So, in the last year I have worked off around 22kg and about 3 clothing sizes.
Mr SleekGeek (Elan) asked me to write you guys a love-letter about how to do it in my personal opinion *grin*…
This is the 2nd time I’ve attempted this baby mammoth task. The last time was years ago, and my working hours allowed me to go and swim 1km twice a day. Did I imagine that collective gasp? Well, I’m no champion swimmer. I started by spluttering my way through the 20m pool at the gym at a point where I couldn’t swim 5 lengths without resting (or simply going home…). So, I did ALL that training, lost a load of weight, and then the gym closed down and I stopped swimming. Back to square one.
This is the point: Whatever your goal – you just have to GET STARTED. Then KEEP GOING – even if it’s slow, even if it’s not very far. Just keep going! One does not always realise how far you’ve let yourself go, but you don’t suddenly have to run 10km a day and eat only lettuce. Don’t try to make all the changes at once.
Let’s work on balance in everything.
For me, the easiest way to kick-start a healthier life is to walk out your gate. No monthly fees required, and depending on where you live, you’ll see some trees and get some sun and air. What a life! 🙂 If you don’t live in a safe enough neighbourhood, try joining a running club, they’ll have grounds you can use. Running club fees are not constant, but you can work on under R1k for the year. This then generally includes a club vest and your license fee for the year. You can then run road races of 10km+ (once you’re ready!) without having to pay for a temporary license every time.
Avoid some of the pain I have endured along the way; please take some advice from me:
My funky feet and I had to start at the podiatrist. I was sent there by the physiotherapist who I’d been seeing because the inflammation-related pain in my knees (due to the rubbish shoes I’d used, that were too small and didn’t suit my feet!) was not subsiding. If you need to, I’d recommend Philip Bower (Northcliff). For the consultation and the insoles it was under R1k. This is likely so save you many a shin splint, knee, hip (any joint, really!) pain/ injury.
SPECIALIST stores (in my opinion, this does not include the likes of Totalsports and Sportsmans Warehouse, unfortunately) – tend to have people there who ACTUALLY know about running, shoes and avoiding injuries. In my case, I took the podiatrist’s advice and went to the Randburg Runner. I bought a pair of Saucony Jazz15 – neutral, cushioned, size 8.5 for my rather troubled feet. The man who sold them to me (months ago) asked me on my last visit (yesterday) how the shoes are treating me. You won’t get that sort of care from a chain/ franchise store. Once again, got these awesome shoes at under R1k. Get some decent socks while you’re at it.
After you have the right shoes, you can get going. But let’s not go overboard! Go for a walk. Walking is AMAZING. I gained a good deal of fitness by simply walking. Easier on the joints (and sometimes more enjoyable). If you can commit to going for a 30-minute walk, 3 times a week, that’s already a big change.
Track your distances and times – use an app for your phone or buy a Garmin watch if you have some money lying around. A few of the medical aids also now give you pedometers. Tracking your progress can be a major motivation factor. Share your updates onto your social networking sites. Tell people about it. You’ll be surprised the amount of encouragement you’ll get from your friends!
Eventually, you could try swimming, especially if your joints give you problems.
You either need to do some serious research on exercise, or you need to train with someone who knows what they are doing. I have the luxury of training with my friend, Dalena Nel, who used to be a personal trainer and an SA cyclist. She keeps me on track and motivated.
There are so many ways you can injure yourself if you go about exercise uninformed. Please get professional advice and be careful. The Start small idea mentioned above applies throughout your lifestyle change.
Further, I’d like to add some general tips that I found worked for me…
It really is your friend. By simply going for a few walks a week and increasing your water intake to at least 2l daily, you’ll achieve some great results. Whenever you feel hungry, have some water. When you wake up, instead of reaching for that first cup of coffee (which dehydrates you and actually only makes you more tired later on!), have a glass of water instead. Your body loses quite a bit of water during sleep. South Africa’s water quality is world-class – drink up! Get yourself a nice travel ‘canister’ (not plastic) and take it with you wherever you go.
