How to Start your own Fitness Journey | Beginner's Guide
"Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development." -Jim Rohn
This is one of my favorite quotes and it helps me put things into the right perspective. I used to put my needs on the back burner. Mainly my health and my happiness. I thought since I had a pretty good thing going, I should be focusing on the things happening to me. I had a good job, which right after college was rare, and I basically didn't have time for much else. I thought if I put my all into my job, I could eventually find the time to do everything else.
But the truth was, if I didn't make the time for myself, I would forever be in that same position. Putting off my health and my happiness had become one of my bad habits. I put myself in a position where growth was impossible, and thought that if I continued on this path I would eventually reach where I was supposed to be. I never defined where it would end, so how would I even know when to stop?
Looking back, I would give my younger-self this advice. Start making yourself a priority. Good health is not something that should be thrown away. In order to succeed, you need to take care of not only your body but also your mind and soul. This quote by Jim Rohn was eye-opening to me, and I realized I had been stagnating my own growth, and therefore blocking any chance of success.
After going through two difficult pregnancies, I understand that starting any exercise can be overwhelming. It's a difficult step, and we all have very busy lives. So to help make the transition a little easier, here are my 5 tips on how to start and stay consistent on your fitness journey. Before you start on any exercise program, be sure to check with your physician to ensure your safety.
1. Make your Goals Achievable
Like I mentioned earlier, after two difficult pregnancies, I was in no condition to jump into any rigorous exercise program. Walking around the block took it out of me. And the thought of signing up for a gym membership in my physical condition, let's just say that wasn't going to happen. So if you are in a similar situation, remember that it's the small wins that fuel transformation.
You shouldn't feel embarrassed or overwhelmed about your starting point. These feelings may actually keep you from taking that first step. So take that first baby-step and set a goal that you know you can achieve. Take a 7-minute walk. You can even make it 5! Whatever it takes to get you moving and you know it's doable. In this way, set a series of small goals that you can reach quickly. As you continue reaching them, you'll gain momentum. Use this momentum as motivation and start setting slightly more challenging goals.
2. Joining a Gym
As a beginner who hasn't frequented the gym, starting your fitness journey by signing up for a gym membership alone, may be an intimidating step. If you are uncomfortable or overwhelmed, there is a chance you will simply stop the progress you've made so far. To increase your chances of success, sign up for an exercise class, such as a treadmill or yoga class.
Have a friend sign up to take that class with you. This not only creates accountability, but will also create a social environment that will fuel your habit formation. Studies show that for habits to permanently change, people need to believe that the change is possible. When people come together, such as an exercise class, the power of the group creates a community. In this community, it's easier for individuals to believe in themselves.
3. Home Workouts
A community doesn't have to be a large group. Even inviting a friend over to workout with you at home is enough to fuel habit formation. But even if you are working out at home alone, there are benefits. It's convenient, there is no travel time, no scrambling to share machines at the gym, and if you have to use the bathroom mid-workout nobody is there to see the awkwardness. Or am I the only one who feels that way?
If you have the self-discipline to set a workout time and follow through, it will save you time and money. Add it to your morning routine, more on that here. The mornings are a great time to prioritize your fitness. Set aside your workout clothes the night before and you'll be good to go in the morning.
4. Create your own Plan
There are tons of great, free exercise content out there. Whether you go to Pinterest or YouTube, you'll be sure to find something inspirational. If going to the gym and getting your own personal trainer is not part of your plan, here are my two favorite fitness gals.
- Blogilates - I started doing some of Cassey's videos after my kids went to sleep a few years ago. In the beginning I could only make it through one video, including pausing it numerous times! After all this time I still don't understand how she can talk through her non-stop exercises. Check it out and you'll see what I mean.
- Get Fit With Whit - I started watching Whitney's videos only a few months ago, but she quickly became a favorite of mine. I enjoy using weights and she breaks it down for you. She also talks about different gym machines and makes it much easier to take the step towards working out in a gym.
5. Record & Measure your Progress
The scale is a good way to measure progress about once a month. There really is no need for stepping on that thing once a day. Especially if it doesn't make you feel good about yourself. Measure your progress using photos. Take a front and side view picture of yourself. I also like taking a picture of my face, because as time goes by, you'll see a difference. Every month, take a new set of progress photos and you can see the difference side-by-side.
You can also choose to write down your workout progress. That could mean writing down how long you workout, how many reps, how much weight, etc. As the weeks go by, you'll see changes in these numbers as you continue on your fitness journey. And these changes cannot be represented correctly by stepping on a scale.
The Quarterly Habit Handbook, more information about that here, has daily pages with a designated area for your plans. You can use this area to write down your workout plan for the day, using small actionable steps that are easy to achieve. This way your momentum will favor moving forward towards accomplishing even more.
And when you finish your workout, you can record your workout length, reps, and weight. Underneath your planning area, there is a designated area for you to write about any obstacles you may face. Use this area to think about what could possibly be keeping you from your workout. Are you too tired? You don't like cardio? Too many interruptions?
After you have acknowledged your personal obstacles, think of solutions. It's important to think this through because you know yourself better than anyone else. And having a solution to your obstacle will give you more incentive to follow through with your plan. In other words, the obstacle won't seem as difficult to overcome because you already have the answer.
If you experience too many interruptions, perhaps you should try working out at a different venue or time. If you dislike running on a treadmill, try a different form of cardio, such as the elliptical or bicycle. Whatever your problem, find the solution ahead of time.
After you've accomplished your workout plan, write down how you feel. This is another designated area in the daily pages of The Quarterly Habit Handbook. It's another way to track progress and can be used to motivate you to move forward. You'll be able to see your thoughts and achievements that may have otherwise been forgotten. It's a good indicator on how much you've grown.