Back to square two

I still remember my snowboard instructor, when he said to us Can you see how difficult it is to get back up again? Yeah? So don’t fall!, and oh, it is so true.

This can also be applied to getting back into fitness. Can’t you see how much it hurts to start again? Yeah? So don’t stop!

As you know, it’s been months since my last incursion into a gym, or even the last time I laced up my running shoes. I’ve put on weight (being ill and low on energy results in sleeping a lot, and feeling a bit crappy overall results in over-eating, so you do the maths) and I’ve lost all strength and sense of achievement.

When I told my friend Oummou about doing a professional photo shoot together, and she challenged me to be beach body ready for it, my first reaction was to think it was never really going to happen. I decided to get going, and then I got sick again. Ha! OK, let’s try this again…

A very important thing to consider… You’re never really going back to square one when starting to work out again after a pause, you’ve already done it before, so it’s not really square one. OK, it might be square two only, but still, you’re not starting from the unachievable deep loneliness of absolute zero!

Motivation is always a problem. It’s easy to do stuff when you’re up for it, but when you’re not up for it, that’s when you need to force yourself to get motivated. Also, when you like food, you need to keep moving in order to burn all that excess of energy. So, how are we tackling this?


First, set a goal. Something achievable might work better, so rather than say I want to look like Jessica Alba by next week, maybe aim for something you can actually achieve (unless you’re super rich and are going the surgery way).

Goal: Lose some weight and start defining shapes by end of July. Now, I know that’s the most non-defined goal in the history of goals, but I really just want to start feeling the change. I know I’m not going to have abs of steel in six weeks, but hopefully I’ll start feeling something underneath all that padding!


Find a workout plan that works for you. You already know what I use, the N+TC app. I can set my goals and select the level of intensity I want for my workout. The best thing is the ability to add running into it, and that each program lasts only a month, so there’s no time to get bored.

Plan: It would have been better to start the program when I wasn’t this busy, or at least, when I’m spending the nights at home, but I decided to go ahead and not postpone it again, even if it means I’m really tired this week.


Then, you need to keep an eye on the food. There’s no point working out if then you go home and wolf down a Burger King meal, and a whole can of Pringles, and drink a litre of Coke, and finish off by having a chocolate muffin as dessert, for good measure. Sure, you’re working out and being active, but you’re not helping yourself much by clogging your arteries with bad food.

Action: I’ve been looking at the food outlets around work, and at all their nutrition information, to make sure I don’t get fooled into eating 1000 calories in one sitting (some meals that look healthy are actually worse than poison – personal opinion). You know I’m not a super healthy person, and I’ll never will, but balance is key.

I also need to get in my mind that drinking water and fuelling before and after a workout is important. I don’t drink enough water, which makes me feel tired and slow during the day. Many times, I don’t eat anything pre-workout, and a lot of times I don’t eat what I should after exercising. It’s very tempting to eat the most readily available food when you’re starving, so planning is key once again. I’m looking at energy/cereal bars and milkshakes (maybe protein ones?). So I have the post-workout covered. I’ve heard about ETB Fit, a sports-nutrition company, that have pre-workout supplements, I’ve never used any of these myself, but I am very curious about it. Maybe I should give them a try? On that note, do you use this type of supplements? What do you think? Also, do you know ETB Fit already?

Motivation is key

Nobody is going to motivate me, that’s something I have to do for myself. I read once that commitment is doing the thing you said you would do, long after the mood you said it in has left you, and I couldn’t agree more with it. We all start a new project full of energy and motivation, but as soon as we realise the commitment needed to see it through, the early (or the many!) hours, the effort required… that enthusiasm fades away and we start making excuses. Motivation is key, and what motivates me, might not motivate you. Personally, I want a fit body. I don’t mean fit as in hot, I know I’m not going to look like those models you see online, all muscles and butt, and I don’t want that. I think a bit of meat around the bones is cool. What I want is to be able to lift my body weight, to run fast, to run long. I want to be able to rely on my body if I needed to (I don’t trust my body much these days, because of all the health issues, so we need to win back each other’s trust again). In this case, not only the photo shoot, but I’m also looking at another half-marathon in the future.

