Staying motivated

19 October 2018

Hello and welcome to today's Live Chat on staying motivated, with our physiologist David Williams. Here we answer your questions on keeping your fitness New Year's resolutions and how to set realistic health goals.

CJ asked:

I currently work fulltime, and am also studying for my PhD, but am keen to get fitter and lose weight.  I also suffer from depression and SAD, so getting myself up in the mornings is a real struggle - but this seems to be the only time I can find to fit in exercise.  How can I get around this?

David Williams answered:

Hi CJ. I assume that your current medical conditions are being controlled? I think the important thing here is routine and goal setting. Giving yourself something to get out of bed for. I am in no way a psychological expert but i do understand motivation. What is it that you want to achieve? Find this out and this is your long term goal (say 6 months). You then have to set yourself a series of shorter term goals (monthly) and then some mini goals (weekly). By achieving your mini weekly goals you are part way to achieving your shorter monthly goals. There is no denying it is hard to sometimes get up on a morning but getting into a routine of doing this with your goals in mind will help. If you exercise on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday the first 2/3 times will be a real struggle but as the time passes this will become routine and something you do naturally. Keep doing what your doctor has advised you with regards to your depression and SAD but a regular exercise pattern may also help you deal with these conditions.

You can also try these few handy tips to help you get into a routine and keep it.

- Leave your gym kit out; Visual cues are a wake-up call to your brain

-Turn your commute to work into your workout; kills 2 birds with 1 stone

-Buy some new workout clothes you want to wear; you've bought them, why waste money!?! ;-)

-Keep a record of your workouts; tracking progress is proven to help motivation

-Involve friends; means other people are relying on you and lets face it exercise is more fun with mates

AXA PPP healthcare asked:

We've had a question from Twitter:

How long should i use my bike and how many times a week & what foods should i eat to lose weight thank you?

David Williams answered:

If you start off using it 2/3 times per week for 20/30 minutes at a time. Try and ride at a pace that is comfortable but causes you to raise your heart rate. I would advised you to avoid foods that a high in refined sugars (sweets, biscuits, crisps, chocolate, fizzy and carbonated drinks). Also avoid foods that are low in fat, these are more often than not filled with excess atrificial sweetners and sugars. Control your portion sizes plan your meals so that you aviod being left hungry with nothing to eat (this can influence you to eat poorly i.e convenience/junk food). Being properly hydrated has also been proven to aid weightloss.

If you missed our live chat and have any further questions relating to staying motivated, then why not ask our panel of experts a question?

AXA PPP healthcare asked:

We've had another twitter question:

What is the optimum amount of exercise I should be doing each week?

David Williams answered:

Recommended exercise levels for healthy adults aged 19-64 are around 2.5 hours per week. These are guidelines set out by the NHS. THis should involve moderate intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking. Also muscle strengthening activities that work the major muscle groups (legs, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)  

AXA PPP healthcare asked:

Another Twitter question! This time from Gillian Anderson:

When quitting smoking what's best to help with the craving?

David Williams commented:

The best way i have always delt with cravings is to do one or more of the following;

Don't give in to "just one" - this will lead to having another and another.

Delay - If you feel like you need to give into the craving, tell yourself to wait 10 minutes  and then do something to distract yourself for that period of time. This often can derail the craving

Avoid triggers - Dont put yourself in situations that you associate with smoking.

Exercise- Physical activity is proven to distract you from tobacco cravings. 

Practise relaxation techniques - as you dont have smoking to deal with stress, find something else. Deep breathing exercises, muscle relaxations, visualisation and massage.

Remember the benefits of quitting - why are you doing this? remind yourself that it is worth it and the gains you will have.

Try nicotine replacements - Chew the gum, wear the patch. This can help.

Please feel consult the health gateway and the very useful article on smoking and helping you to quit