If someone told me 6 months ago that I would start getting up early on a Saturday morning to go for a 5k jog around a park, I’d have laughed in their face. But here we are, five parkruns down. Sure, I don’t go every single week, but I’m getting so much better at holding myself accountable for my fitness.
So why did I start the habit of joining over 500 runners to do two laps of a park in the centre of Basingstoke? Well I have my good friend and fellow blogger Sian to thank for that! We decided to sign up together to give it a go, and now we try our best to go every week when we can.
It’s early days, with just 5 runs under my belt, but I’ve already seen a big improvement in my fitness and so I thought I’d share a few of the simple things I’ve started doing in order to be more active and feel better in myself. Let’s jump into it…
A Fitbit Upgrade
For longer than I care to admit to myself, my old Fitbit Flex was a glorified alarm clock. I only used it for the silent alarm to wake me up in the morning and got fed up of having to charge it every few days. So, I decided to invest in a newer model that did more of the whizzier things that would prove helpful to monitor my fitness overall.
I asked around for recommendations and decided to get the Fitbit HR (Amazon – aff. link) after reading some good reviews online. Now I wear it all day and it tracks my steps, estimated calorie burn, my heart rate, sleep and of course still acts as a trusty alarm to get me out of bed in the morning.
It also helps you track your menstrual cycle through the app and I can sync it with MyFitnessPal to track calorie intake as well.
One of my favourite features though is its move reminders. The tracker encourages you to move 250 steps every hour to keep you active – ideal when I am spending too much time at my desk! At ten minutes to the hour, it will buzz and tell me how many more steps to go until I reach 250. 250 steps is not a long walk at all, so the perfect opportunity to go get a cup of tea, or do a few laps of the house to keep moving.
Since using the Inspire HR, I have felt so much more active and love taking part in steps challenges (shout out to Vikki from Cuteek for inviting me to these to keep me motivated!). These challenges pit you against others to see who can get the most steps in over the week or weekend.
So I’ve mentioned the Saturday parkrun, but I am also trying to fit in more gym trips to get some cardio in. I can now jog non-stop for 30 minutes, a huge improvement on even just a matter of weeks ago. I’m slowly learning that it’s not about going as fast as you can, it’s about building up your stamina and improving your time rather than distance.
Running on a treadmill is much easier than running outside, but I am quite pleased and proud of myself for doing well to keep both up so that I can work towards improving my parkrun personal best! I am currently sat at around 43 minutes to do a 5k, so my next goal is to do it in sub-40!
Years ago, I was using MyFitnessPal in the worst way. I was just using it to try and stay under a certain calorie amount in order to lose weight. What I wasn’t doing was tracking (or really doing) any or much exercise, and so was always let down when I went over my daily calorie allowance. Needless to say, I gave up pretty quickly and fell into some bad habits.
Now I have learned that what’s more important is nutrients – keeping a balance of nutrients and checking how much of the different nutrients I am putting into my body each day. I no longer obsess over calories and instead try and monitor levels as best I can to see which foods might be tipping me over the edge of my calculated allowances. Funnily enough, for me at the moment eggs are taking me ~way~ over my cholesterol as I have them for breakfast almost every day. Time to start looking at other options to break it up a bit!
Why am I doing this?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat motivated by weight loss. I do want to lose some weight, and so far I’ve lost just under 5lbs since the beginning of the month without feeling like I’ve “deprived” myself of anything.
But more importantly than my weight, I am doing this to improve my overall wellbeing. It is so true what they say about how working on your physical health can improve your mental health. Forcing myself to walk/jog/run 5k fills me with great determination and a genuine sense of pride when I reach the finish line. Few feelings are better than that, tbh.
If you’re thinking of trying to be more active, do it! Start small – increase the steps you do (invest in a pedometer or fitness tracker band, it’s a huge help) and slowly introduce new exercises that you enjoy. Monitor the food you are putting into your body, but don’t obsess over it. Depriving yourself never goes well, it’s all about moderation after all!