Whether at the end of a long day or early in the morning, motivating ourselves to lace up our trainers and go for that run or actually attend that class we booked in for can often lose out to a night on the sofa watching Bake Off, or reaching for the Snooze button.
However, with recent stats showing that obesity has now overtaken smoking-related diseases as the leading cause of death in Britain , striving for a more active lifestyle can now no longer remain just a good intention, it has to become a necessity. So, how can we change our relationship with exercise and healthy living and make fitness and wellness a priority?
We asked 4 successful businesswomen, businessmen and entrepreneurs for their top fitness motivation tips for squeezing exercise and wellbeing into any lifestyle and staying happy and healthy no matter how busy life gets. “I often think that running your own business is a bit like running a marathon,” says Pippa Murray, Founder of Pip & Nut and marathon aficionado. “You have to be incredibly motivated, doggedly determined and willing to push past when things get tough. Like with running, you have extreme highs and lows when starting up a business, it’s a real rollercoaster of a ride, so what’s really important is to stay focused on the bigger picture and dig deep in the knowledge that it’ll be worth it in the long run!”
Here’s what Pip and three other fitness enthusiasts recommend for digging yourself out of a fitness rut, for making healthier choices and getting the most out of your workouts too.
Niki Rein, Founder of barrecore: how to make exercise part of your daily routine
1. Make your workout the first thing before anything else
“...yes, even before caffeine. It may feel like a rude awakening, but you will get right in the zone and connect to yourself before all the 'noise' enters. If you wait until later, it is likely that other items like children, emails or other important things get in the way. Studies show that those that work out first thing in the morning are more productive than the rest of the population.
“Make sure to schedule this in (and set your alarm for the specified time) at least 3-4 mornings per week. For optimal productivity, wake up at the same time on your off workout days and practice a few minutes of mindfulness, (meditation, diaphragmatic breathing or write down 3 things you are grateful for that day.)
“I personally practice this routine of putting myself first with a meditation and short workout on most days of the week. When I don't, I sure notice the difference in my productivity and communication.”
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2. Make it short and sweet
“I read and research a lot on habit forming and in order to create new habits more efficiently, it's best to make them as simple as possible and try to attach them to another habit.
“If you choose to add a workout routine in your busy schedule in the morning (as recommended above), it's best to attach a short (30-60 minutes at most) enjoyable or interesting workout programme or class in between the sound of your alarm and your daily cup of coffee. You know your alarm will go off and you know you will have coffee, so you are just placing a new habit in between. If you keep the new habit, e.g. work out (at a short duration of no more than 20 minutes at first), you are more likely to be successful, continue and want to do more.”
3. Multitask your workout
“My schedule is ridiculously busy with a lot of meetings and travelling between studios, so I have limited time to spend on my interests, which is focused on learning new things.
“One of the ways I work around this is by listening to an educational podcast or e-book while I sweat. Not only do I get the endorphin rush from my run, but I also end inspired by new information. This helps create the desire to run longer and/or look forward to the next one so I can continue my pleasure of learning with sweating at the same time.”
Susannah Taylor, Editor-at-Large at Get The Gloss: motivation for the busy woman
1. Get kitted out
“Just because you sweat when you work out, doesn't mean you need to wear your worst outfit. That old grey T-shirt with holes in it and that faded pair of leggings are not going to inspire you to get moving. If you wore your worst outfit to a party you'd have a terrible time wouldn't you? Well, the same goes for training gear. Put something on that you feel great in and you will not only feel amazing, but be inspired to bust out some moves.
“Some of my favourite brands are Sweaty Betty for vests, Lucas Hugh and Lululemon for incredible leggings, and Adidas and Nike for trainers. If you're after something on a tighter budget, H&M and GAP do amazing workout wear at equally amazing prices.”
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2. Get some proper ZZZZs
“If I haven't had enough sleep, then mentally my positivity is lower than normal and physically my body won't fire on all cylinders, (believe me I've tried it many times). The result is a bad workout where exercise feels much harder than it is and your coordination is impaired. The moral of this story is to get a good night's sleep before a hard fitness session (7 - 8 hours preferably).
“If your kids have been up in the night or you've been out on the cocktails and you've had under 6 hours, then cancel it - it's not worth the pain and it can do you more harm than good. Pull the duvet over and hit the Snooze button instead.”
