I know that starting a new fitness plan can be daunting, especially if you haven’t worked out in a while or you’ve started and stopped before, but – with a new approach and a determined attitude – success may be closer than you think!
The most important first step to becoming fit is making a workable fitness plan, otherwise it’s too easy to lose focus. Try asking yourself these five questions below and make sure you answer them completely honestly:
1. What are my bad health habits?
Your answers might be poor eating, having too many snacks or sitting down for too many hours…
2. Where do you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10?
One being completely out of shape – breathing heavily while doing daily tasks – and 10 being perfect fitness.
3. How much time do you currently dedicate to exercise or activity each week?
And is it enough? Would you like to be more fit and do you want to have more energy?
4. What three fitness activities do you most enjoy?
Be honest – do you like walking, exercise classes or simply playing outdoors with your kids? Don’t hold back from putting something more adventurous down as a bonus answer – you can work up to high-powered activities as you build your fitness.
5. What roadblocks have caused you to lose focus in the past?
Maybe you’ve stopped exercising because you’ve become busy at work, or your routine was interrupted and you didn’t get back into fitness. Put down anything that derailed your plans.
Now let’s use your answers to make a fitness plan
You can decide to fix just one thing at a time so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. Let’s go through your answers and build a fitness plan you can stick to all year. You don’t need to aim too high – right now, we just want to improve on where you are now.
Overcoming bad habits
If you eat unhealthily then you should focus on making your next meal more healthy because you can’t change what you’ve eaten in the past but you can make sure your next meal meets all your nutritional needs. Approach fitness in the same way: focus on your current or next workout and do the best you can. Decide right now when you are going to do an activity… or even go and grab your running shoes and prepare for an activity session as soon as you finish reading this!
Your fitness rating
It’s good to know where you are – but you also need to think about where you want to be. I’d like you to aim for two points higher than your current number. So, if you rate a five then your fitness plan should slowly take you up to a seven. And, if you’re already at level 10 then I know you’re ready for any challenge but maybe you could diversify? Think about whether there are any areas you could further develop or learn to love more?
Your exercise routine
If you want to give more time in your life to exercise then try to increase your exercise habits by 10 minutes per week until you reach at least 30 minutes of activity a day. Exercise doesn’t have to be daunting: if you currently sit down in an office for long periods then promise yourself that you’ll go and visit a colleague instead of emailing at least twice each day. Or, plan a walk straight after work – even if you only go around the block then at least you’re out and about. As you build your fitness plan, you’ll soon see that adding 10 minutes of activity here and there can make your day more fun and that has to be better than thinking of exercise as a chore.
Choosing an activity
You can start out by only doing the activities on your list – the ones you listed in answer to question four. The start of your fitness plan is not a good time to try new types of exercise, so focus on your favorites – they’ll help you feel confident and comfortable for the first few weeks. Activities like walking, jogging and body-weight exercises are a great way to start out. I love the phrase: “don’t run before you can walk” because a slow and steady approach builds results that will last.
If you find yourself always stumbling because of one particular obstacle then avoid it! It sounds simple I know, but if you always plan early morning workouts but you can’t get out of bed then consider lunchtime or evening sessions. You know yourself and your fitness plan needs to be tailored to who you are so, don’t pledge to do something that you won’t enjoy because then you’re less likely to succeed.
Finalizing your fitness plan
Now you should have everything you need to create a fitness plan that meets your needs. You know what you want to achieve, how you what to achieve it and why. You even know what might knock you off course. With your fitness plan, be kind to yourself and choose an easier route that you know you will be happy navigating over the long term.
Once you have gathered all your thoughts, why not write them out clearly? For me, transferring my thoughts to paper helps to make them concrete – and if I have my goals written down, I know I can’t ignore them. Place your fitness plan somewhere prominent to remind you of your starting point and your aims. I recommend sticking it on the fridge because keeping it visible will help to keep you motivated. I also always keep an exercise journal because it’s a great way to track my progress and, when it works, you want to be able to remember how you did it.
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.