Essentials for feeling great physically
Get enough sleep. Sufficient sleep is important for fitness and energy levels and even weight loss: if you don’t get enough, your body can’t complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and production of the hormones that regulate growth and appetite. If your body is not getting enough time to restore itself, your body and your mind will feel tired and your health and well-being will suffer.
Be energetic. It might sound silly, but if you want more energy, then be energetic, because exercise and expending energy actually creates more energy. Get up and move your body, no matter how unmotivated you’re feeling — you’ll be glad you did.
Drink plenty of water. The human body is composed of about sixty per cent water, and this fluid serves many purposes — it aids digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and helps maintain your body temperature. Staying hydrated keeps you feeling alert and refreshed and helps you avoid headaches and sluggishness; it can also give you brighter eyes and clearer skin. I aim to drink at least two litres of water per day.
Eat more greens. What’s missing from many people’s diets is enough fresh green vegetables. Think spinach, silver beet, kale, broccoli and so on. Other brightly coloured vegetables are great, too — carrots, beetroot, capsicum, etc. — as foods that are brightest in colour are at their most nutrient-rich. And remember not to overcook vegetables; limp veges have fewer nutrients and less flavour and less visual appeal, so are less attractive to vege-avoiders.
Top tips for exercise motivation
Mix up your exercise — try to vary your workouts to avoid getting bored. You might do a completely different activity on each day you exercise, or have several slightly different routines you alternate between. Unless, of course, you are the type of person who loves routine and going for your morning run every day. That might be the easiest thing for you to stick to. By all means, keep doing it!
Make exercise fun and you will want to do it. Team sports can be really enjoyable, but people often think they are only for children. There are heaps of social — and more competitive — team sports out there for adults, or you may want to join a tennis or badminton club. Don’t feel pressured to pick up on the latest training trend; it may not work for your body or mind, so focus on what you do enjoy.
Exercise in the morning if you can, especially in winter when the evenings are darker earlier — otherwise it’s too easy not to do it. Get up half an hour earlier if necessary. If you get some exercise done early you’ll have a sense of satisfaction and achievement all day, too. Get outside to exercise when the weather permits. Fresh air is always a good idea, and getting outside allows you to kill two birds with one stone — you get exercise and also a good dose of feel-good sunshine.
Take the stairs at work, park your car further away from your destination and walk, be responsible for walking the family dog, walk or bike to work instead of driving, do housework or the gardening — it all adds up as daily activity and helps keep you fit and strong. Set yourself challenges if you are driven by targets and progress — reaching 10,000 steps a day, or improving your time to cover 3km over a month-long period. Consider tools like sports watches or step counters if that gets you going, but make sure you use them for motivation, not obsession!