Deciding you want to get in shape is a great thing. However, it’s human nature to want to accomplish ALL THE THINGS overnight. This just isn’t possible with weight loss or getting fit. It’s something that takes time. Don’t feel like you have to see results immediately or burn fat like it’s going out of style. You don’t have to run a marathon to prove you’re on the path toward fitness. A slow, deliberate approach is much more reasonable (and manageable) for long-term success.
Know Your Limits
First of all, you need to understand your own limitations. You know best in this regard. If walking around the block leaves you winded, you know it’s important to take it slow. Start by walking short distances. Walk on the treadmill at a moderate pace. Get your body used to moving again before you ramp up the duration or intensity. A little muscle soreness and fatigue are normal, but extremes in this regard aren’t. Fitness is a long-term goal–not something that can achieved just because you wish it.
Listen to Your Body
Do your knees hurt when your feet hit the pavement? Feel a twinge in your hip after pedaling on your bike for awhile? These could be signs that you’re pushing too hard. Being overweight places strain on your body and in particular your joints, so be careful in your movements and take the time to listen to your body.
Should you find that certain exercises or movements cause you pain or discomfort, there are a few things you can do:
Modify exercises. If you’re participating in a class like yoga or aerobics, be sure to discuss any concerns or physical limitations you have with the instructor before you begin your first class (you can also ask during your second, tenth or 100th class too). This will ensure you’re comfortable and the instructor can provide exercise modifications if necessary.
Take an activity break. If you’re feeling extra sore or fatigued, it’s okay to skip a day of your typical exercise routine. If you normally ride your bike, try going for a walk instead. That way, you’ll at least be moving but you’ll be taxing different muscles and won’t wear yourself out.
See your doctor. If you are very out of shape and concerned about your health, be sure to see a physician before you attempt starting any new exercise routine.
It all goes back to that “wanting to do everything at once” thing we talked about earlier. Yes, it’d be great if you could shed the pounds and get fit overnight but that’s just not realistic. Instead, why not set reasonable goals that are totally attainable while still offering some level of challenge? Maybe make it a goal to workout three times a week. Or, maybe your goal is to do something “active” every day, be it walking the dog, gardening, or what have you.
Gradually Increase Activity
As you become comfortable with your workout routine, gradually increase your activity level over time. You don’t have to make huge leaps in workout duration or intensity, but it is important that you up the challenge periodically to keep things interesting and to continue to progress. Weekly and monthly goals will help keep you focused in the short-term but always keep your eye on the prize–your big goal–to keep you motivated.
Once you decide to get in shape, all that’s left for you to do is pick a plan and stick with it. Nothing much, right? Ha! We know it’s hard to stick to a routine but by keeping your goals modest and being realistic about your expectations, you can see significant progress that is certain to leave you feeling proud.