Button up: the jeans test is best

Button up: the jeans test is best

Well here I am at the end of week one. As a little addition today I went to a circuits class with my fellow fitness fanatic Rachel Quigley and the pair of us were certainly red faced at the end of it. Whether this was down to the tough regime or the rather dishy instructor I will leave to your judgment.

So how do I feel after seven days of relatively hardcore training?

I have well and truly got the fitness bug back and I am now used to getting up first thing in the morning and heading straight out to the gym. In fact, I feel much more energtic and focused for the rest of the day when I’ve worked out, and on Wednesday when I had a rest day I was sluggish and lacking in motivation at work.

The combination of exercising and eating meals higher in protein has also left me feeling less bloated and as a result the study belly is on the way out already. Results after a week I hear you scoff, but I honestly think it’s true. There of course lies the secret: so much of exercise and looking and feeling fit is psychological.

How can we tell whether we are making real gains or purely imagined ones: the placebo effect if you like?

This is especially relevant for me since I don’t like to measure success through the number on the scales. As far as I’m concerned, weight is just a statistic and not a very good yardstick for improving fitness or shape. I would much rather weigh a few pounds more but have greater muscle mass and therefore appear slimmer and feel stronger.

So what am I using to keep track of my progress?

I’m writing down what I do each day in an exercise log, making sure to include details such as length of intervals, weight lifted and number of sets/repititions. This is good for two main reasons:

1. It allows you to look back at what you did yesterday or the day before and then you can aim to go a little faster, further or lift a bit more. Instead of just thinking you are pushing yourself, you actually will be.

2. It maintains your focus and stops your mind wondering from the task at hand. You know what you’ve got to do and so you will keep going rather than wandering aimlessly from machine to machine without really thinking about it. Think of those guys you see working out in pairs who spend more time talking about what they are going to do and looking in the mirror than doing any exercise, you don’t want to be one of those.

I am also resorting to the female favourite – the jeans test. Over the last couple of months, my favourite pair of jeans has gradually been getting tighter. You know it’s gone a stage too far when you have to unbutton them when driving. Of course I’ve used the age old excuse of “I must have put them on a hot wash by accident,” to make myself feel better. But deep down I know the machine has been set at 40 degrees since I moved in to my flat last September.

Placebo or no placebo, the day I feel comfortable sitting down in those Gap western bootcuts is the day I know my new routine is getting me somewhere. It may not be as scientfic as some would advocate but I’m a firm believer in having goals which are relevant to you and keep you motivated on those days when all you want to do is sit on the sofa and eat a Magnum Temptation (and no, eating one will not make you look like Eva Longoria).

And at the end of the day, who cares if it is all in your head. Anything that makes one feel better about oneself is fine by me.