Getting Started by Nat Gauld

This is the first guest post in a new series designed to show the pleasant impact that feeling fit, in all its forms, can have on your life. Since meeting Nat Gauld in 1991, she has gone from an enthusiastic participant to a fully accredited fitness instructor with more than 10 years teaching experience. Take it away Nat!

Getting Started by Nat Gauld (RPM, Body Balance, Body Pump and Pilates instructor and lover of chocolate)

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Nat Gauld, in full swing, teaching her Body Balance class.

The hardest part of exercise is the same as the hardest part of writing a blog. Getting started. That first word. That first step. If you have the motivation to get out of bed and put on your gym shoes, you have cleared the biggest hurdle.

Having a goal is the key – doesn’t have to be a huge one. It can be: I want to do a 5km fun run; I want to wear that dress I spent too much money on two years ago; I want to have energy to play with my kids; I want to eat Tim Tams (an Australian chocolate biscuit) or I want to feel better about myself.

I don’t follow the theory that it is best to start an exercise program with a friend or family member – then you are not only responsible for your motivation but theirs. If they don’t want to go to the gym or go for a walk, that’s a way-too-easy escape clause for you and you don’t need it. Don’t let them lead you down the easy road out and don’t take on guilt when you want to exercise and they don’t. Once you have a routine, encourage friends to join you and you’ll make friends doing group fitness anyway!!! Group exercise is proven to have lots of benefits – social, as well as physical.

Set yourself a realistic goal, especially if you are starting from scratch – 15 to 20 minutes of any cardio is a great beginning. Case in point – this blog! And most of all don’t set foot on scales – they are your enemy. Your weight can fluctuate widely due to water or food consumption, hormones or once you start turning fat into muscle. Use your clothes to judge your progress and your recovery time – as you get fitter you will feel better faster and your clothes will start to loosen.

The first six weeks are the hardest but once you are in a routine it can become a great lifetime habit. Exercise will make you feel good – I find it a great stress reliever. I exercise in the morning before work because then it is done for the day. It doesn’t matter if your plans change during the day and you need to work late or go play – the job is done.

And remember to reward yourself for your commitment! Be it a beverage or something yummy – or even buying new gym gear!!! It doesn’t matter what you wear to exercise but new gear can be a motivator and a reward. You don’t need to look the part when you start though – go for comfort when working out. Thankfully the days of lurid G-strings over Lycra leotards are long gone. I must confess to wearing them back in the Darwin days, when we worked together, but Ange was way more sensible and more the T-shirt and shorts person! Shelling out for expensive gear is not a motivator when starting off, so wait until you’re hooked!

And reward yourself with a day off when you need it – especially if you are unwell or really tired.
Exercise is actually fun and once you start you won’t want to stop.

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Nat, instructing an RPM cycling class, believes exercising should be fun … and leads by example!

February 17: Day four of the Fitness Blender Challenge

Writing every day makes it feel like time is moving quickly – or IS it just going really fast? Soon enough, we’ll be one-sixth of the way through the fitfor15in15 year. Yikes!

Right now, we’re at the six-and-a-half-week mark (sounds like a movie!) and I’m definitely feeling changes … I’m using less body moisturiser. (Joking!) We don’t own a set of scales, so I have no idea how much I weigh and don’t care! All that matters at the moment is my belt does up one hole tighter and there’s a hint of some muscle about the places; there’s a little less hail damage on the outside of my thighs and my ‘toodles’, the wobbly bits at the back of the arms, sway less in the breeze – all great incentives to keep going. Maybe when I’m feeling at my peak (December 31) I’ll post some ‘before and after’ photos. *how embarrassment*

This morning, I finally wrote my review of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo, so have a read if you fancy. Over the past few weeks, I’ve used the KonMari Method to lighten the clothes and books load, sort out my cupboards and drawers, and it prompted me to clean my desk too. Now I just have to go through 18-months worth of papers from my German classes so the office will be clean and organised … on my side. (Ha! Just testing to see if Leo is reading this?!)

