How to plan your activity and get fit and healthy

I’ve written before about how I got fitter and healthier and lost weight… I thought I’d write a bit today about how you can set goals to become more active, and hopefully have the outcome of becoming more fit, healthy and happy… and if you have weight to lose, some of that could maybe go as a result of what you choose to do.

Here’s what I wrote before –

Below I’ll go into what I did, and how you can set goals and plan your activity to hopefully help you change things so you maybe become fitter, healthier and happier. And if weight loss comes as a result of all of that too – then great! It did for me and I haven’t looked back since.

I’ve added habit onto habit, and changed for the better, so that now activity is an every day thing for me, and if I don’t do it, I feel strange.

So around 15 years ago, I was settled in life, my career was settling down, I met my life partner and we were enjoying life with eating and drinking out and holidays.

I’ve always been active (having learned from my Dad that it’s important) but in the early to late 2000s it slipped a bit in favour of having fun and probably consuming too many calories without thinking about it.

Life and fun took over, and drinking alcohol probably became more of an issue than I realised – health, money and mood wise.

I still played with going to the gym, and did the odd bit of cardio or swimming or the odd hill walk; but it wasn’t enough and I needed a kick to get into the habit and way of being more active, consistently.

See more here

Tipping the scales at 147lbs or 10 and a half stone, my BMI was 25 and on the verge of going into the overnight range. (I know the BMI scale is a bit of an outdated scale, but it still gives you an idea.)

Then it was my Dad, in perhaps only a way a Dad (who was GP) could do, made the light bulb go on for me, when he said I was ‘looking comfortable’, and encouraged me to make some changes.

And that I did. I had the catalyst to get me started, and I decided I needed to make some changes – and my reasons for change – for me it was for health and fitness, and to make my Dad proud, and live up to the healthy example he’d set me.

And so I started… in around 2008, over 13 years ago. I’d started my new job, and had more time, with less of a commute. So I decided on my main activity – running, and I mixed other activities I enjoyed in – the gym, playing basketball and swimming.

My main action goal was to be more active, be more careful about what I consumed, and hopefully lose weight and change my body composition. My other action goal was to be more careful about what I ate and drank / consumed (ie stop being so greedy!)

My outcome goal was to become fitter and healthier, and part of that was to get my BMI and weight down (which would come as a result of my action goals).

I think I started in about June 2008 time, and set myself of running a 5k. By October I had a 5k race I’d entered, and I built myself up to running for 30 minutes non stop, over about 6-8 weeks.

Then after 6 months of running, mostly on the treadmill when I was at the gym, and a bit outside, one day I ran my first 5 mile run. Hungover, probably still drunk, I went out an early morning run, and sort of just kept going. It felt great.

I aimed to run 3 times a week, and went to the gym twice, and basketball once. I set days aside for exercise like this:

Mon: Run
Tue: Gym
Wed: Run
Thu: Basketball
Fri: Rest
Sat: Run
Sun: Gym

(Think about what you’d like to do, and when you can fit it into you week – think about what days are best, and at what time, make appointments, remember to take rest too).

My main aim was to run three times a week, and basketball was a fun thing to do. The gym was something I’d always dabbled with, and I knew it would help with weight loss and getting healthier.

On top of the activity, which was the burning of calories, I didn’t go on a diet as such… I was more careful about what I ate and drank.

Every time I consumed something I thought out it… stopping mindless eating. Swapping high calorie crappy foods out for healthier or lower calorie foods which fuelled me.

I had set meals… yogurt, berries and walnuts for breakfast, black coffee (400 cals) … egg or tuna salad for lunch (400 cals), meat and veg for dinner. Treats were ok, but I learned to eat what I needed, and basically not be greedy. And what really helped, was when I cut out alcohol… no empty calories, no hangover calories.

Nowadays there’s an even better way to be consistent with food – log it in MyFitnessPal and aim for a set amount of calories and calorie deficit. Eat similar foods to make it easy (healthy foods you like to eat). Oh, and drink plenty water too.

And in 2009 I had a breakthrough when I decided I’d had enough of alcohol and have it up. A game changer on terms of weight, extra calories, health and the ill feeling and hangovers it gave me. Not to mention the extra money on my pocket. Not drinking makes it easier to keep my weight consistent and keeps my mood and happiness more level too.

Being consistent, measuring once a week, taking test days when I needed it, being flexible with training, having support and motivation from my other half. Mixing things up sometimes with a big walk (keeping in with the being active goal).

In terms of measuring I got a set of scales that does weight and body fat and lean body mass and focused on the body fat and weight measurement as a measure. I also measured my hips and waist.

