It's a new year and one of your resolutions is to eat healthily and workout, but you don't know how to start? Don't worry, I've got you covered.
I am going to give you concrete steps that you can follow to set you on the right track to become a fitness enthusiast.
Without further ado, let's begin.
1. Have a strong "Why?"
You need to know why you're actually starting to workout. For most people, it's usually about weight loss or weight gain. Some people also workout for other reasons such as stability, endurance and mental clarity.
Whatever your reason is, you need to state it down, preferably on paper or on a mood/vision board. This is so important because motivation is something you will easily run out of if you don't have a solid reason as to why you're working out in the first place.
If you're confused, or haven't figured out your reason yet, ask yourself "What results do I want to see from embarking on this fitness journey?"
Once you've answered that, you've gotten your "Why?"
2. Set a clear and concrete goal
Next, you want to set your fitness goals. Like I said, it varies individually. Most people are more interested in the physical benefits of working out, while some have other reasons.
Be very clear about what your goal(s) are. If your goal is to lose weight, jot down how many pounds or kilogrammes you want to lose or what range of weight you're aiming for. If your goal is endurance, ask yourself, for instance, how many miles you want to be able to run at a go.
Whatever your goals are, make sure they're SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. You don't want to set yourself up for disappointment by setting goals that are unrealistic and unachievable at a certain point, like losing 40 pounds in a month!
3. Record your starting point
The only way to track progress is by knowing how far you've gone from where you started. Hence, it is important to record your starting point.
In fitness, this can be done in various ways. The most common way, especially for weight-related goals, is by using the scale. However, there are more meaningful ways to measure where you are at the beginning of your fitness journey. These are: taking pictures before, taking body measurements and recording other components of fitness such as strength and endurance before the start of your journey.
Let's say your goal is to lose weight. Rather than just checking the scale, take pictures instead and measure specific areas of your body, especially the stomach, arms and legs. More than often, people tend to see better results in the reduction of the inches around their waist than by stressing over numbers on a scale.
Again, if your goal is to get stronger, you can count how many pushups you can do in a row and see how much that improves. Or, if it is endurance, measure how long you can run on a treadmill before and after you start working out.
4. Finding the best workout program
This will require a little research on your part, but I can give you a few basic tips.
If you're trying to lose weight and gain muscle, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts are a good way to start. If you're trying to gain muscle or improve your strength, weight lifting and resistance training is definitely for you. For endurance, cardio-based workouts will certainly do you good and Pilates has a high reputation when it comes to improving one's flexibility.
Even if your goals are not on any of the four mentioned above, there will certainly be something for you. Use resources like YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest to get the best workout programs that suit your needs.
5. Get equipment
After finding out what workout programs are best for your fitness goals, it's time to get equipment.
For starters, all you really need is a fitness mat that you can workout on at home. You can buy or make one yourself using old clothing materials or towels.
You can also buy a jump rope if you love skipping, fitness watches and sweatbands to maximise water weight loss. If you're into resistance training, a pair of dumbbells and resistance bands can be added to your collection.
Besides workout equipment, you should also ensure that you have the right workout outfit. For ladies, make sure you have sports bras or bras that are good enough to workout in. A good pair of shoes is also vital to ensuring that your feet don't get sore. (You can just wear socks or be barefooted if you're working out indoors though.)
6. Track your progress in different ways
As I said earlier, the only way to track progress is by knowing how far you've gone from where you've started.
Once you start working out, you are going to see some form of result physically or otherwise. Depending on what your goals are, you should measure your progress accordingly.
Take pictures every week and place them side by side with your previous picture to compare the difference. Even if you do not see a difference yet, do not despair. Do it continuously and over time, you'll notice subtle changes in each of the pictures that will become more pronounced with time.
In addition, measure the increase in your fitness components such as strength and endurance by checking improvements in your exercising form. Also, compare how many reps/ how much longer you could do certain exercises from the start of your fitness journey till then.
For weight loss, I suggest you check the scale monthly or every two weeks. DON'T check your weight every single day! It's a recipe for disappointment. Your weight fluctuates throughout the day. So, checking your weight every single morning is not the best way to start a day.
Slow progress is still progress.
7. Stay motivated through social media
Follow fitness influencers who inspire you, check out weight-loss and fitness transformations using their hashtags on Tiktok and Instagram.
Watching transformation videos on Tiktok and YouTube has motivated me more than anything.
Also, following just the right people that share workout tips can be a life changer. Be CAREFUL not to follow influencers that promote diet culture and a toxic body image. Rather, follow those that spread love and positivity.
You can also join workout groups, forums and online communities with other people who share the same fitness goals as you do. This will immensely help you, so do not underestimate the power of community.
8. Be Patient and Consistent
You may not see results quickly. In fact, you're likely not to see any results in the first two weeks of doing your workout. If you do, that's your luck. Many people, including myself, don't.
Like most things, seeing your desired results will require patience and consistency. It may take you months to see the result that another person will see in a couple of weeks, but don't let that deter you. DO NOT compare yourself to anybody. Our bodies are different, so are our results.
Finally, starting to workout is a great idea, but it's not a do or die affair. Don't get into a fitness journey with an " all or nothing" mindset. Believe me, it'll not get you anywhere. It's OK to take a break for some time when you're feeling demotivated. Just get back up as soon as possible and keep pushing.