You feel low on energy post a long day at work. And weekends have you lounging in front of the television for hours.
To top it all you feel too fat (or too thin).
Maybe you need to breathe new life into your existence on this planet.
What better way to do it than to get in shape? Practice our ten fitness rules. By the end of 2006 you will be looking sexier and feeling great.
i. Set a fitness goal and be positive
This is the first step. Be focused about want you want to achieve -- weight loss, weight gain, staying fit, improving your posture, helping your asthma or working on that bad back.
Once you set your goal, make a plan of action. You could seek help from a trainer or fitness consultant to chalk out a programme.
Most importantly, stay positive. If you don't see results soon enough, it just means your body is taking a bit longer to react. Persevere!
Do some sort of cardiovascular exercise three times a week for at least 30 minutes. Make sure it is something you enjoy. Choose: walking, running, swimming, aerobics or stair climbing. Just make sure it gets your heart pumping.
This will help you lose weight. Bigger plus point for both guys and girls -- it does wonders for your complexion, so try and squeeze in a session before you go out.
iii. Lift weights
This helps shape up your body, celebrity style! Enrol in a gym or strength training class. If time is a constraint, pick up a pair of dumbbells and get pumping at home by referring to a recognised exercise program.
Start with two kilogrames first, using three kilogrames for the bigger muscles, like the chest and your back.
In order to avoid any risk of injury and ensure you are working correctly. You may need to refer to a manual or better still go in for a session at a gym to learn the dos and don'ts.
Open up all muscles and release the tension in your body. Do some simple stretches as often as you like. Stretching is always done at the end of any fitness class, so try a session to learn more about it. Here is a list of simple stretches.
~ Stand up and stretch your arms up, lengthening your body towards the ceiling. Hold for about 15 seconds, then release.
~ Go back into the same stretch then carefully bend forward and down to the floor from your hip. Grab onto your legs and pull your chest closer to your knees. You should feel this stretch in your back, hips and the backs of your thighs. Hold for 15 seconds.
~ Lie on your tummy. Prop yourself up on your elbows, suck your tummy in. Dig the elbows into the floor and pull your body forwards and upwards, stretching out your tummy. Hold for 15 seconds.
~ Lie on your tummy, bend both your knees and pull the heels into the hip. This stretches out the front of your thigh. Hold for 15 seconds. Straighten out your legs.
~ Lie on your tummy. Link your fingers of both hands and place them on your hip. Gradually lift your hands towards the ceiling. You should feel this stretch in your upper arms (biceps), in front of your shoulders and your chest.
You can do these stretches any time, especially after your workouts. Just make sure you do them slowly. Don't make any jerky movements or you will end up pulling or tearing your muscles.
Take a few moments everyday to focus on your breathing. Take slow, deep breaths, inhaling through the nose. Exhale slower, relaxing the body with every exhalation. This will help you relax and rejuvenate.
Breathing can be done any time. But starting your day with a breathing session is preferable. It also helps when you feel tired or stressed out.
vi. Be realistic
You are not going to look fantastic in one month. Give yourself at least three months of regular exercise and eating well for results to show in the correct, healthy way.
Don't start working out for two hours, seven days a week, or go on fad diets for a month and then stop.
Ideally you should work out three to four times a week. Overworking your body can make your skin lose its tautness. Remember -- the slower you burn fat, the healthier it is and the longer it lasts.
vii. Eat five meals a day
Breakfast, lunch and dinner form your main meals. But you need to eat something between them to keep your metabolism up and prevent your body from storing fat. Nuts (a handful of almonds or walnuts), fruits and juices (this should be natural juices, not syntheti stuffc. Carry some nuts and fruit along with you work. One cup of tea or coffee per day.
Note: Coffee is actually good in small quantities -- it slows down the ageing process.
viii. Breakfast like a prince, dine like a pauper
The last meal of the day should be the smallest -- breakfast being the largest -- as your activity levels post dinner are low. Soup and salad are best. This keeps the weight down and, again, brightens your complexion.
~ A simple tomato soup is great (anti-ageing).
~ You could also have clear soup: Boil two cups of water with a capful of vinegar, salt, a few green tea leaves and a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Once it comes to a boil, add one shredded carrot, a half cup of shredded cabbage, a couple of mushrooms or pre-cooked chicken/shrimp if you are a non-vegetarian. Add a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, a tablespoon of coriander leaves and a tablespoon of the green ends of spring onion. Serve hot.
This recipe is low on carbohydrates and rich in vitamins and minerals.
~ Salad is good too: Tear approximately 10 iceberg lettuce leaves. Slice half an onion. Crumble approximately two tbsp of tofu on top. Slice some cucumber (10 to 15 slices). Put all of this in a bowl with a handful of bean sprouts.
For the dressing, mix together a capful of vinegar, a tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, one tsp sugar and salt.
Mix well and add to salad. You can also add chopped white of a boiled egg or some shrimp.
You've heard it a million times! Drink at least eight glasses of water a day, and more before, during and after your workouts. Keep yourself well-hydrated.
One glass when you wake up, one glass before breakfast, one between breakfast and lunch, one between lunch and tea time, one after tea time, two before your workout, two during your workout, two after your workout, two before your dinner.
You can never drink too much water and no, water doesn't give you a paunch even if you feel bloated after drinking. It will all come out anyway!
x. Rest and sleep
Extremely important for the body. This is the time the body begins to repair and rejuvenate itself. Without adequate rest, your body doesn't have a chance to mend, resulting in premature ageing. Get seven to eight hours of sleep every night and try to close your eyes and relax your body and mind for a few min during the day.
Insomniacs should avoid any mental distractions at night. Don't force yourself to sleep, it will only get worse. Instead listen to some soothing music. Make sure your bedroom is nice and cozy, and take a hot shower to help you relax you.
Brinda Sapat is an aerobics instructor with Gold's Gym; it has more than 680 branches in 24 countries.
Gold's Gyms in India adhere to global standards with state of the art equipment, cutting edge technology and scientifically designed fitness programmes.