In keeping with New Year’s traditions, many people across Hull and East Yorkshire will be telling themselves ‘this is the year that I get fit and healthy’.
However, with a cupboard full of uneaten Christmas chocolates and dreary, freezing weather putting many off from going out for a run, it is all too common to give up a few weeks in, or not get started at all. Fad diets and calorie counting also contribute to making weight loss seem excruciating.
With all these things working against our fitness goals, Cottingham’s award-winning personal trainer Tom Cowen has provided five top tips to help you stay on track throughout the whole year. Tom has helped more than 100 people lose weight, improve their fitness and become confident in themselves.
‘Surround yourself with people who can help and support you’
Tom’s first tip is to get family and friends on board with your health and fitness journey. He said: “I would always say to be open and honest with family, friends and your partner about making a start with being healthy.
“Clients have often said to me that they haven’t told anyone about getting fit and it can make things difficult when you don’t have that support. Most people will be accepting and there is nothing better than having people to help you.
“The last thing you want is to be sabotaged by someone who doesn’t know you want to make a healthy start.”
Tom added that getting the help of a personal trainer or joining groups with like-minded people will also help keep you accountable and motivated. Whether it be sharing meal ideas or encouraging you to stick to a fitness routine, sharing the journey with others can help.
‘Write down small goals and don’t obsess over the scales’
Tom’s next tip seeks to stop people from getting too overwhelmed on their health and fitness journey by making changes bit by bit. “When it comes to sticking to goals, I would say to write them down and keep them realistic,” he said.
“When you write a goal down or make a written schedule, it resonates more and you are more likely to physically do it. Then once you make a start, do monthly or twice monthly check-ins to see where you are at.
“Whatever you do, don’t overwhelm yourself by stepping on the scales everyday. Dictating your health journey by what the scales say is less beneficial than, say, taking a progress photo, which is what personal trainers prefer to use.”
He explained that sometimes the scales don’t show a difference, however, there could have been a big change in your physical appearance and clothes, depending on what exercise you do and what muscle you put on. “In terms of making small goals, this is the best way to motivate yourself,” Tom continued.
“Saying you want to lose six stone by next year isn’t giving you anything to work towards in the short term. I like to tell my team to split their goals into periods of 10 weeks and then I will do a check-in. It helps you stay motivated and in a routine.”
‘Consistency is key – even if it’s just walking to work or walking the dog’
The award-winning personal trainer likes to remind people that change isn’t achieved overnight, so consistency is key. Although this can seem daunting for people with busy schedules, consistency doesn’t have to be about fitting in four gym sessions a week.
“Getting moving will always help in burning calories and you don’t need to to change your routine too much to do this,” Tom said. “You could start by just making the change to walk to work or walk the dog.
“Nowadays, there are so many activities within a small radius from most people. I would also suggest working out an arrangement with family to make sure you have a couple of hours a week to fit in exercise where possible.
“You will find it easier to stick to when you schedule time to be active. Gyms in this day and age are also very inclusive places and there will always be other beginners that are on the same journey as you.”
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‘Don’t judge yourself on others’
It can be easy to be swept up in lifestyles of social media influencers, but Tom said their routines don’t work for the average person. “I tell my clients to remember that it is the job of these influencers to be in the gym all day,” he said.
“Training four hours a day is possible for them – they don’t do shift work at Hull Royal Infirmary and have two kids to care for. You need to do things bit by bit on your own timeline, don’t compare yourself to them.”
‘Don’t indulge in fads’
Fads apply to extreme diets that are inevitably not going to be sustainable. Tom said: “If you start a fad diet, you are going to feel lethargic and give up.
“You can’t survive on 800 to 1,000 calories a day – you need to be realistic. I would suggest cutting down your portion sizes to start with, maybe only have one and a half chicken breasts on your plate instead of two.
“Instead of having two sugars in your tea, have one. For people that drink six cups a day, that’s six spoonfuls of sugar that you have cut down on already.
“Make the small change of lowering your calorie intake by about 150 calories and by adding a bit more exercise, the weight loss will happen. After the six-week mark, you will have created a routine and start seeing results.”