How to stay motivated, mindful and mobile

Walking or hiking is the best way to start moving. Personal trainer Shaheem Laattoe regularly hikes on different trails. Here he is pictured on the popular Pipe Track trail on Table Mountain.

Before we even start working on our weight loss schedule we need to take cognisance of our mindset. Are we motivated enough to keep waking up at the same time, doing the same thing every day? ROSHAN ABRAHAMS spoke to personal trainer Shaheem Laattoe, who lost weight through exercise and nutrition and who shared tips on how to stay motivated, mindful and mobile.

The question “How do you stay motivated?”, has often been posed to personal trainers as it takes time to change a habit or a routine.

Shaheem said he gets asked many times how he stays motivated and why he doesn’t take off or have a rest day. “My main reason is that I don’t want one day off to become three days, then a week, then a month, then back to 110kg. I never want to go back there as it was a miserable time in my life.”

Choosing the right routine that suits your lifestyle is important and a daily reminder such as an alarm clock or app can be useful to motivate you to get up every morning or start moving in the afternoon.

Shaheem mentioned that he has cultivated a routine that he sticks to 24/7. “I wake at 3.30am, have a cup of coffee, and lock open our gym at 4.30am. Some days can be more chilled than other (busier) days where I have back-to-back clients from 5am and finishing off at noon before I get my workout and meal in and later in the afternoon I will see my home and online clients.”

While some people often dive head-first into a new exercise routine and fail to stick to the routine after two weeks or so, others do not know where to start.

Shaheem suggested that walking is a good place to start. “Something as basic as walking can be very effective in terms of weight management because with walking you can add different intensities such as climbing stairs, going a bit faster, doing different paces and eventually leading to running. But try to increase your effort every week or second week.”

Shaheem said he stuck to a routine with an exercise he felt passionate about. “I used to do bodybuilding type training when I started and I stuck to the same formula. I work different muscle groups on different days. That way the muscles have at least 48 hours in between to recover well. With running too, I do a day of trail running and a day on the road. Sure, both use mainly your legs but the load, terrain, intensity, kilometres vary so you can be competent for either one and also prevent overtraining if you are not following a running programme where you might work on your pace one day, next distance and next hills, etc.”

One of the pitfalls of getting too zealous in the exercise routine is that it can lead to injury. “When I was training for the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, I was pushing too hard. My marathon training was good, but with my gym sessions I pushed harder, especially with jumps. This, with the load on my legs from marathon training, proved to be too much for my calves, resulting in a torn calf muscle.”

Moving daily is one way to keep the muscles activated and can also prevent injuries. “It’s very important to move every day because since the beginning of time, we were hunters, out looking for our next meal. It’s in our DNA. Our bodies and mind aren’t meant to do this sedentary lifestyle – everything at our fingertips type lifestyle. That’s why when we move, endorphins are released in the brain and body, making you feel good and helping you to recover.”

Shaheem said breathing correctly plays a big role in exercise as well. “If your breathing is consistent throughout your exercise you will see better results, lasting longer in your sessions than short, shallow breaths.”

Breathing fresh air in the outdoors or taking his dog Bailey for a walk in the mountains motivates Shaheem, especially when “you don’t feel motivated”.

“If time allows, the best thing for me is to take a run, or hike. Get the heart pumping and work up a sweat and take in some deep breaths and views, feeling grateful that you have the opportunity to do this because you have opened your eyes today – this process is a 360º circle.”

Shaheem said a quote by John C. Maxwell perfectly described how to achieve a goal: “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.”

• People with pre-existing medical conditions should consult with a family physician before starting an exercise programme.