“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.”
Fitness is paramount to a healthy life. It effects our physical health, our mental health, our attitude, our opinion of ourselves, our confidence, the daily choices we make, our long-term choices, goals, abilities, and more. Fitness makes us better human beings, because it has so many positive results.
Many people embrace their fitness and work on it daily. Others want to be fit but don’t know where to start. Whether it is a fear of failure, intimidation, or belief that it is unobtainable, anyone can take the following steps to get on the path of gaining fitness:
- Decide on your why
- Track your food intake
- Begin a stretching routine
- Block out a time and place for exercise
- Begin a walking routine
- Set a goal
- Start an exercise log
- Begin to change food habits
- Find a community
- Research exercises or types of exercise that interest you
- Gradually accumulate equipment
1. Decide on your why
With everything we do, there is a reason, or why, to motivate us to do things. Why do we wake up to the sound of an annoying alarm clock? To get to work on time. Why do we go to work? To earn money to make a living. Why do we eat a meal? To provide energy to sustain life.
Take a long hard look at the benefits of fitness that are listed above. Think about them. How would you benefit from an increase in your fitness? How would you benefit from better health? Increased confidence? Increased physical ability?
Decide on two or three of these benefits that are most important to you and write them down. Put them on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Tell people about them. Post them on your social media accounts. This may even help someone else by motivating them to think about their own health and fitness.
Congratulations! You’ve taken the most important initial step to improve your health! Whenever you’re feeling tired, discouraged, or apathetic (and you will), use your why to maintain your purpose and motivation.
2. Track your food intake
Fitness requires nutrition. The quality and quantity of the food we eat is the foundation of our physical being. Relate food to medicine. Different medicines have different effects on our cells, hormones, organs, and body overall. Food is no different. We take it in, and it affects our cells, hormones, organs, and body overall as well. Depending on our needs, medicine can help us, or harm us. Again, just like medicine, food falls into this as well.
Get into the habit of tracking your daily food intake. There are many apps that are easy to use to help with this task. You can also use software like a spreadsheet, or just use a pen and notebook. Any of these options are effective. The goal here is to be able to analyze what you eat, when, and how much. Track the calorie count and macronutrients (grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fat) for everything. This information can easily be found on the internet. Be honest with serving sizes. This information will only benefit you in the long run.
Using a food log takes a lot of work. At first. The more you work on it, the easier it gets. This is because you will begin to notice patterns and will get faster at entering your food. You will also begin to have an awareness and visual record of what you are, and are not taking in. It will be easier to make necessary changes as you progress. And you will also be able to relate how you feel with what you eat.
3. Begin a stretching routineNow that you have your why in mind, and you’re compiling food intake data, it is time to get physical. It is time to start a stretching routine. This is a simple step that should be incorporated daily. We want a full body stretch routine at the least. This should take about fifteen or twenty minutes and should be performed after exercising, or after the body is warm. Stretching is not recommended when the body is cold or has been inactive.
If you’re unsure how to stretch, or what stretches to do, YouTube is a great resource for this. Search for full body stretches, and additional stretches for any body part that gives you extra trouble. You can also choose to do a quick, full body yoga routine.
Stretching teaches us to maintain and take care of our body. It helps loosen tight muscles, scar tissue, and stiff tendons. It promotes circulation and helps mobilize waste products out of the tissues. It is also a healthy way to get into a habit of daily physical activity.
4. Block out a time and place for exerciseWhen I first began working out, I set up an 8′ x 12′ piece of carpet in my basement. I used this as my workout area for the body weight exercises that I was doing at the time. I had a television and VCR set up for workout videos. And it wasn’t long until I mounted a pull-up bar and a set of dip bars as well. I even ended up dragging a treadmill down the stairs and running in the basement!
It was great. I had my dedicated spot for working out and would work out when I got home from work. Without thinking, I had accomplished ‘blocking out a time and place for exercise.’
This is your next step. Be deliberate about this so you can commit to the time and place as you fit it into your schedule. If you’re the typical overly-busy person, you will need to make a decision to make this time a priority so you can accomplish your fitness.
This is part one of a three part series. In less than thirty minutes, you can start these four steps today. Put them on your to do list under priority one. Tackle them and check them off. Then, be ready for part two of this series.
Re-read the steps above. Which do you think will be the hardest to implement?