This evil little monster hides in all sorts of unexpected places. For me it’s easier to ‘train’ myself to dislike something. I also have a few medical conditions that make it necessary to cut out the likes of soft drinks altogether rather than attempting moderation.
The main culprits that I have found really mess me up are fruit juice, carbonated drinks, liquor (more than 2 units at a time, more than 2x a week) and bread (and related – croissants, scones etc.). Also, if, like me, you don’t like tea/ coffee without sugar, it’s often easier to cut out the tea/ coffee altogether.
I try to cut out starch after 4pm. (this means no bread/ pizza/ pasta/ potatoes/ rice etc.). You may find it easier to achieve this if you make lunch your main meal.
Cutting down on the bad stuff can have amazing results. So – instead of creating a feeling that you’re torturing yourself because you can never again enjoy your favourite pasta, apply some logic and decide e.g. OK, I’ll have pasta. But I’ll have it at lunchtime, no more than once a week, and even better if you’re going to be training that evening.
Getting into a healthy habit takes some time, but once you’re there, you’ll never look back. I am lucky enough to have a world-class canteen facility available at my workplace. This, however, can be a blessing and a curse. Often it’s difficult to walk past the pizza counter and have a wrap and salad instead. It’s ok though! We all have those days. For me, the key is that you can allow yourself to fall off the wagon once in a while – as long as it’s ONCE, and the while is a week or longer. Don’t let your binge day turn into a binge month.
Giving your body a break from alcohol has unimaginable results. Try a week, then a month. We do not realise the amount of sugar that we take in… just try it! You’ll also be surprised at the amount of money you save.
Often looking at a scale or even the special machines some gyms have available can be demotivating. I stopped using the one in my gym because it sent me an email every time telling me I’m a walking, talking health risk! J It’s more about how you feel and about how your clothes fit. Remember, the ultimate aim here is health and happiness!
What you do not purchase, you will not consume. Those evil cravings for your favourite poison often come at night. If you’re desperate enough to get in your car and go and buy it, then you deserve it. 95% of the time, you will be too lazy to do that (like me!). Simply stop buying soft drinks, crisps, etc. It’s the simplest solution. And when you do buy a chocolate, buy a unit – not a slab. Trust me, it has a big impact!
Add Vitamin C to your life. Go see a medical practitioner and get your blood tested. You may have deficiencies that detract from your quality of life. I’ve had my share of fun and games with GPs so I am now under the care of a really amazing homeopath – Dr Vernisha Moodley. She has sorted out some unresolved problems I have been struggling with for years, within weeks!
Other than rest, this is one of the most important things you need start doing. Sure, nobody expects you to be part of the winning gymnastics team in the next Olympics, but improving your flexibility has long-lasting benefits. You need to do short stretches before, and long stretches after your workout. Shortening of your muscles occurs in the long term if you do not stretch properly. You can find more information and stretches to try online.
REST: Getting enough good quality sleep is one of the key ingredients of a healthy life. Make sure your room is dark enough, you have quiet and you allow your body enough time to recuperate between training sessions. If your sleep is often disturbed (by you coughing, snoring, and such), it is worthwhile to see a medical practitioner about that. If you’re ill or injured, DO NOT TRAIN. Just take that time and allow your body to mend.
The weekends are where you can get a little lazy, energetic, or creative. It depends on you. I slack off on the super-healthy eating a little. I go dancing once in a while – this is the most fun way to exercise without even realising it. Just be sure not to skyrocket your alcohol intake at the same time. I attempt to attend the local parkrun on a Saturday. I’d recommend you do the same, if there’s one close enough to you. On Sundays I don’t train – I recommend at least one day of full rest each week. You’ll be grateful in the long run!
Well, there it is, I think that’s it! Hope this will help you in achieving your healthier life.
Trust me, it’s possible! You can do it!
Annalinde Louw xx
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Mail me on Elan@sleekgeek.co.za
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