How To Stay Focused and Consistent With Your Exercise


Trust me I know that sometimes getting to the gym isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Some people are intimidated by it, many have not made full use of it and don’t want to waste anymore money on it and some people never seem to find the time.

Doing something rather than nothing is half the battle, so surely it’s easier to just exercise at home? 

Well, sort of. Although your own home is massively convenient, it can be hard to stay motivated when you’re surrounded by a host of temptations or more precisely excuses such as TV, internet, coffee, reading etc.

So to help you resist these cheeky little temptations, stop making excuses and get a damn good sweat going at home, here are seven simple and effective tips for people just like you with real lives, real jobs, and really busy schedules that will help to keep your attention focused training at home, even when you really don’t feel like it and keep you on track.

1. Find Types of Exercise That You Really Enjoy Doing and Use Technology
The most important thing you can do is find a type of exercise you’re actually going to enjoy doing at home. Some forms of training such as weight training, power lifting etc that rely on lots of equipment aren’t really workable unless you have a big garage or a spare room, and the money to buy the kit in the first place. Thankfully there’s plenty of awesome choices at your finger tips that give you access to an endless amount of at-home exercise options that don’t have to cost a fortune.

Take a bit of time to think about what you enjoy doing, think about what types of activities you enjoy, what reason/s are you training for and then do some research. There are thousands of fitness apps and websites that transform your phone into a personal trainer to live stream videos that turn your living room into a fitness studio, there are plenty of ways to get guidance, motivation, and variety. With a little bit of internet research and soul-searching, you can easily find a training routine that will work for you. Some quick examples are:

Apps:
Virtual Trainer
MadBarz
BarStarzz
Aaptiv

Websites/Online Groups
SFit – free Closed Facebook Group that I run providing exercise, nutrition and psychological guidance and tips
MadBarz
BarStarzz

The key to it is finding something you love doing, this means you won’t even want to look for excuses no tot train then because you want to do it, and you’ll enjoy the process.” 

Need added motivation this winter? Aaptiv is a new app that offers audio-only workouts from top trainers set to music you love. Classes range from strength training and HIIT workouts to yoga and running, so you’ll always find something you love.
Available at aaptiv.com.

2. Book appointments with yourself to train. 
When you have important appointments you put them in your calendar on your phone etc and set reminders so you can’t forget, I certainly do, well, the same goes for your workouts. I schedule them like they’re an appointment. Prioritising your training sessions by blocking out time on your calendar and then planning your days and weeks around those blocks is a key element in creating consistency and continuity in training that will get you the results you want.

3. Organise a space at home. 
The sometimes awkward part about training at-home is that obviously your home is not a gym. If you happen to have a gym in your home, lucky you. If you’re like me your car never gets into the garage because that’s where I have my training kit, if you don’t have a garage then you’ll need to make whatever space you have work for you. That might mean setting up a mini gym in your bedroom, spare room etc or simply moving the coffee table over three inches to fit a yoga mat. Whatever you have to move/set up/dismantle, do it well before your scheduled workout (say, the night prior if you plan on getting up and training then), so there are no barriers or excuses.

4. Dress for business. 
Now more than ever, it’s acceptable to wear Lycra just about anywhere. Take advantage of the trend and throw on training clothes as soon as possible, at every given opportunity. Why? Well, research suggests that simply wearing your training clothes can help motivate you to exercise.

One of my clients says that, ”On workdays I come home and change into my training clothes before I do anything else, and on weekends I put them on first thing in the morning, that way I have no excuses later.”

5. Go public with it, afterwards. 
Wait a second before you get carried away. Before you tweet, message, Pin or gram your workout plans, read this: You’ll have a better chance of actually training if you keep them to yourself. A study has suggested that social recognition makes us less likely to follow through with our intentions. 

However, after you’ve smashed your workout, go for it and tell the world what you’ve just done. So after training take a photo or snap a sweaty selfie and you’ll find you work harder for that extra satisfaction of sharing your achievement afterwards. When you share your progress and accomplishments, you’ll build a small group of cheerleaders, and you can tap into that satisfied feeling the next time you’re motivation is in the ditch and your sitting on the fence about working out. 

