The Year of Undiet: 5 Exercise Ideas for YOU!
All over Instagram, people are wearing tiny little shorts and showing close ups of their bottoms, mid-squat. And that’s just the men!
Having spent a large part of my career feeling a bit too large for my career, I’ve guiltily pictured the red, puffy, out-of-breath face, sweat covered and endorphin-glowing…That I should be having after exercise.
And for some people, that’s easy! Take my boyfriend. He’ll whizz up a hill on his bike ‘cos at least it’s over quicker.’ He’ll go for an 8 mile run and say ‘you just have to get over the mental block. That’s all it is!’ Other model friends like Sophie Holmes are only happy with a workout if they are close to collapse.
Me, on the other hand…
I’m the one watching the clock from 5 minutes into an aerobics class.
I’ll navigate my ‘running’ (jogging) route so that I finish with the nicest smelling blossoms.
I find counting the number of squats I’m doing akin to counting the seconds of my life fritter away.
When I was doing the Skinny Bitch Collective, I felt proud of partaking in such viciously hard exercise, but the fact is that I felt faint for most of the sessions and the amount I voraciously ate afterwards pretty much cancelled it out the calories I’d burnt.
Is anyone else out there agreeing with me? I’m not saying that everyone has the same physical disposition as me…
…But what I am saying is: don’t force yourself to do anything you hate. The dread you feel will just have you skipping exercise altogether, which is worse than doing a less hardcore class because not only will you do no exercise, you’ll feel guilty. And if you really, truly hate an exercise, then don’t do it, because your body is probably telling you something.
On the other hand, I’m not saying never to exercise. Most people feel a bit reluctant before going to a class, even if they know they’ll love it in the end. You absolutely have to exercise 3 times a week, 20 minutes a time, for your health.
But The year of Undiet says – find an exercise or exercises you love, and do them religiously – even the exercise you’ve chosen is never going to give you a 6-pack!
Here are my top 5 exercises to try out, if you’re a bit exercise-phobic.
I mean – you snooze on a mat for the last 5 minutes, what’s not to love! I think that everyone has to give yoga a go – if you’re not experiencing the benefits after 8 sessions then I’ll eat my (yoga) mat.
It’s never too late to start – I’m beginning at level 1 after realising that I’ve been practicing it badly for 6 years. There are women of 80 in my class!
Yoga helps balance your ‘chi’. That’s your life force. Sound hippy dippy? Well picture yourself when you’re tense. Maybe you tense up your abdomen, or do you feel tight in your throat? Think of yourself when you’re mega relaxed – perhaps your brain feels sort of untethered, or when you feel nervous – do you tense up your shoulders? That’s your chi getting affected by your mood. After yoga, I feel like my body is better aligned, the tense bits are relaxed and the wobbly bits are fired up – my ‘chi’ is more balanced.
Still dubious? OK well – yoga sort of stretches and firms and fires up and challenges your body, all over, so that when you finish you feel…more in harmony, more aware of the parts that need work and the bits that feel way better for the poses.
And, shallow though this point is…Yoga gave me a great bod! It got me way more in shape than any other exercise I’ve ever tried. It makes you lean and stand tall.
Kayle Itsines has a fantastic plan of exercises (I didn’t even bother reading the diet part, obviously!). The interval exercises (essentially where you raise your heart beat, rest, then raise it again for optimum fat burning) get progressively harder – as does your body! The fantastic thing about Kayla Itsines is that it’s cheap, you can do it in your house and it’s only half an hour. Oh – and it bloody well works!
I’ll be honest – the circuit exercises aren’t my thing and I don’t like counting – but don’t let me put you off trying. I only managed 6 weeks (bad I know) but my body was WAAAAY more toned, especially my bum and stomach. I should have kept it up, but I have a burpee blank spot. Sorry Kayle. I just truly despise them.
Burns calories, yes. Toned muscles, yes. Just look at the celebs on Strictly! Dancing gives you an enviable figure, it’s clearly true.
The best thing about dance, however, is the workout it gives your brain and your smile muscles! If you hate counting sit-ups and lunges then head to a dance class and see if you can’t find yourself so absorbed in the steps you must learn that you forget to look at the clock hands!
I used to love dance classes, especially Bollywood, but gave up because I felt thy wouldn’t give me the thigh gap I thought I should be aiming for.
Screw that! I’m searching for a new dance class pronto. This blog post is influencing me loads!
4) Integrated Exercise
Sometimes, I have so many shoots, castings and writing assignments that I really don’t feel that I can get to a gym, do a class and have all the faffing either side that entails.
As soon as that starts happening I get stressed, I get sluggish – and I see my tummy and chin expand!
What you can do, if you just can’t fit a workout in your schedule, is to integrate exercise into your day. Get off the tube 3 stops early and walk as fast as you can. Run up the escalator. Jog or cycle to work. Do sit ups or hula hooping while you watch the telly.
The trouble with integrated exercise is that you might not be doing enough to benefit your body, so get a pedometer app on your phone to ensure you take 10 000 steps a day, or time your sit ups as a whole episode of Corrie.
Like yoga, I think everyone should do Pilates. For some it can seem really boring – like you’re just lying on a mat, doing very little.
If you can’t feel anything in Pilates, you’re doing it wrong! I have a rather firm, hands-on teacher. I’ll be doing a situp thinking ‘basic, easy sit up, not doing anything here’. She’ll come and adjust me and…Oh my God! I’m shaking all over the place!
Pilates is an ‘investment’ exercise. A few weeks into it you may not see a difference, but a few months down the line and your core will be incredibly strong (and flat!). And a few decades down the line…All that Pilates will have helped your joints stay supple and your back stay protected.
I don’t go to Pilates to burn off calories, but I do go so I can look like American Apparel model Jackie O’Shaunessy when I’m older…(she’s 62!!!)
I hope that reading this has inspired a few people. If you love crazy hard exercise then please, continue – but for anyone else feeling a bit helpless – you want to exercise but you’re caught up in the inertia caused by fear of the gym or reluctance to join the hardcore fitness elite – then don’t worry.
Relax, and see it as a new challenge to relish. And the more you relish exercise, the more you’ll feel the benefits – and find yourself wanting to do it more and more!
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