6 Dos & Don'ts Of starting your fitness journey
How many times have you started a diet or workout plan with the best intentions and enthusiasm in the world, only to stop 2 weeks in and say, “alright, I'm done now.”
You spend the weekend binging on treats and drinks, and then you vow to turn over a new leaf! You’re done being lazy.
THIS is it!
THIS time, you’ll stick with it!
A few weeks later you’ve already “restructured” your goals and said, “I’ll just try to eat healthy most of the time and make it to the gym when I can.”
I've so been there.
And because I've been there and got sick of that cycle, (and I’m betting you are too), here are SIX Dos & Don’ts to starting your workout journey (or whatever you want to call it) to make sure you don't give up this time.
Don’t begin for a negative reason.
Do begin from a positive place.
What exactly does that mean?
If you begin some healthy lifestyle only in spite of a weekend of splurging (or in spite of anything, really), you’re bound to quit the moment you feel “better” about all those choices. And if you begin only with dreams of having that insta body or a stomach that’s #goals, you’re beginning a long, painful journey of self-critique and constant comparison. All you’re going to be doing for the next 2, 3 or 6 weeks is lifting your shirt in every mirror to check for your abs.
Beginning as a “punishment” for your eating habits or because you don't like the way you look are negative reasons.
Positive reasons are things like “I want to be healthier,” “I want to respect my body,” or “I want to get stronger.” When you begin for positive reasons, you begin to change your relationship with food and exercise. You stop seeing food as “bad” and working out as a way to “burn off” that “bad” food. You see fitness as exciting or invigorating, because you’re using it for positive reasons and not negative ones.
Don’t set vague, distant, unrealistic goals.
Do be crystal clear on what you’re doing and where you’re going.
You're beginning this whole thing for some reason, right? Because you want something to happen, something to change. So you need to set a goal. How can you make something happen if you never define what that something is for you?
Set a clear goal for yourself.
Be as specific as you can! Setting a specific, clearly stated and measurable goal is the only way to know whether or not you’re progressing, or whether or not you need to change your approach.
Set realistic goals.
You know yourself: Don’t make your goal to work out before work every morning if you know good and well you aren’t a morning person. Don't say you’re going to give up sweets entirely if you know you have a bad sweet tooth. Set a goal that's challenging, but be realistic to YOU and your lifestyle.
Set your goals within appropriate time frames.
This means not 6 months out, and not 10 days out. Give yourself a chance to make progress, but also don't forget to check up on that progress! A goal 6 months away becomes very distant, very fast, and you lose momentum when you're working for something that far out. Try mini goals of 2-3 weeks, or medium sized goals of 5-6 weeks to give yourself some motivation and a chance to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Don’t say “I just want to lose 5 pounds.”
Do have a deep-rooted and passionate reason why.
When you ask yourself why you want to begin this whole fitness thing, dig as deep as you can, because when it’s time to hit the gym but you just had the longest day ever, “I want to look good” isn’t going to peel you off the couch. And when it’s your friend’s birthday and she orders an ice-cream cake with double fudge cookie dough brownies on the side, “I’m in a wedding in 3 months” isn’t going to help you say, “no thanks.” When your legs are on fire and you just want to quit and rest, "I want to be skinny," isn't going to keep your legs moving.
Dig. Deeper. Ask yourself why.
It’s got to fire you up, and let’s face it, being a bridesmaid isn’t exactly firing-up material. Get real, super real, like scarily honest and heavy with yourself, because you’ll need that when motivation is at it’s low.
P.S. - Keep a look out for next week's post for more tips and help on establishing a sturdy and deep-seated reason why.
Don’t ignore progress measurements.
Do determine your measuring stick.
Progress is hands-down the best motivation there is, so it’s crucial that you figure out how you will measure it.
First, decide what will you be measuring to determine whether or not you’re reaching your goals. Will you measure your physical bodily changes? Will you measure endurance? Strength? Fatigue or overall mentality? Figure out what you will measure, and then figure out how you will measure it. So many people forget this part and they just embark on a journey without ever being able to see how far they’ve come (or haven’t come.) How will you know if what you’re doing is working or not? That's the question you need to answer for yourself.
Remember, there are so many different ways to measure your progress, so pick the one that works best with your goals and go with it.
*I would also like to add that I do NOT recommend ONLY using the scale as a means of measuring progress. Weight determines how hard gravity is pulling down on you, not what type of human being you are. Challenge yourself to care about something besides the effects of gravity.
Don’t blindly begin a program.
Do inform yourself and be intentional about your actions.
We live in a world where resources are available to us 24/7. To not utilize our capacity to research and educate ourselves would be a shame.
And also, don’t you want this? Don’t you want to make a change in your life? That’s going to require a little self-education and research. Don’t just pick the first plan you see on Instagram or Pinterest.
In order to get actual results and progress towards the things you want to see happen, you need to find a plan that fits your goals. If you don’t structure your activity based on your personal goals, how do you think you’re going to reach them?
This process includes diet and exercise. Do your research and bust your own myths. If weightless is your goal, look up how we lose weight. Don’t be that girl that just does the elliptical endlessly and eats salad and avoids carbs because she “heard” they were bad. Just… don’t.
Educate yourself. Be curious, and take informed steps towards your goal—for your mental health and for the sake of your goals.
Ask any friends in the fitness community for advice or see who they follow on social media. Instagram is a great way to get ideas and connect with people with similar goals. See if your gym has any free coaching sessions or basic plans they can offer.
Resources I use and have found to be very helpful & informative are: Katy Hearn (@katyhearnfit, katyhearn.com) for workout videos, Sarah Ackman (@sarah_ackman) for workout videos and awesome explanations, myfitnesspal.com for educational articles and recipes, and bodybuilding.com for workouts, meal ideas, and educational articles.
Don’t negotiate with yourself and stay on the fence.
For this lifestyle change to work (and last!), you need to make a decision. You don’t need to want to make a decision. You need to straight up decide. You’ve got to make up your mind about what you want and decide that you’re going to get it. My favorite quote to illustrate why this is important is this one:
“Willpower is for people who haven’t made up their minds.”
You know what? This is going to be hard.
It’s not always going to conveniently fit in your schedule or feel good or make you happy, and that's why you have to commit. You’re going to want to do other things, eat other things, be other places, but that’s why this can’t be about want or willpower. It’s got to be a flat-out decision.
Quit making deals with yourself like, “If you go to the gym 3 days this week, you can have a donut on Sunday.” That’s not a decision, that’s a half-decision.
This. Is. A. Decision. It’s not a maybe.
Commit. Understand it's going to be a challenge. Know that it will be hard and sacrifices will be made, and make progress a priority. That’s all there is to it.
Follow these 6 Dos and Don'ts and you're sure to not only start off on the right foot, but continue on the right foot for your entire journey!
P.S.- This is a great post to share with friends to spark motivation and help them start a journey that's going to LAST! Click one of the social buttons below, forward this email, (or copy and paste the link-- old school style) to inspire someone else to get started the right way!
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