So, you’ve decided it’s time to start exercising. Congratulations!
You’ve taken the first step on your way to a new and improved body and mind. Commitment to making it a priority is the next step. According to the Mayo Clinic Staff, “Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight — even improve your sleep habits and self-esteem.”
There is no secret or special formula to getting started on an exercise program. The only way to start is to just get started. Yes, that’s right, get started. How do I get started, you ask? Everyone has a different motivator. Everyone has different likes and dislikes. Everyone has different passions. So everyone will have different exercises or workouts that keep them moving. Knowing and understand that it isn’t going to be easy – make sure that you are committed to making regular exercise a lifestyle change.
Before starting any exercise program, consult your physician and start tracking your food intake. The single most important factor in weight maintenance and getting results from an exercise program is calorie intake. Tracking your food intake means monitoring how many calories you eat per day. Compare your actual caloric intake number to the number of calories that you burn to maintain or drop weight. Consult a professional (personal trainer, nutritionist) to develop this number. After you know this calorie number, then you can effectively plan your meals and snacks down to the last calorie.
When you start an exercise program, setting short and long term goals will help you stay on track. Short term goals could be getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, 4 days a week or eating 5 small meals a day and counting your calories for a week; some long term goals could be losing 40 pounds, dropping 3 dress sizes or 3 inches in the waist over 4 months. These types of attainable goals will help you stay motivated.
Track your progress. Develop a schedule to make sure you weigh and measure every day, week, or month! Make sure you measure at the same place each time—waist at the navel, thigh 6 inches above kneecap, and hips at the widest point. Be consistent with the scale (same time of day and same scale every time you weigh) to ensure your measurements are accurate. Use a chart to track your progress (good or bad). This along with your food log will allow you to correlate the food facts, which means you will be able to tell what effects different foods have on your body (inches and pounds).
As you may have noticed, FOOD has been the major topic of this article. As a recovering food addict and a Professional Fitness Trainer/Coach, I understand how important food is when trying to live the Healthy Life. While getting started on an exercise program may be a daunting task, remember it all starts with Food First. You might also consider several sessions with a certified personal trainer to learn what to do to reach your fitness goals.
Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to stay active. Find what motivates you.