how to // get started on your fitness journey
When I first thought about 'fitness' it was those truly horrendous group sports that the PE teachers would make you play at school (Ironically, I'm now the High School teacher forcing students to engage in activities they have no interest in). As you can suspect, I never had any interest in playing sport and in my mind, that was the only way you could become 'fit'. As a skinny girl with pasty skin and no muscle tone, my fitness journey is probably different to a lot of other peoples. However, it doesn't matter what your body type, it's never too late to get started. Here are some tips that I followed when I first started at the gym and they have helped to keep me motivated since then.
Have a realistic and healthy goal. I say realistic and healthy because sometimes we create goals that are so unrealistic we quit at the first sign of failure. In terms of fitness, a lot of people create goals that are unhealthy. Social media doesn't help with this and looking at some of the pictures of women on places such as Instagram can create unhealthy relationships with food, exercise or body image. I am an advocate for a healthy lifestyle and I don't believe that dropping significant weight in a short period of time can be good for your long term health. How can you create a realistic and healthy goal? One that will enrich your life and allow you to have positive body image and greater overall wellness.
Find out your style. There are a number of ways to look and feel fitter. These range from yoga, pilates and walking to PT or individual training sessions at the gym or joining a team sport. You certainly don't need to be doing all of these but you should be doing ones that you enjoy and that keep your body guessing. I don't mind working out with someone else at the gym but I like to get in my own zone and there's no way I could participate in a team sport. If you get bored of the activity that you are doing, don't give up. Instead find an alternate source of movement that brings you happiness.
Be excited but don't go gung-ho. Instead start small and work from there. If I went from being completely inactive to heading to the gym five days a week for hour long heavy weights sessions my body would freak out and so will yours. Start small and build up each week. It can be as simple as starting off with one half hour walk a week every Sunday and increasing from there. By the end of a couple of months perhaps you are walking or running for half an hour every day. The same goes if you are working out at the gym. I started off by selecting weights that were easy. Once I had 'accomplished' that weight I moved up to the next one. To start with, the increase in weight might be really challenging but soon your body will become accustomed to it. Once you can do it with ease, perhaps it's time to try something more challenging?
Have a partner in crime or someone to keep you accountable. I found that with my gym buddy, if she messaged me asking if I was going to the gym but I wasn't originally keen, that message may spur me to change my mind and vice versa. Even simply having someone who knows about your fitness goals can enhance your willingness to persevere through encouragement or inquiry about how you are progressing.
Don't forget to be organised. If you come home from work intending on going to Yoga but realise your yoga pants still haven't been washed from last week, that could be incentive for you not to go. I know that I have had all intention of going to the gym after work but realised my gym bag is not in the car, "Oh well, looks like I can't go now because that would mean I would have to go home and get my stuff and I can't be bothered with that". Don't be me. Be organised and leave all excuses at the door.
Have a plan prior to your workout/exercise. If you are walking, know when and where you will walk. Plan out your route beforehand. If it's a class or sport get there early and stretch. That way you can talk to the instructor/coach or scope out the other participants, decreasing any awkwardness if you don't now anyone. If your heading to the gym, have an idea in your mind of the machines you would like to use or what area of the body you intend on working out.
I know that this list is not exhaustive. But be inspired. Be encouraged and be motivated. Only you can change your life or how you feel about yourself. Life is too short to feel tired, sluggish or uncomfortable. Engaging in fitness may not be a 'cure' to creating a completely healthy life but it's certainly a good start.