can exercise be fun?

menu

It’s typically around this time in January, the start of the third week, where the good intentions set for becoming healthier and more active in the New Year start to become challenging. Maybe it’s happened sooner than that for you, or maybe you’re on a roll with your health and wellness goals. Irrespective of where you are today I hope there’s something of benefit for you in this post.

To answer the question I posed in the title, my answer is yes. And I want to explain my own approach to exercise and coaching whilst providing you with references to two great posts that touch on some aspects of this as well.

First of all, to my mind any exercise should be all of the following:

  1. Safe;
  2. Effective; and
  3. Relevant to your goals.

The added bonus is when it is also fun. Challenging yet inspiring. That’s where the magic is. For I see exercise as being like a menu. Think of (i) your favourite and (ii) your least favourite food. Got them? Good. Now imagine, if you will, going into a restaurant where everything on the menu was a variation, a twist, on your favourite thing to eat. You could have the dessert first if you so desired. Are you going to go back again? Chances are you will. Now imagine a restaurant where they serve only variations of your least favourite food. Your food hell, your food kryptonite. Will you be going back? It’s highly unlikely. So, like a menu, exercise is about making choices; to make it fun where possible whilst sticking to the three key ingredients outlined above.

The superb post by Steet Fitness World on Callisthenics vs Gym Fitness may spark some thoughts on exercise for you, it certainly did for me. However, you may find yourself in a position where you aspire to having a challenging yet inspiring set of exercises but you don’t know (a) what exercises are appropriate for you, (b) which exercises are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck, and/or (c) how an exercise you perhaps don’t care for very much (like the menu, you know it’s good for you, but…) can be modified or progressed to meet your needs?

This is where working with a coach, or mentor, could help you. I may be biased, but from experience I’ve seen it time and again – people who work with a coach or mentor stand a much greater chance of achieving their goals. There are numerous factors in deciding whether to invest in working with a coach and Robert Way’s excellent post, ‘What is Mentoring?’  goes into mentoring in greater detail. For now, I want to give you three key things or factors I would recommend you look for in a coach:

  1. Someone whom you feel you have, or can build, rapport with.
  2. Someone whom will act as a guide, someone whose motivation is to empower you. I strongly believe in the saying, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much they care’. It wholly applies here, coaches should be caring.
  3. Someone whom can hold you accountable.

If you’re a gym member then you’ll appreciate that a  gym can be an intimidating place for a lot of people. So how do you go about hiring a coach if you don’t know where to start? The following may help as a guide to get you started.

  1. Try some classes, especially those taken by staff whom also work as coaches. See first-hand how they motivate and inspire without having to make any commitment.
  2. Ask fellow members. Which coaches do they like, and why?
  3. Be curious as to the outliers, the coaches whom seem at odds with the prevailing environment. Chances are they are doing something different. Talk with them, find out if they can help you with your goals.
  4. Remember, you’re the customer. If a coach isn’t helping you towards your goals in a way that you consider is safe and empowering for you then either hire someone else or join another gym. The power lies with you.

If you are struggling with your health and wellness goals then it’s important to be aware of this: relapse is a natural part of change. It’s OK, it can be a part of the process. This is something I will write about in an up-coming post, providing some tools and tips to help you with relapse. Has this happened to you? If you think you’ve relapsed in your wellness goals or resolutions then all I would ask you to do is simply acknowledge the fact, accept it has happened and resolve to resume the healthy habits you had already started. Be kind to yourself.

Please check out the two linked posts, have a great weekend and, irrespective of whether you’re exercising, have fun!

how you like them apples? 10 practical ideas to help kickstart your nutritional choices.

apples

If there’s one thing we all have an opinion on then it’s nutrition. I see that as a good thing; it indicates that we do take, to a greater or lesser degree, an interest in the food we eat.

This post was born out of a question a co-worker asked me a few years ago when I worked in finance, and studied health and fitness in the hours in between all of life’s other requests. Essentially, my colleague wanted to reduce weight and burn more calories. He had the gym-work down, but the food-plan was a minefield. It is for a lot of us. It seems you only have to turn on the TV or read an article to discover that last week’s superfood is this week’s one-way express ticket to the hereafter.

So to help my colleague I wrote down ten tips on nutrition and sent them on to him. Then a cool thing happened. Not only was he really grateful for the suggestions but he wondered if he could share them with the rest of his team? He’d told them what I’d written and they were curious. I was more than happy for this to happen. Before I knew it the email was around the company and staff were as likely to come over and ask me questions on diet as they were about cashflow statements.

