Note: if, when you read the title of this blog, you groaned or rolled your eyes, I urge you to keep reading.
I get it – I really do. Fitness freaks are annoying. Healthy-eating blogs are indigestible. And the tips and tricks about “saying goodbye to belly flab” in magazines and on Instagram are All. The. Damn. Same.
But because there are always two sides to a story, I’m here to share a couple of thoughts that run (excuse the pun) through my head; a few working-out-from-home tips I’ve come to love over the past couple of months; and some great recipes that have changed the way I cook.
If you are annoyed by these, I suggest you drop and give me 10, get those endorphins pumping, and power through until the end (in preparation for the workout I’m going to suggest you do).
Hustle for that muscle
Working from home is hard. Working out from home is even harder.
The idea of exercising and getting fitter is wonderful, but it’s a lot easier said than done. Waking up an hour earlier than usual seems easy enough – until the alarm actually goes off and the snooze button stares at you, begging to be hit. The same goes for logging off at 5pm – working on for a bit seems far more appealing than a push-up or five.
Because it is so damn difficult to motivate ourselves on a good day, I like to keep something in mind: seldom will you regret exercising, but you’ll always regret not exercising.
Bearing that in mind, here are a couple of things I love to do to get moving:
- A 30-minute walk, listening to my favourite tunes or a cool podcast. Be it around your complex, around the block, on a treadmill, or, if you’re lucky enough to live in Cape Town, along the “Prom”, time flies, I promise.
- Stair-climbing. This is an age-old exercise (torture, to most) that I did a lot of during lockdown. If you live in a complex or a double-storey house, this is for you. It’s a simple one, too – up, down, up, down. For 15 minutes. You’ll feel pretty stiff the next day, but it’s a great way to improve your fitness levels fast! A heads-up, though: if you live in a complex, your neighbours may think you’ve lost the plot.
- Down Dog. After many attempts at joining a yoga studio before Covid-19 hit, I decided that using an app might be better. I always felt so uncomfortable because of how “behind” I was, and how little I knew about practising yoga. But then I found a great app called Down Dog, which lets you choose your level, the type of practice you prefer, the length, the pace and even your background music.
- Ten-minute focused workouts. If you couple these with one of the above, you’ll be feeling fit within a couple of weeks. Save the images (below) of these workouts on your phone for the next time you’re looking to burn some calories but have only 10 minutes to spare.
Aim for progress, not perfection
As much as I shy away from a fitness quote, this one is rather accurate – I’ve found it apt regarding healthy eating. A couple of recipes I love are ones that taste similar to what I’d usually choose to eat, but are far healthier. I hope you love them, too:
- Instead of chicken schnitzel, try this: https://jessicasepel.com/one-pan-dukkah-chicken/
- Instead of meat and potatoes, try this: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/steak-salad-with-harissa-potatoes-and-crunchy-radishes
- Instead of Steers or McD’s, try this: https://deliciouslyella.com/recipes/herby-chickpea-burgers/
- Instead of a couple of blocks of chocolate, try these: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-PKpjYntwF/
I also recently downloaded a fantastic app called Deliciously Ella, which costs R18.99 a month and is worth every cent. The recipes are all plant-based, easy to make and absolutely delicious. My energy levels have improved after swapping to a plant-based diet 80% of the time, and our grocery bill has halved.
It’s you versus you
Take it or leave it, but these workouts and recipes have helped me through a trying past couple of months. And although the constant pressures and prompts can be annoying and overstated, eating well and exercising helps. It helps a lot.
We’ve all heard the stats and the facts, and read the quotes and the testimonials, but at the end of the day (or at 5am), it’s up to you. Start with a simple workout and a healthier meal, and voilà – “It won’t get easier, you’ll just get stronger.”