Ascot and Sunningdale sit in the leafy Berkshire suburbs of London. Like anywhere else, there is a socio demographic mix, but on the whole it is considered an affluent area. Being a leading mobile personal trainer in Ascot gives me a first hand insight into a range of anti fitness habits that are becoming all too common. By anti fitness I mean everyday actions that are acting against being healthy and fit. Collectively, if these lifestyle choices develop into habits then they become the norm, which in turn makes it even harder to stay fit and healthy, let alone improve fitness.
Creeping lifestyle choices that affect our ability to improve fitness
Forget the time pressure we are all under. Modern day life seems to be promoting a sedentary lifestyle. One in which we sit more than we stand. This not only reduces energy expenditure but also deactivates major postural muscles. Therefore, the more we buy into the sedentary lifestyle the more fitness we lose, as well as making it harder to become fitter. Many people have to re-learn how to activate key muscles such as the glutes when they take up physical exercise again. Failing to learn proper mechanics significantly increases the likelihood of injury in those who increase their physical activity levels. This is a dangerous mistake in a modern culture that wants to see results fast.
Picture the scene. I am stood in line at the new Sunningdale branch of Costa when the customer ahead of me asks ‘Are the marshmallows already in there’? It is 8:45am! We also live in the age of the ‘treat’. Opportunities to treat ourselves to treats and ‘pick me ups’ are everywhere. Rising levels of sugar addiction make it hard for us to ignore a small treat here and there. We convince ourselves that we deserve it, and that we’ve earned this one. Why not sweeten that coffee with a bit of syrup? I have no problem with the odd treat, but increasingly they are becoming too frequent because the opportunity is presenting itself everywhere. Processed cakes, pastries and sweets strategically placed and competitively priced become hard to resist. It’s no wonder that people can go through a day choosing frequent treats. It all adds up in terms of calories and the negative impact on health and fitness.
Cutting corners is a slippery fitness habit
The number one perceived barrier to working out is time. We don’t feel that we have enough of it. For most though, we simply don’t prioritise it enough to make the time for a training session. That’s the real issue, but it’s easier on our ego to blame a lack of hours in the day. Effective training sessions do not have to be long. In fact they rarely are. For those who are getting back into some sort of training regime one lifestyle choice to beware of is cutting corners. By this I mean not finishing the session. Telling yourself that you have done enough for today. Quite often this can mean skipping the vital last bit of conditioning – the very bit of the session that was going to make it all worthwhile. Cutting reps and workouts can easily become a habit – it’s a slippery slope to avoid. By all means train smart and listen to your body, but beware the ego telling you that it’s ok to stop now.
Combatting anti fitness lifestyle choices
So how do we combat anti fitness habits. Well, right from the outset it isn’t easy. The relationship between effort required and fitness gained or lost is exponential. In other words, it’s really easy to slip into an anti-fitness lifestyle – these habits do not take much effort to develop. However, the reverse is true when it comes to improving your fitness. So firstly brace yourself for a long ride! Hard to do in our modern culture of wanting the results now with the minimum outlay of effort.
Limit your treats and improve your choices when in coffee shops, at lunch or in the supermarket. Ignore the sugary offers that are too good to be true, and those sweets on the boardroom table. Have you earned them? Do you really need them? Plan you treat opportunities in, and by doing so you will significantly reduce your sugar intake.
Take every opportunity to move and get regular exercise. Teachers on playground duty don’t have to stand still during break, and walking the escalators can add valuable steps as well as a strengthening stimulus. The more often you exercise and take physical activity the more acceptable and normal it becomes. Make regular physical activity a lifestyle habit.