6. Create your own incentives. 
It’s okay to use small rewards to persuade yourself to work out. Ideally these incentives should be healthy however, I’m realistic and so should you be, because sometimes you just need to satisfy that craving and reward yourself with something so tasty regardless of the content, so if it’s sometimes pizza, turkey chilli, or a salted caramel brownie, that’s okay too, because, balance is needed both physically and mentally and this reward can make all the difference.

Many of my clients say this same thing, they usually work out right after work, so they hold off on eating dinner until after they’ve smashed out a training session and that for them mentally, is a big reward.”

If food’s not your thing, treat yourself to a new pair of trainers, clothing or whatever works for you if you complete all your workouts for a month. 

7. Half a session. 
Sometime training at home feels and sounds like the worst idea, and when this happens negotiate with yourself. TelI yourself you’ll do half of what you had planned for that day and more often than not you’ll end up doing the full session anyway because all you really needed was to get started. And on the very few times you don’t finish? Well, at least you did half, and that’s much better than nothing at all. 

The Bottom Line
The best way to keep your motivation level up for training at home is to find a routine you really enjoy, this way your at-home training doesn’t feel like work. Then, control as many factors as you can to set yourself up for success and turn it into a habit. Of course the couch looks bloody good sometimes when you come home after a long day, but sinking into it will feel so much better after you’ve earned it. 

Physical and Mental Strength


Courage and Determination

I’m fortunate because my work involves physical and mental coaching and training, which is a lot of fun and gives me variety from day to day. I also have the huge privilege of seeing my clients lives change over time and sometimes in a very short space of time, which is amazing to see.

I had a suggestion given to me just recently about offering virtual live training via Facebook use their Live Streaming facility and this really intrigued me as to how I can make this work. So, I set up a closed FB Group to keep it completely private for everyone that subscribes and have posted videos of two circuits so far that include lots of little psychological tips.

These days I find shorter more intense physical training suits me better than long drawn out sessions. Partly because I get bored easily and can’t be bothered with spending a long time training, unless it’s out for a long walk in the hills. Also because my body can’t hack it either, I really struggle with long training sessions. So, the other day I recorded a demo session of a full body circuit that I concocted that ticks all the boxes for me. It takes about 20 minutes to complete, it involves muscular strength and stamina, it gets my heart rate up providing me with a good cardiovascular workout and it’s intense, it hurts and it forces me to push myself when it hurts to stick to the time limit I set myself for it.

I’ve tarted the video up so it’s not just the raw basic video from my phone camera and I hope you find it useful and that you test out the circuit for yourself too.

This is one of my favourite circuits at the moment, it is a real test of determination to get it finished within the time frame and it works your entire body, and I can still do it with my limited range of movement in my left shoulder.

Be prepared to sweat, a lot when you do this. It is my favourite Friday circuit because it means I empty my tank before the weekend starts and I can eat a little bit of all the things I may have craved throughout the week and eat them guilt free.

Try it out and let me know how you get on and how you adapt it with your own interesting additions.

There’s More to Maintaining Your Ideal Body than Just Input and Output


For some reason, even with all the science and information available out there, diet and exercise are still the main focus of attention when it comes to fat loss. The thing is as important a part as they do play in the process, it’s just not as simple as “burn more calories than you consume.” I still meet people on a regular basis who live by this misguided rule, now I’m not saying it doesn’t work, however, it generally only works in the short to medium term, not indefinitely. It’s an outdated model because there’s so much more to fat loss than just diet and exercise.

During my research and development for my book I discovered a number of things that, when factored into your fat loss and maintenance programme, make a huge difference in your ability to achieve and hold onto your desired outcome. So here I want to share with you four key elements that I drill into all my clients from day one to ensure that they continue to make progress.

