12 Tips To Fit - Getting Started on Your Fitness Journey

12 Tips To Fit - Getting Started on Your Fitness Journey

Sarah Angus; a qualified Sports & Exercise Scientist, and Clinical Exercise Physiologist

Hi everyone, my name is Sarah Angus. I’m 24 and I'm a qualified sports and exercise scientist, and I'm also a clinical exercise physiologist.


When I was younger I was definitely into fitness and exercise. As a family growing up we did eat healthily. My background is in dancing and gymnastics so I did that for quite a bit throughout my childhood but I did fall out of exercise and lost the love for it. I went through high school and decided that I did want to continue working within physical education or the health and fitness industry. I undertook and completed a Bachelor of Sports and Exercise Science and then went on to do my Masters of Clinical Exercise Physiology in Sydney.

After that I worked for a little bit in the industry; I worked with neurological disorders, mainly MS and cerebral palsy, and I did a little bit with high-performance sports, including GPS tracking and monitoring training sessions. While it was really interesting, I did kind of lose my love for health and fitness for a little bit and I made a massive change in my life and I moved up to Queensland, just to do something different.


It wasn't until I moved to Queensland that I noticed some drastic changes in my body. I’d put on 15 kilos, I was really unhappy and I just knew that there was something that I needed to do to make a difference and to find that fit, happy and healthy self that I knew was deep down within me somewhere. I did struggle with the motivation, to the point where even getting up off the couch and doing something for myself was an effort.


It wasn't until my 24th birthday that a friend, Fifi, dragged me along to a spin class in Brisbane. That was probably the first time that I worked out, and it was also the moment that I realised that this fit and healthy lifestyle was what I wanted and was what I needed to find that happy self again, and find this Sarah that I used to know. From there I've always kind of been interested in finding the little tips and tricks to make that journey easier for everyone else out there. I've always loved sharing my knowledge and I've always wanted to be able to incorporate what I did study at university into my everyday life so it didn't feel like a waste. I'm no longer working in the industry at the moment but I always wanted to find a way to incorporate what I had learned in a clinical setting into my life and everyone else's life around me.

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I'm finding little things that have worked and have been beneficial for me, and I want to share them with you. I’m hoping that these little tips and tricks - my “12 Tips to Fit” - will help you build a health and fitness routine that works for you. So, I guess this first blog is really about getting ready to rumble. It’s about gathering all the information that you need to make sure that you are prepared for that initial step into a gym, or into a fitness setting, and just making sure that you’re aware of what you're going to be doing to your body and what you want to get from it.

I think the first hurdle when thinking about getting into a health and fitness routine is finding that motivation. You can't buy motivation, you can’t pick it up off a shelf, you can’t have anyone else motivate you - you need to find that motivation within you. It's an intrinsic feeling and it can’t be bought, it can't be false, it needs to be there all the time. For me, my motivation started when I looked in the mirror and I wasn't happy with what I saw, but it was also when I started looking back over all the notes from Uni, all the information that was out there, and just changing my point of view.


So, it meant getting rid of all those burger joints I’d followed on Instagram, getting rid of all the food pictures and replacing them with healthy individuals, and reading through blogs that I enjoyed learning from that helped me to learn more about myself. That's what gave me my motivation to start working out.


However, maintaining motivation is a completely different ballpark. For me, at the moment I'm using an activity tracker. I've got an Apple Watch and I find that every day it pushes me to make sure that I'm reaching all of my goals. The way that it works is that you've got 3 separate goals you need to achieve each day. You've got a ‘Stand Goal’ of 12 hours where you have to stand for at least 10 minutes in every hour for 12 hours.


You’ve got an ‘Exercise Goal’ which is standardly set at 30 minutes of exercise a day. And lastly, you also have an activity tracker which varies on what you're doing. For me, at the moment, this equates to about 400 calories a day of just actively moving around outside of a workout or the gym. The Apple Watch also gives you friendly reminders throughout the day as to where you are at, if you need to hurry up, or whether you're on track to achieve your set goals.


It helps with my motivation, having that external feedback constantly buzzing on my wrist telling me to get up and move around, telling me to squeeze in a workout! That's one of my main motivational tools. A quick online search for activity trackers will provide you with hundreds of options – from the simple to the high-tech, and at a range of different prices depending on your needs and budget. There’s also a great variety of downloadable apps to help you meet your fitness goals. Consider yourself more a traditional ‘pen and paper’ type? Write down your daily goals, keep it somewhere that will serve as a constant reminder, and tick off your goals as you go!

