Developing an exercise habit increases your ability to reach your desired outcome. But two of the biggest barriers towards people getting healthy is that they simply don’t know where to start and the lack of time. Gym memberships, workout clothes, nutritional supplements, it’s all too intimidating. How can you possible fit all that into your schedule?
The most important thing to remember is that you have to have a plan. Make a specific, realistic goal and chart out a step-by-step process to get there. And most importantly, don’t get overwhelmed. Setbacks may well occur, but if you stay focused, your goals will be attained in no time at all.
Start an Exercise Habit with Discipline
Before we start on some specifics, consider the idea that you require discipline to become a regular exerciser, not motivation. Many exercisers are far too reliant on motivation – this idea that you should be happy and excited about working out. The fact is, working out leaves you sore, sweaty, and it takes hours out of your day. It’s totally fair that you would not feel enthusiastic about that prospect.
But it must be done regardless of how you’re feeling on that particular day. Thus, discipline is the word of the day. When you have discipline, you’ll find yourself working out right on schedule like a machine, making progress even on days when you’re just not feeling it. Instead of waiting for motivation, build exercise into a habit, and before long you’ll find it’s easier to stick to your routine than to take a day off because your mood just isn’t right.
How do you do this? First, you must set a goal. Start small, perhaps by setting a reasonable target weight, or working out for a certain amount of time on particular days in the week. Feel free to ask your doctor or friends for suggestions, and don’t overdo it.
It’s Okay to Split Your Workout into Smaller Sessions
Experts recommend getting 30 minutes of physical activity every single day, even if it’s split up into 10 minute sessions, and about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week (Laskowski, 2014). You should also do some strength training at least twice a week, for whatever amount of time is convenient. If your exercise goals are more extreme, you can always do more, but this is a good baseline to start with if you’re new at the whole process. Write down a schedule where you can accomplish these goals and then stick to it. Remember, discipline is key.
If you intend to lose weight, experts say you can expect to safely lose about 1 to 2 pounds of fat per week (Zelman, 2008). This is accomplished via both exercise and healthy dieting, both of which are aided immensely by a tight schedule. There are many resources online that can help you count calories for either weight loss or weight gain, such as MyFitnessPal.com, and several that will help you plan meals and keep track of grocery lists, such as eMeals. Be diligent about recording what you eat – you’re only hurting yourself by cheating.
As for figuring out what exercises and meal plans will work best for you, the answer is… there is no easy answer. Everyone’s needs are different, and while personal trainers, doctors, and friends can offer some good advice, there will always be at least some trial and error.
Tips for Getting Started
- Exercising your core is essential. Most motions of the body involve the abdominal muscles in some way, so having strong abs and a good lower back will save you a lot of pain. Crunches, sit-ups, and back raises are all excellent. Consider doing a few during commercial breaks while watching TV.
- For cardio, it’s good to work both on endurance and intensity. A ten minute jog will get you sweating, but a less intense walk over the course of an hour will also do wonders for your legs and heart. Consider walking or running over uneven terrain – hills and valleys will activate muscles in your legs that don’t get used as often, and will even improve your balance to boot.
- It’s important to have active wear that you use only for exercise. Not only is it unpleasant to wear the same sweaty shirt and shoes after your workout, it can also lead to health problems like athlete’s foot, acne, and skin infections. Shower and change your clothes after each intense workout, and make sure to use deodorant and body wash. It’s not just for show, it’s healthy.
- If you’re planning a healthier diet, find some pasta dishes you enjoy. Whole wheat pasta is an excellent carb, and it pairs well with proteins and vegetables of all stripes. Try to phase out sodas from your diet, and remember, dessert isn’t a treat if you eat it every day.
Exercise is a lifestyle change, an ongoing process that will make you a healthier, happier person. Find a plan that you can stick to, and before long you’ll find yourself in a body you can be proud of.
Laskowski, E. (2014). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on 7/14/2015 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916
Zelman, K. (2008). Web MD. Retrieved on 7/14/2015 from http://www.webmd.com/diet/lose-weight-fast-how-to-do-it-safely
Good Hygiene Habits at the Gym. Web MD. (2014). Retrieved on 7/14/2015 from http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/safe-workout-tips