You have made the decision that this year is the year you definitely are going to lose weight and get fit. Now, how do you get started? Tim Williams, personal trainer and sports conditioning coach, advises firstly if you are not sure about your level of fitness and how much activity you should take consult your doctor. “From there,” he says “you need to find a form of exercise that will be both beneficial to your goals and enjoyable to participate in. If you are not sure where to start then you can always consult a fitness professional to help you with your plans or join a programme to get yet you started such as the Anytime Fitness ‘Jumpstart’ programme.”
Fitness Educator and chiropractic, Jen Bily believes that being committed and planning in advance is the keys to getting enthused about starting. “Get yourself a calendar and journal and start writing down some specific goals… a goal weight, date, event, competition, challenge or shopping spree… create a plan! Clipped photographs, articles, images may help add to your inspiration. Tell someone (or several someones) about your plan so that you are kept accountable.”
Finding a exercise programme that works for you and that you enjoy doing is going to be key to your success. Williams suggests trying as much of everything as you can, asking people you know about what they enjoy and you should always feel at ease to consult someone if you are not sure. He says if you are planning on taking classes there are many different options that are available and certainly more than one to keep you motivated. The best way to ‘try before you buy’ is to contact the facilitators of these programmes and ask for information about all the different types of classes. He says, ”most places will allow you try out different options on ‘guest passes’ before you have to commit to a full programme.” Bily is in agreement when it come to finding out what works for you the best plan is to “Do your research, find out what’s available, and discover all your options.”
Neither trainer thinks that going it alone is a good idea initially for several reasons: you might not be performing exercises properly, you might cause injuries and Williams says one of the problems of going it alone is “it is really hard to guess how you are doing or where you are without having the knowledge to assess it.”
Bily says in her experience that most people do not push themselves to the level where it creates real change when they go it alone. Also you are more likely to give up and start making excuses for not doing your exercise.
Excuses and trying to wriggle out of one day’s exercise and then two days’ exercise until you are back to square one, is another reason why the experts say it is important to set goals for yourself as they will carry you through the periods when enthusiasm starts to wane. “Goals are essential to our success. They help us create and follow a plan”, says Bily. “I find it helpful to write them down. Leave these written goals, or affirmations, out where you can review them several times a day. Read them upon rising and as the last thing before you go to sleep. When you close your eyes, witness your goals as mission(s) accomplished! Create short term and long term goals, and frame them in the present and positive. “I complete a 5K walk today with ease.” “I am 25lbs lighter on my birthday.” I re-write my short-term goals almost daily, and they remain open in my notebooks, taped up in the bathroom, car, on the fridge too.”
Williams agrees “Goals are always a good way to track your progress, just make sure you are setting goals that can be achieved and that will keep you focused on your training.”
Bily says to keep going, “Challenge yourself, be disciplined, but remember to be nice to yourself too. Watch how you speak to yourself if you miss the mark, then go tie up your running shoes and try again. We all get another chance to be better, do better, tomorrow.” Above all don’t give up!
Jen Bily’s tips on starting out:
Keep a positive attitude, make time to reflect, eat real food and move everyday.
Get yourself a calendar and journal and start writing down some specific goals.
Tell people about your plan so that you are kept accountable.
Commit to joining a walking group, exercise class, sports club or team.
Although health and fitness is a serious thing, try not to take it too seriously, keep a sense of humour… it can be a bumpy ride!
Make an appointment to visit your favourite chiropractor and masseuse… your body will be going through some changes and you’ll need to approach your recovery time just as importantly as your workout time.
If Santa didn’t bring you a set, go treat yourself now to new workout clothes or running shoes (studies show we work out harder when we feel good in our clothes).
Make sure your iPod is loaded and charged!
Preparation is key. Get equipped with a good quality water bottle, Tupperware storage for ready-to-go healthy snacks and meals and a (whey protein) shake bottle/mixer.
Calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate). This is what your body needs to perform functions such as digestion and breathing. This will give you an idea of how many calories you need to consume, and burn, to reach your goals. Keeping in mind that if you are challenging yourself physically self each day, and eating only real, unprocessed, clean foods, you shouldn’t have to do much counting.
Clean out the cupboards of junk food… refined carbs, sugary and processed foods. You are a machine that needs good quality, nutritious fuel! Also, the results you’re after will be slower to come if you don’t clean up your diet.
Ask for help from trusted people that may have already entered into the journey of improved fitness and health.
Start drinking more water now.