Almost everyone wants to be fit but somehow, it is always something that we are striving for rather than something we already have. We make the same resolution every year – this year I will work on getting fit – but somehow, we can’t seem to get to doing it. The good news is that it is like AA; do it one day at a time and sooner or later, it will become a habit. To get you started are 11 tips for getting you into better health. Don’t wait to get started; just do it.
1. Start with your mind
Fitness requires a lot of commitment. The way to look at it should be the same way that you make goals for your life. If you have ever set yourself a goal and you have achieved it, then you can get fit. Remember there is no limit to fitness; you cannot get to a place and then stop because you feel that you feel fit enough. If you do that, you will go back to being unfit. Once you commit, you have to keep going. It may sound like a big thing to commit to but always remember that you are adding years to your life through keeping fit.
2. Rein in your initial enthusiasm
Most of us are very enthusiastic at the beginning of a fitness program. We want to do as much as we can to get as fit as possible. Believe it or not, 95% of quitters quit for this reason. Doing too much too soon will do two things to you: one is that you are not actually as strong as you feel right now, so you will experience fatigue faster than you think.
Two is that you will harm your body by doing this. When you put too much strain on your muscles, they tear. The result is pain, and pain will discourage you. Getting fit is a gradual process. You start with what your muscles can take and then gradually increase your exertion. It is not wise to pick up a 10 pound dumbbell on your first day and it is not wise to run 3 miles the first day. Start with what you feel you can naturally handle and not what you can challenge yourself to do; that comes later when you are primed.
3. Exercise and recovery go hand in hand
The proper way to exercise is to strain the body and then give it time to heal. This is what forms muscle. When you exercise, you strain your muscles and they need to recover if you are going to be fit. Also, this is what helps your body eventually adjust so that your heart and your lungs can perform optimally for the kind of exercise that you do. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do, whether you are training to be a body builder or whether you are looking to just lose a few pounds; you must allow periods between workouts for the body to recover.
4. Get physical every day
Letting your body heal does not mean that you completely keep away from exercise. The idea is to get rid of extra calories that we consume so try and do some exercise every day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to the store. Play outside with your children. Take a long walk. All these are examples of how you can stay active as you allow your muscles to heal.
5. Get into rhythm using an exercise routine
In the first few weeks you exercise, you try different things and you also discover which of these things works. Use what works to come up with an exercise regimen or routine. If, for instance, you like to run on the treadmill, lift weights and swim, arrange those activities so that they form a kind of pattern throughout the week. The fitter you get, the more you can add to your regimen. Having a routine also helps you stay disciplined.
6. Keep track
Getting fit is a goal, so we have to track progress. You need to know if you are getting better and better at staying fit. You need to know how many calories you have lost, how many miles more can you run, how much additional weight can you comfortably lift? This helps you celebrate progress. True, there will be times when there will be no progress or progress will be slow, but don’t let this put you down. Be patient and stay focused. Don’t push yourself too much if you think you are not getting where you want quickly enough; it takes a while to get into shape.
7. Eat right
It doesn’t matter how much you exercise if you are eating the wrong foods. When you make the resolution to get fit, take some time to look at your diet and see what you should take out and what you should replace. Because you are working out, your body needs to be fed properly. You need foods that provide energy, so step up your healthy proteins. Eat whole grain and drink lots and lots of water. Hydration is important so carry a water bottle around and remember to drink often.
8. Get your nights in order
Lack of sleep will affect your exercise routine just like the way it will affect other things in your life. It isn’t about going to bed early but rather getting the right amount of sleep for you to wake up refreshed. It helps if you can sleep and wake up at a fixed time every day.
9. Listen to your body
If something hurts, there is definitely something wrong. Don’t push yourself to work out when you are injured because that will only make your injuries worse. Joint injuries are especially sensitive because if they are not taken care of properly, they can get worse to the point where you can no longer exercise. It is recommended that if the pain continues for more than a day, seek medical advice.
10. Get a trainer or a friend
Exercising alone can be tedious and lonely and it can make you feel unmotivated. Find someone whom you can exercise with and also who keeps you accountable. If a trainer is not the answer for you, find someone who will do it with you. If you are a runner, for example, and there are other runners on your route, start a conversation about whether you can run together.
11. Get regular checkups
You are healthy only when everything in your body is performing optimally. Get a doctor to verify this for you regularly. Don’t forget your teeth; they are a part of your physical self.
Lastly, if you want to know that you are at that performing at your top aerobic activity, take the talk test: can you have a conversation with somebody while exercising and not lose your breath? If you can, whatever you are doing is working.