Week 0 – Keep Calm & Work Out!

The first change that I needed to make in January 2016 (which turned out to be the starting point of this whole challenge) was related to my laziness to any form of physical activity. See, I have always been in a good shape considering what I eat (my father is an Italian Chef and although French and Italian cuisine are overall healthy and balanced it is sometimes difficult to refuse good food say “NO” to one of the essential pleasures of life.

But lately I had been feeling weak and tired and as we say in French “the less you do, the less you are willing to do”. I knew I was on a dangerous slope and as people tend to gain weight after starting work, I wanted to avoid gaining those sneaky kg that accumulate slowly year by year.


Track my workouts

My first step was buying a pedometer to evaluate the distances I was traveling on a daily basis. It should be at least 10 000 steps which is not necessarily easy to do if you have a 9 to 5 job and then live far from your home, need to . That’s why when I

There are many different brands on the market for all prices and performances, I went for the cheapest available on Amazon which includes basic functions such as counting the steps and recording your sleep (see Xiaomi MiBand). Other brands like Fit Bit, Jawbone, Xiaomi, Garmin, Polar, Withings, propose a more fashionable design and additional interesting functions such as tracking all-day activity like steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes, show call, text & calendar notifications on the display, track how long and how well you sleep and wake you with a silent vibrating alarm when you are in shallow sleep, show personalized statistics and include guided breathing sessions.


Join the gym

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The second and biggest resolution was to join a gym club: for those who live in Paris I can only recommend the one I was registered in, www.cerclesdelaforme.com, it is not as posh as other franchises but it was enough for me and most importantly proposed many different classes for free which is a must to discover what kind of sport you prefer (cardio, fitness, dancing, aerobics, running, cycling, stretching, yoga, body building, combat sports, etc).

I personally had different phases (as you might have understood I can be bored easily by routine): first I grew passionate for dancing classes like Zumba and Sh’Bam (similar to Zumba but perfect for those who prefer pop music and 80′ hits to latin american songs) which are great for cardio training and fun.

Because of back problems (old age old age!), I also started Body Balance (mix of Yoga and Thaï Chi) which made disappear all chronic pain thanks to all the stretching and core reinforcement of back muscles.

When I grew bored of collective classes I switched to training on fitness equipment: the elliptical bike, treadmill, rowing machine, stepper allowed me to text my friends, watch TV or be in my own thoughts without any human interaction for a while (I need some alone time daily to function!).

In terms on weight loss as soon as I started I lost 3kg and then stabilized as I didn’t need to loose more than that. But the big impact was the increase in energy and motivation, I would no longer stay at home and ditch friends who wanted to go out in the evening, I am now up for any outdoor activity no matter the weather (and winters can be pretty cold and dark here in Paris!).

For the times where I was traveling or did not have the time to attend the gym I also bought some accessories to exercice at home -#noexcuses:

  • Ab Wheel – it is an inexpensive piece of equipment easy to use for effective core workouts. However it is not advised for people with lower back problems or hernias.
  • Small Weights
  • Jumping Rope – excellent for cardio but hard to master at the beginning although highly effective to lose weight (I personally have no coordination so I quit this option as I was whipping myself more than I was jumping!)
  • Yoga Carpet – useful for exercices on the ground & stretching.

Be part of a community

I kept my motivation by often changing activities but also thanks to social media. Following people that had major life changes on Instagram & Facebook helped me not only find new ideas for healthy and original meals but also keep focus on my goal while belonging to a community of people wanting to improve themselves.

In France the “Top Body Challenge” is the latest very successful training program created by Sonia Tlev, a 26yo Parisian woman, in association with a sports coach: it only requires 30 minutes of physical effort each day 5 days a week and needs little or no equipment. I personally did not purchase the program (although it is not expensive) as I wanted to organise my exercising differently (see a sequence example) and avoid routine, but following her daily posts gave me motivation especially at the beginning.


Exercice in your daily life

16107853_10154720801162254_723499495_oOverall, I tried to change my mentality towards exercising and integrated it in my daily life with simple changes like walking more and avoid public transportation when possible, taking the stairs instead of the elevator daily (my apartment and my office are both on the 5th floor).

For 2017 I have not yet renewed by subscription to the gym. By the end of 2016 I had become overwhelmed by the many activities that I have imposed to myself, such as finding ideas for a new business, studying to become a nutritionist, organizing a 2 week holiday in the South part of India (more details in the upcoming posts), and I have avoided the gym for more than a month.

This year I will try to keep the fun while combining exercices in everyday activities, which is what suits me best as I like to be efficient and multitask especially considering all the projects I want to achieve this year. This is the routine that I will pursue and that might inspire your own training:

  • 100 abs in the morning with the Ab Wheel (5min)
  • Do cardio 2 to 3 times per week with the  Zumba Fitness Rush game on Kinect (my latest purchase!) – you can choose between training, individual songs or follow 20+mins workouts according to your time and motivation!
  • Walking regularly, climbing the stairs of my home and work
  • Yoga with  online videos or smartphone Apps (my favorite at the moment is Asana Rebel App available on iphone and Android)
  • 2h of fast walking in the woods on Saturday morning with my best friend – chatting and walking is very efficient and is a good alternative if you cannot do intensive exercice (pregnancy, joint pain, etc). From helping you lose weight and de-stress to lowering your blood pressure and reducing the risk of many chronic diseases, going for regular walks is one of the best and easiest things you can do for your health.
  • Objectives later in the year: Exercising 30min first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is one of the best tips to naturally jumpstart and boost metabolism throughout the day. This will be part of my objective to start my day an hour earlier every day (more on “Miracle Morning” routine on upcoming posts) and manage to do some cardio (Zumba) and Yoga before going to work. Not there yet but I am working on it!

Summary

Being curious and trying new activities regularly will help you find what you will enjoy and what will work for you and your body. I keep looking, changing my routines while always remaining motivated. Also, I do not blame myself anymore if I miss a training, if one day I am too tired and overwhelmed by my personal life: I am allowed and I trust that my body knows best. It happens and I learned to stop feeling guilty but instead feeling proud of the change, trying my best and failing sometimes,Some exercise is better than no exercise, and today I keep on trying new activities to have fun while boosting my energy levels. The most important part is to set a routine and to hold on at the beginning (aka the first 21 days which is considered to be the time to register a new habit).

Upcoming post: Of course this routine needs to be combined with an healthy diet, which has been my second transformation of 2016…

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