Beginners, How to Begin an Exercise Routine
For years I exercised only for weight loss, and when I reached my goal weight I would stop. Every time I repeated the cycle I gained back a little more weight. I was using exercise as a punishment against my own body which made me hate exercise. That’s no way to live. Exercising only for weight loss was unsatisfying and worsened my body image.
In 2015 I decided to make exercise a daily habit, and that snowballed into consistency and inspired me to become a trainer so that I could spread the good word to others! So here’s the secret: exercise is for you, for your mental health, it is your time, and it doesn’t have to take up a large portion of your day. Exercise doesn’t have to be a long slog on a cardio machine. What if you just took 5 min in the morning to stretch? Think about what your body needs.
What Not To Do
Don’t think that you need to go hard on day one… or “accomplish” anything specific other than simply starting. I see it all the time in the gym, people join, create an extensive game plan, and plan to work out like crazy every day thinking this will get fast results. That is the fastest way to burn out and never feel like exercising again. If you make yourself overwhelmed, exhausted, and too sore, you’re not likely to continue.
Shaming or hating yourself into changing also doesn’t work. The results won’t last, and if you don’t appreciate your body as it is at any time, trying to change the way it looks will not fix that. I’ve been there a million times. I have lost significant amounts of weight several times, but still hated the way my body looked even when I reached that coveted number on the scale because I never learned to love myself. I thought I would find self-love when I got to a weight goal, but it doesn’t work that way.
Remember that with fitness goals, it takes time. If you want to change your body composition it will take consistent behaviors to see results. You will look in the mirror every day and probably not see those changes very fast, it will feel discouraging at times. This is why small actionable (non-scale related) goals are so important: every day you can drink water, every day you can eat food that is nourishing, every day you can spend a few minutes stretching, and every day you can speak nicely to yourself. I know that it can be hard to love the body you’re in while you’re trying to change it, so keep thanking your body for the abilities you have. Be happy you woke up today! Thank you body!
I know that when you have a goal you want to get started as soon as possible so that you can get it done. PACE YOURSELF. At the beginning, smaller but consistent victories are key.
- Set small, attainable goals. Write them down.
- Begin the habit of drinking water, it's the easiest thing you can do for yourself immediately. Get a water bottle that you can carry with you wherever you go.
- Decide on the best time of day for movement. Set alarms or calendar reminders to exercise. Include notes about why you’re making time for yourself.
- Mix it up. Some days you may want to take a class at a gym, some days you may take a hike after work. Variety helps keep exercise fun.
- Write about it. How did you feel after exercising? Give yourself kudos!
- Add before you subtract. Try adding 2 cups of vegetables to 2 meals a day and don't worry about cutting out entire food groups. You need fuel to exercise, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to be starving.
Slow and steady wins the race. Remember, even if you’re walking slowly up a hill if you keep going you will get to the top of the mountain. Reminds me of the time I was first getting into hiking. I would walk fast for as long as I could, then I would have to stop and catch my breath. I would get passed by people walking slowly and it kind of blew my mind. Then I realized they were pacing themselves. They walked slowly so they didn’t have to stop, that’s the key.
There will be days where you feel great and can push yourself a little more, and there will be days where you feel tired and don't want to do anything that remotely feels hard. I used to joke that every workout I’ve ever done, I didn't want to do, but I’m always happy when I’m finished. Keep that appointment with yourself, even if you are sore and are going to stick with stretching and recovery that day. Create the habit of taking care of yourself.