STARTfit Blog

startfit blog size matters

Size Matters!

New Year. The time where promises are made and resolutions are engineered. We all want to shed the wears and worries of the last 12 months and start afresh with bold intentions, usually of weight loss and good habits. Great! But first let’s have a quick sanity check; is this what you promised yourself last year? And dare I say it, the year before that? Well let’s get one thing clear straight away (and coming from a master fitness coach this may shock you):

save your time, money and effort and ditch the temptation to enrol in the gym, forget buying in slimming foods you don’t even like and stop thinking big!

When it comes to changing your body shape, long-term success - the kind of success that brings about an entire lifestyle shift - can’t be ‘fixed’ with a drastic New Year diet or fitness plan. The real life-changers, they come from the small things; the ‘One-Percents’. If you really want to get in shape for this year, and for many years to come, then get your ‘One-Percenters’ sorted! How you do that is easy, it just takes a little bit of thought (which is free… and much cheaper than the gym)!

Your ‘One-Percenters’ need to come from the fundamental area you want to change, so for weight loss these will be food and exercise (the mind-set shift is taken care of by simply following this concept!). Ask yourself, ‘what one thing can I change right now about what I eat and how I exercise’? These will be your One-Percenters. Nothing big, just a small tweak that is easily practised; it could be having a glass of water before your evening meal, or doing 5 squats while you clean your teeth in the morning. These aren’t drastic commitments, these are easy. But guess what, by the end of the 7 days you would have had over a litre more water that you normally would drink, and completed 35 more bum toning squats that you would have done the week before. Multiply that over the month and you are already making huge changes; think small, win big!

We often fool ourselves into thinking we have to be drastic to see change, and if you want instant results then fine, but quick fixes are rarely sustainable and all that effort can be tiresome and difficult to maintain, let alone expensive.

By changing a few One-Percents each week you will find change happens more naturally, and this means long-term success.

So how about this year you leave the big and bold intentions behind, find your One-Percents and embrace your transition to a better, fitter you; and this time next year your New Year’s Resolution can be more about fun than fitness (not to mention by then you’d have around 1800 squats behind you… perky)!

4 January, 2016
startfit blog failure is fantastic

Failure is Fantastic!

Failure is fantastic! That’s not exactly something you hear every day, but the truth is, when it comes to fitness and exercise, failure is key. Did you know that training to failure leads to improved muscle endurance according to studies conducted in the Journal of Applied Physiology? We’re not talking hours of training here, what I’m actually encouraging is short, sharp blasts of training that tires you out quickly. Results with just 10 minutes of exercise? Great for that time allocation of tasks we talked about in the last issue!

But let’s go one step further here, after all this is a fitMind and fitBody approach to lifestyle change. Let’s look at the word failure. For you it may just be another word, but to some it conjures up a whole Pandora’s Box of emotions and experiences. But it needn’t have to be the case, failure after all, is just a word. The important thing to remember here is that language, and the emotional attachment we put on it, is changeable. This is important, especially if some words make you feel a certain way; great if that’s positive, but not so great if they encourage unresourceful physical changes, such as frowning, clenched fists, or a general state of nervousness. This type of body language is typical of our fight or flight responses – essential if we really are in danger, but not so useful if we are not actually under threat. Think of it this way, if our verbal language can affect our body language, and our body language affects our hormonal responses (fight or flight is an adrenal response; effectively hormones helping us ‘survive’ at a time of need), then we really do need to be careful about what we say… or more importantly, about the emotional attachment we put onto those words.

Be careful about the emotional attachment you put in to your words.

So, is failure really that bad? It certainly doesn’t have to be. The great thing is you have control over what language you use, and what attachments you link to them. Is it really a disaster when you’re 5 minutes late (switch on the news and you’ll soon find an event worthy of that word). Start your language (and behaviour) change with fitness; give yourself just 10 minutes of exercise (remember what I said about the benefits of skipping in my June blog?) and give it your all until, you’ve got it, you fail by minute 10. Notice the fantastic feeling of achievement as the endorphins flow through your body, and then take the opportunity to tell yourself just how good failure really can feel.

1 November, 2015
Startfit Blog - Time, A Finite Resource

Time, A Finite Resource?

Time is running out! There’s simply not enough of it to go around. Work is increasingly more demanding, whether that’s at home or ‘at the office’; the children need chauffeuring, emails need organising, the clothes won’t wash themselves and if you think I’m slaving over a hot stove at the end of the day then you must be off your rocker, let alone exercise thank you!

