One step at a time
*This piece was originally written for The Summerset Scene magazine - Autumn 2022
A transformation of this kind is never a short-term challenge; it’s a lifelong project.
I was in conversation not too long ago with Janine, a lady I’ve been training for almost four years. We were reflecting on her journey and how she has achieved what she has. This is a woman who has essentially lost half her body weight, going from 163kg down to the mid-80s in three years. A transformation of this kind is never a short-term challenge; it’s a lifelong project.
Janine is in it for the long haul. Like a well-tended garden, her body is a never-ending project that needs careful attention, the right tools and a chance to grow (or, in Janine’s case, shrink!). Below are a few of the ways we worked together.
For Janine to make it easy for herself to get outside and walk regularly, she simply keeps a box of everything she needs by her front door. Aside from shoes and headphones, and a hat and gloves in winter, there’s very little she requires in the morning to get out the door and make a start.
I always do my best to inject sleep into conversations about health, given we know so much more about sleep these days. I advise everyone to get to bed at a reasonable hour and do your best to get 6–8 hours of sleep. Sometimes the best thing for our brains and bodies is to switch everything off, go into a dark room, lie down and sleep. This may be more difficult during hotter days, so do your best to ‘pre-cool’ your bedroom. A temperature of around 17–18°C is optimum for getting to, and staying, asleep.
VARYING YOUR EXERCISE
The human body is built to move in many ways. Unless you’re a professional athlete (and even then, variation may help), look to include a variety of different exercises throughout your week. The big ones I encourage are something aerobic, such as walking or cycling; something that requires you to lift either yourself or something else, such as strength training or yoga; and something that encourages you to develop and maintain coordination, such as tennis, bowls or swimming. This also means you can exercise throughout the year and have a new activity to look forward to each season.
Janine’s approach to food was simple: she created a weekly food plan, bought only the foods she required, ate at regular intervals throughout the day, and forgive herself quickly and moved on if she overindulged.
Getting to bed at a regular time, eating takeaways with a knife and fork, and removing treats from eye level in the cupboard won’t change our lives on their own, but together they can help us build healthy habits. Be kind to yourself and remember that it is the small changes over time that make a real difference. You can start anywhere, be it around food, exercise, sleep or simply buying and using a new water bottle.
All the best with your journey!