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I never really paid attention to my body, and between surfing and my 3 annual runs (…) I’ve always considered myself as a sporty person, but the truth is I wasn’t really, and the more I did outdoor activities the more I realized it. It all started with hiking, I clearly underestimated the physical side of it and even if some tracks are easy, as soon as you want to go in the mountains and look for pretty views you have to climb the hill and it gets much harder. My hiking buddies are all very sporty and I got left behind very quickly, out of breath and my legs burning, taking a break every 50m praying for the summit to be not too far. At the top I was proud of myself but my friends had to wait for me all the time and as for me I did the whole hike in a hurry and in pain, not enjoying the landscape and the nature around me.

For surfing it is pretty much the same, you’d better be in good physical conditions if you don’t want to endure the session and be able to enjoy a few waves, especially in winter. I experienced it last winter when I started surfing a surfboard much shorter (6’4) than my longboard, my first sessions were chaotic, I couldn’t catch a wave and I was exhausted after 2min of paddling, how frustrating to put on a 4/3, booties and gloves in the cold to finally get out of the water cleared out of all my energy without having caught a single wave! In that case you find yourself all the excuses in the world; it’s normal in winter we don’t surf enough so we loose our strength a bit, thick wetsuits and cold water make us tired really fast, or the ultimate excuse, it is the waves fault! Even if it is true that surfing in winter is physically harder it is not the only reason… I realized my physical weakness was a true obstacle to practicing my favorite activities and that was the triggering factor to get myself together and start exercising for real.

So I started to work to get back into shape, not necessarily to lose weight but really to improve my physical capacities and my sports abilities as well as my health, to finally be able to fully enjoy surfing, hiking, skiing and everything else I love to do. Here are, in a few words, the key elements of this experience that I wanted to share with you.

Food

Food is the fuel to our body, it is because of what we eat that our body can work, more or less efficiently. A healthy and appropriate diet is the first element to look at when starting a reshaping. Learning to eat well, knowing the macro and micro nutrients and the effects of the food on our body is very interesting but quite complex. I don’t pretend to be a nutritionist and the quantities and values of my diet won’t fit anyone else, so I’m not going to go through the details of what I eat, if you want personalized and accurate advices the best is still to see a professional of nutrition. However if, like me, you wish to learn the basics of nutrition by yourself, here is a short list of books (French, but they might have been translated) that you can read to learn how to eat better and wiser, especially for sporty people. You can also find a lot of useful informations on the Internet, and particularly on Youtube where there are many fitness and workout channels that are true mine of information, of course you will have to sort it out and the strong personality of some Youtubers can be a little bit scary at first, but you can still learn a lot from them. With good nutrition knowledge it is then pretty easy to eat the right food in the right quantity, based on your physical activity and your objective, weather it is to loose weight, to get more muscles or to be in better health, and to get results.

Books :

Youtube channels :

Physical activity

It seems pretty obvious, to be in shape you have to workout! Exercising a lot when you’re not used to it can be a little bit tough at the beginning and even feel like suffering, but after a few session you quickly see progress and it is really encouraging, you may even start to like it. To stay motivated it is also good to have a workout buddy who is a little more in shape than you and will push you out of your comfort zone.

My exercising program is pretty simple, about 3 workout sessions a week (muscle strengthening and HIIT at the gym), running and surfing. Those 3 activities are complementary and allow me to make progress at different levels, training sessions at the gym help me grow my muscles, get strength and also enhance my cardio, which helps me get better at running, improving my speed as well as my endurance. Same in surfing, after a few weeks I started to really feel the difference, I had more energy, more power when paddling and more strength in my arms and my back, goodbye marshmallow arms and short breath!

Also be careful not to fall in the trap of exercising just for the sake of exercising (yes, I see you girls, biking at the gym, your phone in your hands and not a drop of sweat on your forehead), of course it is still better than nothing, but if you don’t want to get quickly discouraged and really see results you have to sweat a little and go beyond your limits! The true revelation for me was HIIT sessions (High Intensity Interval Training), those short (30-40min) and intense sessions alternate muscle strengthening and cardio (you can easily find programs on the Internet) and I found it very efficient and less boring than regular training, I quickly realized that a 30min HIIT session has much more impact of my muscles and my cardio than a 1h run for example. Today, running and surfing are the activities I do for pleasure and my sessions at the gym are more like a training, this rhythm suits me pretty well and allows me to stay in shape and enjoy physical activity, you just got to find your own :)

Sleep

Sleep is often forgotten in fitness program, yet it is crucial to allow your body to recover and to build muscles, especially when you exercise a lot. Going to bed at set times and getting enough sleep help eliminate the fat and get muscles, and it makes waking up easier in the morning, I even got used to getting up a little bit earlier than I need to so I have time to eat a good breakfast and I don’t have to run to get ready, it really helps starting the day well. Rest days, with no physical activity at all, are also very important to avoid too much fatigue and lower the risk of injury.

A few tools

There are many tools and connected objects to help you with food, physical activity and health in general. More than simple gadgets, some of those objects and apps are truly useful, if not essential, to help you eat better, follow your progress in sports, collect health data, etc.

To get more information and see my selection check out the article Sporty and connected, objects and apps to stay in shape

Results

To conclude, all those changes in my daily life to get in better physical conditions were a true success, today I really feel better in my body, fitter, stronger, I found a workout routine and a diet that suit me well and allow me to practice my favorite sports with no difficulty. I don’t really consider this as a diet to loose weight, even though I lost a few kilos along the way, but more as a rebalancing that improved my health and my physical condition, it is now part of my daily habits and I will definitely keep eating well and exercising to keep feeling this good :)

And you, what do you do to stay in shape?

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