Fitness is paramount to a healthy life. There are many, many benefits gained from it and the following is a continued list and discussion of how to begin, or how to make a better fitness plan. If you haven’t read The 11 Steps to Take to Implement and Maximize Your Fitness, Part 1, do so now.
To review, the eleven steps are:
- 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
Steps 1-4 were basic steps that are of utmost importance when starting a fitness plan. Review them if necessary and see below to continue.
5. Begin a walking routine
Walking is an excellent low impact, aerobic exercise that most can do with little to no warm up or preparation. It requires no exertion or specialized equipment, and can be done anywhere. Plus, the benefits of walking are immense; too many to list here.
Your stretching and walking routine will help you develop a habit of physical activity. But you will need to further your time commitment that you set aside in Step number 3.
Begin with ten minutes per day, and build from there. Every two days, add two minutes until you are walking thirty minutes per day. After you finish your walking routine, go directly into your stretching routine. Set this walking and stretching time as a priority in your day. Guard this time carefully, and make sure you commit to this daily. This commitment is important to develop your healthy habit.
6. Set a goal
Humans progress when they have something to look forward to. It is true that exercise helps us feel good, and that is something to look forward to. But setting a long-term goal with smaller goals to reach along the way will also help you in your fitness journey. Make sure the goals are realistic, reachable, and have a time component contained in them.
An example of a goal would be to lose ten pounds in six weeks with a smaller goal of losing two pounds per week. These are realistic and reachable goals that may end up being reached sooner than the stated deadline.
Another example of a goal you can set would be to enter a 1 mile or 5K walk/run. The goal would be to comfortably increase your distance in the time period before the day of the event. This would give you extra incentive to train hard, and then set a personal record at the day of the event.
Brainstorm on this topic. Write down everything that comes to mind, because once you reach a goal, you should move onto the next one so that you continue to progress with your fitness. If this sounds like a confusing or daunting task, fear not. The thing to remember about all of this is that it is a slow and methodical process. Nothing is done out of haste or without proper planning.
7. Start an exercise log
Now that you are stretching, walking, and have set a goal, it is time to begin an exercise log. This can be done electronically, or the old fashioned way with pen and paper in a notebook. Simply record what day it is, and what you did for that day. For example:
- Walk for 30 minutes, 1.2 miles
- Full body stretch for 20 minutes, tried a new hamstring stretch
This is to be used as a tool to track your exercise and measure your progress. You can analyze your log and see if any changes or adjustments need to be made. Then you can track the effectiveness of the adjustments you made to see whether or not they are working. You can also keep a running tally of how much time, or how many miles you walked for the week or the month. It can be pretty inspirational to see that time or the miles add up.
8. Begin to change food habits
Back in step 2, you began tracking your food intake. Similar to your exercise log, you can analyze your food intake and decide if any changes need to be made. At this point, with your walking and exercise routine, your body is working at a level of performance and needs adequate nutrition to maintain and maximize this level of performance.
Begin to change food habits. Slowly cut down on processed food and sugar. As you do this, replace these foods with whole foods. Increase your protein and healthy fat intake, and you will notice a surprising difference. You will feel better. Your body will perform better. You will feel stronger and more energetic. You will even notice things like better looking skin, and possibly even a decrease in allergies!
The food we eat is absolutely vital to our health and performance. Think of food as you would medicine. We are very intentional with the medicines we take, and should be with the foods we eat as well.
Congratulations on implementing the first eight steps to better fitness. In part three of this series, the final three steps will be explained and will finalize this series.