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01 January 2010

Shape up your whole life

Shape up your whole life

After all the big meals and late nights over the Christmas season, it'll take more than just a diet to get us back into shape. Hazel Southam finds out more...

Thinking of joining a gym in January? Spend time in prayer as well if you want to see really good results. That's the advice from Beryl Bye, the national trainer for Fit Lives, a Christian organisation that places chaplains in gyms across the UK. Already they have teams working in gyms from Bournemouth to Birmingham. And this year Fit Lives plans to place chaplains in some 100 DC Leisure gyms across Britain.

January is a busy time for Beryl and her team. In a 2002 report, market research agency Mintel said that up to 1 million of us join the gym for the first time in January. But statistics show that just a month later 80 per cent of us will have given up and returned to the couch.

So if you want to stick to your New Year's resolutions, try following Beryl's handy how-to guide:

Do exercise that you enjoy

"Choose a class that fits what you like doing," she advises. "I hate the gym with the cross trainers and all those machines. I would never go and if I did I'd be depressed and miserable. But I love the body balance class, so I choose that instead."

Start small

"If you like swimming, don't say to yourself, 'I'll do 50 lengths.' You'll go once and never go back. Do two lengths the first time and then have a coffee. The next time do three lengths. That way you'll feel encouraged by your improvement."

Make exercise a regular part of your week

"Once you've chosen what you're going to do, go every week. You'll see the same faces and soon you'll make friends. Exercising regularly and socially will help you to keep going. The endorphins released in exercise will make you feel stimulated, inspired and generally better."

Be friendly

"A lot of people are quite lonely and may feel intimidated by joining a gym where they don't know anyone. You may feel like that too. The first week you can smile at people. The next week, try saying 'hello', and before you know it, you'll have new friends."

Don't separate the physical and the spiritual

"The Victorians used to separate the physical and the spiritual and we still suffer from that today. We are physical and spiritual beings and we need to exercise both parts. People want to get fit thinking it will solve all their problems, but it doesn't. Everyone has different ways of doing this, but just a few minutes with God can impact your whole day."

Eat healthily

"Eating more fresh fruit really makes a difference to your energy levels. Just add some frozen fruit to your porridge or throw some blueberries into a yoghurt. Then try eating a bit less of the things that we all love like Danish pastries, garlic bread and chocolate. Drink more water and cut back on the caffeine. It will all give you more energy."

Keep your mind active

"Whether that's reading a good book or joining an evening class, it's important to keep your mind active and inspired. Keeping your brain energised is just as crucial as getting physically fit."

Be creative

"Taking an holistic approach to fitness means looking at all sorts of areas: physical, spiritual, mental and creative. Being creative keeps our spirits up. I love water-colour painting. I'm not brilliant, but I do love it. You may choose to re-arrange a room or be creative about the way you dress - like simply buying a new red jumper."

Manage your expectations

"Don't set your expectations too high. Don't say to yourself, 'I'm going to do five hours of exercise, read a book of the Bible a day and have a social evening once a week.' You won't manage it and then you'll feel rubbish about yourself. Set achievable goals. You'll enjoy the changes that you've made more."

Give some things up

"Don't push yourself into doing everything, especially things that you don't like. You have to be focused, making sure that you are in tip-top shape so that you can give out to other people."

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