It’s the standard way of marking the New Year or significant life events. People believe they need to make drastic changes: for many, it’s starting a new health routine.
Whether it’s jogging, CrossFit, or weight training, something about these times makes people want to turn over a new leaf.
Suppose one of those people is you, first of all, congratulations. You are taking the first step on the road to a better, healthier you. But having made the decision, you’re probably wondering how to go about achieving your new fitness goals. It’s best if you start by making a plan. Your plan has to include the preparation and start-up of your new workout routine, its implementation, and a way to monitor your progress and make adjustments as necessary.
Follow these seven steps, and hopefully, you’ll be on your way.
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom
Step #1 Get Assessed
You need to ensure that you’re healthy enough to embark on your fitness journey. See a doctor to get a better sense of your fitness level and set your workout intensity level from there. Talking to a nutritionist to get the proper guidance on an appropriate diet for your new regime might be worth the time and money as well. You don’t want a workout level that’s too easy or too hard for you to complete because you’ll either not see gains or become demotivated. You also want the right foods to power your new routine.
Pick your activity, learn more about it and get your gear
You are likely to stick with an activity you enjoy, so select one that appeals to you. Is it going for a run with your favourite tunes? Crank that volume up. Is it ballroom dance? Put on those shoes and dance the weight away. Or perhaps you’re into yoga and pilates?
Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you enjoy. Your body can tell when you like an exercise activity and responds positively to your selection. If you force it to do intense cardio when you’d rather walk at a steady pace, your body responds by producing the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol makes your body store fat. Not what you want when you are trying to stay fit.
Stock up on the right gear for your chosen activity and learn more about it. These days, the Internet provides so many ways to connect with people following the same fitness regime. You can read books, watch Youtube videos, or follow your favourite fitness celeb on Instagram for tips on improving your performance. There’s no reason to be going into your new activity, unaware of what to expect.
You may think it goes without saying that if you’ve decided to become healthier, at some point, you will start to exercise. You’d be surprised how many people make steps 1 and 2 and somehow never get to 3.
If you need help with motivation, it may be good to get a workout buddy to hold you to your fitness goals and keep you company, even if it’s just a virtual buddy. Once you’ve started your activity, remember to:
-Warm-up properly. Stretching can help to prevent injury
-Stay hydrated. Your body needs fluid replacement for optimal performance
-Remember to rest on days you’re not working out. Downtime can help improve your recovery and resistance.
Eat in a manner that supports your health goals
Having gone through the trouble of starting your new workout regimen, don’t continue to eat the same way you used to. That’s self-defeating. Take the advice of the nutritionist you consulted at the beginning of your journey for the best results.
This is serious because you might be risking your long-term health by exercising while eating poorly. At the very least, you’ll be creating conditions where you’ll perform poorly throughout your workout or set yourself up for muscle loss. The first thing you’ll want to do here is to increase your protein intake.
You require your muscles to lose weight and look toned and healthy. Protein builds these. You can get your protein directly from food, like meat, fish, eggs and legumes. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you can meet some of your requirements with vegan protein powder, which is plant-based rather than animal-sourced. These powders can be used in shakes you can have post-workout to improve your muscle-building capacity. Don’t forget to include good quality carbohydrates and healthy fats as well.
Pay attention to how your body feels
Do you feel tired during your workout? Are you sweating too much? Too little? Are you experiencing pain anywhere? All of these are important messages from your body, letting you know that you may be losing muscle mass, dehydrated or injured. Your exercise program may be too hard or not intense enough for your level of fitness and fitness goals. Only by paying attention to your body, you’ll know this.
Pay attention to important numbers
What’s your heart rate? Blood pressure? Weight before and after a workout? How about your BMI? Do you know what that is?
You can’t workout in a vacuum. These numbers mean something, and knowing them can help you understand where you are meeting your fitness goals and where you might be falling short. They can also let you know if you’ve accomplished what you first set out to do and if it may be time for new targets to meet.
When some time has passed, and your workout routine is no longer “new”, it may be time to review if it still suits you. With the information obtained from steps 6 and 7, you can see whether that time has come. Perhaps you’ve started to “plateau”, and it may be time for a new combination of exercises to prevent that. Maybe you’ve grown bored and would like to try something else. Introspection will help you stay on track.
Starting a new exercise regime is commendable. It may take time, and it may take some serious effort, but what matters at the end of the day isn’t a clothing size; it’s how you feel being you, so do what makes you feel good.