fitness · Workouts

New Year. New you?

I’m going to be honest and say that I am of that group of people who think of new years resolutions as a big load of bollocks. The concept of new year resolutions is great, but most of the time you just end up making some grand gesture that is supposed to last the whole year and you are burned out by February or March. Most new years resolutions fail because they a too broad or too unrealistic, which makes the resolutions of: “I am going to eat only healthy food this year,” or “I’m going to exercise everyday this year.”

Given my view my next few blog posts are going to seem a little hypocritical, but I am a believer in change and I believe that we all can benefit from changing for the better. And I know that when struggling with extra challenges such as a mental health disorder, change is extra hard. So based on the fact that anything is better than nothing, I will be posting a low-bar, no equipment needed, work outs three times a week for the next 4 weeks. Each week I will device a blog post with an update, I will aim to have it up by Sunday, but it might sometimes end up not being up until Monday. The work outs will be posted on the Instagram page on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. the weekly blog post will be updated to contain each work out on the respective day.

All the work outs will be as intense or as easy as you want to make them as I am basing them on the HIIT-principle (High Intensity Interval training). If you need the work out to be harder, go faster, if you need to ease up go slower. None of the work outs should take more than a maximum of 20 minutes, most of them will probably be done in 10. They are short enough that if you already are following a training program you can just slap it onto the end of your program before you cool down to get some variation, and they are short enough so that time won’t be an easy excuse. Absolutely no equipment will be necessary, not even a chair, in order to ensure that everyone do them from the comfort of their living room. Though I would recommend the use of a stopwatch function on your phone or computer, so that you can monitor your progress.

My challenge to you this second week of January is to do these simple work outs three times a week and then that is all you need to do. Working out in itself is a great anti depressant, and even a short period of exercise will help elevate a heavy mood and increase your wellbeing. Even if these work outs only takes 10 minutes or 15 minutes,  any number of minutes is better than 0 minutes.

So with no further ado I will be posting Monday’s work out below:

Complete 5 rounds of:
10 Squats
10 Press ups
10 Ab crunches

Break down of each exercise and variation: 

Squats: 

Stand with your legs hip with apart, face forwards and start the movement through a hinge in your hip before you bend both your hips and knees at the same time down into a squat position where your thighs are parallel to the floor lower. Ensure that keep your knees over your feet (don’t let them sink towards the middle or extend outside the foot). Keep your knees behind your toes.
If you have issues getting down to parallel only squat down as far as you can comfortably get back up. This is important, especially when starting out, depth will come with time and when you build up your flexibility.

Press up/ Push up: 

Lay down on the floor with face down. In order to find the ideal position for your  hands stretch your arms out over your head and then slide them down, starting with the elbow, until your hands are in line with your shoulders.
Depending on your strength you’d probably like to either press up, keeping your body straight keeping shoulders, hips, knees and ankles in line.

Or you can press up from the knees, keeping shoulder’s, hips and knees in line. If that is too heavy you can also do a box press up by pulling your knees closer to your hands.
You can also do press up against the wall, or a steady table, this will make the movement easier to do.

Ab crunch:

Lay down on your back, press your lower back down enough so you can fit one finger between you and the floor. Put your arms on your thighs. Then lift your shoulders up from the floor, sliding your arms up until your fingertips touches your knee. Ensure you are keeping your neck neutral by pretending to ball between your chin and the top of your chest.
To make the exercise harder you can move you arms to cross on your chest, place your hands or placing your hands by your ears (then make sure you are not pulling on your head with your hands as you lift your shoulders form the floor).

If you want you can post your time in the comments.

fitness · mental health

Sacrificing my social life for the gym.

 

 

I had an interesting conversation related to working out, wellness and the absurd amount of alcohol that seems normal for people to consume. It might have much to do with where I live, but the favorite pastime of my colleagues might be getting hammered at the bar, or the party or the other party, or the thing that doesn’t really have anything to do with alcohol but we still drink.

Of course I am in no way implying that my life is filled with alcoholics,  because I am sure that these are 100% working, functional adults.

I completely get that going out, having fun with friends, drinking, partying and dancing is great. It is fun. It is social. It is friendly. And it is nothing wrong with it. Speaking from my own experience through, I have an awful time managing my mood swings if I go out drinking. First thing: I am not supposed to touch alcohol with the prescription pills I am taking, second; alcohol is a depressant and me being prone to depression it is not a good combination. Therefore, I have found a different outlet for me to be social, out of the house and alcohol free; the gym.

The gym brings me back to topic. During the discussion it was mentioned that one might not want to sacrifice their social life to go to the gym. This had me thinking, and I can understand that a lot of people would feel like that. Being me, I slightly overdo it, maybe, heading to the gym sometimes 7 days a week. It doesn’t have to be like that, you don’t have to do what I do. To be honest I am trying my best to write to encourage you to go to the gym, but I tend to get off track.

Getting to the gym is actually the easy part. Signing up and paying for a membership is easy. The hard part is to keep going. To come back. The hard part is to go to the gym, even though you have to walk half a mile in the rain. When you are at the gym, it is actually rather easy, you do not have to do much, and if you are just starting out anything is better than nothing.

Here are some generic tips for how to keep going to the gym: 

  • When you are starting out, have a goal to go to the gym fewer times than you think you can handle. If you think you can go four times a week, let it be a success if you go two times a week. Don’t burn the candle in both ends by deciding to go everyday right away.
  • Chose a gym with classes, look through their classes and sign up for something that sounds fun. If you are signed up for a class you are more likely to go, plus classes lasts for a specific time you will know you do not have to stay longer than planned.
  • Get yourself a program. You do not have to get a personal trainer, but have a look on the internet, find a program you like, tweak it if you need to. Having a program or a plan will help you to get to the gym.
  • Do things you think are fun at the gym, when you are starting out. If you do not like running, don’t force yourself to run, lift some weights instead. If you do not like lifting weights, run or row or do what makes a gym session tolerable to you.
  • If you have the money for it, get yourself a personal trainer. A few years back when I was first starting out, I got myself a personal trainer and it is one of the best investments I have done for my health. When you choose a personal trainer, make sure to get one who enjoy what they do, sound enthusiastic about training and listen to what you want out of your gym sessions. Get a trainer who can help you reach your goals but also one that keep your goals realistic.
  • Get a measuring band and start taking body measurements, it is more accurate than checking your weight all the time.
  • Keep it short. A full body-workout does not need to take more than 45 minutes

Hopefully these tips will help someone somewhere.

The gym, despite what a lot of people believe, is a social space. After going for a while, the other regulars will recognize and acknowledge you. Not long after it will be normal for you to strike up conversations with people you see there regularly, especially if you are weightlifting because you have to rest between sets no matter how strong you get.

And strictly speaking, if you do not want to, you don’t have to go more than 2 – 3 times a week. I know that 2-3 hours a week might seem like a huge sacrifice to some. I get that you might have to pass that bear or skip that dinner outing, but we are talking about as little as 2% of your weekly waking hours (given that you are a perfect person who sleeps perfectly 8 hours every night. Can you really say that 2% of your time, is sacrificing your social live rather than investing in your health and well-being?

Speaking for myself, the hours I spend at the gym, give me so much that I am willing to give much more of my time. Going to the gym helps me keep my mood under control, it helps me keep my eating in check, it helps my social life and it benefits my health. My gym sessions is my investment in me.