Beginner's Guide to Starting Your Fitness Journey
Congratulations on desiring to change your habits and begin on your journey to healthier living. You’ve probably seen loads of fitness apps, programs, and celebrities, but how do you actually START your journey? Follow these tips to help guide you on your path to beginning your fitness journey.
Take baby steps
This is the most important point of them all - take baby steps. Don’t take on too much all at once. This can cause burn out and upset. Instead, take little steps of improvement. Rome wasn’t built overnight and neither were you. Be kind to your mind, body, and spirit by easing your way into a healthier lifestyle. The simplest way to take your first baby step is to begin adding movement in small increments like taking a 20 minute walk in the morning or at lunchtime. ANY movement is better than no movement at all - if you only have 20 minutes, use it! Instead of committing to a 12-week plan that leaves a lot of time for upset and failed commitments, start smaller. Shoot for working out for 5 weekdays in a row. This shrinking of your timeline helps motivate you when you achieve it! Plus, there is a closer end in sight which makes it seem quite possible to reach.
find your why
This is critical to sticking to your goal. Dig deep for this one - why do you want to start your fitness journey? Why do you want to get healthy? Maybe it’s for your children or future children. Maybe you want to feel confident in your own skin. Maybe you desire to feel less tired throughout the day. Whatever it may be, discover your why and keep it at the front of your mind at all times. I love writing it on a sticky note and placing it on my bathroom mirror. Let it sink into your being.
Work around your schedule. You don’t have to make room for an hour+ workout everyday in order to start your fitness journey. Instead, find any amount of time that might work best for you. If you don’t even have 20 minutes throughout your day, try setting your alarm 30 minutes early to workout in your living room before the madness of your day begins. If you prefer evening workouts, set aside room in your schedule for 30 minutes before dinner. Here are a few easy time savers:
Meal prep on Sunday evenings to give yourself extra time during the weekdays
Multi-task - if your dog needs a walk, use a fast-walk as your workout
Set your alarm earlier than usual to create time in the morning
Cut down on TV time. Use yoga or a workout to decompress
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve skipped a workout because I didn’t pre-commit. It is important to commit to a workout BEFORE the time comes. You must write it down and verbally tell yourself, “I am working out at 630am tomorrow” so you make a promise to yourself. Book a class - paying for a session makes you less likely to skip it. Lay out your workout clothes before bed and view your workout so you know what you’re getting into in the morning. Tell a partner or family member you’re scheduling a workout so you are less likely to miss it.
Accountability is one of my favorite topics. Find a partner to encourage you. My husband is my accountability partner, and although we don’t workout together, we go to the gym at the same time and chat before and after about how we performed in our workouts. Instagram is another form of accountability. Posting a workout or meal on social media makes a public acknowledgment that you are committing to a fitness routine. A personal trainer can also be your accountability partner as they encourage you to meet your goals.
Often times we overthink our situation. We make every excuse in the book and then complain when we fall short of our goals. The truth is, to see any progress, we must first begin. We don’t need extra motivation or energy, but we do need to simply start - from anywhere. As you begin a workout, your endorphins will kick-in and you will get a boost of energy. Plus, completing a workout proves that you are capable of accomplishing more! It proves you CAN find the time, you CAN find the motivation, you CAN challenge yourself positively.
do what works for you
There is nothing worse than attempting something you hate; and it sure won’t create a healthy relationship with working out. You don’t need to run 4 miles a day if you hate running. You don’t need to attend a kickboxing class if that isn’t something you enjoy. There are so many ways to expend calories and workout. Try a variety of classes or workout styles to find one you actually enjoy - enjoyment is the first step to commitment. It is far easier to commit to something you love to do. After about five years on my fitness journey, I finally found what works best for me - a HIIT and a low-weight style training. You can find the exact workouts I do here. I also love yoga and spin as a way to switch up my routine.
Create appropriate Goals:
Find a program that works for you. What is your goal? Create a goal that is appropriate and realistic. We can often aim too high and get disappointed when we don’t achieve what we set out to do. Fight discouragement by placing realistic expectations on yourself and know good things take time and effort. It is very likely that you won’t see much progress until 4 weeks of sticking to a plan. You must continue to work past this point to notice large changes.
Are you aiming to lose weight, lean out, and get toned? Try a program that is focused on HIIT and low weights high reps. I developed Dumbbells & Devotions 2.0 with these goals in mind. Are you seeking to gain muscle mass and healthy weight? Try a program with lower amounts of cardio and higher, heavier weights. Most of all, determine your goals, and meet with your accountability partner or a personal trainer (like myself) to help you stick to your goals. Aim for your best. You are worth every effort.