As we navigate through these challenging times, staying healthy has become one of the top priorities but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Trying to fit in our usual exercise routine around home schooling, working from home and anything else life is throwing at us right now can be tricky.
And, just because life has taken a temporary turn down a very odd road, it doesn’t mean we still don’t want to comfortably fit into those favourite pair of jeans or have more energy to play with the kids.
So, how can we get back on track in these strange circumstances? How can we plan for success so that we feel that we’ve achieved something during this period? Feel fitter, stronger, lighter? Rather than slower, weaker, heavier?
From our experience of working in the cycling arena, we’ve come up with Ten Ways to change your approach and get you back on track.
Are you ready?
1. No, seriously, are you ready?
There’s no point starting any of this unless you’ve made a key decision. And that decision is that you’re going to show up for yourself. Your body shows up for you every single minute of every single day, regardless of what you put it through. Can you do the same and make a promise not to let yourself down? Decide now that this is what you want and you’ve made a really important first step.
Yes! We’re right with you.
2. Set goals
Different things work for different people but pledges, promises, resolutions, they all tend to require a lot of willpower and don’t always allow for life getting in the way. They can become unrealistic and impractical ideals. You may have a very noble intention to get back on your bike starting next week but this can get easily railroaded by a myriad of reasons and excuses. That’s normal. This kind of contract you’ve made with yourself isn’t particularly solid and isn’t enough to motivate you through a wobble. But, setting goals will.
Goals are defined as being aims or desired results. It’s much easier for us to get aligned with a goal and get behind it. Goals give you something to aim for without you feeling like you’ve failed before you’ve even begun. They allow you to plan, visualise your future success and track your achievements along the way. They’re the difference between you opening that front door and going despite your feelings about the weather, or you settling down to tuck in to that second packet of biscuits. Goals line you up for success.
3. Find a fitness buddy (at a distance!)
It can make all the difference to have a partner in crime when you’re trying to achieve your fitness goals. If you’re struggling to motivate yourself, you might find that having to show up for someone else is what gets you on the saddle. Now that we’re able to see one other person outside of our household, now is a good time to find a friend that has shared fitness goals to help keep you on track.
4. Make exercise a habit
If you’re not a natural exerciser or you’re just out of the habit, it’s time to integrate it into your routine again. Rather than it being an alien addition to your schedule, try to think of it as exactly the same as any of your other regular habits. You can prioritise it just as you would brushing your teeth for example – it has to get done and you know you’re going to feel better afterwards. And, if you plan ahead of when you’ll be getting on your bike each week, your healthy habit will become more easily established.
5. Use technology to your advantage
There are some great apps available to help you stay focused on your goals. You can track your progress, share with friends, easily see your achievements and improvements. This can be a great reminder of how well you’re doing when it might feel otherwise. Use apps as your personal cheerleader!
6. Keep a food diary
You can cycle all you want but if your diet isn’t up to scratch, it will be an uphill struggle. Literally. It’s really easy to be unaware of how many calories we’re consuming during a day and never more so than now when we’re spending more time at home. Keeping a food diary can help you keep on top of exactly what you’re eating and when. Perhaps you’re eating a lot at the end of the day when your body is struggling to digest it for example? A food diary will give you a lot more awareness of what’s really going on so that you can make some helpful adjustments.
7. Reduce your alcohol consumption
A nice glass of wine after a long day can feel like a much-deserved reward but it can also be the undoing of all your hard work! You can be putting in a lot of effort, sticking to your fitness plan and watching your diet. Then boom, three large glasses of wine and you’ve just loaded yourself up with 630 calories. Reduce your alcohol intake to give yourself the best chance of achieving your fitness goals.
8. Don’t push too hard
Just because you’ve decided that your bike is now your friend again, you don’t need to turn in to your own sergeant major. The fact that you’re even getting out there and committing to your goals is fantastic. Be careful to not push yourself so hard that you’re fatiguing your body and causing it more harm than good. Keep moving forward at a steady pace and you’ll get there.
9. Employ some professional help
If you really want to go for it and feel that you could do with some objective guidance, working with a trainer can be really supportive. There’s lots of trainers providing sessions online at the moment. And with the weather warming up you might be able to get out of the house too. A personal trainer will give you feedback on your progress and track where you’re at so you can see yourself getting closer to achieving your goals.
10. Be realistic
Apart from not having the benefit of all of our tips above, one of the biggest reasons for failure is having unrealistic expectations and goals. Be real with yourself, your current limitations and your aims. Having been on your bike twice in the last six months and then setting a goal to cycle squillions of miles next month is setting yourself up disappointment.
It will feel so good to achieve a more realistic plan of getting on your bike twice a week for the next three months for example, as opposed to failing at an impossible challenge.
At Halfords we want to be part of your cheerleader team! We’ve got a wide range of accessories, lights, clothing, locks, helmets and fitness trackers to help you achieve your fitness goals this year. We’ve even got Turbo Trainers to help you cycle regularly indoors and a free Bike Health Check if your ride needs a once over.
Make a plan, keep going, champion yourself and be realistic. We’re right behind you!