After my blog post last week, so many were asking about my personal top exercise and eating tips! Thank you everyone for reading and saying I look younger than my soon-to-be 40 years. I’m now less than a month away from turning 40 (on the 17th of August) and I guess I’m “unofficially officially” counting down with you too. This is fun! If you missed my last blog post where I listed my top 20 lessons covering my personal story in love/romance, friendships, and business/work – click here now to read it.
How have I stayed fit and youthful as I turn 40?
Today’s list is focusing just on fitness and healthy eating i.e. what I personally use. My aim is to give you easy to use tools that you can implement into your life too. As many of you know from following Fitness To A Tee, my life purpose is to serve and encourage you however I can, to live a holistically healthier life – not just in the physical sense but within your mind and soul too. It doesn’t have to be super tough and can be done with minimal resources!
*(“Ndakusvika 40” means I’m turning 40 in my Shona language from Zimbabwe). Why not 40 lessons? Because I feel 20 inside haha so I thought 20 is plenty.
So here goes…I hope you enjoy this list too!
- It all starts in your mind!
My journey with fitness has definitely evolved the more I learnt to feed my mind first! Think about it this way. If you tell yourself that you can’t do something, that your body sucks and is incapable of certain things – what do you think will happen? It will follow suit of course. What we say and think matters!
Believe it or not, from my teen years up until my 30’s I didn’t have much self-confidence. This was because of various traumas that I went through as a young girl and then as an adult woman. You can read more about that in my last blog post here.
So it really took me actively and consistently seeking healing from my 20’s – to start to believe in myself; in what my body could do and that I could sustain a life-long health journey. Practical things that I do for my mind and soul are daily prayer, meditation and declarations. Declarations can also be termed as positive value statements that I say over my life, my mind and my body e.g. “I am capable”, “my body moves well”, “I love you body, you are my vessel for serving others” etc. If you are someone who is not spiritual – you can start with monitoring your mind and changing how you speak to yourself.
2. Let the feelings catch up with you!
A lot of people say “but I don’t feel like working out,eating healthy” etc. Trust me, if you wait for the feeling to come – you will be 50 if not older before it arrives boo boo.
Of course we can get inspiration from people around us, but I learnt that with all aspects of my life – I just have to start with step one. Once it becomes a habit, the feeling catches up with you. One of the first things when you start working out is that you start to feel good before you see the physical results. That is one of the best feelings. And it makes your mind stronger too. So it becomes a perfect union of mind and body. I won’t go into all of the good hormones that are activated in our body too (maybe a topic for another blog).
I’m motivated to remain consistent by always thinking of the bigger picture – which is to reduce my risk of certain diseases and to live a fuller life where I’m not restricted in my movement. In times when I’ve been in hospital (a story for another day lol), the doctors have always said I recovered speedily due to my health and fitness.
3. I work out 5 times per week, for 30-45 mins
I started “working out” when I was 19 years old. However, as a younger girl – I was always active in sport e.g. I was in my primary school hockey and tennis teams in Zimbabwe. I’m grateful that as young kids, my parents taught us to balance both academics and sport. As a young girl, I also loved riding my bike and climbing trees (yes tree climbing haha). I think I loved completing the feat of climbing the tree, then once at the top – I would always daydream of how my future life could be. I was always a dreamer and deep thinker from a young age. A dreamer who likes to take action!
So by the time I got to 19, the habit was already ingrained and I started experimenting with jogging, then with weights or resistance based training. I loved the feeling…and then the results. I was hooked!
Nowadays, my routine for working out is I work different parts of my body 5 days/week so e.g. Monday I do front of thighs, butt and abs; Tuesday I do back, triceps and waist etc. My fifth day is always a stretch or yoga day. Bear in mind that because I’ve been training for so long – this split works well for me! Everyone is different and I wouldn’t recommend this split to a beginner. I’m simply sharing my personal routine.
4. I love working out at home as much as the gym
I always used to go between the gym and home, but after the COVID-19 crisis began, I have continued working out at home. And I actually think I will continue working out from home only. I will see how I feel.
I don’t have any equipment. I use what I have in my videos – my bodyweight; suitcases with books in them; chairs; and an old pair of stockings as my “resistance band”. Once the Fitness Leaf resistance bands arrive, I will definitely be using those. I’m excited as that stock is arriving this week woop! (Fitness leaf is the apparel range of #fitnesstoatee).
