- It all starts with food when you want to get healthy and fit. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner and are trying to get fit for the first time or you are just getting back after a layoff. Meal planning has become a huge buzz-word and lifestyle for many. It’s in our conscious mind but can overwhelm us. At least it can me. Shopping, chopping, cooking – rinse and repeat. This is not meant to be a “7-day diet plan for weight loss” or something quick and effortless. Take a step back and just start by substituting one food for another. (Just generalizing, your plan would be specific to you.) If you are starting a diet tomorrow, you can incorporate these steps right away.
- Whole grain bread like Ezekiel instead of regular white bread
- Lean ham instead of bacon
- Mustard instead of Mayo
- Greek yogurt instead of Mayo or half Greek yogurt and half Mayo
- Olive oil instead of vegetable oil
- Baked potato with salsa instead of with butter and sour cream
- Baked foods instead of fried foods
- Flavored water with lemon and other real fruits instead of soda or other bottled drinks
- Black coffee with honey instead of fully loaded drive-thru coffee
- Baked chicken or fish (homemade) instead of store-bought
- Vinegar and oil dressing instead of creaming dressing
- Roasted or steamed vegetables instead of creamed vegetables
- Whole rice instead of processed minute type rice
There are many more substitutes and everyone has to find what works for them. Some are better and some are easier. Find what works for you and expand from there. Don’t be afraid to work harder on your healthy food. It is more time consuming, but it’s worth it. You’ll feel better about yourself from a health perspective and from a self-satisfaction perspective also. I don’t know how to cook you ask? Practice and learn. Start slowly by baking your chicken and fish. Roast vegetables by coating them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.
- Slowly start to crowd out the bad foods. The more good and healthy foods you eat, the less you’ll be hungry for the bad foods. Everyone knows this, but it’s a mindset that takes time. Start slowly and take small steps. Once you see and feel some results it will fuel your mindset to keep going.
- Drink one less soda per day
- Eat one more piece of real whole fruit per day
- Eat one less piece of pizza
- Get one more scoop of roasted vegetables on your plate and half the amount of fried chicken
- Phase out national brand coffee drinks by ordering a smaller size and work toward fewer per day/week down to only the occasional indulgence
- Healthy fruit and vegetable smoothie in the morning instead of a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit
- Less beer and/or wine per sitting and less frequent indulgences
- Drink more water – strive for 3-4 quarts per day
- Basic weight training works so much better than those trendy group classes when you are a beginner. I’ve seen more than a few personal trainers take brand new clients who are not at all fit and have them do fairly complex movements. I know why it’s done. It’s done so that the client thinks they are getting value by doing exercises and routines that you can’t just get anywhere. And you also have an “expert” helping you. (I say “expert” because for both of my national certifications; the CSCS by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the ATC by the National Athletic Trainers Association, a college degree is required and you have to sit for an all-day exam that includes written and oral sections.) I’m not saying all personal trainers, but many just take an online “test” and boom, they’re certified. If personal trainers do just the basics, their clients will fire them because they can do the basics on their own.
Group classes have their place, but for the beginner, I think a foundation should be built. You need to get stronger and learn how to do the basic exercises and how to use the different machines. You need to learn by feeling what each one targets and adapt it to your current level of fitness also with regard to any limitations that you might have. A group class is too fast-paced and often too complex for the beginner and that can lead to an injury or too much soreness that limits or discourages continued participation after the initial excitement wears off. Again, group classes have their place for sure, but only after a foundation is built. Remember, your foundation isn’t just physical. It’s also heavily mental. It’s your mental fortitude that is the driving force and that has to be developed and nurtured in the beginning.
There is nothing wrong with the basics. They worked in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond and they for sure will work today.
Some basic exercises:
Dumbbell bench press for chest
Dumbbell shoulder press
Bent over row to work your back
lunges for thighs
Basic crunch or sit-up
All of these can be duplicated with an exercise machine if you are a gym member or are thinking about joining one.
My philosophy on exercise as it relates to free weights and machines:
All free weights is good
Half free weights and half machines is good
All machines and no free weights is not my favorite method (but there is certainly nothing wrong with doing all machine work)
In other words, it’s best to get a mixture of both free weights and machines.
- Workout for shorter periods per day. You may have heard how in order to get fit you’ve got to work out 2 hours per day. You’ll get fit for sure. Most people don’t have that much time or energy. Don’t even go there as a beginner unless you just want to. Focus your mindset to go for 30-60 minutes. Work at a good intensity with good concentration. Try to get a variety of exercises completed each day. Feel the sense of accomplishment that you’ve earned and got on with your day. When the next day rolls around, be ready to give it all you’ve got. That may be a lot or a little, but whatever you have, do your best for that day. As long as you show up and do the best that you can do that day, you should never feel like you failed. In fact, you should feel a great deal of accomplishment.
Hopefully, this has helped you with your belief that you can take small steps that add up to a huge amount of satisfaction and accomplishment. My goal is to help anyone, especially beginners, break through the fear and the apprehension when starting a new journey. It takes time and there is no hurry. Just stay the course and keep pushing through any hurdles or obstacles in your mind or body.