Has it really been 30 days since I started my Get Fit For Free (aka party dress) challenge? The month has flown by, and I’m looking and feeling very different.
I’ve been making use of things that I already own (exercise bike, exercise ball, free weights, new-ish trainers) and doing a mixture of aerobic fitness and toning exercises, with a tiny amount of high intensity exercise at the end of each session. Just a case of making the most of what you have, and improvising the rest!
The critical factor is making the fitness thing a priority. That has meant making a plan, committing to blocking out the time, sticking to it, and, crucially it turns out, having an end point in mind. If I hadn’t made it my number one priority, I doubt I would have stuck to it. A commitment is required, rather than waiting for the right moment to present itself or waiting to feel motivated enough to make a change.
Benefits after 30 days
- Vastly improved sleeping patterns
- Slightly reduced stress levels
- Better posture
- Increased stamina, less tiredness
- General increase in strength
- Clearer breathing, better lung capacity
- Visible changes in all-over muscle tone
I confess that I did start to get bored around the week three mark, but made myself keep going. It was worth it. I also changed the time of day and the order of the exercises, and made sure I recorded some interesting shows to watch while I was on the exercise bike. After starting out alternating upper and lower body days, I moved on to doing core strength one day, leg exercises the next, and upper body on the third day. That gave some more variety and gave more recovery time too.
Also, I’ve had a couple of injuries and somehow managed to carry on with the exercise. Ironically, as I’ve been sleeping more deeply I’ve had a couple of occasions where I’ve turned over suddenly in the deepest phase of sleep and something has gone *crunch* when I’ve moved. The first time I probably had a muscle spasm that trapped one of the lumbar nerves, and the second time I pulled a muscle in my neck. Normally I’d say don’t exercise when you’re injured, but I was still able to use the bike and even do some sit ups painlessly and without aggravating the problems, plus they both cleared up in four days or less.
There’s also been some healthy eating going on, including snacks after training sessions to refuel and rebuild. You have to eat properly to get the most out of an exercise regime – nothing too faddy, just a mixed diet of simple foods that cover all the main food groups. It might be unfashionable at the moment, but as far as I’m concerned that includes eating carbs – mostly unrefined ones – because my metabolism likes them.
Most people can make a good start on getting in shape and improving their level of fitness in the space of a month, if they stick to regular exercise. If you want very obvious results then you’re usually looking at at least 8 to 12 weeks or so, or somewhat longer, depending on your level of fitness, body type, and body composition. And spare time – you’ll need to remember to put the time aside for it.
I’m lucky because I’m an ectomorphic body type who used to do a lot of weights and resistance work, and I was in the right weight range for someone my height when I started. That meant that A) I had fewer obstacles in my way than some people have to overcome, and (crucially) B) I’ve done it before so I knew I could do it again, albeit without the gym membership.
A month has made a big difference and I’ll be keeping up with regular exercise from now on, but will probably move to just three toning workouts per week. It’s easy enough to sit on an exercise bike to watch TV instead of sitting on the sofa while the winter TV schedules are on, so that’s probably going to stay the same – I’m expecting some further improvement in my aerobic fitness and stamina by the time the New Year comes around. After that, I’ll try some different types of exercise to keep things interesting and to keep challenging my body.
How do you stay motivated to keep exercising? Do you have any tips of your own for people who want to get fit for free?