Deb Bailey AFPA, MAT, CanFitPro, YMCA

So you've finally made the decision to change how you feel, and also how you feel about your relationship with your body. This is a great starting point! But many of us flounder when it comes to making the master plan - how, exactly, do you go about getting fit and healthy? We know that it will involve changes in diet, exercise, habits and attitudes. But what exactly should you do to get to our goals?

The first thing to acknowledge is that it will take time - nothing will happen overnight, or even in a week. It's taken a while to get you to the point of being unhappy and unhealthy, and real change takes time. So grant yourself patience.

Here are several solid tips to help you shape your healthy future.

1. Write down a list of three bigger fitness goals, such as weight loss, improved flexibility, increased strength. Then under each of these bigger goals, write down a list of three things each to do to get there. For instance, for weight loss, you could commit to meeting with a dietitian for nutritional help, identify the foods that you know aren't good for you, and commit to avoiding them, and increase your fibre intake to at least 40 grams per day. 

2. Decide where you will exercise, and how often. This is crucial to your success. A dream of magically being more fit without a plan is just that - only a dream. Take a weekend and check out local gyms, trainers who offer specific types of training, such as outside training, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), or out-of-the-box solutions such as small classes held in churches, community centres, or neighbourhood walking groups. Commit to at least three days of one hour of activity each day to start, and, based on where you will be working out, what types of exercise you're choosing.

3. Talk to your friends and find out who else is struggling with the same issues and you may find you've got yourself a fitbuddy! This is someone you can call to get emotional support, plan to work out, plan meals, and grocery shop together for maximum reinforcement in your goals. You need someone who's got your back, and for whom you can do the same.

4. Consult a personal trainer to get individual, focused training. But do your homework first - check their credentials, ask for names of clients who can report their own experiences with that trainer, and sit down with your choice of trainer to hash out exactly what s/he can do for you, and make sure that the two of you are compatible. If one-on-one training isn't in the budget, ask the trainer to consider two-person or small group training (no more than 4 people). Some trainers will do only one-on-one training, but will agree to meeting a couple times a month instead of once a week.

5. Get the right equipment! No one needs fancy workout clothing, but you absolutely do need excellent shoes. Go to a store dedicated to fitness and tell the clerk exactly what kind of exercise you will be doing. A walking regime will require a different shoe than joining a volleyball league, or doing group ex classes. Keep in mind that you must get new shoes every 8-12 months.

6. Put your workouts on your schedule, and understand that only a dire emergency will allow you to cancel that workout. You may need to change the date or time, but DO NOT CANCEL. This is your commitment holding you to account.

7. If weight loss is one of your goals, check your weight NO MORE OFTEN than once a week, at the same time of day. No meaningful change will happen during a single day. Checking more often only means you're reinforcing anxiety and negative self-talk. These are toxic ingredients that have no place in your plan to get healthy. 

8. Avoid conversations with people who like to criticize and demean others. You will probably never get their approval, and really, so what? YOUR approval of yourself is the only benchmark that matters.

For more articles on training, health and wellness, visit Deb Bailey at .






HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and it's one of the hottest trends in the fitness in the last several years. And with good reason - there are so many benefits to your physical and mental well being.

Here are just a few:

HIIT burns more calories and fat than most other types of exercise regimes. In fact, many hours after you're done sweating, your body is still giving you that great after burn.

You will be able to do more activity, longer when you have HIIT training as part of your routine. That walk or bike ride is easier, faster and longer now.

You don't need any equipment whatsoever! Although it's fun to do HIIT in a gym with lots of stuff available, it isn't needed. All you have to do it apply your effort to the max for a ratio of 2:1. In other words, if you run to your maximum effort for 2 minutes, you do active rest for 1 minute. Repeat. Keep your workouts to 30 minutes, no more, to avoid overuse injuries.

HIT training should be done no more than 3 times a week, and should be supplemented with other types of workouts, such as long slow distance, tempo training, and weight training.

HIIT can help regulate the hormones involved in weight gain, such as ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, which stimulates the appetite and slows down the use of body fat. Leptin, on the other hand, regulates food intake and long-term energy stores. Bottom line - HIIT can control both these hormones, increasing weight loss, rate of fat burn, making HIIT an ideal weapon in the battle of the bulge.

What Does a No-Equipment HIIT session Look Like?

1 minute of top effort running. Have to do this inside at home? Try going up and down the stairs as fast as you can safely. Walk around for 30 seconds.

Jumping Jacks for 1 minute. Walk around for 30 seconds

Shadow boxing for 1 minute, as intensely as possible. Walk around for 30 seconds

1 minute of rear lunges (not stationary). Keep up the intensity and you'll feel the burn. Walk around for 30 seconds

Burpees, using the lower couple of steps on your stairs as your platform. Walk around for 30 seconds

Mountain climbers, using the lower couple of step on your stairs as your platform. Walk around for 30 seconds.

Push ups. using the lower couple of step on your stairs as your platform, or do them against the wall. Walk around for 30 seconds.


P.S. If you look at this list and see things you don't want to do or find difficult, be creative! Just pick something else that will challenge you hard and substitute that.

Congratulations! You've just done a 10 minute HIIT workout! Next time, repeat this workout two more times this week, and next week increase the work time to 90 seconds, as you're able, and increase the active rest time to 45 seconds. In time, you can get your total HIIT workout time to 30 minutes - and feel great doing it.


My checklist of what to put in my workout bag is pretty standard and predictable: water, towel, workout shoes, sweatband, post-workout snack..... and my brain.

 By "bring your brain", I mean that we have to drop off all the baggage we are carrying around in our heads, so that we can focus on exactly what we are at the gym for. Lose the worries over the project that's overdue, the babysitter that's just quit on you, and what will you make for dinner. All that stuff has no business taking up brain space and energy while you're at the gym.

 When we clear our minds of all that stuff, we can focus sharply on our form (are we doing that exercise correctly and safely?), and our end goals (what do I want to look/feel like in 4/8/12 weeks?). Worrying about other stuff during your workout won't solve those problems, but it will have a negative impact on your workout and your body.

 Sometimes we feel guilty that we aren't paying attention to the baggage during our workouts - have you ever thought you just don't have time to work out, because there are so many things on your plate? Avoid that rabbit hole and remember that you have a responsibility to the body you walk around in. A lack of brain focus will lead to a half-baked job of exercise, and won't get the results we want.




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