiresome but it is totally worth it. It will reveal things you never expected and will also help you eat and drink sensibly.
Eating pre- and post-workout is also very important to get the most out of your exercise. Don’t workout on an empty stomach unless you are doing Yoga.
Get Enough Sleep
On the days when I don't get adequate sleep, I don't workout. Your body needs adequate rest to benefit from workout.
Don't push it when it is tired. Make sure that enough sleep is a part of your fitness plan.
It is the time when your body heals and recovers from injuries. I need 7-8 hours sleep daily to function optimally.
You can’t reach my fitness level in a few days or months. I can’t reach that of marathoners or sportspersons in a few months, so set realistic goals.
Your journey is different, and your challenges are different. Progressively increase your goals, and enjoy yourself when you are doing it.
Know that your body is thanking you.
Hope these tips will motivate you to make fitness a part of your routine and life.
Do share your own fitness routines and issues in the comments.
Shailaja V says
All excellent tips and you’re certainly the most consistent person I know with regard to fitness. I am impressed by the variety you incorporate in your workout. That’s amazing!
For me, I realized I have to do it daily. Else I fall off the wagon. And getting back on is super tough as you said. I now look at it as brushing my teeth. Even if it’s a short walk I try to get it in. Plus numbers would demotivate me. So I stuck to just regularity for now. Will work in other factors slowly. ?
Thanks, Shailaja. One has to try out different variations if one wishes to stay consistent over years. It can get mundane otherwise.
Since you are just starting out, you have to work on staying regular and making it a habit first. Subsequently, you can start focussing on bumping up the workout, paying attention to nutrition and of course, monitoring as well. 🙂 Good luck. Happy to see your enthusiasm at giving it a serious go.
Thanks Rachna for this. I've been following your updates on twitter and they're really impressive. It takes me an hour to do 5km. Of late I've fallen back on my fitness programme and this seems to be a sign (that I'm stumbling upon so many fitness posts!) to get back to being regular. I've taken to yoga and I walk somedays in the evening but the rains play spoilsport. It's a good idea to be ready to go to the gym if/when it rains but to not give up those ten or twenty minutes of extra exercise. I'll do that.
Thank you, Tulika. An hour for 5K is pretty decent. Maybe, you can incorporate slow jogs for short distances coupled with brisk walk. That will up your time and also increase the benefit of your walk. Just start small and build up. Yoga is wonderful for flexibility. I owe it a lot for making my rigid limbs flexible. Also, nothing beats Yoga when it comes to stretches and mental health. I religiously do my surya namaskars and pranayams. Do try to be flexible. Home gymming is fun too. I do recommend fitness blender. They have excellent videos for beginners too. Wish you luck. Most importantly aim for 4-5 days in a week no matter what, even if the exercise is for lesser time.
the bespectacled mother says
I have never been into exercising and fitness until I decided to change this 2 months ago. In the beginning it was difficult. I managed to stay regular because I was doing it with a trainer. If I had been on my own, I would have fallen back. I am following your advice - not to obsess about weight everyday.
I am so happy for you, Anamika. Nothing like achieving results and doing all the hard work. I don't know why but I know many women who shy away from gymming. Learning with the trainer is the best. That way you learn correctly and also can do a customized workouts and see faster and sustained results. I am glad that you are not obsessing about your weight daily. It will come down when you exercise correctly and regularly.
Excellent tips there, Rachna! Very inspiring to read about your journey and am so glad to have read this at a time when I have just started to pay attention to my health especially in the nutrition area. Aiming to bump up my immunity levels and get fitter, healthier overall. I don’t go to a gym but I believe your tips are applicable and will be helpful even in the everyday walk of life. Thank you for sharing it!
I am so happy that you liked the post and that it comes at the right time for you, Arti. Oh yes, immunity also goes high as you get fitter. I am hopeful that these tips will help you get fitter. Thanks for dropping by.
Truly inspirational stuff Rachna. I always appreciate your discipline and dedication towards family, cooking, blogging and fitness. Great tips there. More power to your fitness goals.
Thanks so much, Alka. Fitness is now a passion for me. I enjoy my workouts.
Nabanita Dhar says
Inspiring, Rachna. I wish I could so this because I can already see my body being affected. Vitamin D deficiency and now backache due to carrying M’s heavy bags and her in a carrier 5 days a week. I’m just not able to find time. Sigh!
