No matter what your dream is, it always seems overwhelming when you look straight up to the top of that big mountain you need to climb. There’s a lot of unknown, there’s a lot you need to learn yet, it’s going to take endless hours of hard work, and there’s a lot you have to sacrifice to get there. Many often fear the journey, convince themselves they’re not capable of doing this, and end up quitting before they even get started.
Yes, there’s a LOT to take in. But you simply need to break it down and start SOMEWHERE.
If getting more active, living a healthier lifestyle, and finally getting that post workout glow you’ve always wanted is one of your goals, taking that “all or nothing” approach isn’t going to get you very far. People often think you need to give up all bad foods, workout 7 days a week, and go on a “diet”. No, this isn’t going to work....for anyone. We’re human beings, we become our habits, and thrive off routine. Making a complete change in the way you run your day-to-day life is too much of a shock on us, both mentally and physically. So, let’s break it down to make getting fit and healthier more manageable.
There’s so much information out there and so many ways to get active, how do you make sense of it all? Your best friend can’t stop talking about this new cycling class she started. Your mom bets her life on this new workout guide she's doing at home. And your weight lifting coworker is so excited to see the changes in her body by going to the gym every day.
But which one is right for you?
Already you may be thinking that you don’t know enough, it’s too much to handle, and maybe fitness is just never going to be your thing.
Being healthier and more fit is a lifestyle change. Lifestyle changes take time, a lot of trial and error, and lots of hard work. So get that idea of quick fix out of your head. But, we need to get started. So, here are some tips on how to take those first steps:
Get Active. This is your first goal. No matter how, just try to get moving somehow. Simply get moving for 20-30 minutes a couple times a week. Go for a walk outside, jump on the bike at the gym, or do some yoga in your living room.
Okay….that’s not so bad, right?
Experiment. Try different things. You don’t need to commit to one thing right away. Most gyms give you a free week pass or try a few group classes. Test a few classes out, try out the different areas of the gym, download a free sample of a workout guide, and maybe try a yoga class with a friend. You’re just testing the waters out to see which one you'll enjoy the most :)
Research. There are many different ways you can do your research. There’s a lot of resources and topics online to dive into. Just like when you were in school, you needed to make yourself familiar with words, definitions, techniques, etc. So take time to learn. Also, almost every gym offers a free training session with a personal trainer for an assessment. This is a good tool to use to learn about yourself, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what your starting point is. Lastly, ask your friends! Ask everyone around you what they’ve found to work for them and if they have any suggestions. You don’t have to do anything they recommend, you’re just being a sponge to soak everything up.
Set Goals. Now that you’ve tried a few things out and have done some research, let’s set some specific goals. If you want to lose weight, what’s your timeline for that? If you want to run a half marathon, sign up for a race and know how much time you have to train for that. If you want to gain strength, how much weight would you like to lift or what muscles do you want to grow? And by when? Maybe you tell yourself you’re going to go to a certain class twice a week or that you’re going to follow AND finish a workout guide for once.
Setting A Schedule. The next step is to make a realistic schedule. Our lives are busy, life happens, and won't have motivation everyday. So, the important thing to remember when setting your schedule to meet your goals, is be rational about it. Don’t write down that you’ll workout 7 days a week when you have a full time job, 3 children, and do volunteer work. Although you may be anxious to get moving and hit your end goal, start with something more doable, like 2-3 times a week. Habits take time to build (and break) so do this for a couple weeks so that you don’t burn out right away. Once this feels natural and a part of your routine, add one more day. Then the next week, add another day. Take some baby steps to build up your stamina and endurance to make it through each day.
Support. Being a part of a community, or having a workout partner, or simply having the support from your family and friends is vital along this journey. Surround yourself with positive, happy, and motivating people to keep you moving towards your goals. Having nay sayers and negative people around will only bring you down and make you think that all is lost and that you can’t do this.
Eat Healthier. I haven’t talked about food until now because honestly, this is the hardest part. Almost everyone tries to workout 7 days a week and eat a perfectly clean diet right off the bat. Three days in they’re craving pizza and give up on everything right away. It’s always best to layer in eating healthier after you’ve made it a habit to be more active. You may already be naturally layering in healthier foods because as you workout more, the more your body will crave foods to properly nourish itself for all the added activity. When trying to eat healthier, think “fuel” not “diet”. When you start working out more, you’ll notice you’re more hungry. This is natural because you’re burning more calories now and your body needs more food. If you “diet” while getting more active your body will be very depleted and cause you to have all those cravings. Creating that “yo-yo” effect. In the end, just start eating to give your body the energy it needs to adapt to your new active lifestyle. It’s also important to be eating balanced meals with protein, fat, and carbs. No – fat and carbs are not bad! You’ll need them to get through that spin class, trust me!
Switch It Up. Don’t be afraid to switch it up! If you stop seeing progress or are getting bored with what you’re currently doing, feel free to switch it up and try something new. This journey is all about trial and error and seeing what you enjoy the most and what's going to give you the results you’re looking for.
With all that said, remember that this is a LIFESTYLE change, not a fad diet or quick fix. Like anything that matters in life, it takes time and a lot of work and dedication. Do your best to stay positive and don’t get down on yourself for having a bad day or week. Lastly, don’t let this one goal consume your whole life - eat that pizza and cake, enjoy the holidays with your loved ones, have a lazy day where you don’t move off the couch, and forget all about exercising and eating healthy when you’re on vacation. To make this sustainable, it’s all about finding a way to make fitness and health a PART of your life, not all of it.