Being healthy isn’t just focusing on exercise or diet, it’s about lifestyle and mindset, too, as Sarah Maxwell explains.

Prior to a summer break, many of us think about sprucing up in readiness for the beach, family fun, great food and rosé tinged evenings. Aside from removing the winter fuzz many of us want to feel more toned, slimmer and confident in the warmer months. But now, with the summer behind us and the long dark nights arriving, lightweight linen dresses and glittery flip-flops are just a distant memory!

In June this year I launched a seven- day fitness course on a Facebook closed group showing people how exercising for 10 minutes a day can be really effective. Most of us struggle with the demands of life and more often than not our own wellbeing is at the bottom of the list of things to consider.

For me consistency is important. By just doing a bit of exercise every day you can work up to more. Try just 10 minutes and see how you feel. If that feels good, then by all means do more. If 20 minutes feels good and you can do it regularly that’s great. If you think you should go out for a run but are feeling both physically and emotionally exhausted, then don’t push yourself – go for a walk instead, breathe deeply and take in your surroundings. By keeping on the move, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, your physical and emotional state can change. 

“Finding time to fit in things that support my health and wellbeing is difficult for me, too” 

Believe me, this is so much better for you than punishing yourself. Feeling the pain is not necessarily a gain! The idea that you don’t deserve a fit body unless you punish yourself is completely wrong. I don’t always feel like working out, sometimes I’m overwhelmed by juggling family, friends and all of the things that we feel we have to do before we even start to think about our own needs.

Finding time to fit in things that support my health and wellbeing is difficult for me, too. I’ve been a fitness trainer for 30 years, I have nothing to prove to myself or anyone else. I don’t want to have a six-pack at 50, I just want to make sure that I am mentally and physically fit so I can enjoy my life to its full capacity.

My philosophy is, be kind to yourself mentally and physically. Do what you can, when you can and always do something that makes you smile. Dance in your kitchen in your underwear to your favourite music if that’s your thing. Think about your whole self. If you can change your mindset so that you view exercise and wellbeing as an essential part of your life and not a punishment, you will find it becomes a pleasure. 

If you have children, then just think of the positive body image you are giving them by loving your own self and showing them that health and fitness is about your mind and body for your whole life not just for two paranoid weeks while wearing a bikini. 

I believe that ‘healthy’ is an entire lifestyle, not just exercise or diet. It all has to work together and it has to work with your schedule and ability. Success looks different for everyone and I know we all find it hard to remember this when we have social media, TV or celebrities telling us what to do and how we should live.

We are all shapes and sizes. We owe it to ourselves and our young ones not to conform to idealised images of health and fitness because, more often than not, they are either fake or totally untrue and unobtainable.  

Exercise of the month: 

10-minute effective exercise at home with no equipment. 

Warm up

March/jog on the spot loosening your shoulders as you go for 1 minute

Main event

Elbows to knees/elbows to knees with a jump for 30 seconds on, rest for 20 seconds.

Squats or power jump (spring up and jump out of the squat and land gently) for 30 seconds on, rest for 20 seconds.

Step side-to-side raising arms straight up/jump side-to-side raising arms for 30 seconds on, rest for 20 seconds.

Do all of the above 2-3 times one after the other.

Cool down

Gentle stretches to finish

Sarah Maxwell is a multiple award-winning Fitness and Lifestyle coach and mum of two who juggles a lot of balls. Find out more about Sarah and her work at sarahmaxwell.com 

Sarah shares her Fitness and Lifestyle tips on Instagram @sarahmaxwelllifestyle

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