You need to take it easy just now, Naba. You have too much on your plate with a young child. I am sure you are very active as it is around her. But yes, you need to check on those Vit D levels and find out why you are having a backache. Taking multivitamins may take care of any deficiencies Do consult a doctor soon.
Soumya Prasad says
Health has always been a priority for me, but I took it very seriously only recently. My hormones shot up and PCOD was back in full glory. Although I don't look fat I needed to lose a lot of weight in order to keep the hormones in control. I need to lose 10-15 kgs in total, but I've kept my targets realistic and decided to go for 1-2 kilos a month. Thanks to a good diet chart and workout plan, I've managed to lose 2 kilos in 2 weeks!
I'm determined this time to stick to my diet and workout and get my hormones back on track!
I think exercising regularly is something we all must do irrespective of age and body weight. I am so happy to read about your renewed focus on health. And I am so glad that you are working diligently and systematically towards your fitness goals. I expect nothing less from you!
I’m so glad to have stumbled upon two fitness posts this morning, just when I was planning to get more scheduled about it. I do cycle every Sunday- pretty much long distances, but my weekday work out schedule has been quite erratic.
I’ve run two10k marathons in the past, but gave up running almost 1-1/4 years ago due to a back injury. Trying to get back, slowly but surely now. Used to do a strength training class till last year, but the back injury threw my entire work out schedule off the gear. Then did some yoga for a few months recently and got bored.
I guess it makes sense to combine various form of workouts every day. Makes it fun and knocks off the monotony.
I’m definitely going to look up Fitness blender and give it a go.
And this really struck a chord: “Most of us workout to lose weight or stay in shape. The other benefits like increased stamina, better emotional wellbeing, flexible joints, stronger bones and better muscle tone unveil themselves slowly.”
We usually forget all the other important benefits and focus so much on the weight loss. Weight loss like they say is 70% of what we eat and 30% of exercise.
Thank you so much Rachna. This is a very, very “wholesome” post.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Natasha. I can imagine how an injury can be so frustrating and can set you back a lot. Take it slow and easy because back injuries can take quite some time to heal.
Mixing workouts and doing new exercises brings newness to the same old boring stuff. For long-term fitness routines, this is so important. I am sure you will enjoy Fitness Blender. They have videos that suit all kinds of needs. As you rightly pointed out, diet is so important and most people just ignore that element and then get demotivated.
So glad that the post resonated with you and that you found it useful.
Excellent post Rachna… I loved it more because of the examples from your personal journey. You are truly inspirational ?I don’t run, that’s something I could never make myself do. About time I start that as well. I love how effective weight training is. You could feel the difference much much faster. And yes, Diet is just as important as exercise when it comes to fitness.
Thanks so much, Raj! Coming from you, I take it as a huge compliment. I can only talk from my experience because I am no fitness expert or trainer. I have only starting running since the past year and now I really enjoy it. I think you will like it.
Oh yes, without weight training any workout routine is incomplete. Sadly, so many women shy away from lifting weights. I've never understood why.
Shilpa Gupte says
Such a detailed, and yet, an easy to follow post on fitness, Rachna! You and I are pretty similar when it comes to being fitness freaks! But, even if we may sound obsessed, Rachna, I feel we are doing the right thing. For if we don’t take care of ourselves now, how will we be able to lead normal, healthy life in our old age? Of course, nothing is in our control, but taking care of ourselves inside out is definitely in our control and we ought to do it right!
I take it as a compliment to be called fitness freak. It is better to be fit and healthy than to be unfit and sloppy any day. Cheers to us!
Vidya Sury says
A good diet, sleep and consistency all make such a major difference to sticking to a fitness plan. You're right about not obsessing over weight, Rachna. Too many people keep an eye on the scale and lose their motivation. Very good tips! I enjoyed reading your post.
So true, Vidya. I am glad the post resonated with you.
Rachna, your work out plan is something I hope to follow someday in my future. I am a moody person and getting out of the house is a chore for me on some days. I blame my hypothyroidism and menopause for my lethargy :). I like walking, no jogging or running for me. Hope to continue with my simple exercise routine with occasional help and tips from fellow bloggers who motivate and inspire.
Wow Rachna...amazing article...very detailed and realistic..and of course Inspiring!
Starting with food journal and exercise book today..