NEW Year’s Days, September 1, Monday or just tomorrow are some of the most popular days to make a change and get healthy, right? The amount of media coverage and focus on health and fitness at certain times of the year makes it that little bit easier to get started.
But honestly, if your heart isn’t in it and you’re only doing it because you feel like you should or somebody told you to, chances are you’re going to fail. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about positivity and self-belief but when it comes to something like weight-loss and fitness then realistic expectations and a bit of harsh reality are important too. If you decide that you really do want to make a change to your lifestyle then a random Tuesday evening in February is more likely to be your perfect time to start.
Once you have decided that you really want to make a change then the next step is to find a type of exercise you like, make a plan and stick to it. This is easier said than done and there are some people who simply like to exercise and some who don’t (or at least think they don’t). This is aimed at those people who would rather watch paint dry than step foot inside a gym and want to try change that but don’t know where to start.
If you see a super fit girl or guy jog past and you’re mind boggled as to why they like to do what they do, you probably have a number of questions running through your mind like what’s wrong with them? Are they actually enjoying themselves? What’s this big fitness secret that’s suddenly sweeping the nation?
Truth is, these people are no different to you apart from the fact that they have reached a certain level of fitness where exercising is no longer painful or uncomfortable but actually enjoyable and they are getting an endorphin rush. They had to start somewhere so don’t compare the beginning of your fitness journey to their middle and become disheartened.
If you’re still a bit sceptical and saying to yourself this will never be you as you hate exercise then I’m telling you that you don’t hate exercise, you just hate the specific type of exercise that you have in mind. Exercise doesn’t have to mean running on a treadmill for an hour or joining an army-style bootcamp. Anything that gets you moving and gets your heart rate up is exercise. The key is to pick something you like and enjoy as you’ll be more likely to stick to it. It shouldn’t be something that’s too hard or unenjoyable.
You might end up trying ten different things before you find something you like and you never know, once you get fitter you may even end up going back doing something you had tried before and hadn’t liked. You might even completely shock yourself and end up wanting to push yourself harder and try new challenges. Soon enough, you might become one of those people who uploads photos of themselves in gym gear and a map of their daily running route – the endorphin buzz changes people.
The easiest way to start exercising is to get out walking. It’s free and simple and you do it anyway. Mix up the routes you take, add in some hills and nice scenery, download some good music or take a friend with you and have a chat. If you want a bit more adventure, then try hill or trail walking as there are so many nice ones right on our doorstep. If walking isn’t your thing then cycling might be. Cycle routes like the Greenway route in Mayo have a dedicated cycle track meaning it’s super-safe as you don’t have to go on the road. This particular route is great for families or a group of friends as the nightlife in Westport is great craic and you can make a weekend out of it. While there you can also have a go at climbing Croagh Patrick and if you’re feeling very adventurous, you can learn to surf on some of the great beaches.
To combine exercise with your social life then why not join something like tag rugby or a recreational football team? These are both great options for anyone who may have been sporty when they were younger but feel as if that was a lifetime ago. If you’re not a very outdoorsy person then you can join something like a dance class, indoor rock-climbing, trampoline classes or rave fitness.
For anyone who doesn’t feel they’re quite at the stage where they want to exercise in public then clear some space in your living room and stick on one of the many YouTube exercise tutorials or even dig out your old Wii Fit and get moving. If you have kids, this is a great way of combining exercise with spending time with them as they’ll more than likely want to get involved too.
Whatever you choose the key to sticking at it and getting results is consistency. Even by simply putting in a little bit of effort regularly, over time you will get big results compared to putting in lots of effort for one month and then doing nothing for a few weeks and then starting again. You may not like exercise when you first start but like housework and other adult responsibilities, you don’t have to like them, you just have to do them. It’s alright to expect yourself to be a bit crap when you start out as long as you keep in mind that you can only improve. Always remember that you don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great.
(This was the first article I wrote for Intrigue.ie, check out it’s home here)