Happy Spring Everyone!

School holidays are just around the corner and for many adolescents and young adults the start of Summer break often signals a renewed commitment to engaging in physical activity and fitness. Whether it’s dusting off your parent’s old Bow-flex machine that’s been hiding in your basement all these years (for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, you should look it up), or taking your new mountain bike out for a spin… the return of warmer weather often coincides with our efforts to get in the best shape that we can. With this in mind, the good folks at the Beast Mode Fitness Program at the University of Calgary thought that it would be nice to share some of our carefully guarded fitness secrets; secrets that have helped us successfully shed some of our extra winter weight (which, I might add, is always good insulation for battling the cold weather in Calgary) and maximize our ability to stay fit and trim for the Summer.

If you follow these 5 easy tips, we guarantee that you’ll hit the beaches this summer looking like a bona-fide SUPERHERO, ready to leap tall buildings in a single bound, rescue kittens from trees, and leaving all of your friends jealously wondering how YOU make that cape and tights looks so good! Here are our 5 suggestions to help make your summer holidays a fun and memorable experience:

Tip #1: Before you can get Fit, you must first become Fit(ish)

This piece of sage advice comes from the Jedi master Joda (Yoda’s twin brother) and means that it is important to think about taking small steps when starting any type of physical activity plan. Often times when individuals begin thinking about getting fit, they can sometimes fall into the trap of believing that they need to make significant life changes, such as changing their diets (e.g., basically cutting out all of the tastier ‘fun’ foods like sugars and fats), and running 10 miles a day. However, when we try to make drastic changes all at once, we sometimes find our well-intentioned plans to become more active unraveling after just a few weeks. This is often due to setting unrealistic goals for ourselves. The point here is that it is important for you start out with small achievable goals (e.g., going out for a short walk, or trying to add 1 healthy vegetable to your diet) that you can build on each week. For example, it’s ok  to enjoy some of the ‘good’ junk foods that you like in moderation. Any top athlete out there will tell you that a healthy body isn’t built just by eating broccoli, celery sticks, and drinking carrot juice. Having a slice of pizza or a few chicken wings as a reward for engaging in physical activity every now and then can go a long way to keeping you motivated with sticking with an exercise program.

Tip #2: Friends and family members love getting Fit(ish) as well!

Physical activity is always more fun when a friend or family member is involved (seriously). The great thing about physical activity is that it can consist of ANY TYPE of activity, you can do it anywhere with little or no cost involved, and it can take as little as thirty minutes (e.g., ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes in the afternoon, and ten minutes in the evening) a day to achieve significant health benefits. It’s important to explore fun ways to get the family moving. Get everyone outside any way you can. For example, a great low cost physical activity that you could participate in might be organizing a water fight with friends/family or other teens in your neighborhood (is there anything more satisfying than chasing down your siblings and spraying them with the garden hose?). By engaging in physical activity with a friend or family member, you’ll find that you have more motivation to participate in new activities and can even have a laugh (or two) in the process.

Tip #3: Consider downloading a fitness app to track your progress!

These days there are literally hundreds of free fitness apps available that can help you to stay on track with meeting your physical activity goals. Not only can using a fitness or physical activity app help you in tracking your progress, it can also help you to keep tabs on monitoring your diet, provide tips and advice to help you to continue challenging yourself, and most importantly, help you to set reminders to plan future activities. Some fun apps to take a look at include the Health app (available on most iPhones and Andriods), and downloadable apps such as MyFitnessPal or MyZone, both available in most app stores.

Tip #4: Let go of being perfect

With the long (and hopefully hot) ‘dog days’ of Summer on the way, it can be easy to want to hit the beach and work on developing your tan-lines instead of spending every waking minute in the gym developing ‘wash board’ abs. Often times people feel the need to be perfect when it comes to sticking to physical activity every day. The idea of needing to be ‘perfect’ when participating in physical activity is an unrealistic philosophy, and each individual needs to develop an activity plan that best fits their unique needs. Over the summer, it’s perfectly ok to miss a workout or two. Missing a workout is not the end of the world, and everyone should take some time to relax every now and then.

Tip #5: Consider joining a class that can help you get physically active

It might be helpful to think about looking into taking a class which can encourage you to try out a new physical activity that you’re unfamiliar with. For example, you could consider registering for a class in your community, such as yoga, aqua aerobics, dancing, spin (cycle classes), kickboxing, or Zumba. Not only could you have fun, but you will make new friends in the process. Also, if you feel ready for a new challenge, think about signing up for a Beast Mode Fitness course at the UofC (starting in September, 2019). We’re here to make sure you learn about the benefits of incorporating physical activity in your life and have fun while you’re doing it.

Michael Barrett
Registered Psychologist, The Ability Hub
Supervisor: EmploymentWorks Program
Phone: 403.210.5000 ext. 2013
Fax:  403.284.9298
3820 24 Ave NW, Calgary, AB T3B 2X9

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