Some favourite fitness inspirations

I have to tell you (like you didn’t already know!) that this whole getting fit, losing weight thang is sometimes tedious and even overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like all we’re ever doing is denying ourselves, saying no, focusing on what we can’t have (often) even though we really want it. (Yes, Lindt chocolate balls, I’m looking at you … sob …)

Here’s what I do when I’m desperate need of inspiration …

I read books and websites that provide information and positive feedback, to help reinforce the choices that will lead me to a healthier, fitter body and keep me up-to-date with nutrition and fitness knowledge and developments.

In no particular order of preference, here they are. Maybe they’ll give you a boost when you need one!

Mark’s Daily Apple.

This is a great primal living/paleo-ish resource. Sisson is a former elite endurance athlete who really walks the talk. He’s been there, done that twice, and never runs his mouth for the sake of being famous. He cares about people and their health. The best thing about him is that he’s no blindly dogmatic ideologue: if he’s wrong he admits it, if he modifies his position he explains how and why. There’s no ego.

Runs for Cookies

Katie is a formerly obese homemaker who got her life back and track with diet and exercise and who now regularly runs road races and blogs about the average fitness life. Look up inspirational in the dictionary and you’ll find her photo. She’s painfully honest, wonderfully generous, and loves cats. So she’s 3 for 3! This is a great site.

These guys sell really great exercise gear. No, it’s not cheap, but the quality is excellent so the investment is worth it, even if you only spring for a couple of pieces. Great colours, no chafing, flattering fit and designs. I find that even though I’m a long ways off my ideal fitness level and body composition I can pull on a pair of their crop pants and immediately feel good about myself and what I see in the mirror. And winning the mental battle is a big part of the journey!

Run Your Butt Off

This beginner’s guide to running is put together by the editors of Runner’s World magazine. It’s informative without being overwhelming, with lots of great tips re: nutrition and improving your fitness. Great personal anecdotes help me believe I can indeed get back to being able to run 10kms.

Run Fat Bitch Run

I’ve mentioned this book before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Ruth Field is a hoot. Uncompromising and upbeat, she’s that kick in the arse so many of us need. Like Sisson, she walks – or should I say runs – the talk. Lots of sensible information and training tips for newbie runners. Truly inspirational – but not for anyone who’s fond of their fainting couch!

Are You Ready?

I love working out to Bob Harper’s kettlebells dvds – that is, when I’m fit enough! In fact, getting back to them is one of my short term fitness goals because when I’m done I know I’ve worked out.  I also love Bob’s straightforward advice and compassionate approach to losing weight and getting fit. In this book he lays out the ground rules but without yelling about them, or being condescending or demeaning. He also takes time to discuss the mental/emotional component to dropping fat and getting fit and he makes a lot of sense.

An Accidental Athlete

John ‘The Penguin’ Birmingham is a great writer who didn’t become a runner until he was overweight, unfit and 43 years old.  He’s not a star athlete, he’s not a chiselled, gung ho personal trainer … he’s just an average guy who fixed a lot of his health issues by getting fit – and that includes beating nicotine addiction! You’ll find his photo next to Blogger Katie’s in the dictionary. I love his style, his approach, his fearless humanity. A great pick-me-up read when you’re feeling defeated.

Lose it Fast, Lose it Forever

Peter Thomas was a contestant on one of the early seasons of The Biggest Loser US. He weighed over 400lbs and was dangerously unfit and unwell. Even though he was eliminated along the way, he came roaring back on finale night to win the At Home prize. Now he works as a personal trainer, life coach and public speaker. He’s one of the most successful Biggest Loser alumni, never regaining the lost weight and continuing to improve his fitness after the show.

In this book he details his Biggest Loser journey and his program for helping others to lose weight and get fit. To be honest I find some of his approach too fiddly, but his story is truly inspirational and he does have excellent advice on a lot of different elements of the journey.

Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle

Tom Venuto is a competition-winning natural bodybuilder and personal trainer. This book used to be ebook only but now it’s available as a hard copy and it’s a great read. Informative but not mind-bogglingly technical, he approaches the business of losing fat and getting strong and fit in a supportive and businesslike manner – with tried and proven techniques that have stood the test of time.

Given that he’s coming at this from a competition background, with a physique athlete’s attitude, I’m guessing that a lot of folk will find his program just too hard to integrate into ‘ordinary’ life. To that end, probably the Bob Harper approach would be easier. But if you can wrap your mind around Venuto’s process and make it work in with family and all that stuff, you can achieve startling results. End of the day, he’s right — what he tells us to do is what the leanest, fittest people in the world do. But it’s not for the faint hearted!  I’m gearing up to give his method a go. I’ll let you know what happens!

Paula: My story so far

Paula Radcliffe is one of the world’s most successful athletes.  Winner of multiple marathon gold medals, including at the Helsinki World Championships, she’s experienced the amazing highs and the heartbreaking lows of international elite athletics. This book is her autobiography and it’s a terrific read. Really honest, and a fascinating peek into the truly demanding lifestyle of the elite athlete. And of course the added inspiration is that she’s a woman – and for so very long women were relegated to bottom-of-the-barrel status in sports, distance running in particular. If ever you wondered what it takes to compete at this level of excellent, Radcliffe’s book will tell you in spades.

Marathon Woman

Katherine Switzer is a hero. Her autobiography is as much a social history of women in the wider culture as in athletics – and it’s not a pretty picture. On the other hand, it is a nice reminder that though the modern world of gender equality is far from perfect we really have made great strides – no pun intended!

Come with me in the T.A.R.D.I.S (or the wayback machine – your choice!) to the year 1967. Katherine Switzer, a talented runner, finagled her way into the hugely esteemed Boston Marathon by entering as K. Switzer. She was the only woman in the race. When one of the male organisers spotted her, he physically accosted her and tried to drag her off the course. Unluckily for him – and luckily for every woman who’s ever laced up a running shoe from that day to this – his act of mysogynistic bastardy was caught on camera.

The history of women’s running, and athletics, and society itself, changed in that moment.

This is a truly inspiring book. Switzer is an astonishing woman. I think it’s incredibly important for women – and men – today to take a look back at our social past and truly recognise and acknowledge the kind of ridiculous, bullshit past we come from. What Katherine Switzer faced and overcame, the kind of mindless infantilisation and repression of women – by other women, as well as men – that was commonplace then, is something young women of today can barely imagine. The truth is, Mad Men is more documentary than drama.

Read this book! It’s brilliant!

What about you? Any websites or books covering health and fitness that you find inspiring? Share!



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