By Kimberly Wagler, BA, CPT
Have you ever wanted to start (and stick with) a fitness program? Have you ever wondered if you were even physically capable of participating in one? Have you ever felt like you just don’t have the motivation or drive to make fitness a part of your life? You, certainly, aren’t alone.
Over the years, I’ve learned the strategies our clients use to get them on their health journey, in addition to what keeps them going. Take a look at the 4 traits we’ve seen in common with our most successful clients. Followed in order, these simple steps can not only help you get started, but also make fitness a part of your lifestyle.
They started. Quit getting ready to get ready.
This sounds simple, but it’s often the most difficult first step. Most of us procrastinate because we keep “getting ready to get ready.” Why? Because the fear of what could potentially go wrong keeps us from taking action and finally gaining control of our health and wellness. Or, we put off starting because we don’t know how to start or what exercises to do.
On the other hand, successful people take action. They just start. Imagine the endorphin rush of achieving your goals. Feeling confident, healthy, and in control. Realizing you accomplished what you always knew you were capable of. This doesn’t need to be a fantasy. In fact, these are real-life results from our clients. People just like you. Feeling good, getting stronger, and still motivated for more.
But the only way to get there, the first (most important) step, is committing. Just getting started. Remember, you are the hero of the story. And just like any great story, it cannot begin until the hero takes action. So, act!
They’re consistent. Especially when it’s hard, and life seems too busy.
Now that you have committed, it’s time to be consistent. Life is busy. There is always something to take up your time. These priorities matter, but so does your health. It is difficult to succeed without planning.
Failure to plan is planning to fail, and that is why the most successful people plan ahead.
By scheduling workouts ahead of time, busy schedules become more manageable. I’ve found that, for most people, creating a schedule you can maintain week to week works best. That way, it becomes a part of your life and identity.
Getting an accountability partner can also help with consistency if they are someone you respect and will help you overcome excuses.
They follow a plan. What does success look like? What’s realistic?
You’ve started, and now you’ve committed to being consistent. The next step is to follow a proven path to success. Without a plan, it’s easy to get frustrated and off track. Getting “in shape” can be vague and structureless.
You can seek out professional help for this if you aren’t confident in your ability to create a plan. There are plenty of options these days. From simple at-home programs, to in-depth training programs at your local gym, you can absolutely find the best plan for your goals and your life!
For those who are uncomfortable asking for help or not confident in being able to talk to a fitness professional, follow these points to create your own plan.
- Figure out what you like. What kind of activity do you enjoy the most? If you don’t enjoy exercising, you most likely won’t continue doing it. Finding the type of movement you enjoy is key. For instance, if you are a former athlete, you may want to pick up your sport again. If you are an extreme introvert that enjoys movies, maybe it’s hopping on a cardio machine while you watch your favorite flick.
- Start slow. Going crazy in your first session can cause so much soreness that you might not be willing to try it again. If you are a former basketball player, don’t sign up for an intense league right away. Start by shooting around and doing some light drill work. Work your way up to being able to recreationally play, and then join the league when your body feels ready.
- Set SMALL goals. Giving yourself achievable goals to hit each week is much more optimal than throwing out a 50-pound weight loss goal that just overwhelms your efforts. This is why programs like Couch to 5k are so successful. They focus solely on what needs to be done for that week.
They measure their success. And not just by using the scale.
The people who have gotten stronger, leaner, and healthier understand that weight alone is not an adequate measuring stick. Results and continued success happen when you understand what your body is made of and what it can do. Weight alone is an incomplete picture. It’s a number that represents everything in your body.
It is important to break your fitness down into meaningful data such as conditioning, strength, lean muscle, and fat mass. These individual factors are key to understanding your health, but more importantly, it gives you a direction and strategy to get you where you want to be.
Purposeful and consistent measurement of the right metrics is how the most successful people move forward with confidence. They know what they are doing is providing them with the best results possible.
Here are some great ways to measure your fitness level. Start by doing these movements, and complete them again every one to three months to measure your progress.
- 1 mile test: How fast can you complete a mile? This can be done on a bike, walking, running, swimming, etc.
- Farmer carry: Time yourself to see how long you can walk at a comfortable pace while holding dumbbells. Make sure you are carrying the weight by your sides with one weight in each hand. You can use buckets filled with water if you don’t have access to dumbbells at home.
- Pushups: How many can you do? Remember to use good form and not cheat yourself with half reps. If you need to modify, you can start on your knees or elevate your upper body by placing your hands on a chair or countertop.
- Pull-ups or hold for time: How many full-rep pull ups can you do? It is very difficult to do full pull-ups, so if you aren’t comfortable doing them, try to get yourself into a pull-up position with assistance. Time yourself to see how long you can hang.
- Squats: The best option for this is to be able to hold a heavy weight and see how many squats you can do.
- Body composition scans: Inbody, Bod Pod, and Hydrostatic Weighing are the most accurate and accessible ways to get your body composition tested in our area. Typically, home scales aren’t going to be as accurate, but if that is all you have access to, then by all means use them.
The four traits listed above are tried and true methods to making fitness a lasting part of your lifestyle. If you’ve been wanting to improve your health journey, consider this your sign that it’s time to get moving. All you have to do is start.
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