Get Fit Without the Gym!
After not posting for a while, I’m suddenly posting twice in one day. Why? Because I’m a little bit excited! Why? Because I’ve been battling with my (little) bulge ever since I had my daughter and I think I’ve finally found a way to shift it this time. I’m (trying) to get fit at home. Really.
I’m not going to go on about my weight though because that’s just silly. I know I’m not fat. But the main reason for that is I have to watch what I eat and keep active. I am not ‘naturally skinny’. I’m petite so I look small, but because I’m short, a few extra pounds are quite noticeable. To me mainly, but why else would I bother to try? It’s all about how you feel about yourself isn’t it? If I was comfortable then I really wouldn’t care.
As a child I was a bit of an ugly duckling – I’m sure my Mother wouldn’t mind me saying (I’d hope she’d deny it actually!). Looking back on photo’s I was a bit on the chunky side and when it came to fashion I just wore the baggiest clothes available. Not because I thought they looked good – it was because I thought I didn’t look good. So I was that 12 year old who spent summer days shut away listening to heavy metal (when all my friends thought I was a freak for doing so) and I wished I could head out in shorts and cut-off tops. I’m not asking for violins. It’s a true story that’s all.
I stayed home but didn’t get fit
Sport was never my thing but I did have a lot of energy. I just never had the confidence to use it. When I reached my early 20’s though a lot of my ‘puppy fat’ kind of disappeared. I seemed to drop down from a size 12 – 14 to a UK size 8 overnight. It could be a genetic thing as my mum was the same, or it could have been a change in eating habits and doing quite a physical job. Who knows, but I’ve just about stayed there since apart from gaining a few pounds from time to time. I had Kyle when I was 22 but the baby weight came off with no problem which amazed me.
I discovered ‘Bootcamp’, and actually loved it!
At the age of 34 (well 4 days before I was 35) I had Eva and my stomach wasn’t quite as small as it was before. Then eating what I like (never a good idea as I’m a sugar addict) made shifting what I’d put on a million times harder than it used to. It could be a number of reasons – post baby weight, my age, my hormones, my sugar addiction… So I started working out. And I was quite good at it! Okay my technique sometimes needs correcting, but I can go to a class and manage the majority of it. It started out with a bootcamp class I went to, then Insanity classes, Circuits, Boxfit and the odd BodyPump class (with weights). Plus when I did have time I would try to get fit at home by doing the odd workout. Being consistent is pretty important for fitness.
I did Bootcamp twice a week for about a year before the instructor had to give it up. Then I started heading down the gym to Insanity but I could only manage once a week due to work commitments. Then if Darrel was out, I’d have to stay home with Eva so some weeks no class. Then that dreaded winter (it was damn cold) – those evenings I didn’t want to be going anywhere.
As the summer approached – actually rather quickly, I really did notice what the lack of exercise and healthy eating was doing. So I decided to take it into my own hands! This is what I’m doing – and I’m seeing a difference already – in 1 week. I promise!
They say it starts with healthy eating. I need to believe it now
I’m guessing we’ve heard this saying ‘you can’t outrun a bad bad diet’. I never paid any attention to what that actually meant before. Now I know that if I workout loads but just eat crap, my body doesn’t really change much. It takes a long time in the gym to burn those calories but seconds to top them (and more) back up again. Just an extra packet of crisps or bowl of icecream after dinner is enough to undo all the hard work.
I’m not good with ‘diets’ because you have to have a life, and sometimes life will throw eating at a friend’s house or lunch at work at you. On those occasions you can’t always control what you’re going to have. Life’s too short anyway – and I quite like icecream. However, it’s about monitoring and not over eating. Or not eating stuff that actually appears quite small (I mean, look at the size of a Cadbury’s Creme Egg).
Finding a way to do this to suit you and your lifestyle is trial and error. And really really hard!
I do associated diets with the term ‘fad’ because labelling what you are doing can usually be short lived. But people do stick to them. Those people I admire because I’m such a foodie, but now and again I’ll do a ‘fad diet’ just as a kick start. This time though, nothing has worked. Apart from one thing and it’s based on the Ketogenic Diet. Loosely I might add, as the Keto diet has split views on whether it’s actually beneficial. So for me it’s just keeping my carbohydrates down in order to reduce my bad eating habits.
Curbing the carbs – sort of
The Keto diet is very low carb, eating good quality moderate amounts of protein and high amounts of good fats from good oils, dairy, nuts and avocados. I have a basic understanding of this diet and the many variations of it. If done correctly it sends your body into ketosis as you are burning fat in your body rather than glucose from carbs – which is produced by white and beige carbs and sugar. Sending your body into a state of ketosis can take time and effort when you are strict, so you need to know what foods to eat and the quantity (and quality) to stay there. There are so many recipes to make carb free alternatives to your favourite food – plus loads of facebook groups and forums to answer every question imaginable.
But without going too deeply into it, I’ve found that if I lower my carb intake without cutting them out completely (my husband’s father is half Italian so pizza and pasta will never be banned from our house!) and up my protein and fibre intake slightly I’m feeling full, stronger when I workout and I’m not starving myself. I think it’s working. Slowly.