Action: I have a calendar in which I mark the days I worked out. The funny thing is that if you had me choose between the pub or the gym, I would choose the gym without a doubt. Once I’m working out, I struggle, but I love it. It’s true that I sometimes don’t push myself as hard as I should, so maybe a training buddy would be ideal (hey, would you like to be my training buddy? Get in touch!), but one step at a time. Thinking about running for even just half an hour can feel like a lot some days, so it’s better to aim to just get to the gym or out of the door. Once you’re in your workout clothes, it gets much easier… which brings me to the next point.

Dress the part

OK, you don’t need to dress the part, but what I mean by this is you should work out in appropriate clothing, and clothing that makes you want to work out! If your thing is your old tracksuit and battered trainers, then go for it, but think that maybe you need better support for your ankles, or that maybe your clothes are not giving you the best performance (seriously, have you tried running with a wide tracksuit bottom, while it gets stuck and the wind keeps messing up with it?). You don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds on this, but sometimes having a new piece of workout gear can work as motivation or even a reward! In my case, I have a pair of running shorts I bought recently, which I’m using as motivation (heck, I want to look good in those!). They’re from Primark (they’re a variation of these shorts, if you’re curious). On top of that, I’ve bought a whole new running outfit from Nike. If I look good in it, then I’m more likely to go out running. I wanted new trainers, and I couldn’t resist buying these leggings. Let me tell you, they already make me look hot, and I’ve just only started exercising again! They’re a bit pricey, but this is my way of rewarding myself and getting me out on the pavement.
Nike race pack and running outfit

Challenge yourself

Running (or working out) without deadlines is a bit meh. You need to set deadlines and benchmarks, to keep you on your toes. It can be a summer trip for which you want to lose weight, or a photo shoot, or a race. Whatever it is, have a deadline in mind, and keep going through checkpoints along the way (ah, video games, so much wisdom!). I have a Nike 10k run on Sunday. It’s going to be a lot of fun, because they always make these events great. The race pack includes a tote bag, a top, and the timing chip and bracelet for the race. They also offer Spotify My Tempo, where you can create a playlist based on the tempo you want to run at on race day. On the day, there will be a Freixenet bar, treats, coconut oil, (healthy) popcorn, a braid bar, Six Physio will be there too… and instead of a medal, they’ll be handing out a necklace, designed by Alex Monroe, to everyone who crosses the finishing line!

On the picture above, you can see the Nike race pack on the left, and the outfit I bought for myself on the right.

So there you have it. Objectives. Planning. Nutrition. Motivation. Challenges. Personally, I consider all these as key in order to achieve my fitness objectives.

I started working out again this week, at last! On Monday, after having slept for just over three hours, I did a 30 minute workout (called Wipeout) and a 15 minute run (more like a 10 minute jog with 5 minutes walk at both ends). On Tuesday, I did 15 minute yoga session.

Tonight, I’m travelling outside London (as I am attending a training for two days somewhere in the middle of nowhere) and I still need to do a 45 minute session with the colourful name of Mean Machine. It has a lot of exercises I’ve never done before, and it looks like it’s going to be a proper pain (in the most literal sense), but it also looks like fun. I’m really tired at the moment, but I can’t wait to go back to the gym again today. I’m keeping better track this time, and I have a well defined plan (I haven’t shared all the details of it, because then it would be an even longer post), so I’m confident it’s going to work out.

How do you trick motivate yourself to exercise? Do you use any pre/post workout supplements? What are your rewards?

I’m going to be running at Victoria Park on Sunday for the Nike 10k run*, so if you’re taking part in the run, or are going as a guest, find me and say hi!

*Funny thing here, I made a mistake when signing up for the race, and I was convinced one hour and 15 minutes would look like 40 when written down, so I signed up for a sub-40 10k (that’s 30 minutes faster!). I didn’t even realise myself and it was only when Brian told me 40 minutes was REALLY fast that I went oops! Is that crazy or what? Ha-ha!