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The thing that I like sharing with everyone as a good way to motivate yourself is to find a picture of yourself where you are at the fittest or the happiest, or when you felt the healthiest in your life and set it is as your phone background. We spend so much time looking at our screens and we are constantly on our phones, so why wouldn't you use a tool that everyone has in their pocket to be your main motivator? You know that it’s achievable because it’s a goal that you’ve already hit, and you have a photo of that moment to remind you it’s possible.


Perhaps you want to be fitter, be happier, and be healthier than you are at that moment, or maybe you just want to maintain the level that is in that photo. Either way, finding a picture that relates to your goals will help motivate you. Because our phones are always in our faces, it’ll stop you from picking up the Snickers and having that cheeky chocolate bar. It will remind you of what you’re working towards and where you want to be in your life, which might be at odds with what you’re craving right this second.


Being properly planned for your week ahead is going to help with your motivation because you have a clear picture of what you need to do to achieve your goals – in terms of your eating, workouts, and mindset. Before you start planning for your fitness and your nutrition you need to look into doing some research about what's going to be working for you, to make sure that your plan for the week is hole-proof.


Everybody is different. What works for one person may not work for another. And what works for you right now may change over time. So you need to look into what goals you want to be attacking, where you want to be in 12 weeks, what foods work for you, what you like, and what you dislike. Set your goals and work out how you are going to get to those goals.

 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Finding what works for you is going to be trial and error, and it's going to be different for everyone. You need to be willing to try different things and be prepared to find or seek a professional opinion when necessary to help you get that bank of information to push you even closer to your goals. We all want to be happy, we all want to be fit, we all want to be healthy, but we also need to have an awareness of what's happening to our bodies and what exactly we are doing to our bodies. This may require visiting your GP or other healthcare practitioners as we need to make sure we're doing the right thing and we're doing it most safely and effectively.


You've got your motivation, you're ready to go, you've done some research, you know what your goals are going to be, and you have a good idea as to how you're going to get there. What you need to do now is prepare! There's the saying that “Failing to plan is planning to fail”, and it couldn’t be truer. Your preparation is key. You don't have to prep every single meal, you don't have to lay out everything on a bench, but you do need to have a really good idea about what your week is going to look like. I’ll sit down at like 2 p.m. on a Sunday and ensure that everything is planned for the week. I’ll sit down with a calendar and I'll look at what I’ve got on that week. What events do I have coming up? Am I going to be working overtime? Have I agreed to any family dinners or friendship commitments? I write it all down on my calendar. Then I'm going to look at where I am in my fitness planning. Where am I on my journey to accessing that fitter, healthier me? And what can I do this week to make sure that I am accelerating and moving towards those goals?


Ensuring I eat healthily is very important for me. And what helps me most is being prepared in advance so that the healthy options are convenient and I’m not tempted to reach for the takeaway or a quick unhealthy snack. Before I go shopping, I'll sit down and I'll work out what I want to eat that week. At the grocery store, I'll get all the ingredients I need for the week. Then what I like to do, because I like to cook fresh, I’ll chop up all of my veggies and put them into different containers. That way I can get home from work in the afternoon, all I need to do is to open up a container, take a handful of carrots and throw it in the pot, then take a handful of broccoli and throw it in the pot. It's super convenient – and convenience is so important, especially after a big day at work. If you do spend that little bit of time on a Sunday prepping out your meals, you can ensure that you have everything on hand you need to make a nutritious meal each night, healthy lunches to take to work, and healthy breakfasts to start each day.


If I know that I'm going to have a busy week and I won't have time to cook breakfast every morning, I’ll even sit down and I'll chop up a carrot, an onion, capsicum, some spinach, and some mushrooms, then I'll portion them out into 5 different zip-lock bags. Then in the morning, all I need to do is open up a zip-lock bag, empty it into a frying pan, add your eggs, and in no time you’ve got a healthy omelette for breakfast. And it’s all because you've sat down, you’ve planned out your week and you've prepared for the fact that you’re going to have a limited time in the morning.


Not only do I try to plan out my nutrition, but I also do that with my fitness. So, I’ll book into classes for the week, plus I’ll work out what my workout buddies are doing and schedule in gym dates with them. Surrounding yourself with people who have similar goals is also a really important thing. Find yourself a good workout buddy, ditch that drinking partner, and surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable to the fitness plans you are making for the week.


In summary, this blog was all about getting ready to rumble and finding that intrinsic motivation. It’s about making sure you are truly committed to making changes in your life, but then also doing your research, planning and preparing so that your approach to the week is going to be flawless. Fit, happy, and healthy doesn’t happen by accident, it happens because you make it happen!

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