We already know the basics for good health: eat more vegetables, moderate caloric intake, drink plenty of water, and move more. It's actually pretty simple when you look at the basic components.
However, sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. We know we should prepare meals at home more often (to eat less processed foods, control portion size as well as sodium and sugar, and save on cost), but what if we've never cooked a day in our lives?
The same goes for exercise. It can seem like an uphill climb with getting started, from having the proper shoes to understanding the correct movements to make a workout as effective as possible. But the important part is just to begin in the first place!
Tips for Getting Started with an Exercise Routine: The Basics
Ignore the pros.
So you have finally decided to lace up your shoes and do a power walk around the neighborhood. You've been going for about 10 minutes at a good pace, you're sweating buckets, and breathing heavily. Suddenly a neighbor breezes by you like an Olympic athlete. You may as well give up now, right? Grab a spoon, it's ice cream time!
The reality is that everyone has to start somewhere. Sure, those first few days will be difficult. But when you stick to it, you'll notice how quickly you begin improving. After just a week you'll notice how much easier it is to breathe, and how your body is changing. By week two you're sleeping better, and your energy throughout the day is much higher. The bottom line here is don't compare yourself to other people exercising. Measure yourself on your own successes, and celebrate them.
Start low, and start slow.
When it comes to exercise, strength training is an important component. When you have more muscle mass your body is not only more effective with burning fat at rest, but you also strengthen bones and take pressure off joints.
It may be intimidating to roll into the weight training area of the gym and see muscle rippled guys grunting with giant weights. But as mentioned before, everyone has to start somewhere. Pick up those 5-pound weights with confidence, and give your muscley gym buddy a wink. Move up your weight when your strength gradually increases, not when you think you should be ready. Bonus tip: most gyms offer a free consultation with a professional trainer to assess your training needs.
Don't worry about having the "right" gear.
You don't have to look like the person on the Nike billboard to begin an exercise routine. If you're comfortable in your clothes, you can exercise in them. Second-hand stores are great places to find quality workout gear at low prices, and search for end-of-season sales if you're ready to step up your footwear game.
Companies that make athletic wear want you to purchase the latest and greatest clothing and shoes, and they do everything they can to make you feel like you'll be out of place if you don't have their gear. The truth is, your old t-shirt and sweatpants will work just fine!
In the beginning, it will be difficult to get off the couch and out the door to stick to your new fitness routine. There will definitely be days when you fight the lack of motivation and fail. You may fall off from time to time, but what is important is that get right back on that exercise horse.
Also, don't get discouraged if the number on the scale goes up, as it could be water weight or muscle gain. Better yet, get rid of the scale all together. If you're feeling good and your clothes are fitting better, you're on the right track.
When it comes down to it, what really matters is that you're starting on a path to better health by beginning an exercise routine. It doesn't matter how you start working out, just that you make the commitment to move more each and every day. Your body, your health, and your life will greatly benefit from your efforts!
[Credit: Bornstein, Adam. No Hype, Just Results: The Foundation of Effective Workout Plans. Born Fitness.]