Lynsey is currently exploring her weight loss journey and enjoys sharing tips and ideas along the way.
1. Begin Exercising Moderately
It is all too common when starting a new fitness and diet plan that you want to be "all in" and exercise for hours at a time. That is how injuries happen...
Instead, you should start moderately, then work your way up. This is particularly important if you are trying to increase your activity from a sedentary lifestyle. Don’t be tempted to overexert yourself on your first trip, or even the first few visits.
Begin your cardio workout for shorter than you would usually, then work the timing up. Start your weights lower than you think you can handle, and then work up. You will not get results with one really, really extreme workout; the key is regular activity. So start slow and build up.
2. Set Intermediate Fitness Goals
Try to set yourself mini goals that are not related to weight loss or muscle gain. For example, have a target of 10,000 steps for the day- how many days a week can you achieve that? Go from there. Try 15000 steps on your days off of work. Without realising, you will have walked at least 70K steps in a week!
Or you could go for number of reps if you are doing weight training- how many days per month can you do 50 reps on the chest press at a particular weight, for example.
Or you could try to do at least 100 crunches and/ or pushups each day- thats 700 per week!
These numbers are huge, but are so much simpler when broken down into smaller goals.
With activity comes results, so keep striving for your mini goals, and you will soon see your larger results. You will also feel a great sense of achievement every time you meet one of your goals.
3. Don't Just Rely on Scales
Whether your end goal is weight loss, weight gain or even just toning up, remember that the scales only measure one aspect of your success.
I also like to measure my body measurements in addition to my weight. This helps me to keep a record of how my body is changing. Remember, muscle takes up less space than fat, so even though the scales may say that you are plateauing; you could still be losing inches. You don’t necessarily have to measure every single week, but even once a month will give you a good idea of what areas are improving and where you need to concentrate more.
But, there are many other achievements you can make along the way, and by measuring other successes along the way, you are more likely to stay focused.
For example: you could measure your increased fitness by monitoring your heart rate once a week. You could measure your flexibility by trying different Yoga positions each week- can you stretch a little farther each time? You could measure your strength by comparing your fitness notes each week for weight training. You could measure your overall wellbeing by writing in a journal and comparing your feelings- happy hormones are released through exercise so you may find that you are overall a happier person when active. You could measure your steps by using a pedometer/ fitness device or even an app on your phone- there are lots of free options available.
As you can see, there is more than one way to measure success on your fitness journey, so don't get too hung up on the numbers on the scales!
4. Consider Getting Help With Exercising
Consider a session with a personal trainer. If you are completely clueless about exercise as I was, you could really benefit with a session to discuss your goals and how to achieve them. Some gym memberships even offer a monthly one to one included in the price. Take advantage of it if you have this option.
The PT will run through diet and exercise with you, as well as give you realistic expectation of what you can achieve in the given time, and what your long term achievements can be. You do not necessarily need to have a PT with you at every session (unless you can afford that and think it would motivate you) but even by checking in with them every so often, they will be able to help you with troubled areas and give you a more focused workout.
5. Team Up With a Friend
Try to team up with a gym buddy. You may have friends of yours who already attend the gym that you do, or go to the same Yoga class, but on a different day. Team up with them. Help them with their goals and they will help you to stay focused on yours. It is harder to cancel a session when someone else is relying on you to be there.
If you don't have any friends who are interested in exercising or being active, then try to befriend others who are already there, particularly if they seem to tie in with your schedule. Having someone who is supportive and has similar goals can really help boost your motivation to go to the gym in the first place.
6. Make Exercising Fun
Try to incorporate a bit of fun into your exercise regime. The gym may not be your thing. You may prefer running, swimming or playing tennis or badminton, or even a Zumba class.
Find something new that you enjoy that gets you active- go outdoors, try some walking or climbing if you can manage it. This works particularly well when coupled up with someone else as you can chat along the way and won't even think about the task at hand while burning calories and getting fitter.
You won’t even realize that you are exercising if you enjoy it!
7. Use Social Media to Improve Motivation
Use social media as an inspirational tool. Look for before and after pictures. Inspirational quotes. Search for wholesome fitness hashtags; #Fitness #nutritional #workout for example.
Personal trainers or nutritionists regularly share exercise or recipes- follow them and check back to their pages for inspiration when you aren't feeling it.
You can start your own fitness page- everyone starts from somewhere, right? I have my own on diet and fitness page on Instagram- amislimyet - and I feel that it helps to keep me focused to share lots of progress and fitness shots.
How good will you feel when you have 200 people all interested enough in your success that they follow your story? Even a social media novice can get up and running quite quickly, and a peek at some other similar pages will get you more familiar with your hashtags. It works for some, so why not give it a go?
8. Keep a Fitness Diary
It can be a physical exercise diary, or even just monitoring your activity using a fitness tracker or fitness app. Not necessarily calorie tracking- you may already do this, but more about your frequency, your intensity and your improvement.
Write down the number of reps and weight you used. Write down how many minutes you used the rowing machine. Remember other activities- 1 hour of gardening can be hard work! A spring clean can burn lots of energy. I also like to keep a track of how I’m feeling each day so that I can look for trends- was there a particular activity that boosted my spirits, for example.
This should be totally personal to you, but should include some key facts about your workout so that you can measure your improvements over time.
9. Stop Making Excuses
This is perhaps the most important one. Stop making excuses. Well, rather, stop believing the excuses that you make...
This is something that we are all guilty of. We have the gym planned. Or a walk. Or a run... anything. Then as the planned time gets closer we think of reasons that we can't possibly go.
"my buddy pulled out" - Go alone. An iPod can be just as motivational if your friend can't make it. And you will feel so much more accomplished when it is over.
"Its too cold/ wet/ miserable to go out..." - Change it up. If your activities are outdoors and you can't face doing them anyway, then change it up. Can you run up and down your stairs 10 times instead? Do an aerobic DVD workout? Or even choose another location? Besides, cold weather makes you burn more calories to keep warm, so its all good!
" I just don't feel like it" - well you will feel worse if you don't go. Even half an hour on the treadmill is better than moping around feeling sorry for yourself and being tempted by the biscuits. You'd be surprised how much better you feel when you actually pull yourself off the couch and get the workout done.
Of course, sometimes there are times that you just can't do it. Maybe you've pulled a muscle from overdoing it. Maybe you are having a terrible mental health day and you just want to cosy under a blanket. Maybe you are just exhausted and can't imagine it...
And that's ok. You can always get back on track. But try not to use everything as an excuse not to exercise- otherwise it will be a constant cycle.
Go on, get started now!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Lynsey Hart
Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on October 07, 2019:
Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment, Carolyn!
Carolyn Fields from South Dakota, USA on October 06, 2019:
Wonderful article! You are completely correct when you say that the scale is only ONE measure. So true!