Exercise + Eating Healthy = Fun?

Remember the joys of recess in elementary school, when you would escape the confinement of the classroom for the delights of jumping rope or playing football? You did not think of those physical activities as exercise, you thought of them as fun.

Then adulthood arrived and, for many of us, staying active became another job we had to accomplish. We jogged miles around tracks, on sidewalks, or in the gym. Much of the time, we exercised because we knew we had to in order to stay healthy or lose weight and not because it was fun.

What separates a fun and effective exercise regimen from a boring and ineffective one? Lots of things – and, naturally, very different things for different people. That is why it is important to evaluate your own personality – weaknesses and strengths, delights and displeasures – when looking for an exercise/sport which is suitable for you.

One of the biggest barriers in finding an enjoyable, sustainable exercise/sport is going too fast, too hard, too soon. No matter how motivated you are initially, if you expect instant results and they do not materialize, it will not stay fun for long. Nor will it be fun if you insist on sticking with the same exercise routine day-in and day-out, month after month. If you are doing the same workout day after day, it not only gets boring, but also stops working as well as it used to as your body learns to adapt how not to expend energy.

Having been into sports from a very young age, played football professionally and now doing CrossFit, I have always kept two rules, to stay motivated and consistent. It is much harder to drag yourself to the gym when you are not having fun and do not enjoy your workout. Fun will motivate you on days when losing weight does not sound as appealing anymore or when you do not care about what your body looks like. To stay consistent find that form of exercise that you love, something that feels so electric and exciting. You will go back again and again. No more need to make excuses to blow off workouts; your schedule will be fully booked with your new favorite activity.

Last but not least, take care of your nutrition. Exercise and nutrition are not to be considered as separate but as one. Eating a well-balanced diet can help you get the calories and nutrients you need to fuel your daily activities, including regular exercise. When it comes to eating food to fuel your exercise performance, it is not as simple as choosing vegetables over doughnuts. You need to eat the right types of food at certain times of the day.

Eating a healthy breakfast is especially important on days when exercise is on your agenda. Skipping breakfast can leave you feeling lightheaded or lethargic while you are working or exercising.

It is important that you consume the right carbohydrates. Many people rely on the simple carbs found in sweets and processed foods. Instead, you should focus on eating the complex carbs found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans.

Pack protein into your snacks and meals. Protein is essential for building and repairing muscles, helping you enjoy the benefits of your workout. It can be a source of energy when carbohydrates are in short supply, but it is not a major source of fuel during exercise.

Boost your fruit and vegetable intake. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of natural fibre, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that your body needs to function properly. They are also low in calories and fat. Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies at every meal.

Only you can make the decision to eat healthy and get your body moving, but that does not mean you have to go at it alone. Find a friend to go with you to the gym or find a fellow seafarer to exercise with you onboard, or consider contacting me for guidance and to make things more fun by suggesting new fitness challenges and nutrition ideas. Having an experienced person in this sector can help you identify deficiencies or habits that could otherwise undermine your fitness progress or derail your weight- loss efforts.

Did I ever think that exercising and eating healthy would be fun? Definitely not. But because I found daily activities that are exceptionally fun, exciting and motivating, I am now in the best shape of my life, and have set myself up for a healthier future. You can also do the same!

Joseph Andreou, Operational Efficiency Manager