Beginning again / Education Focus: Starting a health and fitness program

So 2021 has arrived. For most of us it is a less than desirable start to the year. The caronacoaster continues to upend our lives and exhaust us. I am sure we are not alone in feeling the direct impact of covid and loved ones falling seriously ill and - in some unfortunate cases - have passed on. This has led to a devastating holiday season for so many. Our collective grief, for some a lot more personal, is taking its toll. Let us support each other through this period and show kindness, patience, and tolerance as we will not always know what those next to us are going through.


Our family has come back from our longest ever break in 20 years - 3 weeks away. It was a whirlwind of experiences, arid, wet, flat, mountainous, dry, humid, hot and, well, not cold. We went through a range of emotions too – happy, sad, blissful, devastated, rested and exhausted. We camped and travelled through South Africa for the whole 3 weeks. Starting in Karoo National Park, Bloemfontein, Golden Gate Highlands, Mac Mac and the wonderful Kruger National Park. We will share these stories in a separate series.


We do hope to continue to inspire and encourage you to live fully, presently and mindfully. Each day is a gift to us and it may be very difficult to lift your head out of bed sometimes but we must persevere. I sincerely believe in rainbows after storms. One day at a time.


In this blog I will be talking about new beginnings – starting to exercise again and health/lifestyle changes. Many of you have had a lapse in health and fitness and I would like to share some tips I give my clients when they are recovering from a trauma or illness. These tips apply to anyone at a new beginning. Sometimes you feel like you have to start over each day – that’s ok – you will get there! A new year does tend to bring in new resolutions!


Education Focus: Starting a health and fitness program


Throughout our lives we go through injuries, illness and health conditions that take it all out of us. Sometimes it is our lifestyle that leads to our lack of wellness and fitness. No matter the cause, we have to start over on our journey. If we choose not to pay attention to our health and wellness we may not always feel the effects straight away. Your body in incredible at re-prioritizing its energy into what is most needed, often we don’t even know we are ill or getting weaker until we test ourselves. Some effects are only felt years later.


So what do you do when you want to start a wellness and fitness program?


Start at the beginning. Measure your comparable signs, your baseline. This may be your weight, blood tests, resting heart rate or just getting you vitality points and doing your annual screening. To often my clients want to jump in head first and start training/running and quickly this fades out as it is not a lifestyle change, but a attempt at a quick fix. As we age our body also takes a little longer to improve and we can easily become disheartened.


· Once you have your baseline vitals, you can start to plan your changes, deliberately and purposefully. If necessary, see your healthcare provider for specific medical guidance.


· Start small, I always advise a routine. I cannot emphasize the importance of routine in your health. Your body responds to consistency, not extreme. This applies to a diet or exercise program. Lifestyle changes should be seriously looked at. Work/life balance, meal and exercise times – even if you start small with 10 minutes, be consistent. Joining a formal exercise class is always best – it encourages consistency and peer support. If you only do basic and simple exercises in the group – you can build it up – but this is a great start.


· Plan your time realistically and in advance. Diarize you exercise /routine. This can be done once in writing and maintained, in a formal diary, your electronic diary – but it must be documented. Trying to put too much all at once will lead to lack of compliance. Each 10 minutes counts.


· Love and appreciate your present body. Health is so fickle, it can disappear in a second, so appreciate what you are today. Validate yourself, embrace what you can do! Your will never have what you want if you don't want what you have!


· Re-assess your baseline periodically. This can be done under supervision of your healthcare provider or by yourself and does not need to be often – permanent change is slow change.


· When doing and exercise program specifically, do what you can but do it well. I often find myself teaching people the most basic exercises, but my insistence is on technique – it will surprise you how difficult it can be to do a simple exercise properly.


· Do not rush. Be mindful of what your body is feeling when exercising, be intentional with each movement.


· If you are recovering from illness – measure your heart rate during exercise. Trust your body – it may lead to frustration if you want to push harder, but if you are recovering you need to build steadily to prevent a setback.


· Stay positive! It will be difficult to put in the work and make real meaningful changes to your health but you will always be grateful you did later. I does get easier – just not as quickly as you may like 😊


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