I guess I need to ‘remember’ not to eat my daughter’s chocolate when she’s in bed
I do eat carbs. Especially before a workout and I quite enjoy oats or granola some mornings and a few potatoes with my dinner. But I’ve cut back, eating more complex ‘good’ carbs from sweet potatoes, quinoa and wholewheat rather than refined sugar. I’ve upped my protein intake (not forgetting healthy veggies and some fruit). It helps me from overeating as it fills me up and it’s good for muscle repair. For me personally – looking at my eating habits – and trying to break the bad ones, it makes me think twice about what I’m about to eat. So I’m having less bread, cake, cookies and sugary foods. It’s the best way to be healthier. I’ve looked at my bad habits – mainly wanting something sweet after mealtimes and consciously finding an alternative. We would like to eat cleaner.
That doesn’t have to mean cutting those treats out completely – that won’t work (I’d constantly have icecream on my mind if that was the case, which will make me want it more), but how it’ll fit into your everyday life.
Then the exercise
I always believed that a gym class or having an instructor telling me what to do is best for me and my motivation. To an extent that is true. I can sit about and think about doing some burpees, but the reality is I have to make the effort to actually do it. This is how if you’re going to get fit at home:
- Put on your gym kit
That includes trainers. Once you are in your workout gear you are halfway there.
- Allocate a time and stick to it
Don’t think ‘oh I’ll just put the washing on first’ or the fatal ‘I’ll do it after dinner’ – that won’t work as you’ll be sluggish and full. Pick a time that suits and get yourself ready.
For me, it’s straight after working. Before sorting out dinner and before my husband comes home (less embarrassing!). Eva thinks it’s play time so I don’t feel guilty. She runs up and down the garden joining in – so I’m being a good influence!
- Warm up
Start by spending 5 minutes warming up. It gets you going as well as reducing the risk of pulling a muscle. I will stretch and warm up the arms and upper body, then work down warming up legs and stretching my hamstrings.
- Make a plan
You’ll next need your session plan. What are you doing today? Or even for the whole week?
If the neighbours saw me, this would be embarrassing..
I like hiit training which stands for high intensity interval training. Great for burning those calories and it’s very effective. You only need to do 20 or 30 minutes of it (I do more) and you only need to do it 2 or 3 times a week. It’s my favourite. After my warm up and I’m able to be out in the back garden, I’ll do myself a few sets and I’ll time myself. I’ll run up the garden then back and do 10 reps of an exercise (crunches/jump jacks/scissors/mountain climbs etc) then either change the exercise or I’ll add one. I like to mix it up.
Then I’ll do myself a ‘circuit’. My garden isn’t very big so I stay in one area. Again I time myself and do 3 rounds. I’ll do 1 minute on each exercise, rest for 30 seconds and do the next and repeat. For example, 1 minute of step ups on my patio step, then 1 minute of kettle bell swings, 1 minute of crunches, 1 minute of squats. Again mix it up. On a rainy day, I can do exercises on the mat indoors. If I’m jumping, or simply getting up and getting down then back up again, I feel I’m making up for the lack of sprinting up and down. Make sure you spend time on your cool down afterwards.
Get some workout ideas before you start
If I’m not doing cardio then I’ll do some weights. Don’t work the same muscle group day after day. Alternate, allowing them to rest. Yesterday was an arm and back day. I used hand weights and kettle bells. At the moment I use lighter weights because I’m not strong enough and I make sure I use the correct techniques so I’m not pulling my back or causing an injury.
Today will be a leg and butt day. Lots of lunges and squats! Then I’ll do cardio again and rest for 2 days. Then a stomach day and cardio in between.
I know that if I planning and even writing it down (I even chalk it on the patio so I can see what I’m doing next!) then I’m more likely to stick with it.
Motivation is the hardest thing. If I’m going to a class it’s usually because I’m going with a friend. But not always. Sometimes a friend will come to my house and we workout together. She shows me what she does and I show her what I do. We can also correct each other, so we’re both getting fit at home!
If I don’t have that, then I only have myself. Which means I must really want it. That or it is only three weeks until my holiday and I have that to focus on. But whatever it is the motivation has to be there.
There are added advantages too. You get to work out at a time that suits you (perfect with small children). No more making your way to the gym. And it saves you money on extra classes!
This is me today. More definition and my trousers fit!
What do you want to achieve?
You need a goal and it needs to be realistic. It’s easy to follow stick thin or well toned Instagrammers and want to look like that. It’s comparing yourself. That’s not good. Start with wanting to be fitter, stronger, healthier or simply have a better posture. It’s doable.
I actually love working out! I go to classes and hear people complaining when the instructor is giving us the next thing to do. I struggle with some things but I always give them a go, and I never complain. I like feeling fit and strong. And I’m pretty sure it’s showing.
But do what suits you. Look at how you eat and ways to make it healthier. Do you need to prepare food before going into work to eat better? Do you need to switch your love of fizzy soft drinks to sparkling water? Or just start the day with a good breakfast rather than a sugary latte and then some biscuits mid morning when you start to get peckish (yeah, we’ve all done that).
Then the exercise. Do you need to seek medical advise before starting something new or speak to a gym instructor? Get the right advice to avoid any injuries. Get the techniques perfected. Make sure a past injury won’t come back to haunt you if you start picking up weights or doing lunges. An instructor or personal trainer can show you how to get it right and tailor it for you.