Do you remember the first time you walked into the gym? What comes to mind? Did you take a class, lift some weights or get on a treadmill? Did you feel empowered? Or were you completely lost, embarrassed and ready to quit? Truth is, you’re not alone. Many people begin their fitness journey and have no idea of what they’re doing. Here is my fitness journey and a few things that I wish I would have considered before signing on the dotted line.
My Fitness Journey
Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing! The person who signed me up promised that this was the place to be and that I would “get big.” So on my first day there, I attempted to lift some weights and realized how scrawny I looked, and maybe this wasn’t a good idea. Luckily, I made a few friends and they shared some of their gym knowledge about what to do and how to it. So as time went on, I did become stronger, but I wasn’t able to put on much weight. Then my gym friends told me to eat more – anything and everything! I did gain weight, but I it wasn’t where I wanted. Does this sound familiar? Fast forward to now. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I used to be. So please take my advice and apply these simple ideas that I wish I knew before starting out on my fitness journey.
1. Have a plan
What are your goals? Tone up, aerobic conditioning, strength? Would you prefer to exercise in the morning before work or evening after work? What amenities does the gym offer? What’s your budget? Do some research and shop around, and know what you’re looking for in a gym or studio. Take a few minutes and think about what your needs are and write them down. The last thing you want is to join a facility that cannot meet your needs.
2. Food matters: You can’t out work a poor diet!
Just going to the gym and working out or doing cardio will not get you those sculpted shoulders or six-pack abs. Our bodies use food as energy and we have to eat the right things. The challenge is figuring out how many calories you need and where they are coming from. Take advantage of technology. Download an app that can help you with calculating your caloric needs and help keep you on track. Or if you need a bit more guidance, locate a registered dietitian. They would gladly help you with your meals. Also, when you go grocery shopping, do you shop mostly from the convenience aisles? Try shopping on the periphery of the store, and prioritize fresh meats, vegetables and fruit. Think more balance and color and fewer bags and boxes.
3. Don’t get fixated on the scale
Definitely track your progress, but try not to use to use a scale on a regular basis. Why? Most scales usually just give us a number. It doesn’t provide a true picture of our actual body composition. By that, I mean as your body starts to change, the number on the scale may go down or up. Checking the scale occasionally is fine, but here are a few other things you can use to keep track of your progress
A. Take progress pictures: Doing so will give you a good idea where you are and how much you improved.
B. Clothes: We all have clothes that used to fit great and maybe over time became a bit snug. Don’t be afraid to try those clothes on. You might be pleasantly surprised that they fit again.
C. Take your body composition: See if your facility offers this and if not, locate someone who is qualified to do so. Having your body composition measured will paint a clearer picture of how much your body has changed and if your hard work is paying off.
4. Switch things up
Are you at a point in your workouts where you just can’t lift anymore, and you’re tired of doing the same thing or the scale hasn’t budged in weeks? Changing up your workouts helps to avoid boredom and plateaus. If you’re comfortable with doing this on your own, join a fitness blog and get some ideas to add variety to your workouts. If you’ve been doing cardio on a treadmill, try a rower or a cycling class. And if you’re not comfortable and need some help, find a personal trainer to help you meet your goals. The goal here is to mix things up and to keep it interesting. Your body doesn’t know what’s going on; only you do.
Following these tips can help you with getting started or help motivate you to the next level. Always remember, you may not be where you want to be, but you’re not where you used to be!