Sorry to disappoint you, but there are no rules. And that’s kinda the point. As soon as you have to start obeying rules, it stops being fun.
Having said that, I do have a clear set of beliefs about fitness and sport.
1. Exercise should be fun
If you’re not enjoying it, the chances are you just haven’t found the right thing for you. Before I settled on rowing, I experimented with all sorts of things – tennis, boxercise, running, cycling, hiking, swimming, circuits, zumba… you name it, I tried it. I discovered that I was just as bad at tennis as I’d been at school (really, really bad), and that I only enjoyed the downhill bits of running. So if you think you hate sport, keep looking and you’re bound to find something you like, even if it’s just walking the dog (which is a perfectly good way to keep fit).
2. It’s not a competition
When it comes to how much exercise you do, or how good you are at it, you really have to find your own level. Forget about how much I do; how much your friend does; how much you used to do – that’s all irrelevant. What matters is what you can manage and feel comfortable with. If you’re trying to match someone else it will just make you miserable and you could end up exhausted or injured.
3. It’s not about how you look
It’s really, really not. OK, so it’s nice to look your best, but your best doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s best. I exercise because it’s fun, because I love the outdoors, I love the people I work out with, and I love how it makes me feel. I’m the same dress size as I was before I started exercising, and that’s OK.
4. There’s no guilt
Save your guilt for when you’ve done something really, properly naughty. That shouldn’t include eating cake or skipping a work-out. OK, so I’ll admit my taste in music might amount to a crime (my kids certainly think so), but my tea-time treat does not.
5. There are no forbidden foods
I won’t use the term “clean eating” as it implies that some foods are dirty, and I don’t think that’s a healthy attitude. Rummage around my kitchen and you’ll find pizza, cookies, wine, gin, bread, cake and *gasp* refined sugar. You’ll also find fruit, vegetables, brown rice and pulses. There might even be some quinoa lurking deep in the cupboards. It’s all about balance. Seriously, life’s too short to start banning things.
If this resonates with you, we’ll get along like a house on fire. Come on in, have a read, tell me what you’re up to and we can cheer each other on.