I do what I teach. So if you’re wondering what exercises I do, I post daily stories on the Fitness To A Tee Instagram and Facebook pages of my own workouts. I have a principle of teaching what I do – the teacher practises what she teaches. The same applies with my online 1:1 coaching clients.
Sometimes people will ask, “but I’m trying to lose weight so will I get good results just using my bodyweight?” Yes you can, as long as you have the correct workout structure which suits your body.
5. Location never stops me
This is something which has kept me going no matter where I am. So when I travel, I work out in whatever space I am in. When I used to visit our family home in Zimbabwe when my parents were still alive – I would exercise each morning in my bedroom. I would even use the bed to do step-ups (ummm… makes the core work more – yeah I know I’m a sadist teehee), much to my mum’s shrieks of horror lol! When I’m travelling elsewhere, I work out in my hotel room. I can exercise in the smallest of spaces. I have no excuses, unless I’m ill.
6. Learn to develop a friendship with your body
Everyone is different in how they respond to various training and eating methods. I know this professionally as a trainer, and then as an individual who is nearly 40 wink. I learnt to try things and really listen to my body in terms of what was working, not working etc. And as I age, I also feel when my body wants me to change something it no longer needs or can’t do.
I see my body as my friend or as a child that I’m looking after so I listen to it now. I learnt over time, to be kind to it. Sometimes it’s taken longer to figure things out, but it’s a journey worth having.
7. Learn to activate your muscles
This means that when you do your exercises, focus your mind on the part of the body you are working and really concentrate on squeezing (activating) that part. It comes with practice and is something you can learn better and quicker with a professional fitness trainer.
8. Incorporate variety
I love variety and that is what has kept me going for so long. I tend to mix up my workouts once I get bored of a particular way of training after 3 to 4 weeks. Also within my week, I combine calisthenics (a form of bodyweight training), weights training with other training like yoga, walking etc. I also switch up my methods so sometimes I will do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT); other times – just normal, structured sets e.g. 3 sets x 12-15 repetitions of moves etc.
Because I also used to train and successfully competed as a natural bodybuilder in Australia, in the Fitness Model category (I won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals) – I sometimes also do my traditional bodybuilding type of training when I feel like it.
9. Strengthen and stretch
As much as I love weighted or resistance based training, stretching is critical in helping me to move better and it relaxes my mind. I have suffered from anxiety and depression in the past, and sometimes still get some anxiety. So stretching is one of the methods I use to de-stress and relax.
I’m a firm believer in talking openly about my journey and mental health, particularly within the African communities where it’s often not talked about as much. This is changing in our communities though and that’s amazing!
Remember your story matters whatever it may be, and by sharing mine I hope to encourage someone out there that you can weather the storms. You see my smiling photos and external side, but I’ve also been through very challenging times – some of which I thought at the time that I couldn’t get through. I’m grateful to have come through and my life purpose to bring hope to others, is my biggest motivator in all that I do – including when I work out.
I absolutely love walking! It’s something that most of us can do wherever we are in the world, unless we are physically incapable of doing so. It is one of the easiest ways to incorporate exercise into your day.
I also use it as a way to meditate and think about certain areas in my life – particularly when I’m stuck on a personal or business decision, and during those weeks when I need to rest my body from weights training.
11. Drink plenty of water (or herbal tea)
The first thing I do when I get up each morning is have a large mug of warm water with a slice of fresh lemon. This is great for your skin and wakes up the metabolism. The metabolism makes up all the chemical reactions that happen in your body every second to help you function, including fat-burning.
I also have water throughout the day (at least 2 litres) and if I don’t feel like water – I’m crazy about all sorts of herbal teas such as chamomile, dandelion, raspberry leaf, nettle etc.
12. Focus on nutrition first, then exercise
It’s 80% nutrition, then 20% exercise to achieve your physical health goals. So I always ensure I eat at least 80% healthy, then 20% not so healthy each week. By having the not so healthy part, it helps me to maintain my healthy lifestyle because I don’t go on any fad diets.
My body is happiest eating mainly fish, chicken; wholemeal carbs like brown rice, sweet potato and a variety of vegetables.
