It feels like spring is just around the corner.  Time to shake off the winter blues, get fit, be healthy, live better…and you don’t even need to go to the gym. 

Do you want to improve your health and fitness? You may already be doing it. No matter where you are or what you’re doing. Spring is a great time for positive change. 

Follow these 7 simple steps. It’s important to take 1 step each day. Read it; think about it, how can you make this happen? There is a lot to think about here, so you don’t need to complete each step on consecutive days. Make sure you have a clear picture for each step before you move on. 

Step 1 – Think positively

Start with positive intentions. Whatever it is you want to achieve, know that you can do it. Try not to let words of doubt creep into your mind; and don’t let others put you off, just because you want to do something different. Have a positive personal mantra ‘I can do this’, ‘I am fit and strong’, ‘I feel great’. Repeat it to yourself. A positive mind results in a healthy body.

Step 2 – take small
Try not to take on too much. Step 6 is all about planning and how you can plan activity into your (busy) life. If you were planning to run a marathon, you wouldn’t start your training by running 26 miles. You would start slowly with short runs and gradually build up your training as your fitness improves. 

There may be a lot you want to achieve so take it slowly. Each small step takes you a little closer to where you want to be. A huge leap may just be too much. Start to think about what you want to achieve. 

What does it look like? 

What do you look like? 

What are the positive benefits of reaching your goal?  

Start to set some definitive goals. 

If you want to get fit, what does that mean to you?

If you want to lose weight, what do you look like?

 How much do you want to lose? 

If you want to improve your health, what does that mean to you? 

How would you know your health has improved? 

Write them out. Over the next week, keep going back to them. Picture yourself achieving these goals. 

Step 3. ‘Mindful’ eating

Think about what you eat and how you eat. Do you eat the same foods week-in, week-out? Is there a general eating pattern you follow? We are all creatures of habit. Lots of the eating habits we develop can be detrimental to our health. Identifying and breaking these habits is the first step to developing new ‘healthier’ habits. 

Do you snack when you are not hungry?

When and what do you snack on? 

Do you regularly go for second helpings?

How do you feel after a meal? Are you satisfied or over full?

Does your diet contain lots of processed or ready meals or do you prepare most of you meals from scratch?

Do you try out different foods? 

How many different coloured vegetables and fruit are in your fridge/fruit bowl at the moment? Is this what you normally have?

How often do you plan what you are going to eat?

For the week ahead, try to answer these questions. Keeping a simple food diary can help you identify your general eating habits. It’s better to record foods as you eat them. Be honest with yourself. Record what you ate, how much and at what time did you eat. On my next blog I’ll provide you with some simple guidelines to make effective dietary changes. 

Step 4. ‘Mindful’ activity

Get to know what your body can do and how it moves. Practicing Yoga and Pilates helps you be in control of how your body moves. The mind-muscle connection awakens muscles, which have become underused and weak. Being able to support your own bodyweight with strength and control is a very empowering experience. Through regular practice your body will feel strong, supple and energised. Even if you’re out walking or running, perform your activities with positive intention and purpose as opposed to mindlessly running on a treadmill while zoning out to whatever’s on the screen in front of you.

Step 5. Improve your posture

Modern lifestyles and inactivity can seriously affect your posture resulting in a multitude of aches and pains. Good posture not only affects how your body moves and functions, it also affects how you body looks. Poor posture can cause some muscles to lengthen while the opposing muscles shorted. 

Siting for long periods of time shortens the hip flexors and hamstrings and lengthens the gluteal (buttocks). The abdominal muscles also become weak, as they are not being used to provide support. All this affects the position of your pelvis and can be a major cause of back pain.

If you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk ensure your workstation is set up correctly. Here’s a useful link to a workstation assessment:

Regular Pilates and Yoga practice will strengthen the important postural muscles. Click here for Yoga and Pilates classes

Step 6. Plan

Don’t leave exercise and activity to chance – plan ahead. Where can you fit activity into your day? The most frequently given reason for not exercising is ‘time’. I ‘don’t have time to exercise’. ‘I don’t have time to get fit’. You don’t need to spend 2 hours…even 1 hour a day, but try to do something every day. Use the green space you have around you. Get outside and do something active. Shake off the winter blues by raising your natural levels of serotonin and Vitamin D. Walk, run, cycle, do yoga…of course. Get your body moving and get a ‘spring’ in your step. Even a few short burst of activity are more then you were previously doing. 

Step 7. Stick to it
Make it a lifestyle change for you and your family. It’s not a fad; it’s what you do. Step 2 is about taking small steps. By doing this it’s easier to stick to. Remember every day is a new day. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go according to plan or if things get in the way. Stick to it. Keep your goal in mind. Pick your self up from where you left off. Practice making changes and they’ll be with you for life. 

Congratulate yourself for al the positive steps you take to improve your health. 

Go back to step 1. and start to put these steps into action. Now you have a clear picture of what you want to achieve, I will give you lots of tools and advice to help you achieve your goals.