Guest post from Andrew Hieghton-Jackson
We all know that if we eat well and lead an active life, we will feel fitter and healthier. But we also know that it can sometimes be easier said than done. Andrew Hieghton-Jackson, founder of Lighthouse Adventure Fitness, has been a coach and trainer for many years. Before that he was in the Army. Here he shares tips to help you start to make simple changes that make a big difference to your health and implement a fitness routine that works for you. He also reveals the one thing you need to be able to stick to it. Hint - it's free.
Have you ever noticed that some people seem to manage to stay fit and healthy even when life is busy and chaotic? Often the most 'successful' people you know all seem to have their health under control too. Have you ever wondered how on earth they find the time to do that? The answer is that they make time. Because they prioritise their health and fitness in their day. And as a result, they likely sleep better and have more energy to achieve other important things in their day. Makes sense, right? So if staying fit and healthy is, on paper, not very difficult, what is stopping us?
The answer is mindset. It's the biggest roadblock for many people, who think they are too busy to fit it in. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that if you do not make time for your health now, you will likely have to make time for it in the future. And that's when many people realise that health is everything. It is the foundation to everything else in your life. Get that into your mind now and everything else will follow - commitment, consistency, willpower - they are all a result of having the right mindset.
The great news though is that even 5-10 minutes of purposeful movement a day will make a big difference to your life.
So let’s break it down. Here are 7 steps to creating a health and fitness routine that works.
This is mindset again. Your ‘why’ and your desired goals are so important - far more so than your ‘how’. Without a clear goal and an acceptance that it is vital to look after yourself you will, likely fail at getting fitter. As a trainer, I have spent countless hours working through goals with clients and have seen a distinct trend; until you come to a clear, time sensitive, and inspiring (to you!) set of goals, your chances of success are minimal. If don't know where you are going, you're likely to stop.
Now, the goal doesn’t need to be some intense feat of athleticism. It could be along the lines of: “By Christmas I want to be able to play football with my kids in the park without struggling” or “By my summer holiday, I want to feel more confident and stronger on the beach”. Both goals have a timeline with a clear end state, and both are realistic. The key is that the outcome must appeal to you and it must keep you focused.
Overthinking will stop you in your tracks, so it is important to make some small changes almost immediately to your daily routine and start gaining some small wins along the way for a boost of confidence (mindset again). What does this look like? First of all, try to integrate a little more movement into your day to day. There are lots of small ways in which you can start doing this.
For example, grab a basket to carry at the supermarket for smaller shops rather than a trolley. Park further away from the office - or even walk to work if you can. Take the stairs rather than the lift. Get off your chair and walk to see your colleagues rather than pick up the phone at work. Go into the local store to see if they have something rather than calling. Whatever you choose to do, keep doing it until it becomes habit.
The volume of information on nutrition can be overwhelming, and it can at times seem quite technical or preachy, not to mention overrun with diet culture hacks. But don't shy away from this entirely. Improving your nutrition is no different to increasing your daily movement in that small positive changes can easily become part of your daily routine. Let’s start with a few basics.
Start your day with a glass of water. Hydration is vital for mental and physical performance and a glass of water when you wake up isn't going to slow you down in the morning. Most of us eat mindlessly which often leads to poorly balanced nutrition and for most of us either under or overeating. So start paying attention to how your are fuelling your body. One simple tool is to start writing down what you eat on a day to day basis - with no judgment. You will be amazed at how powerful this is. You will likely start to notice why you felt tired/sluggish/hungry on certain days and maybe even that you haven't had a vegetable in a while. That's all you need to do to begin. If you start with these basics, the rest will follow.
With some small wins under our belts, let’s make this stick. Planning your route to success is your key to consistency. Have you heard of the 7 Ps? I’ll give you the clean version with only 6: ‘Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance’ (insert the 7th as you please). We lived this when I was in the Army, and for good reason. Without this framework, we would never succeed in operations or day-to-day barrack life.
But you don't need to sign up to the SAS to create structure in your week. So, what does this look like for you and your fitness? Take your goal and write it down. Then break it down into bitesize chunks. For example, if your goal is to join in with a 5km fun run with your kids in 3 months' time, set achievable mini-goals along the way such as 'Run 2km by the end of month 1' and Run 4km by the end of month 2' - or even break it down so you run a little further each week. Then schedule the runs into your week - say you want to run twice a week, where does it fit into your schedule? A quick jog before work or after the kids are in bed? Find a gap and make a date with yourself. Then prepare further by making sure you have clean workout clothes and trainers ready to go. This can work with any health goal or plan - if you want to go to yoga after work, put your mat in the car ready. If you want to eat more fruit, make the time to go and buy it.
This approach can make even the largest challenge feel far more achievable. Once you have a plan in place and a structure to follow it, the mental fear or overwhelm is lowered considerably because you know what you are doing for each day (mindset - again!).
Fail to plan and plan to fail. But also over-plan and you set yourself up for failure too. It is much better to exercise for 10 minutes every day than for an hour every now and then. Consistency leads to habits and habits lead to success. Challenge yourself to move purposefully every day for the next week and then you will notice that it becomes progressively easier to find the time. A commitment to consistency also helps when willpower is low. Even the greatest of athletes don't feel like moving on some days. They do it because consistency gets results. Make healthy habits part of your life - not something you do when you feel like it.
Following consistency, this is the greatest tool to success. The majority of people need external motivation when struggling with consistency. So make yourself accountable to someone. Arrange to walk to work with a colleague, train with a friend or even just tell someone what you are doing and why you want to do it (mindset!) and then send them a message when you're done. Alternatively, you can write down what you are doing each day and tick it off the list. The power of the tick box on a list is huge. (Editor's Note: funny that...)
Aim for your best, not perfection. Try not to be too hard on yourself if something doesn't work out. Life does get busy and with family and work commitments, so be very un-British celebrate your small wins. Be proud of yourself. Focus on your mindset and your end goal - to live a happy, healthy life. Every journey starts with one step and the route is never straightforward.
The above points have been the keystones to success for each and every person I have worked with, and for every team I have been a part of. While they are not inherently difficult to implement, a busy life can certainly make them feel a little more daunting. That is where a coach can help. Coaches do this on a daily basis and can help take the pain away from the planning, consistency and accountability. They can also help you build a strong mindset to act as the foundation to everything. You still need to do the work though - we can't do that for you!
Andy has designed a 6 Week Kickstart Course, with a special price of just £65 (normally £75) for the List. It's an online course that combines 3 weekly exercise sessions, that can be done anywhere, without the need for any special equipment, and at a time that fits in with your busy lifestyle with expert coaching. With their tailored approach, they combine the right mindset with the right plan for you, ensuring you have the tools, support and motivation to succeed. Find out more here.
When a bomb blast in Afghanistan ended Andrew’s army career early he turned to training to help deal with PTSD and to restore his physical health; something he had previously taken for granted. He returned to Guernsey with his young family and, together with his wife Kirsty, founded Lighthouse Adventure Fitness, which focuses on family, health, fitness and longevity, providing services that are designed to compliment a busy lifestyle.
Andy is a Personal Trainer who draws on his experiences from an active youth, military service, coaching and raising two active boys to provide community based health and fitness coaching. You can read Andy’s Listed story here and find out more about the services that Lighthouse Adventure Fitness offers over here.