From the Couch to the Gym: A guide for non exercisers!
Did you ever spot a sweaty girl heading out of the gym with cute sporty clothes and a fancy water bottle and wished you could just be that person for a day? Did you ever envy passing runners and thought how hard that must be? Well, guess what? Even if you are completely out of shape today, you can be exercising or even running by next week! It only takes a few simple steps and a little bit of a motivation and you WILL be that fit girl everyone is dying to become ;-)
1- Conquer your fear of pain
The number one factor for not exercising is the fear of pain. When I first started exercising, I used to get really anxious of my muscle and chest pain thinking that I must be hurting myself. I would go back home and leave with this pain in my mind and swear to never go again. Then one day, I saw a strong and beautiful woman sweating and panting but still moving forward and I just thought to myself "If She can do it, I can do it! I am strong and determined and can do anything, whats a pain to scare me from looking leaner and healthier?!" The minute I set my mind to not be scared, I started actually feeling really good. The more I exercised and conquered this fear, the stronger and more proud I felt.
The secret? Start by loving this pain. Think of it as it is a sign that brings you closer to a hotter and stronger you!
2- Keep your eye on the ball
Set a target (a realistic one) and keep reminding yourself of it every single day. You can cut out a picture of Giselle that gets you running every time you look at it. For me, my motivation was a bit different: I wanted to live longer with a good health for my baby. I wanted to set an example for her so she grows up much more healthier than I was and adopt a healthy lifestyle early on.
Just remember, set the target and motivation that works for you, whatever it is, important objective here is to be something that will motivate you every single day.
3- Step off the scale
I believe girls are naturally born with a "Scale Phobia" and somehow the number we see there every morning (Yes, we do it every single day!) tends to set the mood for our day/week. But an important thing you need to understand about exercising is that the scale wont matter. You will be gaining muscle mass but probably losing fat. What will matter though are your body measurements.
What do you do instead? Take your 3 main measurements: Bust, Waist and Hips and record on your notes. You can also take the upper arms and upper thighs as those are often problematic areas too and ones that show quick progress.
4- Learn to walk before you run
The very first fundamental of exercising is that you need to gradually build your fitness level before jumping into exercising. This will also protect you from injuring yourself.
How? 1 week before exercising start walking everyday. First for 20-30 minutes, then 30-40 minutes and finally 40-60 whole minutes. First day can be slow/medium pace (depending on your fitness level) and then start increasing your speed towards the end of the week until you feel that you have mastered walking for 60 whole minutes with a fast pace.
5- Pick an exercise you will love
Going to the gym does not have to be your only option. Instead, you will need a workout routine you will love and enjoy.
Like what? A great non-boring way to exercise are fitness classes. But you need to pick ones that are suitable for you. My personal favorites are Zumba (So much fun!) as well as Barre Classes (Higher intensity but works every single muscle from head to toe!) Have a chat with a fitness instructor before choosing and ask them to guide you.
With this regards, you can choose to do this class 3 times a week and in remaining days you can walk/jog with 1-2 days rest.
7- Don't forget your diet
A rule of thumb for nutrition and fitness pros is that fitness is about 70% your diet and 30% your exercise. Remember, this is where most people go wrong. You may burn 300 calories in an exercise session but end up eating a 500-calorie cheese cake afterwards and then you are really going backwards here.
So set your goal to not ruin your development through simple eating habits changes:
- Ban all soda and sweetened drinks. Instead opt for extra water, green tea or fresh juice (In moderation).
- Replace your white processed carbohydrates for Brown and Whole wheat ones (Brown Pasta, Brown rice, Brown Bread..etc).
- Eat 3 main meals a day with 2 healthy snacks in the middle instead of irregular meals.
- Eat your meals at the same time every day, let your last meal be no later than 7-8 PM (3 hours before your bed time)
6- Track your development
Dont forget your fitbit (or any other heart rate tracking device/free app on Android or Itunes). It did help me a great deal to know how many calories I was burning, how many kilos I have ran and my performance compared to previous times.
A good period to reassess is every month. Take your measurements and compare it and ask yourself what are you capable of today that you weren't last month? Then decide if you need to set new goals.
8- Stick to it
This will be your biggest challenge. You will need to work on a workout plan that you will actually be able to sustain it with your life style. One great advice is to complete and finish your exercise in the morning. It will help you get it over with early on and you wont find excuses to not do it during the day.
Just remember, it takes 28 days to create a habit you stick to. So if you managed to complete a whole month with this new lifestyle, soon it will be 3 months, then 6 then a whole year is gone with you sticking to your routine (At least 90% of the time). So pick an early morning class before work/college or go for a morning walk (Soon to be jog!) so you start your day refreshed and happy. (Did I mention that exercise makes you happier too? Double Like!)
9- Celebrate your achievements
Just as you will work hard, you will need to give yourself credit after reaching a new milestone in your fitness development. It doesn't matter if you have just ran your first kilo or 20 kilos, celebrate and feel good. Go shopping, tanning, or for a nice meal out with your best buds and show off your new healthier you! #behappy
Got more tips to help more people to exercise? Share in the comments below!