Sleeping Baby

1. Quality Deep Restorative sleep. Sleep Like a Baby.
Now I know some of you may be thinking, what is he on about, sleep is sleep. Well there is a big difference and there is a common misunderstanding about sleep, and that is how much do we need and also that it should be constant sleep throughout the night. When we sleep we go through different depths during a 90 minute cycle called the ‘Ultradian Rhythm’. What this means is that we drift off into a light sleep, drop down into REM or Dream Sleep and then into Deep Restorative Sleep and this is where your brain and body recharge, repair and restore themselves. Without this quality deep restorative sleep we can wake up more tired than when we went to bed because we have been dreaming too much and never getting into that deep sleep. When we remain in that light sleep and REM sleep states we can be interrupted by our dreams and by outside noises that bring us up into conscious awareness and break that natural sleep pattern. I want you to understand that this is a normal part of the cycle and it is why we don’t have 7-8 hours of completely uninterrupted sleep, we wake up and go back to sleep a few times throughout the night. What is really important is that we go into the Deep Restorative Sleep state and recharge, repair and restore. This is why sleep is one of the first things I discuss with a new client, because it really is that important.

If you’re really serious about optimising your health and/or losing fat, then you really need to pay more attention to your sleep patterns and habits and make changes here first before doing anything else in order to get maximum benefit from your training and nutrition.

If my client’s fat loss stalls and/or they’re losing momentum and energy, I don’t start analysing their nutrition plan or increasing their exercise frequency or intensity. I look at their sleep quality and quantity, and their chronic stress level to see where we can make some changes.

As a society we are chronically sleep-deprived and over-stressed. Individually these elements can cause severe health problems and hinder fat loss. When you combine them they are disastrous for your overall health and your fat loss goals

Have you noticed that when you are exhausted you feel hungrier than usual? This is not your imagination. Not getting enough sleep affects leptin and ghrelin, which are  your hunger hormones.

A consistent lack of sleep will make you hungrier and much more impulsive, and you will have an almost insatiable craving for high-carbohydrate foods. This makes avoiding the muffins and cakes at the coffee shop or turning down the bacon rolls at the office a nearly impossible feat. Being chronically sleep-deprived also significantly elevates your cortisol levels  and insulin resistance and this affects your fat loss and your overall physical and mental health.

If this doesn’t make you want to go to bed a bit earlier, another reason is that adequate sleep is also crucial for cognitive function, maintaining a positive outlook, and having a steady supply of energy so that you can keep up with your kids, run around with your dog, lift heavier weights, run faster/longer and all the other active things you love to do.

Reflective Questions:
• Am I getting quality deep restorative sleep each night within an average of 7 hours sleep?
• If not, what am I prepared to change to ensure I get that quality sleep? (For example: Stop watching TV in bed. No phones, kindles, iPads etc in the bedroom at night to avoid the temptation to stay up interacting with social media)

Train Smart

2. Don’t Train Harder, Train Smarter. That Includes Variety.
When I was serving in the Royal Marines, particularly during basic training, I couldn’t eat enough because the amount of physical exercise was phenomenal. It was almost impossible to consume enough calories in a day to match my output. The same thing happened when I was racing in Triathlons, the problem was that it increased my appetite so much that all wanted I to do was eat and sometimes I simply didn’t have the time.

I finally understood a few years ago that high-intensity, steady-state exercise is not the best model for me, it turns me into a black hole for food. It was potentially far too easy for me to “out-eat” my training, which meant I was breaking even at best and running myself into the ground.

I recommend to my clients applying the Minimum Effective Dose Model to their training. Meaning, I totally understand that you love exercise and it’s important that you do just enough to elicit the desired results while keeping your hormones happy and your appetite in check.

For most people (who train regularly), this typically means two or three heavy strength-training days, one or two short-duration HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions, and no more than a couple of moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio sessions per week.
Getting too aggressive with exercise and doing an obscene amount of cardio, spending hours in the weight room each day, or doing two-a-day training sessions can lead to a voracious appetite, run down your immune system and lead to overtraining, which I’m guessing is probably not in line with your goals.

Reflective Questions:

  •  Is any type of exercise that I’m doing increasing my appetite to the point that it may be sabotaging, instead of supporting, my goals?
  •  What kind of exercise can I do instead to see how that makes me feel? (Example: Instead of running for 45 minutes, how about trying 15 minutes of intervals? Instead of that 60-minute Spin class, how about breaking it up into two 30-minute moderate-intensity cardio sessions throughout the week?)