3. Get a damn good playlist
“For me the difference between an OK run and a great run is a damn good playlist. I have actually been known to run along clicking my fingers, imagining myself in a movie listening to some tunes (sad but true!). I have an iPod Shuffle , £49 (the stamp-sized i-product), which I clip to my top and I fill it with my favourite tunes old and new. If you are a regular runner, have a different playlist for different days of the week.”
4. Schedule in fitness like a meeting
“Fitting in fitness is hard, especially when you are juggling work with family life. But ask yourself this - what can be more important than looking after yourself? Is your work REALLY more important than your health? My advice is to schedule in fitness sessions like a meeting and don't move them. Once you start moving them, then they will always be moveable and you won't stick with it. If you have a particularly tight schedule, then find a class you can do at lunchtime or go out for run. Remember - no one ever regretted a workout.”
5. Learn to fuel and refuel
“Just like a car won't go without its diesel, your body won't run effectively without enough food on board which means you won't have enough physical and mental power to push yourself to results in your workout. So, what to do when you're running from meeting to meeting or juggling a family and work with no time to make a healthy power snack? The answer is to stock up on something like Primal Pantry Bars , £1.99.
“A great healthy alternative to a highly processed biscuit or chocolate bar, Primal Pantry Bars use all-natural, unprocessed ingredients that our bodies function on best. Eat one an hour before exercise for a pre-workout boost or post-session to replenish lost glucose levels. Your system gobbles up carbs post working out, so this is the best time to eat them to also help your muscles recover fast.”
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Steve Mellor, founder of Freedom2Train: how the paleo diet can fuel body, mind and motivation levels
1. It makes you a more mindful eater
“The best thing about the paleo style of eating is that it coaches people and encourages them to firstly, think about their food choices. It restricts unmindful eating and in some way, emotional eating as it adds a layer of decision making and impulse thinking. It's a fast route to stop you reaching for processed and refined energy-dense foods too. This, in turn, means you reach for a simpler and cleaner meal, snack or drink which has a huge impact on energy levels throughout the day, reducing energy slumps (hypoglycaemia) and energy highs (hyperglycaemia) offering greater consistency of energy from your food choices."
2. It clears the confusion
“The paleo style of eating provides a very simple food list to work from; lots of people thrive under simple and easy to follow rules.
“When you take away the grey area of 'can I have that' or 'is that a better choice' people can feel an element of enlightenment and relief. This again makes them more conscious of the nutrition choices they make, improving the cognitive function through a simple structure of food choices. This increased clarity and mental function enhances their mood as well as their cognitive output.”
3. It curbs cravings
“Finally, the paleo diet post-workout means people are less likely to reach out for heavily processed foods and making real food choices will in turn curb cravings later in the day. Refuelling on real foods such as fruit, nuts, nut butters, vegetables and even meat means you're eating energy and vitamin rich foods. This boosts immune function and offers another window to hit your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals to further enhance mood, energy, sleep quality, immune function, bone and joint health and more!”
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Pippa Murray, Founder of Pip & Nut: on marathon training motivation
1. Find yourself a running buddy
“When training for the Paris Marathon, a friend at work also signed up. We were a similar pace and it meant that we could regularly go for runs together. The great thing about having a running partner means that you’ll always run faster than the pace you naturally run at alone, they'll pick you up when you're down and it also reduces the chance of you bailing on a run if you’re not feeling up for it! To date, the Paris Marathon has been my personal best and I put this largely down to her.”
2. Fit it around your life
“I never like running, or exercise for that matter, to get in the way of my social life. That’s why I often try to find ways of squeezing a short 30 minutes into my day that otherwise would have been wasted time. For instance, grabbing my trainers and going for run in my lunch break is great as it gets me away for eating lunch at my desk and clears my head for the afternoon. It’s a win-win situation!”
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3. Run from point to point
“If I ever have a really long run to do, I’ll always try to run from one location to another and avoid looping back on myself. That way, I have no choice but to run the distance and it stops me getting bored as I always have new things to look at the whole way.
“One of my favourite run routes is heading out on Saturday morning to Battersea Park down along the Southbank all the way to Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey. It’s a beautiful run down the river Thames that takes in some of London’s most iconic buildings and means you can reward yourself at the end with some incredible food from the market!”
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