You may very much want to start exercising but you don’t know where to start. There is so much information out there and it can be intimidating. A good fitness plan includes both nutrition and exercise tools and goals. What good is running three miles a day if you’re not feeding your body right? Or what if you’ve had a plan before and it didn’t work for you? I would ask, did you have the right plan and did you work the plan? Plans in and of themselves don’t work. You must make a plan and work the plan. Never be afraid to enlist the help of professionals, family and friends.
Step 1 – Consult a physician: you see this everywhere. You may dismiss this as a way people remove liability from themselves if you get hurt. This is partially true. The reason you should do it is to make sure your body is up to the challenge. You will want to know if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. before you start engaging in a lot of physical activity. Having these conditions doesn’t mean you can’t work out (sorry), but your physician may have special guidelines you need to follow. Your body is designed to move, so it will want to get moving.
Step 2 – Clean your kitchen: make sure you have the right nutrients in your kitchen. There are several posts on this blog about what should be in your house, namely food. Processed food is not as nutritious as whole foods. Reminder, food is anything that was once alive. It gives your body the fuel it needs to exercise and release fat. A starving body is not going to release fat. That goes completely against its programming. Throw out anything that doesn’t serve you. Yes – the diet soda too! Head to the store and buy real food immediately. Small treats are okay.
Step 3 – Get enough calories: I’ll say it again, a starving body is not going to release fat. It is programmed to retain fat to use a food source in case your body goes into starvation mode. Your body doesn’t know if its in a desert or an office. If you stop eating your metabolism will slow in order to make the most use of fat. Be sure you’re eating enough calories to sustain your regular daily activities and fuel your workouts. The number of calories you should get is based on your current weight versus your goal weight. The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn. There are 3,500 calories in one pound. Common theory is a woman should have about 1500 calories per day. Really, a nutritionist can evaluate you and tell you what you should be eating.
Step 4 – Plan your workouts: you should be getting a mix of cardio and weight training. Our bodies are funny things. They can only be in one mode or the other, fat burning or muscle building. What?!?!? It’s true, if you build muscle you will burn fat (fat burning mode), however if you do more muscle-building activities you will build lots of muscle but may not burn a lot of fat. Balance your cardio and weight lifting appropriately. The cardio will build endurance and will go to fat stores as you do more and more cardio. I once trained for a marathon. My body became mesomorphic – meaning it neither lost nor gained weight. Our bodies – can’t live with them, can’t live without them. A good rule of thumb is to get 45 minutes of cardio (walking, running, etc.) a day to maintain your body weight. Increases from there will start to burn fat. Shoot for an hour of cardio a day for 4-6 days or do HIIT (high intensity interval training) if you don’t have that much time. Research has shown HIIT workouts burn more calories and have an after burn effect or continue to burn calories throughout the day. Weight baring exercises are important to build muscle and good for our bones. You can help prevent osteoporosis by putting weight on your bones. The rule of thumb here is weight training 2-3 days a week. You should get a day or two of rest in there.
Step 5 – Change the plan: your body can quickly get used to routine. Change up the exercises. That’s why I run, bike, swim, dance, etc. One I get mentally bored and two, my body adjusts quickly.
Step 6 – Write it all down: if you have written nothing down for steps 1 through 5 here’s your chance. You can do it in a notebook, a smart phone app, an Excel spreadsheet. Doesn’t matter. Write your goals and your plan. Check out some of the tools I use – a Body Media LINK armband and a Withings wireless body scale. I like them so much I’m an affiliate of both companies.
Again, don’t be afraid to consult professional nutritionist, physicians and trainers. Can’t afford one? There are free and low-cost alternatives out there if you search for them. If you have health insurance your physician can refer you to a nutritionist and it may be covered by your health plan. Give them a call to find out. Don’t have health insurance, go to a free clinic offering wellness checks at a discount or for free. No excuses. This time will be different because you BELIEVE it will be different. If you are struggling to lose weight and you’re doing all of these things, get your hormone levels checked. Those hormones can be tricky things!
I’m just keeping new.