Healthy eating

3. Eat Food That You Enjoy, Is Nutritious and Fills you Up.
When you think of fat loss, do you think it means eating the same boring foods, every day? Chicken breast, sweet potato, broccoli, egg whites, oats, and protein powder, day in and day out?

This absolutely can work because there’s nothing nutritionally wrong with it, in fact it’s full of great nutrients. What I can promise you is this. It won’t work for long, unless you actually love to eat like this and truly feel satisfied. Generally we can only tolerate so much bland, boring food that we don’t necessarily enjoy before we frantically wave the white flag and dive into a pile of junk food, never to return to it again…until the next time we want to lose fat!!

The key to making  your nutrition a sustainable part of your lifestyle is to ensure that you love what you’re eating. You have to enjoy your food in order to be satisfied and for me food is meant to be enjoyed. If you force down a meal that you hate because someone told you or you read somewhere that this is the way to lose fat, there is a high probability that you’ll be raiding your cupboards and fridge afterward for something to satisfy your palate.

Emjoy your meal

Fortunately on the Internet, there are millions of recipes right at your fingertips. While it may take you 20 minutes to bake a week’s worth of bland chicken breasts, it would only take you an additional few minutes to whip up a tasty sauce for them, try a new seasoning blend, or another way of cooking them. You can bake, broil, roast, slow cook, grill, steam, or sauté your food into an explosion of flavour with just a tiny bit more thought and effort. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Reflective Questions:

  • Am I currently eating foods I can’t stand but eat them anyway because I feel like I’m “supposed” to?
  • What can I do to those foods, or what can I substitute, to make eating an enjoyable experience again?
  • Can I spare an extra 20 minutes per day to improve the taste of my food? ( The answer is yes by the way.)

4. Choose the Right Form of and Amount of Cardio.
Cardio is a funny thing. For a while, it’s all many people wanted to do. Thankfully, times have changed and in particular, women have embraced the empowering feeling and advantages of strength training. The only downside to that is that cardio has started to get kicked to the curb to a degree. Cardio, like most forms of exercise, can be a wonderful tool when used correctly.
Is cardio necessary for everyone who wants to get leaner? Not really. But if you find that you’re a bit stuck, incorporating a couple of sessions per week could help.

Moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio is a way to burn calories, sure. More importantly, it improves work capacity, which can mean improved training. It can also aid in recovery from your strength workouts.

This is not a pass for a cardio free-for-all. Whatever form of cardio you choose, please make sure you’re doing the type that keeps stress low and your hunger under control.

steeplechase-1033335__180cycling-840975__180

Reflective Questions:

  • What kind of cardio do I enjoy most? Walking, biking, cycling, swimming, rowing, running?
    Can I spare 20 minutes 2-3 times a week to incorporate some moderate-intensity cardio?
  • Am I prepared to do fasted cardio (train before eating to boost your fat burning capabilities) in the morning?
  • How did that cardio make me feel? Do I feel in control of my appetite? Do I feel energised? If the answer to those questions is yes, stick with it for a few weeks and see what changes you notice.

As you can see, when it comes to fat loss, there is more to the equation than simply restricting food intake and doing more exercise. If you find yourself stuck and not making any progress, take a look at these four things and see if making a few changes can help push you forwards and out of your rut.

As always, making changes in  your body begins with making changes in your brain in terms of how you think about and perceive all the different elements required to achieve your aim. Without starting with your brain and mind, you are almost certainly going to fail backwards at some point and have to start again and fall foul of the Yo-Yo process that millions of us get trapped in year after year.

One last but important note: Once you make a change, stick with it for at least four weeks, and then evaluate your progress before making any more changes.

For more advice and to find out about my Lifestyle Coaching Program that works your from the top down so that you make the changes in your brain/mind first setting you on the right path, with the right mindset right from the beginning, you can email me directly  at simon@simonmaryan.com

Have a fantastic weekend

Simon