One of the toughest things about getting in shape for beginners is taking the plunge in the first place.
Working out and losing weight can be challenging endeavors to take up. Not only are there the physical demands of exercising, but there are also factors such as: planning, dedication, diet, commitment, positivity, and so on, which can make the difference between sticking to a fitness goal or quickly falling off the wagon.
It can be daunting to embark on a fitness regimen, but there are things that can make it not only attainable but fun, too. Taking active steps to approach a new workout routine properly can get you on the right track and enable you to keep with it for the long haul.
Here are some effective key tips for the beginner to get started on their fitness journey. Remember to always consult a doctor if you have concerns—but most importantly, remember to have fun!
1. Set an achievable goal
If you’ve never worked out before, or haven’t spent much time working out recently, your impetus to get started, as lofty as it may be, could be overly-ambitious. You might challenge yourself to compete in the Iron Man triathlon or Tough Mudder, but that lofty aim might set up the beginner for failure.
When you first start out, it’s important not to set a goal so high that you get discouraged or, worse, injured. Short-term, achievable goals are the best way to make sure you stick with your workout plan to completion. Take it easy on the body and take more breaks. This sort of honest approach to fitness will go a lot further toward reaching your goal than unrealistic, unsustainable means will.
2. Pace your workouts
The over-zealous beginner might be tempted to head to the gym and work out for three hours on the first day, but your body and mind need time to adjust to a new workout schedule. When it comes to planning your workout week, how much is enough then?
Of course, anything is better than nothing. However, according to New York fitness trainer Liz Neporent, it’s important to workout every day, to get into a routine, even if it’s just something small. Ultimately, though, 30 minutes of cardio per day and strength training twice a week would be a good thing to aim for.
3. Eat properly
Diet and health go together hand-in-hand, and it’s hard to get the results you wish when you aren’t putting the right types of fuel and nutrients in your body.
One of the biggest obstacles to successfully working out is a lack of proper nutrition. Eating the right amount of carbohydrates can be the difference between running out of energy while working out and staying energized through to the end, while a lack of adequate nutrients can inhibit physical performance as well as muscle growth.
The simplest way to slim down, meanwhile, is the nutritional aspect of fitness—diet is just as important, if not more important, than exercise when it comes to weight loss. The principle is very simple: eat fewer calories than you burn per day, and you’ll begin to lose weight.
On the other hand, of course, don’t starve yourself, either. One common mistake people new to working out make is under-eating. As important as it is not to overeat, it’s equally important to make sure you have enough fuel and nutrients to get through both your workout and the rest of the day.
4. Find a support system
According to the American Heart Association, support groups are for more than just recovering from substance abuse. We often think of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or one-on-one psycho-therapy when we think getting support for wellness issues. But getting together with other people looking to meet similar goals can help for other things such as fitness, as well.
“Doing an activity with another person doubles as social time and will make fitness seem like less of a chore,” writes the AHA.
Nor will you have to shell out big money for a group; there are fitness clubs in many neighborhoods. Even getting together and setting a fitness goal with a friend or family member can help pass the time and keep you accountable. Knowing that someone else is waiting on you can help you avoid bad habits like procrastination or skipping days altogether.
5. Do activities that you enjoy
Perhaps most importantly of all, plan a workout regiment that you enjoy doing, says celebrity trainer Milan Costich of Prevail Boxing.
“I believe that we get the best results from consistency, and in order to be consistent we need to enjoy the journey. That’s why I like to focus on small daily goals—small goals completed each day make for big progress over time and give us a sense of accomplishment daily.”
If you enjoy Zumba or yoga, then there’s a better chance that, should you try it, you’ll stick with it. Or if you have a goal that gets you mentally pumped, such as building muscle, or an activity you love, such as martial arts, you can harness that motivation. True, life is about commitment, sacrifice, and hard work, but it’s also about enjoyment, fulfillment, and doing what you love.
So, why not take the opportunity to put that desire into action and take up free running, or fencing, or swimming, or whatever it is that excites you? That positive energy might be the boost you need to make your fitness transformation a reality!