This is your time! Do it! Take a long breath and commit yourself for your betterment. Deciding to be more active is an incredible first step to cashing in all of the amazing benefits of exercise, from better moods to improved sleep to all-around higher confidence. But once you've resolved to start working out, that's where things can get a little overwhelming.
With all of the chatter about the magic workout to do or the perfect amount of time to spend in the gym, it's hard to know where to start. And if you're not clear about what you're doing, it can be easy to throw in the towel when things don't go as planned.
1. Identify the need so you can be clear about your goals: The best thing is taking the time to figure out why -what-how. The question is, Why are you adding fitness and wellness into your life now? In what ways will your life be different when you have fitness in your life regularly? And how are you going to include fitness into your lifestyle today, and this week?
2. Try starting with three 30-minute workouts a week to pace yourself: If you are just starting a new workout program, don't overcommit or over-perform! Try starting with three days a week, and schedule it into your week like a doctor's appointment. No need to take a full class—stay for 30 minutes, or try a short private training session or an at-home workout.
3. Prioritize consistency over intensity: You are better off doing a 45-minute, moderate-intensity strength circuit three times per week than to do a two-hour, high-intensity workout six times a week, and then burning out in three weeks because it’s not sustainable.
4. Find other active people to support your efforts: Motivation is what gets you started, but making things a habit is how you keep the longevity of an active lifestyle. Having friends, family, and coworkers that exercise with you can help you to persevere. Try to find workout buddies to do healthy things together.
5. Do workouts you like—you're more likely to stick with it: The best advice for beginners is to find something you enjoy and focus on small, incremental progress each day.
6. Invest in a great pair of shoes: Wearing old, broken-down shoes can negatively impact your joints and ligaments, especially if you're running, sprinting, or doing plyometrics. If you're lifting weights, you will want a harder, flatter bottom of your shoe so you feel more connected to the floor. And if you are a runner, most specialty running stores will give you a stride assessment to help decide what shoes are best for your arch, heel strike, and foot width.
7. To avoid burnout and injury, start slow and take breaks during your workouts: Start slow, set realistic goals, be gentle with your body, and take breaks as often as necessary.
8. Accept that you'll have setbacks, and that's OK: Be patient with yourself—you will have setbacks, and every day will not be perfect. The key is to be persistent and keep moving forward.
9. Think of working out as an act of self-care: Always know that the journey tends to be the road less traveled. Those mental battles are hardest to deal with in the beginning stages so stay humble, stay committed, and know that the benefits far outweigh any difficulties.
10. Don't skip your warm-up and cool down: Warm-up before starting your routine—a proper warm-up is important to get the body ready for injury-free movement. Take time to stretch after your workout, and take rest days. There's plenty of time to build and progress.
11. Master fundamental movements like squats and lunges before getting fancy: Keep it basic, and don’t over-complicate your workouts. Too often people skip foundational exercises for workouts that look cool and are trendy. Mastering the basics truly takes time, so don’t rush through.
12. Don't compare yourself to people who are further along in their fitness journey: Be willing to look silly and make mistakes without judging yourself. Keep trying, and with every workout, you’ll get better and better. Remember, the goal is progress, not perfection. And in a group environment, don’t compare yourself to anyone else in the room.
13. Know that results don’t happen right away, and that’s OK: People come in with the expectation of long-term results happening fast, but people should look at fitness as a big picture and making exercise a part of their life routine, as opposed to an acute, momentary mindset.
14. Tune into that post-workout high, and enjoy it: Focus on the feels. Most fitness goals are long-term projects, but the one exception to this is how we feel, which can immediately and profoundly improve after a single workout. If you’re just starting, tune into the positive vibes you feel after exercise and let that be your reward. Remember, even as a newbie, you’re only one workout away from a good mood.
15. If you're into numbers and stats, try wearing a heart-rate monitor to see how your body's working in real-time: I tell someone starting to wear a heart rate monitor so they know how their body is responding to the physical stress of training. Workouts are much more fun if they make sense. That goes along with my motto: train smarter, not harder.
16. Set athletic goals, like doing push-ups on your toes instead of your knees or running a certain distance: Set something other than an aesthetic goal. This can be a certain amount of weight you want to try to squat with, a distance you want to run, or maybe you just want to be able to do a push-up on your toes.
17. Nix excuses by laying out your workout clothes, signing up for workouts, and meal prepping fueling foods: Make it easy for yourself not to find excuses. Lay your clothes out the night before or pack your bag. Sign up for classes or a trainer at the beginning of the week and put it in your calendar.
18. Practice gratitude for what your body can do right now: Be grateful for where you are, right now, and have a clear picture of where you'd like to be. From there, take on a simple plan that aligns with your goals and doesn't bore you to death…