Over Christmas I had almost 2 full weeks leave from work. My first thought was that I would go to the gym every day since I’d have more time than usual. However by day two I realised that all I really wanted to do was relax and enjoy the time off with Mr F and the family. So as not to completely fall off the wagon, I started doing some mini home workouts with weights.
The day after Boxing Day, I stepped onto the scales to see what damage I’d inflicted and was more than a little surprised to see that I’d actually lost weight… 4 very stubborn pounds in fact that I’d been trying to shift for ages!
When I thought back over the festive period as to what I’d done differently to normal, there were a few things that I realised:
WEIGHTED SQUATS AND LUNGES GET RESULTS!
I still go to a Body Pump fitness class at my gym, but due to timetable changes I can only make it to one session a week. Over Christmas I took what I’d learned from the classes and began doing bitesized versions of the workout at home with some 3kg handheld weights that I picked up at Tesco. I’ve continued this since.
I either squat, lunge, or do various styles of weighted sit ups, whilst watching TV to distract me! (The Biggest Loser is my favourite to work out to, I slog it out as they do!).
I don’t get too focused on how many reps I’m doing, I just keep going until my arms or legs exhaust. Then I take a minute to recover before getting back to it. I make sure I do at least 15 minutes and aim for 25 depending on how much time I have.
My thighs are where I’ve noticed the biggest difference. I managed to fit into my ‘skinny jeans’ which had been shoved to the back of the wardrobe earlier in the year. There are no miraculous results, but I’m seeing steady progress.
It’s not easy, squats and lunges are a killer if you do them right! There are plenty of tutorials on Youtube to help you out. I’ve been getting lower and lower as I gain more balance and flexibility, to drive the most out of each move.
LESS IS SOMETIMES MORE
By switching to the shorter workouts, it didn’t seem like such a big deal to work out two days in a row. When I added it up I found I’d done more in the Christmas week than I would have done on an average week at the gym, it was just broken down into smaller more manageable chunks.
REST… BUT NOT FOR TOO LONG
Your body needs time to recover. When you work out with weights, you are making tiny tears in your muscles. These then heal and build stronger muscle.
However, I find that the longer that I allow myself not to exercise, the easier it is to convince myself that another day off will be fine too, which soon turns into a week! So I didn’t have more than one rest day in a row over Christmas – I needed the consistency to keep me on track. Now that I’m back at work I’m aiming to complete a workout at least every other day, which I’ve been able to stick to thus far!
EXCERCISE AT THE START OF THE DAY IF POSSIBLE
I find that whenever I exercise in the morning, I make healthier choices throughout the day.
DIET (RATHER THAN DIETING) MAKES A DIFFERENCE
I enjoy pasta, potatoes, bread, chocolate, cake and the odd glass of wine and if I was to cut all of these out then I know that I’d never keep it up. BUT I’ve realised that I don’t have to have all of these things every single day!
Over Christmas at home we were much more relaxed (well… lazy!) with our cooking and there were a few nights where I just couldn’t be bothered to prepare and cook a full blown meal from scratch. We ended up eating much more simply: a nice butterflied chicken breast with some lime zest and seasoning with side vegetables for example. On other nights, however, we still cooked full on roasts and whilst my sister was visiting we went out for a 3 course meal. I really think that having a few nights off from carbs a week is what has helped me to kick start the weight loss.
It certainly didn’t feel like a diet, it was just a more balanced version of what I was doing before.
JUST TAKE TWO
My nemesis is the chocolate variety box – Celebrations, Roses, basically any kind of individually wrapped sweets. When the box is sitting there staring at me I just can’t help dipping my hand in again and again, ESPECIALLY when I’m sat on the sofa in the evening.
I dealt with this in quite a simple way this year. The boxes were kept in the kitchen, not the lounge! If I fancied a treat in the evening, I’d take two from the box and leave the rest in the kitchen. That way, I still satisfied my chocolate craving, but without going overboard with it. I won’t deny that on a couple of occasions I went back and took two more, but I was a lot more aware of what I was doing!
So there are my few little learnings which I’m carrying forward into 2015. You won’t see me doing any kind of January detox, I’m in this for the long haul!
Love from Laura xoxo