Alesha Dixon’s goal setting approach to fitness

Alesha Dixon performing in 2008
Alesha Dixon performing in 2008

Alesha Dixon is certainly a fit, healthy and energetic woman. She is a great fitness role model for youngsters and adults alike. She is famous for her roles as both contestant and judge on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and on Britain’s Got Talent, as well as being a successful pop star.

1. Set Clear and Manageable Fitness Goals

Alesha always sets herself goals and writes them down and then breaks it into small sub-goals. Then each of these goals is tackled by exercising with the purpose of meeting them. For example, goals could include:

  • Do more squats in one minute
  • Beat your personal best time for a 3 mile run.
  • Exercise every day for a week
  • Become more flexible – easy to break this down into many sub goals for different stretches
  • Get stronger – lift more weights

If you have many small goals rather than one simple “I want to lose weight and get fit” goal then it becomes much easier to manage.

2. Set Yourself Exercise Appointments

If you are generally a disorganised person that struggles to find the time to exercise then you must make yourself appointments – and stick to them. Write down times in the diary over the next month for exercising and work around those times. If you always find time to make dinner and watch East Enders you can certainly make time for exercise.

3. Vary Your Workouts Throughout the Year

To help keep motivated vary your exercise routines throughout the year. In winter take up more indoor activities such as swimming, spinning classes and combat fitness classes.

4. Drink More Water

Alesha is quick to remind us that we should all drink more water to help flush out toxins and keep the body well hydrated – water is vital for exercise.

5. Reward Yourself for Making Progress

There is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself so long as you make sure it is only when you really deserve it, such as losing another kilo or meeting one of your goals. Then one small reward, such as chocolate or a muffin with your coffee is allowed and may help motivate you to work hard to achieve the other goals.

6. Always Stretch Well After a Workout

Flexibility and suppleness is a key factor of fitness, it is not all about increase VO2 Max levels. So after each workout have a good stretch. Do not stretch before a workout though, cold stretching risks injury.

7. Learn About Exercise

Alesha says “If I read one more naff article on how to get sexy abs for Valentine’s Day, or any other day for that matter, I think I’ll scream.”

Most people will never get a 6 pack so it is not really worth trying. Unless you are very serious about exercise and diet then this should not be one of your goals. However, understand the importance of abdominal exercises as a way to increase core strength is vital to perform many other exercises.

8. Remember To Diet – You Can Be Fit and Fat

Many people start exercising and think that they need to do nothing else to lose weight and be healthy. This is wrong. Weight loss requires a reduced calorie diet. Research has shown that exercise without diet usually fails to result in weight loss.

9. Do Yoga To Stay Slim

Alesha tells us about some interesting research from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in America. People that do yoga are generally in more control of their emotions and have greater control over their appetite. Good yoga training literally teaches you how to cope with the discomfort of feeling hungry and helps to reduce emotional eating which is one of the biggest causes of weight problems.

10. Exercise With Others

When we do group exercise our bodies produce more of the feel good hormones, endorphins. This makes exercise feel more like fun and motivates us to keep going back for more. Research has also shown that women who workout with friends lose more weight.

11. Go Running

Alesha loves running and says that putting your name down for a charity run is a great way to motivate yourself to get fitter and run more. Start with a walk-run workout, run for a minute then walk, repeat for 30 minutes if you can.

12. HIIT and Split!

For fastest fitness and strength gains there are really two main tricks:

  • High Intensity Interval Training: This is when you perform an exercise, often a cardio exercise, at maximum intensity for a short period and then slow down and recover (not stop) for a longer period. For example, sprint for 10 seconds then jog for 50 seconds (or more), or row as fast as you can for 30 seconds then recover for 2 minutes. Research has shown that this form of exercise burns more fat and gets you fitter quicker.
  • Split Routines: If you attempt to do full body workouts 3 or 4 times a week you will soon start to suffer from overtraining problems and become exhausted. Your muscles will not recover and you may even make yourself ill. For this reason you should split your weight training routines if you want to train more than once per week, for example do a 2 day push / pull split or a 3 day weight training split.

13. Do Not Neglect Your Back

Many people exercise their whole body but fail to work their back enough. The best back exercises you can do are pull ups. Pull ups are very hard, but fortunately we have a pull up workout that helps you develop your back strength. A strong back helps in all areas of your life.

14. Only Eat When You Are Hungry

Alesha Dixon only eats when she is hungry. This simple rule is one of the easiest ways to start losing weight and staying in shape. So often we eat because it is meal time even though we do not require that additional energy. Any surplus energy eaten is stored as fat. This is the same advice we give in the 10 Root Causes of Weight Gain.

15. Do Not Cheat

When you are exercising remember that you are doing it for your own benefit. It is not a competition with others, so do not cheat to allow yourself to lift heavier weights than you should be lifting. When weight training it is important to maintain good form, that is make sure the movements are correct, the body aligned properly and the lifting and lowering of weights is always under control. If you are using your back to help curl a bar or using your chest to help do a shoulder press then you are not only cheating on yourself but you risk injury.

16. Eat More Protein

Many people think that to lose weight and get fit you have to cut out all fats, meats and dairy. In fact, the opposite is true. You need protein to build muscle and get stronger and fitter. So learn how to eat more protein.

17. Plyometrics – Jump Higher

Being able to jump high is a great measure of fitness and health. Learn how to jump higher and add plyometric movements to your workouts.

18. Learn About the Weight Loss Phases

Alesha says that there are 3 phases of weight loss:

  1. Honeymoon phase – you are positive and everything seems to be going well
  2. Resentment phase – you start to feel that everything is going wrong and that you are failing. Many people give up now.
  3. Acceptance phase – once you make it this far you should be on the home straight and have more personal belief in yourself.

By understanding that these phases are going to happen, you can be more prepared for the feeling of failure and know that you can overcome them.

19. Slow Down

Alesha does a lot of weight training and provides more weight training advice: slow down. When you lift too quickly you engage the wrong muscles and are cheating. This limits actual growth and development. Slow down to prevent cheating and make bigger gains.

20. Sleep and Rest Well

Last but not least, remember to rest and sleep well. All we are really doing while exercising is slowly destroying our bodies. It is only when we are resting and sleeping that our bodies grow, repair damage and get stronger. So always try to get at last 8 hours sleep a night. Also take naps when you can, an afternoon nap of just 20 minutes can do wonders to your energy levels and recovery speed. Lack of sleep causes over training and poor development.

Alesha Dixon is also “the face of LA Fitness” which is a popular UK gym brand. She is always blogging her latest fitness tips over at the LA Fitness Website. If you go to one of the LA Fitness gyms in the UK you may be lucky enough to speak to her yourself.

Photo by Dafydd Thomas

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