I’m just getting into this whole ‘fitness’ thing. Where should I start?
You’re taking the first step to improving your health. You’re ready. You’re nervous. You’re excited. This is good. The first step takes courage and work.
Being new to this, you don’t have a great idea on where to start? That’s normal (we welcome you to the club). The main thing when starting out is to take small steps.
You look up at 5 flights of stairs. You know you have to get to the top. What’s the best approach?
You take one step at a time.
You don’t jump up the stairs (at least I recommend you do) because what happens when you try? Sure, you may get there faster (maybe), but chances are that you’ll eventually get tired, stumble and hurt yourself. This is discouraging because you realize you still have a lot of stairs to go. Same goes for your diet and your exercise routine. Take it one step at a time.
“Nutritionally, what do I do?”
The folks at Precision Nutrition recommend you identify and remove deficiencies.
You don’t need to start off sprinting up the stairs from day one. You don’t need to “Go Paleo” or completely take out sugar. You just need to fix major nutrient deficiencies (your body won’t function correctly otherwise).
Majority of the time this means getting a bit more protein, more vitamins and minerals, some added healthy fats and drink more water. Do this and you will reap the benefits of this quickly.
Again, you don’t have to tackle all that at once. Why take the risk of exhausting yourself or stumbling? Pick one of the biggest limiting factors you’re experiencing. Once this one habit is seemingly effortless, add a new practice.
“Exercise. What do I do?”
Similar to your diet and nutrition – take it one step at a time. Start by ensuring you get one or two workouts in per week. This can be anything – a spin class, yoga, a run outside, a weight session, and a Crossfit class – anything you enjoy!
Once you find that you easily get in consistent workouts, add something new to the mix. You lift weights once a week consistently? Try adding in a yoga session, for example.
“Do I need to change both diet AND exercise?”
No, you don’t. Again, focus on one aspect you would like to change (particularly the one that needs the most attention) and go from there.
If you want to just focus on getting regular workouts in consistently – do that. If you want to ensure that you’re eating less processed foods – do that. Again, you don’t have to start off sprinting up the stairs right off the bat.
[Note: exercise and nutrition go hand in hand. You can exercise all you want but if your nutrition isn’t great, you’re not going to get the best results. But there is nothing wrong with tackling one beast before the other.]
Make one change. Just one. Continue to practice this change continually, everyday. Until this habit seems effortless. Once this seems effortless, we can move onto the next habit.
New habits take practice. How do you get great at hockey, painting, singing and biking?
You practice, every day. Making lifestyle changes are no different.