Use It Or Lose It

I am sure you have all heard the saying “use it or lose it”? This phrase can be used in several contexts, although in this case I am referring to the loss of fitness when you stop working out. I consider myself to be a novice athlete and research has proven that if a beginner starts and then quits their exercise regime, they will lose all their aerobic gains and return to their original level of fitness. As work, sleep, travel, holiday and social commitments (you could be forgiven for thinking they are all the same thing) often interfere with my training routines, I have seen a decline in my level of conditioning. Although I am blessed with a good metabolism and nutritious eating habits, I have always been somewhat shy of physical activity. Sport has never been my forte.

After the age of 30, the average person loses about 1/4-kilograms of muscle per year and gains half a kilogram of fat. Yikes! That means by age 40 you’re looking at a weight gain of 5 kilos and an increase of a size or two. Luckily, muscle loss slows down with weight training. Doing some type of resistance training helps you maintain and even improve your muscle mass.

As I mentioned in my Hot Cross Buns For Easter post, I decided to hire the help of a personal trainer for a lift and tuck. My previous exercise routine consisted of a leisurely 45 minute stroll on the treadmill and hatha yoga, when I had the time, access, and spare cash to do a class. I looked at the main reasons I put a regular exercise ritual on the back burner and this is what I came up with.

  • The Fears – the fear of something new and unknown – stepping out of my comfort zone, the fear of looking like an idiot and the fear of turning up to a class of experts and not having someone to hold my hand.
  • Getting There – as I don’t have a car in Dubai and can’t justify the expense of running one, sometimes classes are difficult and or expensive to get to. The key to holistic living is balance. Finding a routine that was easy to get to and transportable, without placing unecessary strain on my budget was part of the pre-requistes to tailoring my perfect personal training sessions.
  • Lack of Knowledge – The main reason I stuck to what I knew was it was comfortable for me. As a child growing up with a strict Italian father, I was never allowed to participate in physical education outside of the school curriculum. I have always been scared to use any of the machines at the gym or attempt any floor exercises in case I ended up doing more harm than good. All I needed was a little guidance to get me on my way, to ensure I was working towards sculpting the body I wanted – not coming out of the gym with a back injury or looking like the Incredible Hulk.
  • Poor Time Management – I often find that I am trying to fit too many things into one day and exercise takes the back seat. I can get lost on the world wide web for hours, also travelling so much and being in different places/time zones, sleep takes a priority.

Having a coach to be accountable to and teach me new tricks, based around my current restrictions and barriers was really the shove I needed to get me on the right track and keep moving.

As far as my body goes, I want to tone up my stomach and thighs, smooth out my cellulite and get those nice tight buns I decided to gift myself with at Easter. I want to keep my arms and shoulders feminine with lean muscle, de-stress my body, increase my flexibility, core strength and physical endurance, and keep my body looking and feeling young. It sounds like a lot!!! I know it won’t happen overnight but I trust it is going to happen!

The landscape for my workout is also an important factor in determining the formula for my success. In order to manage my time more effectively, I decided to incorporate many of my ideal daily rituals into one setting. These include enjoying fresh air (something any hostie needs after being stuck in a metal tube for 14 hours and then transported straight to an airconditioned hotel room), vitamin D (aka sunshine), meditation, grounding (reconnecting my body to the Earth’s energy) and finally the option to exercise ~ finance friendly.

According the Suzanne Brue, author of The 8 Colors of Fitness, I am a “White Harmony”. This means… I seek comfort and familiarity in my exercise environments. Placing high value on tranquil and calm environments, I am easily jarred by interruptions, that includes security guards trying to chat me up and people plonking themselves on a park bench for a birds eye view of my “coming atcha live” exercise channel. I require orderly environments for exercise, which provide the necessary calm for me to relax and receive the mental benefits of exercise as well as the physical. At a large fitness center, I am likely to find an out of the way spot to exercise, or I might join a small gym off the beaten path. Characteristically, I prefer keeping a low profile at the gym. I look for friendly and supportive personal trainers. I respond best to trainers who communicate their interest and caring, and at the same time are committed to helping me reach their goals.

To find out your fitness colour go to

Keeping all this in mind my first PT session was set outdoors. An early morning meet up at one of Dubai’s best kept secrets. A small park nestled somewhere in between Burj Plaza and The Burj Khalifa (the worlds tallest building). First of all it was great to discover somewhere new. I was immedietly greeted by the sound of birds chirping, water falling, a fresh breeze, sunshine, blooming flowers and green grass. With the absence of my ipod and music, this sense of calm and nature was meditation in itself.

My city oasis :-)

My city oasis :-)

During our first session I was introduced to stair sprints, plyometric jumps, lunges, barefoot interval sprints (on the grass), side plank rotations and mountain climber. This was pretty much enough to knock me sideways and start seeing birds and stars of my own. I think a little more fuel in my body prior to this type of exertion is a must for next time. The onset of the Dubai summer providing an outdoor sauna and unfortunately limited days left to enjoy the many benefits of the tranquil outdoors.

I left the park equipped with a new set of skills to master before our next session and instructions to nourish myself with a meal combined of protein, carbs and fat within an hour and a half of exercising. This was to ensure my hard work was not compromised, as my body could have gone into a stress response and digested its own protein (muscle) to compensate.

On this first visit to the park I decided to cab it there and back, for convenience as far as time goes, having to head to London the same day and I also wanted a direct route to an unfamiliar place. On my return I plan to explore and conquer the public transport system.

This apprentice session was about education, body alignment and enjoyment! Experiencing my body in new ways and building my knowledge and self confidence, giving me a framework of exercises that I could go away and do my myself.

If I can do it, so can you!!!!! What challenges hinder your committment to exercising and what can you do to overcome them? Can I help you? Get out there and find out, I dare you!!!

One thought on “Use It Or Lose It

  1. Pingback: 30 Day – 30 Minute – August Fitness Challenge | Fit 2 Fly Blog

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