We’ve all been there — starting anything new is hard. Or maybe you’ve been on a hiatus and are looking to get back into the swing of a healthy lifestyle. Either way, here are some tips to get you over those difficult “where-do-I-even-begin” hurdles and on the right track!
Make Small Changes First
We are trying to make LASTING changes, not quick ones — there’s no need to go from zero to 100 by committing to six days a week at the gym and a diet of chicken and broccoli. Baby steps are the way to go! Start off by picking THREE ‘non-negotiables’ that you will commit to each day, and write them down. For example:
- Drinking 8 cups of water per day.
- Walk for 10 mins in the morning.
- Add a protein source to each meal.
Yes, it really CAN (and should!) be as simple as that. Have your list somewhere you can see it and remember it. Committing to your non-negotiables for 21 days will turn them into habits, by tracking the days you complete your non-negotiables you can slowly start to add in other small changes. Once you’ve given yourself a few weeks to make those habits stick, you can start switching in some other small changes (like signing up for one spin class per week, or packing your lunch for work).
Find Something You Like
Do you love playing sports? Find an adult league in the area. Do you like lifting heavy things? Strength training could be the thing for you! Do you enjoy being outside? Take a hike — literally!
There are so many different types of classes and activities out there to try. Start with something familiar and enjoyable so you’re more likely to keep up with it; build up your confidence doing something you like so you can try pushing yourself out of your comfort zone down the road. Most gyms and training facilities have great intro deals so you can get a feel for what they have to offer — take advantage of those offers. Bring a friend with you and swap out a pizza date for a bootcamp session. It’s not against the rules to have a little bit of fun in your fitness routine, we promise! Plus, a friend makes a great accountability partner.
Plan Ahead & Establish A Routine
“I just don’t have the time” — one of the biggest barriers (and excuses!) that we make when it comes to squeezing exercise into our day. There are 24 hours in a day; all you need to do is find 30-40mins each day to invest in yourself. If you think you’re cutting it close on time, set your alarm 30 mins earlier and sneak in an at-home session first thing in the morning. You might find that setting aside that time in the morning is just the energy boost you need to start your day right.
Not a morning person? Pack your lunch and gym clothes the night before and make an effort to hit the gym on the way home. You can even try a lunchtime class and break up your workday with a noon-hour sweat! It all comes down to YOU valuing your overall health and making it a priority. Planning your workouts (and healthy meals) and penciling them into your daily schedule like you would an important meeting are great ways to make sure you DO have the time. You make the time to shower, get dressed, and brush your teeth each morning, right?
Set A Goal
How great does it feel to check an item off of your daily to-do list?! We all know the satisfaction. Having a goal in mind will help you measure your progress and keep you feeling accomplished as you break a sweat. When we start our fitness journey, it’s great to have a goal in mind that will get us through those harder days. Focusing on making SMART goals (yes, just like you did in primary school) will help keep you on the right track. Here’s an example of a ‘SMART’ goal:
In four months, I want to be able to run a 5km race in 30 mins.
This goal is SPECIFIC and MEASURABLE — we have a distance we want to complete in a certain amount of time, versus the more ambiguous option: “I’d like to be able to run.” To make sure it’s ATTAINABLE, I would get a baseline number for what my current 5km time is and gauge if it’s REALISTIC to put in the amount of training I need to get to my goal time. I’ve also put a specific amount of TIME on my goal so I have can plan my training accordingly.
Be Consistent & Accountable
Here’s a quote that I really like when it comes to finding your healthy lifestyle routine:
“You won’t always be motivated. You must learn to be disciplined.”
It’s not going to be rainbows and butterflies every day; it’s going to be hard work! Waking up is hard, planning ahead is hard, the actual exercising is hard. But if you aren’t challenging yourself, you aren’t changing yourself! I promise to chill out on the inspirational quotes now, it’s just the truth!
On the days where you aren’t feeling it, it’s definitely important to listen to your body. That being said, it’s important to know the difference between listening to your body when it needs a rest and when you’re making excuses. For example, if you have the flu… take some time off and come back stronger! Don’t push through illness, true injury or pain. If you’re just trying to give yourself an ‘out’ of working hard due to lack of motivation, get up and do something! Even if it’s not the exact workout you had in mind, prove to yourself that you can work through that ‘bleh’ feeling and still come out on top.
As you’re developing your new habits and routines, there will be times where you don’t want to do something. Remember that you’re trying something new and you have to let it be difficult before it becomes second nature. Early on you’ll have to test the waters and figure out when to push and when to relax — try getting outside of your comfort zone and see how it feels! If you discover “hey, this is a day I actually should’ve rested,” then now you know. On the other hand, you might just find that getting a sweat on was exactly what you needed to get over that gross feeling. Now you know that you can push yourself a little bit more than you’d originally thought, and you’ll be proud to learn so!
Having a friend, coach or trainer who can help you plan for your goals, hold you accountable and motivate you when you are lacking drive is extremely valuable. Even fitness professionals have support systems to help in their own programming — it takes an army!
Feeling ready to get started?
Follow these five steps and get on track to a healthier you!
Written by: Bronywn Stevens, Athletic Strength & Performance Coach