Starting Exercise: Things I wish I knew
Let’s be honest, no matter what lifestyle, work-life situation you are in, fitting in exercise is not the easiest. So let's get straight into it, here’s a few things I wish I had known to possibly make it easier and a bit less chore-like to start exercise:
- Setting Goals
This sounds tedious and I can guarantee that either you, your partner, family member or friend has done the ‘This year I’m going to do XYZ’ for a new year’s resolution. Yes? Have you ever heard that resolutions are made to be broken? Well let’s take a step back and be more realistic. No matter when you decide to set this fitness goal, it doesn’t matter. It might feel better at the start of the year, but life happens, and we get busy, and there goes another year without fulfilling the new years resolution.
So, let’s be practical and realistic. Instead, make a more realistic goal to just simply get your body moving. It can be a simple 15-minute walk around the block a few times a week until you feel comfortable in adding more time and commitment to your workout. If you have kids and tend to go to the park often, get some squats in, let’s say start with 30 squats and progress and add on 10 progressively. If you have weights handy at home, start with 3 sets of 15 weighted squats, lunges, bicep curls etc (not restricted to any exercise). I’m sure you get the gist of how to set a goal by now, this will be dependant on your situation and what you have access to.
To sum it up, a 15-minute walk is better than no walk, working out 3-4 times a week is better than 7 times a week. Remember, starting out is the hardest, push through the initial stage and you will find momentum, keeping it realistic means you can easily smash your exercise and health goals and maintain it.
- Strength Training is not scary
As the title states, strength-based training using weights is not as intimidating as it might look! I wish I knew this from my younger adult years when I would spend so much time on cardio machines and expect a result – of course my motivation went out the window! We now have so much access to information, you can easily get onto any social media platform and search for easy dumbbell / kettlebell / body weight workouts.
If you want to sign up at a local gym, don’t be afraid to ask the trainers for assistance or even take advantage of their personal training classes they offer when you sign up for membership, it’s not as scary as it looks. The most important thing is not about how heavy you go but the form and technique, so it’s worth going slow, ask the experts for tips and safety and then progressing heavier. Safety is key.
- Nutrition is important, not calorie counting
It is common that once we have a mindset of incorporating some sort of exercise into our schedules, we also go straight into all sorts of diets. Touching on setting goals again, be realistic especially with food. Yes, it is important that we are aware of what foods we are eating, but don’t get so caught up initially with calorie counting and having a calorie deficit to facilitate weight loss.
The goal is to sustain this healthier lifestyle long-term, so going straight into a strict diet can easily kill motivation and become another yet tedious task. Let’s focus on nutrients, the quality of food instead and work our way from there gradually. Cutting out foods you love and enjoy completely will make you crave for said foods even more so on days when you aren’t so focused.
The main idea here is to be REALISTIC, ask the experts before making any drastic changes and set reasonable goals. Goodluck!