At lunchtime, I met the friend (Leonie) of a mutual friend (Kim) in Bern, which was great. It was nice to hear Leonie’s Aussie accent and talk about life in Switzerland. My neighbour lent me his car for the quick trip, in return for buying him a loaf of Basler Brot! A very fair trade.

And now, I’ve just finished day four of the “Fitness Blender 5 Day Workout Challenge to Burn Fat & Build Lean Muscle.” My arms are really feeling it! There were quite a lot of push ups, downward dogs and punching. This workout focused on kickboxing and yoga moves and was totally enjoyable – Daniel and Kelli mix up the exercises to keep it fun, even while your arms are shaking and sweat runs in your eyes. They’ve found a really good balance of exercises, and also, for me, it’s nice working out with professionals because you feel it’s going to pay dividends. (Maybe this is also a sign I should stop exercising on my own so much, because today I found myself laughing along with their couple banter and saying thanks at the end of the session :-/ … )

Tomorrow is the last day of the challenge, and they’ve promised we’re going out with a bang, so I’m going to take it a bit easier on Thursday and include a special guest post from Nat Gauld, a fitness instructor who may give you the push you need to start your fitfor15in15 challenge. Just because it’s halfway through February doesn’t mean you can’t start now!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 3: Rebecca-Louise Smith workouts

Don’t you love it when you find something that backs up your own way of thinking, just after you’ve thought it? My nutrition at the moment isn’t ideal, but during the month of February I want to wean myself off some (not all!) of the “bad” things and introduce other alternatives.

There are courses out there providing recipes and eating plans for 8-12 weeks, such as I Quit Sugar and Kayla Itsines (to name just two of many!), but at the moment, for me, they feel slightly overwhelming – just the THOUGHT of cooking all those new dishes every night saps me of energy! Cooking has never really been my thing (eating on the other hand is a totally different story!), so the pressure of learning another recipe, and going through the motions, every night gives me the shivers.

And then this morning, I read this article from Leo Babauta, who writes the very popular website zenhabits. He hit the nail on my head!!! Well, he hit the nail on the head of what I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks. Jumping into something new is tough. We’re all gung-ho about it and enthusiastic, then reality kicks in. We falter, and then get mad at ourselves for faltering. And then give up, because, hey, we’ve faltered.

By keeping the expectations realistic, the flow and transition should be smoother. That’s why this site is fitfor15in15 – apart from being a catchy title, the idea behind it is very simple. Just 15 minutes of exercise a day. Some days you’ll want to do more, like me today, and some days you’ll struggle through the minimum, but by making it a regular, and achievable, habit, it’s not so tough; the thought of it isn’t draining.

So for nutrition, just like starting to exercise, I’m using the whole ’21-days to make a habit’ concept, and hopefully by the end of this month I’ll be less inclined to buy the not-so-healthy option and actively search for something better. Baby steps! (I’m going to miss those jam doughnuts …)

Now (mmm … doughnuts …), onto today’s exercise …

I felt like doing more today, something intense! Searching “tough exercise” on YouTube resulted in these two (and other) videos from Rebecca-Louise Smith, who appears to be a pilot as well as a fitness trainer.

First up, I did her Military Boot Camp Workout and then went straight into the 7 Best Ab Exercises, for a combined total of 25 minutes.

Even the realisation that I had to do burpees in the first video didn’t put me off! Ok, I may have groaned in disbelief, but incredibly, I did them (still with shabby form, I suspect) and it wasn’t too bad. And the planks at the end of the second video were tough. I went to my knees after about 10 seconds – all part of the process, I know, and something to aim higher for next time.

I’ll definitely keep a lookout for Smith’s videos again. On her website, she says being healthy requires 80% proper nutrition and 20% fitness – something I hadn’t read before. These words have provided another boost in this year-long campaign to look at what I can do better, to make me feel better.

Wishing you a great day. (It was a bit cold here, so that’s why I stayed indoors!)

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Chilly