The other day the nice people at Quorn™ asked me if I’d like to meet their Quorn Ambassador fitness guru Jessie Pavelka…….erm yes.
The reason I was so keen was that I’d heard Jessie speak at a fitness conference once and knew he was totally in tune with what NYNHB is all about – the idea that fitness doesn’t have to involve super expensive gyms or complicated training regimes and that moving your body in any way is key to getting a healthier one, so, with that in mind, I asked him for his top five tips on making your workout more fun whatever you choose to do. And this is what he told me…
- Workout with the right people. Having a fitness buddy is always going to motivate you more than working out alone, but according to Jessie the key to having fun while you workout is choosing the right buddy, ‘You have to have the right level of competitiveness,’ he says. ‘Just enough that trying to beat each other is enjoyable rather than demotivating. If you can be doing a plank together and laugh while you try and hold on for a second longer than them, you’re with the right person.’ However he also warns of the ‘too fun’ buddy, ‘the one who suggests you blow off your workout and go to a bar instead.’ Ah, so that’ll be why no-one wants to workout with me then! I’m the bad influence buddy.
- Look at your childhood: We forget that when we were kids exercise was generally quite good fun, we tended to naturally run, jump or hit things without thinking it was a chore and ‘by remembering what you loved doing is a kid, you can try and find the perfect workout for you now,’ says Jessie. If you haven’t worked it out what exercise you like to do now, cast your mind back to what you enjoyed doing as a kid, how can you bring that back into your life now? It might not be exactly the same – I did gymnastics as a child but there’s no way I could do that now, but I did like all the pointy toes bits when I tried a barre class recently.
- Realise that sometimes it can’t be fun. If you want to really improve your body, fitness or beat your last race time ‘you can’t just go for a walk admiring the scenery and expect that to happen,’ says Jessie You’re going to have to challenge yourself and work in ways, that, let’s face it, hurt a bit. ‘But to make that more fun compete with yourself,’ says Jessie. Even one more rep, one second off your fastest time, or doing the second half your cycle a minute faster than you first challenges your body.
- Think how you feel after your workout. ‘Always take note of how great it feels,’ says Jessie. That’s what keeps you coming back.
- Find your tunes: ‘If you can’t get out for a workout, one of the most fun workouts you can do is to just put on some zany-arse tunes and dance round the house for a while,’ says Jessie. ‘If I need motivating I try and find something I haven’t heard for a while and put that on.’
That last one was pretty relevant to me yesterday. I had planned to go for a run, but the weather was awful when I woke up. I was desperate to move though as I hadn’t managed to exercise all week. At this point I realised The Boyfriend had gone out and immediately turned the house into Gym Helen. I found a random workout playlist on Spotify, turned it up super loud, set my phone timer for 20 minutes and basically did a mix of running on the spot, sprinting up the stairs, squats, press ups, sit ups, star jumps and fake skipping on the spot (same movements, no rope) for a minute each as hard and fast as I could. I had so much fun, that when I realised it had stopped raining when I’d finished I went off and did a sprint round the block for 10 minutes too. Zany tunes are awesome.
Just off on a quick tangent here, if you’ve seen Quorn in the supermarket and are wondering what on earth it is, or, why they have fitness ambassadors, it’s a vegetarian protein made from a mushroom like substance called mycoprotein. As that name might suggest it’s high in protein and very low in fat which is why fitness folk like it.
I’m cutting back a bit on meat at the moment (after discovering that pork products are also on the list of foods that make my hands hurt) and so there are a lot of Quorn sausages, mince and other products in our fridge. Three tips I have learned while cooking with it (well, watching The Boyfriend do so as he’s in charge of most food production in our house) are…
- Because it’s so low in fat, if you’re making something like a chilli or fajitas it’s best to cook the onions and any other vegetables first in a little oil and then add the Quorn so that things don’t stick.
- Quorn takes up the flavours of whatever you’re cooking it with really, really well. As such, it’s brilliantly in casseroles, stews – or batch cooking. A sausage casserole that tasted good on Sunday will be fantastic by lunch the next day.
- If you’re used to more meaty tastes, your secret weapon is Marmite. As much as I hate to say this as I can’t abide the stuff The Boyfriend will insist on adding it to things and it does just give the dishes a little something extra but is obviously still veggie if that matters to you. If you’re not veggie, an Oxo cube won’t go amiss either.
Note: This post has been sponsored by Quorn. That’s not why I’m being nice about it though – I genuinely do like it.