Thursday, 28 December 2017

The beginners guide to the gym

Now, I rough drafted this whilst in the car coming back up to Leeds after a very (very) indulgent Christmas break. Cheese? Had it. Baileys? Had it (too much, my stomach hasn't recovered).
Whilst in the car, besides from napping, I drafted up a plan for my return to the gym on January 1st. It's no secret - I've not trained properly in around 6 months, which is shocking since I pay so much for my gym membership, along with going straight past it on the bus home from work. 

So, after a quick browse on social media, I realised that a lot of people were also of the same idea as me. January 1st, a Monday, a new year. 2018 is the year of 'new year new me' for many people, so I've decided to draft a 'beginners guide' to starting the gym. So, if you're a total gym virgin, or wanting to change up your routine, then keep reading. 

1. Nobody is looking at you. No, seriously. 
I get you girl, you walk in to the gym, trot over to the area of the gym that you feel most confident, assemble your equipment and bam - you feel as if the whole capacity of the gym is watching you. You feel self confident, you start to assess your equipment - can I actually use this properly? Is someone going to laugh at me if they see me using this? Is the weight too small? 
These are all thoughts that I've had whilst in the gym. This is all changed after I got a banging PT at my university gym, who showed me not to give a flying monkeys about what anyone else is doing in the gym. 
Are people looking at you? Probably not. And if they are, they're admiring you. Girl, you've got this. 

2. Set some goals.
After a brief interlude of trying to sing Gold Digger, I have returned to my desk. 
It's very easy to decide "I am going to lose weight" or "I am going to tone up" whilst sat on the sofa, reaching for another Quality Street after demolishing half a block of brie with copious crackers. It's easy to tell your work colleagues that as of Monday, you will not be partaking in takeaway Fridays as you (very smugly) let them know that you are going to drop three dress sizes for your boyfriends snooty second cousin once removed's wedding. 
You will stumble if you don't set yourself some short, medium and long term goals. 
For me, my long term goal is to be able to leg press and squat the same amount as I did 8 months ago - along with looking spicy in my bikini in Summer. My medium term goal is to be able to build up an exercise plan with my PT and with my previous experience, to hit my stepping stone goals. My short term goal is to actually go to the frickin' gym. Am I making gains whilst sat on my arse, pressing my face to the window of my bus as I drive pass my gym? No. 

3. Cut yourself some slack. 
Just because you fall off of the wagon for a day, week or month does not mean that you need to climb back on it with gasoline, throw some straw on top and set the whole thing on fire. 
I dismounted the wagon for nearly 6 months, and am finally ready to gracefully climb back on, starting with four times a week with no time limit, just as long as it takes me to finish my sets. 
It's very easy to view something as a failure if it doesn't go exactly to plan, but we are human, and our thoughts and desires are constantly changing. 
Also, it's been scientifically proven that the moment you restrict something, your body will begin to crave it. 
To combat this, I allow myself one day a week where I can eat whatever the hell I want. One bad day is not going to ruin all of your hard work. 

4. If you don't know, ask. 
I recently started following a delightful and entirely inspiring lady called Sophie on social media. She suffered an injury whilst training which was a complete accident, which has changed her life forever. She knew what she was doing, but a freak accident changed her life. 
Don't let poor knowledge of equipment cause you damage, 
On pretty much most of the machinery at my gym, there are instructions stuck on the side. On top of this, staff are usually roaming around in visible shirts. If you aren't sure how to use something - ask. There is no shame in asking someone for help, and it's better in the short and long term to do this instead of hurting yourself because you thought you would look silly asking a question they answer all the time. 

5. Keep a record of your progress. 
It's super easy to stand in front of the mirror and see no progress. Have I made any progress what so ever? Am I actually going backwards? Have I always looked like this?? 
These are all thoughts I have had whilst looking at myself in the mirror, and then trying to cheer myself up with half a tube of Pringles and a milkshake. 
It's not until I looked back at where i was from my 'before' photos that I realised I had come a long way. And not just that, but my record of how much weight I could lift and how quickly I could run spoke for themselves. 
Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it's not staring you in the face.