HFG 30-Day Reset fitness ambassador Libby Babet explains how to stay motivated and overcome obstacles when it comes to being physically active.
The most common obstacles to getting fit and staying healthy are time, money and motivation. As a business owner and mum to a very active toddler (who hates her mama leaving the house or even glancing at a screen), I completely understand why people struggle with this.
Whether it’s your kids, your work or your fear of hitting the gym with invisible Covid-19 gremlins lurking, life does get in the way. And it can be really freak’n’ hard to maintain your fitness when you’re spending every waking minute looking after everyone else – or everything else – in your life. I get it!
So, here are my go-to tips for all the people out there struggling with their fitness.
1 Think ‘movement’ instead of ‘exercise’
The word ‘exercise’ is often equated with ‘the gym’, which isn’t for everyone and definitely not on the cards for many of us right now. But our bodies were made to move, so we just need to do this every day. And it doesn’t have to mean energetic instructors, big weights or cardio machines. It could be something as simple as going for a walk, having a stretch or chasing your kids around the playground.
In my household, we love taking walks after dinner. Not only does this gentle exercise help prevent the use of late-night technology, it allows us to wind down and release the tensions of the day, while giving our metabolism a little boost when it needs it most. It’s also a really beautiful bonding activity as a couple or family. And you don’t have to walk for long either – ten minutes is enough to reap the benefits.
I also love taking ‘walking calls’ and meetings – if I book a work meeting and think I would be able to do it while on the move, I put a big ‘W’ next to it in my calendar. That means I’m going to take that call with me as I do loops of the block.
Another cool idea is taking a break to boost your energy levels. When 3pm-itis hits and you’re craving sugar or caffeine to get you through the rest of the day, try doing a quick lap around the block instead – you’ll score more energy and increase your focus and metabolism. And if you take a number of these breaks throughout the day, they REALLY add up. I find that my toddler and I are so much calmer when we’re outside, so this can also be a good little hack for mums, and a nice time for doing some squats, lunges or other stretching.
Whatever activity you do, just remember not to worry about ‘exercising’. Instead, think movement! Try to incorporate more movement in your day, and create a real culture of movement in your family life. A 30-minute walk every day is better than smashing yourself during a workout once a week. And a daily walk is much more likely to become a long-term habit, one you’ll also look forward to doing.
2 Do something fun
Humans are hardwired to run towards pleasure and away from pain. So if you dread doing your workout or daily movement, you won’t stick with it for very long. A better alternative is to find something you love to do, or at least loving doing with a friend.
That’s why I started The Upbeat: fun, dance-inspired workouts to a pumping beat that are super satisfying! That might not be for you, but I bet there’s something you can do that makes you excited to show up for – boxing, circuits, a hiking group, salsa dance lessons, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, yoga, Pilates and so on.
Just think about the kind of movement that gets you excited and start doing it!
3 Try online or live-stream workouts
There’s been an incredible shift in the way fitness is delivered this past year. One thing we can thank Covid-19 for is making fitness more accessible, and you can now get active in the comfort of your own home. From the big guns like Apple Fitness Plus and the big names in Pilates and yoga (Upstate Studios or Fluidform At Home) to unique communities like The Upbeat (my all-female dance meets fitness brand), there’s so much to choose from!
The women I train through The Upbeat’s live online classes tell me they love training from home because it’s more time efficient. They also said that, although pre-recorded classes are handy, they really love the live-stream options because it’s almost like attending the class in person, and you’re much more likely to show up because the trainer is ‘waiting’ for you and notices when you don’t log in for a booked class.
4 Track your metrics
I’m a huge Apple Watch fan, but any metrics tracker that floats your boat will do the trick. Setting yourself simple, daily movement goals, such as how many steps you want to take, how many times you want to stand up from your desk, how many flights of stairs you want to climb, are all super-motivating, particularly when you also get fun messages of celebration after achieving them! Even on holidays when I’m not officially exercising, my watch is a handy motivator and I really like knowing how much I’ve moved!
5 Create energy
Feeling like you have the energy to move is important. So if you’re sitting on the couch feeling exhausted, it may be handy to remember that energy is actually created – the more you sit around, the more exhausted and lethargic you’ll tend to feel.
If you’re trying to find the motivation to do a workout, go for a walk first. That way, you’ll be moving and generating energy. It’s like starting a fire; you don’t just throw a log on and hope for the best. You start small with paper and twigs, then nurture the flames, slowly adding sticks and then logs. Start your fire first. Don’t just sit there waiting for it to burn!
6 Start small
Aim to start small by going for a 5-minute walk or doing a 5-minute workout every day. This is an easy goal to commit to and, chances are, those 5 minutes will become 10 or 20 or 30 minutes on some days. Even if they don’t, you’re still moving 5 minutes every day, and that’s great! Not only will you see changes in your body, you’ll see changes in your mental state, too.
The other benefit of doing something easy every day is that it quickly becomes a habit, and that’s the secret to long-term change. Motivation doesn’t last forever, but a habit lasts a lifetime.
I also recommend habit stacking. For example, every time you take or make a phone call, get up and walk around as you talk. Or every time you put the kettle on in the morning, do a few squats and push-ups while you wait for the water to boil. Or perhaps you start doing 20 push-ups before you hit the shower. All this movement adds up, and once it becomes a habit, you won’t be struggling to motivate yourself!
7 Include strength training – just you and your bodyweight will do!
Strength training is SO important if you want to see changes in your body shape, metabolism and energy levels. Muscle quality declines as we age, so it’s literally a case of move it or lose it. And it doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. Doing the daily 5-Minute Magic Movement routine I’ve included in this program will really help you get started to develop and maintain your strength.
I can’t give you fitness tips without talking about nutrition, and if you’re eating poorly, chances are you’ll never have the energy to make a start with exercise. My top nutrition tip is to think of food as information: your body needs information to create the things your body needs to have energy and function well, such as hormones. In nature, colour equals nutrition, so eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that reflect the colours of rainbow.
If you don’t have time to prepare healthy meals and eat as you’d like to, start by looking at your snacks. Cutting out sugary snacks can make a big difference, since sugar causes your energy levels to spike and crash. I’ve created some healthy, no-added-sugar snacks for this very reason. Head to www.beautyfood.com.au and use the code LIBBY to get $10 off your first order.
About Libby Babet
For Libby, what began as a life-changing diagnosis of malignant hypertension in her early 20s turned into a life-long mission to inspire a new generation of happy, healthy, empowered and, of course, active women. The newest trainer to hit our screens on Channel Ten’s The Biggest Loser: Transformed, Libby believes she was put on this planet to help people be happier, feel better about themselves and live life to the full by creating a healthy life culture they can live and breathe.
This passion led her to found multiple fitness businesses, including her Bondi training studio The Upbeat. Libby is also co-founder of Chief Nutrition, a healthy snack bar company with brands Chief Bar and Beauty Food, and co-founder of Nurture Group, a wellness and business event company for entrepreneurs and senior leaders, in partnership with AFL legend Paul Roos.