Ahh January, the month of new fitness fads, complete diet rehauls and 31 days of painful soberness. For some reason, we’ve made the already dreary January the month we absolutely MUST get our lives together, health wise. And while trying to live healthier is never a futile task, there’s something about the January fads that feels off.
Maybe it’s because January is so gloomy for many already, it seems tortuous to deny yourself the simple pleasures you gorged in December. But I have a feeling it’s because we’re all coming round to the idea that actually, short-term lifestyle rehauls aren’t always the most successful when it comes to changing your life long-term.
I’ve found, over the years, that the only way to keep me motivated enough to exercise five times a week and generally eat healthy is to do what I love. That means a gym routine that doesn’t exhaust me, a nutrition plan that still includes the treats I’ve always delighted in, and of course, a glass of wine whenever I damn well feel like it.
‘Everything in moderation’ is such an overused term, but there’s a reason for that: it’s truer than true. Creating exercise habits you’ll actually stick to doesn’t have to mean completely changing your diet and fitness levels overnight.
Ultimately, all that does is set expectations very high and when the agonizing month ends, a crash back to reality and all the unhealthy habits you hoped to leave in the year prior. And who is that helping? Your emotional health certainly won’t enjoy the guilt that comes with not sticking to a new routine you were so desperate to create, your physical health won’t like the yo-yoing either.
How then, do we create exercise habits that actually last in a month where everyone is obsessed with new fads? Well, you’re not doing it by yourself. Oh no, it’s 2021 guys, technology is here to save us and our self-sabotaging ways. For me, technology has played a vital part in building up my love for the gym. Whether it’s blasting my favourite music through wireless headphones to get me through that last set or spending hours each night on my MacBook researching gym tips, without tech, I’d be a lost woman – at least, I wouldn’t be a gym bunny, and then what would I have to base my personality on?
But seriously, finding ways to utilize your tech to create long-term fitness habits that you’ll actually stick to has never been easier. To prove it to you, we spoke to five women whose exercise routines have been drastically improved by tech, so much so they’ll be sticking to them even after January ends (gasp, shock, horror)…
‘I use tech like my armour for the weights section, I’d be lost without it.’
‘When I was using a women’s only gym a few years ago, I discovered the glory of weightlifting,’ says Lily, 26 from London. ‘I was going the gym five times a week purely because I loved how lifting heavy weights made me feel and how strong I was getting so quickly. Once I moved areas though and went back to a mixed gender gym, I was filled with anxiety about entering the now male-dominated, testosterone-filled section.
‘I was still learning about the best form, what sets to do and weights to use, all of that, so the last thing I needed was men’s lingering stares. Tech actually saved me so much stress when it came to overcoming that. I’d have my Airpods blasting music – Lizzo for the confidence boost of course – and could drown out everyone else and just focus on what I was doing.
‘If I ever got nervous my form wasn’t right and people were staring, I could easily whip my iPhone out and subtly watch a quick YouTube tutorial – no unsolicited advice from gym-bros necessary. It’s honestly improved my confidence at the gym so much and has kept me loving weight-lifting all this time, tech is like weight-section armour for women.’
‘Tracking my nutrition on my Apple Watch has taught me so much about eating well long-term.’
‘I’m actually doing a cliched Jan health kick and so my Apple Watch has been priceless in helping me come to terms with what I should and shouldn’t be doing,’ says Jessica, 29 from Bath. ‘While I’m cautious not to get too obsessed, I have found it really useful to input the food I’ve eaten so I can keep my eye on calories in versus calories burned. It’s helping me understand nutrition in a new way too, so I can stick to healthy eating as opposed to resorting to fad diets.
‘Doing Dry Jan has also made me realise how many calories I used to consume through alcohol alone which I don’t think I really had a grip on before. Knowing that now, I’ll be way more aware of my long-term alcohol consumption. I also find the movement goals very useful at keeping me active every lunchtime so I’m not so sedentary. That’s something I can’t see myself without now actually, even when we go back to the office it’ll be so useful in getting me up and out instead of staring at a screen all day.’
‘The ease of fitness apps are the only reason I’ve kept up with running.’
‘The Strava app has really helped me continue to run since April,’ says Rhiannon, 30 from Essex. ‘It’s helped me chart my progress, be competitive with myself and also keep in touch with friends who I’ve not been able to see, but are doing similar things, first starting with Couch to 5k and then beyond. I also love the Nike Running Club app, I love the challenges on there and the guided runs. And of course I need my Spotify for music and podcasts. All in all, I think I’d really struggle to run without my phone!’
‘I use my iPad to motivate me for home workouts.’
‘I think I’m one of the few that has actually enjoyed working out at home in lockdown,’ says Diane, 55 from Liverpool. ‘But I never would’ve stuck to it without using the Nike fitness app on my iPad. Since I wear glasses, I need a bigger screen than my phone to follow the workout but I also want something easy to move around the house for wherever I’ll be exercising that day. I do my Nike workouts at least three times a week now and can’t see myself slowing down anytime soon, it’s all too easy to even find an excuse not to anymore!’
‘My Apple Watch keeps me in a routine.’
‘I’m a classic over-worker and never make time for myself in the day, I realised in lockdown I was quickly going to burnout if I didn’t change that habit and start looking after myself better,’ says Lucy, 30 from Manchester. ‘So I bought an Apple Watch – it’s like having a personal assistant purely for exercise – and set reminders on it for me to run at the same time each day. I’ve managed to generally stick to it this whole time and three lockdowns in, it’s pretty much the only thing keeping me on an even keel.
‘Even when life returns to normal, I think this will be a God send in reminding me to look after myself generally.’