There’s an alternative to expensive gym memberships, punishing drills and dull diets. Walk (nay, run) right this way…

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It’s early January; a schoolbell has practically just sounded around the globe, calling us all to gyms, health food shops and sportswear outlets worldwide. Kale? Check. Scary looking blender? Check. Spiralizing everything in sight? Most likely. Yet building towards a healthier body, lifestyle and state of mind needn’t be faddy, complicated or cause for you to remortgage; it’s perfectly possible (not to mention attainable and enjoyable) to boost your fitness, health and self-esteem by starting off simply, which is exactly where our 24 week fitness and nutrition guide comes in. Here’s why Project Me  knocks the socks off the competition…

It won’t shout at you

Last year Sport England found that one of the top three barriers to women taking up exercise was a fear over ability; the pressure of performing well (often coupled with a concern over appearance) can be overwhelming, and it’s perhaps in part this anxiety that explains why, according to Sport England, two million fewer women than men exercise regularly in the UK. That’s a stat we’d love to see change; everyone’s got to start somewhere. If launching into a new fitness regime gives you the fear, take courage from our readers’ experience  getting started with Project Me, and try it for yourself. Workouts are short (just 30 minutes a day), exercises are clearly illustrated and explained and you needn’t even step a foot in the door of a gym. Which bring you to the next plus…

You get a lot of bang for your buck

Being in possession of a gym membership doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll go (don’t we know it), but it’ll still suck away your funds regardless. At just £24.95 for a whopping 24 week programme, you can start Project Me whenever and wherever suits you, in your Dad’s old pyjama top if you so please (no judgement here, and seeing as you can do it from home…). You don’t need to fork out for equipment that will ironically make your bank balance chronically unhealthy either. Just download, devour and, you know, do it. Advanced options and modifications suggested by fitness expert and Nike Master Trainer Joslyn Thompson Rule  mean that even when you’re skill and stamina increase as you go, the workouts keep on giving. Boredom, plateauing and getting into the red to get fit are just not down with us.

It’ll help you to maximise your time

It may be a new year, but unfortunately we’ve got the same hours to play with. NHS guidelines  state that we need to be hitting 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, every week, along with strength training twice a week. When you’re stuck in a traffic jam or wedged on a commuter train on the way to a fitness class, this target starts to seem a bit steep, and if fitting workouts around a strict studio timetable or hectic schedule are stressing you out, stop, breathe and do it your way. Results are borne of consistency, and it’s tough to maintain a routine when you have to go out of your way to workout. Whether you take Project Me to the park, to your local gym floor or just to your lounge, you can get on with things at a time that works for you, and you can swap rest days around if you know that fitting in a session is going to be nigh on impossible on a certain day.

The same flexi approach applies to the nutrition aspect of Project Me; you can find all recipe ingredients in most supermarkets and there are no extortionate superfoods to speak of. Just real, good, filling, and frankly pretty delicious food. Some meals take mere minutes to make, and advice regarding advanced prep means that you won’t be a slave to the stove, or be late for work. Basically, you’re winning. Also, there are pancakes, which brings up onto our next point…

You won’t feel deprived

Firstly, since you’re working out, you need nourishing, energising and satisfying food. Cabbage soup is not invited to the Project Me party (at least not without a protein and carb plus one), and chef Nina Parker ’s 32 Project Me recipes reflect this. We know, however, that you won’t be sticking to our meal suggestions by the letter, and that of course you’ll be eating out, indulging every now and again and generally living a full and fun life. We wholly encourage eating what you love on a daily basis, and our expert guidelines will help you to maintain balance and achieve your goals without killing your soul and spirit in the process. You’re in it for the long haul, and we intend to make the journey a joyful one.

It could help you to cut stress

The benefits of exercise and eating well to our mental health  are much documented, and we’ve brought master life coach and clinical hypnotherapist Jacqueline Hurst  on board with Project Me to not only help you to achieve mind over matter during challenging exercises, but also to help you to stay mindful and be kind to yourself throughout the Project Me plan and beyond. One reader in particular reported that Project Me helped put a stop to her panic attacks, proving that looking good is only a small part of the process. An elevated mood, better sleep and positive outlook are more often than not far more motivating than visualising yourself a dress size smaller (although that’s a welcome side effect). As it happens, we remind you throughout that you’re living Project Me style because you love your body; not because you hate it.

It’s most helpful if you’re a mum

Just ask Doing It All columnist Emma Bartley . Workouts are quiet, short and won’t disturb offspring. Ditto recipes will give you enough energy and resources to run around after your prides and joys without losing your nut. Given that Sport England  found that many mothers worried about being perceived as selfish for taking time for themselves in order to exercise, and therefore refrained from working out at all, a guide that gets you active on your own terms, with zero guilt, could prove invaluable. Try it for yourself and tell us what you think.

It’ll make you realise your potential

It’s a phrase trotted out on many a school report form, but your potential is likely miles from where you estimate it to be (quite literally). Project Me is brimming with encouragement, new ideas and practical tips to help you to maximise not only each and every workout and meal time, but your day as a whole and your confidence overall. Think you can’t do weights? Body weight resistance, as guided by Joslyn, will up your strength indefinitely. Think you’ve not got the willpower to eat well? Nina and Project Me nutritional therapist Zoe Stirling  will put that one to bed. Whatever’s holding you back, from shyness in the gym to a reluctance to go out in the cold, Project Me will help you to get to where you want to go and try to knock down the walls holding you back along the way. If you’re smashing down walls already, there’s enough to keep you interested too. Excuses, stress and inhibition stop here.

If Project Me sounds right up your street,  click here for more information and to download the complete 24 week fitness and nutrition guide.

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