Getting started with a new fitness program can be riddled with invisible land mines. It’s not as cut and dry as it may seem to the novice, but you don’t realize that when starting. When you’re first starting, all you know is that you want to feel good, look good, and perhaps lose a few pounds—all good intentions.
But those intentions have a shelf life. They’re unstable.
For them to last and be of any use, a healthy dollop of specificity could greatly improve one’s chances for longevity — which is the real goal. But no one says that when they begin.
For anyone who is trying to get into a routine, who wants to quit the stopping and starting, here are 21 tips to help you approach this journey you’re about to embark on with the heaviest dose of reality as possible — this is your best chance at making fitness become a fixture in your life!
1. Trade expectations for appreciation. Starting out expecting to lose 10 pounds in one week is not only unrealistic. It’s not fun. Instead, learn to appreciate what your body can do and build from there.
2. Break it down — easy wins are your besties. Set realistic goals and start small so you can feel-good quickly! This builds momentum.
3. Change your focus, and don’t look to the past for answers today. So what that you stopped and started a million times before today. Who cares, and why should that affect your performance today? Don’t look in the rearview mirror unless, of course, you want to go back there.
4. Know your excuses, and stop using them. “I’m too tired” is an excuse. “I’m not in the mood to workout” is an excuse. “My kids are running me ragged” is an excuse. “I don’t have the time” is everyone’s favorite excuse. Your brain learns from experience, so use an excuse once, and it becomes easier to use a second, third, fourth time, and so on.
5. When you feel good about yourself, life around you improves. Life works better when you feel good about yourself — ever notice that? Exercise is the magic pill we’re all dying to discover, and it can help you improve other areas of your life. Use that knowledge to your advantage.
6. Accept the suck. Working out is hard work, and if you’re new to it, your learning curve may be high. The good news is that if you stick with it, you’ll get better at it. Much better. Don’t feel bad about being out of shape; know that you’re only going to get better.
7. There will be bad days. No journey worthwhile is ever smooth. You’ll skip a day or two here and there, but the most important thing to remember is never to think that because you missed a few days, that it’s over. It’s never over, not when you’re committed. Get back up!
8. When you’re really not in the mood to workout, do a 10-minute stretch. Once your body is warmed up, you may be surprised at how eager you are to keep going.
9. Don’t base a decision to workout based on your feelings. No one wants to workout. We’d all rather sit on the sofa and veg out. Don’t listen to the whiny you, “but I don’t feel like working out.” If you wait for the moment when you feel like working out, it may never come.
10. Don’t reward yourself. If you were good all week, don’t think that gives you carte blanche over the weekend. Rewards are screwing with your success. Good health is your reward.
11. Plan it into your day. An overstated yet widely underutilized tip. Don’t think that free time will miraculously appear in your day that will allow you to get in a good workout. That’s why you haven’t been consistent in the first place.
12. Stick with it. You get nothing from quitting.
13. A little goes a long way. 10-minutes every day can do more for you than one 30-minute gruel session once a week.
14. Try not to wait until the end of the day. That’s where excuses and emotions lay in wait. Try doing it in the morning and be done with it.
15. Try it all! Do yoga, core, HIIT, bodyweight, pilates — variety is what will keep you interested and showing up.
16. Track your progress. There is nothing better than seeing how far you’ve come! Mark your calendar, check off a box, do whatever you can to support your successes.
17. Allow for days off. Rest your badass bod once in a while! Rest days are great for stretching, meditating, or taking a walk in nature.
18. Never compare yourself to someone else’s journey (or body). Don’t compare someone’s middle to your beginning.
19. Create accountability. Enlist a friend, join a fun and supportive group, start your own fitness group (yes, you can!) You can only push yourself so far, but a good friend will call you out all day long!
20. Know exactly how bad you want to see results. If you don’t know what you want, you’re not going to prioritize correctly. How important is it to keep up your practice of working out, and what, exactly, are you hoping to achieve? Know this.
21. Consistency and a strong commitment are the only two things you need. They build routine and confidence.
Bonus Tip: Believe in yourself. Stop listening to your inner critic because the truth is you have what it takes to be successful. It’s a journey, and it isn’t easy, but when you have faith in yourself and do the work, you will be rewarded!