The funny thing is, time is the one thing that we DO have. It’s measureable; constant, unchangeable. Ten minutes will always be 10 minutes, no matter what else comes and goes in our life. So why do we find it so hard to manage something that never changes?

Perspective. Now I’m certainly not suggesting that you’re not busy, but as a reformed ‘I don’t have time’ addict I feel I can offer some insight into helping you change, if you want it, and perspective is the key. If you want to know how you can achieve real success then brace yourself for the real life-changer:

Stop allocating time to your tasks, and instead allocate your tasks to your time

Re-read that last bit through again and let it sink in. You see, it’s not time management skills we need, it’s task management. Now I appreciate the fact may still remain, you’re not achieving everything that needs to be done (or indeed, that you’d like to get done), but changing the perspective this way puts you in control. If the task is too large then you know you have to change it; split the task up, or take a task out for another day. Unlike ‘time’, ‘tasks’ are in your control, they can be flexible, manoeuvrable and most importantly changed. If you want to know more about specific techniques then make sure you get in touch!

15 September 2015
Startfit Blog - Stress Free Summer

Stress Free Summer

Summer is here! The sun is shining, the flowers are in full bloom and everyone is in high spirits. Unless of course you’re like most of us who are too busy juggling the children, stressing about the family holiday and desperately trying not to think about that beach body to notice! But did you know that stress has been proven to affect body weight (International Journal of Obesity (2006). Stress causes cortisol release and as there are four times more cortisol receptors around the abdomen it’s no wonder our waists increase when we’re stressed. So, if you find you’re already counting down the days to autumn then help is at hand. Follow these simple steps to help you lose the stress, control the weight, and get you back on track to enjoy the best of the Summer Holidays.

fitBody. Short & intense blasts of activity are far more effective than long & steady exercises, so ditch the run and have some fun; challenge the kids to a skipping contest. According to research published in the American College of Sports Medicine, ‘rope skipping places high demands on both our aerobic and anaerobic systems & in turn helps relieve stress.

fitMind. Be clever with your thinking. If you truly want that beach body in time for your holiday then set yourself small measureable goals to get there. ‘Drinking a glass of water after every meal’ sounds far more manageable than ‘drinking 2 pints of water a day’. Make your goals manageable and ask yourself ‘what WILL I do each day’, remember, one small change goes a long way.

fitSoul. A relaxed family is a happy family, so make sure you all get out and enjoy this wonderful season together. There’s some great family-friendly events this year, ensure you plan ahead though to make it as stress free as possible!

20 July, 2015
Startfit Blog - Spring Time Check Up

Spring Time Check Up

With spring well upon us it’s time to think more about our fitness; thoughts of how we look in our beachwear can trigger that extra session in the gym or the motivation to turn down that second portion. Yet often we don’t take the time to truly embrace what really matters. Our mental wellbeing is just as important as our physical fitness, but it’s easy to overlook this vital element.

Studies conducted by the World Health Organisation in 1996 estimated that ’by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world’, and research undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation in 2005 showed that ‘Among teenagers, rates of depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years’.

To make sure your family doesn’t become part of next year’s statistics, try to remember that fitness - or ‘wellness’ - is more than just an exercise regime. Try these three simple tips to help you and your family enjoy a stress free Spring.

  1. Plan (and do!) something new each month. When was the last time you did something for the first time? Whether exercise related or otherwise, experiencing something new can be both exciting and refreshing, with the added bonus of releasing feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. You don’t have to spend lots of money, or go far for that matter. Dedicate a specific day & time to do something ‘for you’, whether it’s reading a new book or practising a new skill. Local? Try the Severn Valley Guided Walk on 7 May, or the Bridgnorth Walk on 25 May and see how a little change can make a big difference.
  2. Check your language. Have you noticed the types of words you choose to use in your conversations? Dramatising can fool us into thinking things are worse than they really are, and over time can start to wear us out. Try changing words such as ‘disaster’, ‘nightmare’, ‘awful’ to something more realistic, like ‘inconvenient’, ‘unexpected’ or ‘disappointed’, you’ll soon notice things aren’t as bad as they initially seem.
  3. Relaxation breath. Taking a long, slow breath that engages the diaphragm and not just the lungs has been proven to slow the heart-rate and in turn help refocus the mind in stressful situations. In fact, some sports athletes use this exact technique to help them focus in important tournaments. Inhale completely to a count of 6 seconds, hold your breath for 2 seconds, then release fully over 8 seconds; a great way to reset your focus.

Remember, stress isn’t physically in our environment; it is an individual perceptual phenomenon rooted in our mind-set. It only exists when our perceived demands outweigh our perceived resources. You do have the power to change how you think.

5 May, 2015