Here are the 10 tips. (By the time I still have them you’ll know I didn’t put them together on company time. In hindsight perhaps I could have and claimed I was helping with corporate wellness!) I’ve kept them as close to the original email as possible.

(Note: Whilst I hold a Precision Nutrition certification I do not claim to be a nutritionist. Therefore you may wish to consult your doctor or primary health care provider before making any dietary changes.)

  1. keep it simple –  I believe it’s more realistic to take the view to change 100 things 1% than one thing 100%. Take your time with making any changes. Experiment. If something works for you keep it. If it doesn’t, simply ditch it and move on.

  2. portion control – This goes for food and drink. It’s about cutting down calorific intake gradually (e.g. 6 coffees a day to 5, 3 bags of crisps a day to 2, pizza only one night a week instead of twice). If this is something you feel you need to do then you may be surprised to see how suddenly something you thought you couldn’t do without becomes manageable (e.g. 6 coffees a day eventually becomes 1, if not zero). Does all the food on the plate/serving need to be eaten? Many people do this, whether through a sense of obligation/manners/guilt, etc. Listen to your body.

  3. hungry or thirsty? – Often what we think of as hunger could be thirst. Take something healthy to drink. If you still feel hungry 30 minutes later then do have something to eat. Either way, as before, listen to your body. In the same way that one shouldn’t overeat, one shouldn’t over hydrate. Linked to this, one of the reasons people may be prone to overeating is because despite the fact that they have eaten, the body has not been able to begin to absorb nutrients from the food. so the body is still in ‘hungry’ mode. By the time the body has been able to begin to break down the foods an excess has most likely already been consumed. A potential solution to this is to have soup (as a starter); the nutrients are more quickly absorbed by the body and therefore the feelings of hunger dissipate faster meaning that the chances of overeating are reduced.

  4. choices and options – This is where it becomes interesting. And, possibly, confusing. Processed and ready-made, or buying the ingredients and cooking? Organic or not? White bread or brown bread? Full fat or reduced fat? The list of questions goes on and on. The answers however are usually common sense. Quite literally, go with your gut! An area worth paying specific attention to is the products which advertise themselves as being low in fat. To compensate there is a likelihood that such products are probably higher in sugars, which leads me on to my next point.

  5. read the ingredients labels – Know what you’re putting into your body.

  6. eat colourful – Have a variety of colours on your plate. (The flip side of this: if you happen to watch any of the weight loss programmes on TV then, more often than not, when the person’s diet is literally laid before them on a table the overriding colour of the food is brown.)

  7. cooking methods – Avoid frying if possible, but if you have to use only a tiny amount of oil. Steaming is best, followed by grilled and oven baked. Obviously it depends on what it is you are cooking as to the best method for that item.

  8. eat properly – This is not about ‘what’ to eat, rather ‘how‘ to eat. To help one’s body absorb the nutrients of food faster always ensure it is properly ingested. (i.e. take time to chew food properly). Sounds easy, yet how often do we rush our meals? This goes back to the over-eating point above.

  9. discover new foods – This is a personal favourite. Go to a different food shop or supermarket. Or take a walk down differing aisles in your current food store. Find something new and work out what the hell to do with it.

  10. enjoy your food and drink – In many ways the most important tip. After all, if you feel that what you are choosing to eat is in some way a form of deprivation then it won’t be good for your emotional and mental states. Have fun when trying new, and hopefully healthy, food.

If  you find any of the above useful or actionable I’d love to hear how you get on, and if there’s anyone you think might benefit from this tips then please do pass them on.

who I am and why I’m here

As part of the WordPress Blogging 101 project I’ve been invited to introduce myself to the world. So, welcome to my first post.

My name is Kenny Manson and I’m an internationally qualified fitness professional, accountant and musician. I’m passionate and curious about health, wellness, personal development, business, technology and creativity.

At heart I’m a client-centred coach interested in and fascinated by the process of performance – how can we become better at the things we wish to give our best to?

I’m here as I wish to become a better writer. The reason I wish to become a better writer is that I enjoy the creative process; writing provides an opportunity to share aspects of what I’ve learned from the somewhat unusual mix of areas I’ve studied and worked in. And the reason for doing that is, well, why wouldn’t you?

I want to give back some of what I’ve learned to a wider audience and if even only one person finds something actionable in my writing I’ll be happy. That’ll be the aim of my future posts, and I’m looking forward to the evolution of this creative process.

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to check my first post out.

OpenRoad