Whilst the last year has been a little challenging to put it mildly, one of the upsides to enforced social isolation has been the rise in home-based workout regimes and the time we have to dedicate to them. Hour-long commutes were replaced with a hop from bed to the desk (or more likely sofa) and fewer post-pub hangovers = more energy to work out.
Of course, we aren’t suggesting that you keep yourself locked away in order to feel the burn more often, but, perhaps we can take with us some of the lessons we learned along the way. Whether you’re still going strong or your fitness goals have taken a hit, it all comes down to making sustainable and achievable health habits that don’t get overlooked now the world is opening up again.
Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day, but it really shouldn’t be a case of your workout coming at the expense of your social life – so here are our top tips for helping you to build on your progress and find the balance you crave.
Manage your time effectively
It may sound boring, but scheduling a workout like you would a work meeting is actually a great way to carve out the time you need to exercise. Otherwise, let’s face it, we will just fill our day with an endless to-do list.
Be realistic though, and don’t overschedule – just 20 minutes of strength training can build results over time. Set an alarm on your phone, or a reminder in your calendar to help you keep to your goals.
Using fitness apps can also help to sneak in exercise ‘snacks’ during the day, with many online programmes offering short but effective training options. You can often also set reminders within the app so don’t forget.
Prioritise yourself and your fitness goals
It can be easy to feel like scrolling aimlessly online is the best me-time you’ll get all day, but is this really serving you the best? It can help to consider your whys when it comes to working out – whether it’s for health, appearance, working towards a goal, or all of these, there are usually some key motivations underpinning your desires. Connect to these as often as you can.
Set yourself up for success by getting the basics covered, as when you sleep well, eat well and find time for fun, you will be way more up for that sweaty gym session.
Talking to your friends and family about missing plans
Nobody wants to be a party pooper but at the same time, it can be frustrating when your best intentions get disrupted by that friend who always convinces you to join them for ‘just one drink’.
It doesn’t need to be all or nothing, and certainly, there’s no need for confrontation, but standing firm to your decision can be necessary. It could also help you set healthier boundaries in your friendship. Perhaps you could try inviting your friend to a circuit training class before your usual coffee/ wine date – you might even get them hooked too!
Sometimes our friends and family can feel threatened when we start to make better choices, but this resistance is often just their fear of not being active or healthy enough. Support each other to move more and eat well, as evidence shows we are more likely to stick to good habits with our loved ones on board.
Staying on track with your training and nutrition
It’s unrealistic to assume you’ll always be able to whip up a nutritious home-cooked meal when you’ve had the day of days, but make life easier by meal planning. Go one step better and enjoy some basic meal prep on a Sunday to ensure you have ready-to-go meals and snacks which can be assembled in a matter of minutes.
Some good go-to options include:
- Overnight oats
- Roasted veg
- Protein such as salmon, chicken, or beans
- A ready-made salad
- Berries and Greek yoghurt
And don’t be afraid of food-focused socials, just aim to choose healthy, lean proteins, and order a few sides of veg. The odd red wine or shared dessert isn’t going to undo all your hard work, and enjoying your life is just as important for your health as exercise and good food.
Of course, if you’re regularly dining out, you can make some small adjustments to your nutrition plan to help you stay on track, for example by reducing your carb intake during the day if you know you’ll be eating out, or practising intermittent fasting and bringing your dinner date forwards to lunch.
And when the inevitable post-night-out cravings kick in, just fuel yourself well with eggs, yoghurt or a protein fueled smoothie, hydrate and get back on track again – no biggie.