Updated: Sep 14, 2019
We all need to start somewhere. Often, the thought of embarking on a fitness regime is daunting and the road to achieving your goals can seem like a long, difficult one. As the saying goes, however, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". These are four simple rules to follow in order to get fitter and healthier.
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#1 Be more active
I'm sure you have heard it all before, "eat less, move more". While, theoretically, this should work, it may not always be the case. There is a lot more to weight loss than just eating fewer calories and increasing your daily calorie expenditure. Ensuring you consume sufficient minerals and vitamins, keeping your levels of stress down and sleeping enough all play a major part in health, fitness and weight loss.
With that being said, increasing your daily activity levels can have a very positive effect on your overall health. In fact, regular daily activity has been linked with increases in longevity (1). It is not, however, sufficient to increase fitness levels (2). It is a no-brainer really. We are not designed to be seated for most of the day, we are designed to walk lots, sprint short distances, carry stuff and throw objects. So yes, move more!
#2 Think like an athlete
Adopt the mindset of an athlete striving to better his or her performance in their sport. Even if you don’t have a specific sport to try to excel in, trying to better your performance when you exercise will translate into faster results inside and outside the gym.
Outside the gym, I hear you ask? Athletes plan their days and weeks around training and competing, whereas normal people have 9-5 jobs and other commitments to prioritise. Adopting the mindset of an athlete does not mean placing utmost emphasis on exercise, it merely means planning your day to ensure you can exercise to the best of your abilities.
Ensure you get enough sleep
Ensure you have enough quality food prepared for your day
Ensure you remain hydrated
Start to get “in the zone” before your workouts
Discover ways to maintain an athletic mindset - 4 Tips To Boost Fitness Outside The Gym
#3 Spend more time outdoors
I am a massive believer in spending lots of time outdoors. I have written extensively on the topic, I deliver most of my personal training sessions outdoors (come rain or shine) and I am a huge fan of outdoors activities such as hiking. Fresh air, changing scenery, nature and wildlife all have a positive impact on physical and mental health.
Where possible, get outdoors. Go for a stroll in a local park on your lunch break, get some sun and explore different natural environments such as forests, mountains and lakes for maximum benefits.
Find out more benefits of training outdoors - Why You Should Train Outdoors More
#4 Limit your carbs
Carbohydrates provide immediate energy to the body and help replenish the glycogen stores of the liver and muscles. While the body can metabolise other macronutrients (protein and fat) to produce glycogen, carbohydrates provide an easy and fast-acting source of glycogen for the body. By limiting carbohydrate intake, we improve our fat burning pathways and promote lipolysis - fat burning.
Limit your carbohydrates to around strenuous workouts.
Aim to consume the major part of your daily carbohydrate intake after your workout.
For more simple nutrition tips check out these 5 Simple Healthy Eating Tips.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Maitland is a personal trainer with over 10 years’ experience. He has worked alongside a wide range of leading CEOs, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. John is a keen athlete and holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung fu. A fan of the great outdoors, he can often be found exploring the British countryside and mountains...or breaking pine boards with his fingers.