13. Simple foods and routine
I stick to eating simple foods so overall I buy the same grocery items each week. I love spinach and salads so I tend to have 2 big side salads with my meals including breakfast if I feel like it. Some of you who follow my daily stories have seen me having eggs with a salad in the morning lol.
I eat 5 times a day: 3 main meals and 2 snack meals. This keeps my metabolism ticking over nicely; I stay fuller for longer; I rarely get bloated (again bloating is another topic for another blog lol) and energised mentally and physically.
13. Yes, I do eat chocolate, pizzas, burgers etc!
A lot of people assume that I don’t eat much at all, but I love my food. I have learnt to balance things out plus I have a good metabolism…well so far so good. I have food that is not so healthy each week – generally at weekends. I have a sweet tooth so love biscuits, chocolate mousse and ice cream.
I’m that goodie goodie though and whilst I have some binge days once to twice per month max, I eat not so healthy food in moderation. I don’t go overboard and when my body says stop – I stop. I also don’t feel good eating a lot of junk. There are so many yummy healthy recipes that I make, so I don’t feel like I miss out. I get creative in the kitchen too.
14. Don’t go to bed without washing your face
This is something my late mum taught me. I always cleanse and moisturise each morning and evening for clearer and younger looking skin, although the exercise and healthy eating are the main reasons for youthful skin.
15. Face masks and exfoliation
I use a Bentonite face mask twice per week, which is great for drawing out toxins from your skin and I use an activated charcoal based face exfoliator twice per week as well.
16. The more natural the better
I use natural, organic products on my face and body, so goat’s milk soap is something I have used for years on my face – particularly because I’m allergic to anything with nuts e.g. sweet almond oil which is in many skincare products.
I love Daughter of the Soil products such as their Marula face oil. It’s excellent for moisturising use when travelling, as you can use it in any climate and only need a small amount.
17. Smile and laugh as often as possible
It really is true that smiling and laughing keeps you looking and feeling younger. Think about this: “1 minute of anger weakens your immune system for 4-5 hours. 1 minute of laughter boosts your immune system for 24 hours.” (Dr. Caroline Leaf)
As you see from my workout videos and the new “Workout with Tee” homeworkout plans, I love to dance as a way of burning calories and also re-channelling all the overflowing energy I have in a positive way. I’m not a skilled or talented dancer, but I have learnt to be comfortable enough within myself, to accept and embrace my body as it is – thus letting it move how it wishes to. Life is too short to try and be great at everything! I just have fun with the dancing.
19. Seek help
This may sound so cliche seeing as I’m a trainer haha, but asking for help to get a customised, training routine to suit your body is the best investment you can ever make. As a professional trainer myself, it is easier for me to design all my own personal workouts – but I also use the services of other professionals in my field from time to time when I want to fine-tune certain areas. There is always someone I can learn from. Learning is a life long objective for me. I use the services of other more experienced trainers and/or naturopaths once or twice per year. I also use this time to be mentored/coached by someone senior to me.
With all the lovely women I train worldwide and online, the goal is always for them to learn, grow and become independent in their own health journey. Some women I’ve trained for over 5 years love to continue on the #fitnesstoatee customised plans (I change their plans so they keep getting fitter every 4 weeks) because it takes the hassle out of them figuring out a structure for themselves without any professional knowledge; ensures they get results and makes their busy lives easier.
I love watching the amazing growth of the women I train, particularly as what they learn impacts their families and friends around them. I could just cry. OK, my hard exterior is fading lol! I’m getting all emotional. Someone pass me a tissue and a dumbbell!
20. Rest and sleep
This is often overlooked but rest from exercise (hence why I train 5 times per week and not daily), plus sufficient sleep is important for your body to repair and recover. I really suffer emotionally, mentally and physically when I don’t get good or enough sleep.
On days I feel I didn’t get enough sleep – I won’t do my own, personal workout even if it’s a day I’m scheduled to workout. I would rather my body did a workout when it’s well rested than pushing it. Our bodies are the first home we have, our vessel from which we live. Let’s aim to respect it as such.
Well…there you have it! I hope you enjoyed my list! Here I go as I head to 40 woop!
*If you have any questions on structuring your workouts or any other health questions, feel free to contact me for a complimentary 15 minutes chat wherever you are in the world, by clicking here now!