See why weight isn’t the be all and end all, and waist to hip ratio –

And the result of all of that, plus me getting into running and activity big time… was a loss of about 2 stone, with my body fat % dropping and my body changing shape to be more fit and strong and less fat.

So here’s how I did it… or how you can do it too:

1. Decide it’s time for a change, and take action. Get a reason for the change, and make it positive and about you.

2. Decide on what activity you enjoy and you can fit in to your life. Think about what will fit in, when, with your work, with your kids etc.

3. Set an active goal of what you want to achieve – ie walking 5 times a week, running 3 times a week and 5k non stop by 6-8 weeks time. An action goal.

4. Set an nutrition goal – ie fuel your life, but don’t over indulge, eat in a calorie deficit, don’t be greedy (like me), cut out extra or empty calories you don’t need. An action goal.

5. Set a weekly goal of what you’ll do activity wise, review it each week and plan out the next week. An action goal.

6. Decide on when you’ll be able to fit your activity in and do it – I do my exercises first thing mostly. I have a morning routine which involves exercise usually at some point between 630-810, later at weekends.

7. Measure your progress, with a tape measure or scales, once a week. Don’t just use weight, check your body fat and lean mass too (or just your body measurements if you prefer). See your progress and know if it’s working or if you need to make changes. This is where the outcome goal comes in.

8. Measure your activity – this is optional but I like to use my Garmin to track what I do. How many miles / steps / calories. It gives me motivation and allows me to compare to previous months and years too. An outcome goal.

9. Enter an event or set a goal. To walk or run a certain (big for you) distance by a certain date. Then congratulate or reward yourself when you do it, and set another goal / enter another event or set another goal. 5k, 10k etc. An action goal.

10. Get support and motivation from those around you. Do your activity with others for social chat, but don’t rely on them to get it done. Get support from your partner, ask them to help you carve out time to do what you want to do (childcare etc). Join a club for motivation and fun.

11. Get inspiration and learn – read books, get resources online, find out what works for you and do it. Here’s some of my books I’ve learned from (which are a regular in my zoom backdrop at work now 😂).

12. Invest in yourself if you really want to. Hire a personal trainer. Buy the exercise bike, sign up for Apple fitness or the gym membership. Buy the trainers and the garmin. Kit out a home gym. Buy the wetsuit / fins or hiking boots.

I’ve written a lot here, and perhaps you can do it on your own. Decide to do it and go. Or maybe you really want to make a change, but you don’t know where to start. You really want to commit, but it’s never worked before.

Well maybe it is time for a change. Invest in yourself. If you’re not sure what to do, maybe the change you need is to hire a personal trainer to help give you the tools and information you need to do the workouts and training you need to get fit and healthy?

Finally, I’ll go into what I do now… in terms of keeping on track with my training and consistency…

I’ve been doing this a while, and I would recommend if you’re starting out to ensure you have 2-3 rest or active recovery days in your weekly plan… but here’s what I do:

I have a draft email saved in my phone that I update every week. I have recorded and upset what activity and rest I’ve done, and I review that each week once I’ve done it.

I have an aim of certain activity for each week, just now it’s:
– 5 physio sessions / 1 yoga
– 2 runs
– 2 swims
– 1-2 strength
– 1-2 cycles
– walks / a rest day if I need it

So the one above is what I’ve done. And the one below is what I’m planning for next week:

I probably won’t run on Saturday, but if I did, I might run on Wednesday instead of Friday. Take out the spin and replace it with a run (both cardio). I’ll need to see how my leg is.

Yours could be much less than this,
– walk 5/7 days,
– or run 3/7 days and walk 3/7.

Choose what you want to include and plan it to fit in with your life. If you can do it, move it and make it work for you.

Remember I’ve been doing this for over a decade, so I’m very active. I burn a lot and as a result I eat quite a lot too… I’m lucky to be at a point where my weight is more or less consistent, and I’m happy with it and how fit, healthy and happy I am.

And, I’m back up to nearly 10 stone now. Up about a stone and a half from my lightest… and most definitely a different shape and composition from when I was 10 stone and not training like I do.

Weight and body fat are all just a numbers, and everyone is different… but it can be a good way to track your progress and change over years. (Apart from my niggly leg injury) I’m the fittest I’ve been for years, and I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and have fun along the way.

Or if you don’t like scales, use this measure / waist to height ratio

Hopefully this might help you to decide to make changes to become a better and more fit, healthy and happy version of you. If you have any questions, let me know

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