One of the biggest challenges on anyone’s fitness journey is simply getting started. I can’t tell you how many times I have personally started and stopped and started again. It’s often due to life hiccups like getting sick, feeling discouraged, going on vacation, moving, etc. I’d end up pausing my workouts and meal prepping to manage whatever was happening at the time only to extend my 3-day break to 3 weeks or even 3 months!
Do you suffer from the same issue? Or maybe you just need to get started? Either way, I’m here to say that you can definitely do it with hard work and dedication. Once you’ve made up your mind that you’re ready to do the work, you can get back to that lean, mean, fitness machine you once were or finally get started on attaining that healthier lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.
Here are 3 ways to jump start your fitness journey whether for the first time or after a extended break.
Focus on Food More Than Fitness
Firstly, working out is a critical part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle but it’s really only 20% of the equation. You can’t out train a bad diet and that’s why nutrition is important to understand at the start of any fitness journey. Create a food journal to track everything you eat. You can use an app like My Fitness Pal or a spreadsheet in Google Docs to do this. This is the first step to seeing where all your calories are going. Are you a snacker like me? Or perhaps late-night sweets are your kryptonite? Maybe too many sodas and juices and not enough water? You will discover all these answers and more in your food journal. After tracking your food for a week, you can see where you can clean up your eating habits by cutting down or eliminating certain foods.
Make a conscious effort to eat all your meals within a 12-hour period, eating every 3 hours. For example, I eat between 8am to 8pm, starting with breakfast at 8am and ending with dinner at 8pm. Each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) typically consists of veggies, protein, carbs and a fat to ensure I’m striking a healthy balance.
Moderation is key and it’s important to consume less calories in order to see changes to your overall numbers like your weight and body measurements. PRO TIP: If you struggle with eating veggies like me, add a green smoothie like this one to your diet and you’ll see that there are a number of ways to make this fitness journey a delicious one.
Set Small, Attainable Goals and CRUSH THEM
Don’t kick off your restart thinking you will be on the same level as when you stopped. If you were working out 5 days a week before, you’ll wear yourself out if you tried doing the same thing in Week 1. Instead, plan to workout 2 days a week at the minimum and any extra days will be a bonus. This way you can realistically achieve your goal without feeling like you didn’t put forth the effort.
If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, the same applies to you. Shoot to workout 2 days a week by taking a brisk 30-45 minute walk in a park, a trail or in your neighborhood. Do that for 2 weeks straight. After that, add an additional day of walking coupled with 3-5 exercises after each walk. Take it back to your grade school gym class with some jumping jacks, pushups, sit-ups and squats. Do 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions for each exercise to start. After doing that consistently for 4 weeks, you can start adding more days and more exercises.
Think of your fitness journey as a marathon and not a sprint. You don’t have to come bursting out the gate like Superman or Wonder Woman – you just have to show up and be consistent. PRO TIP: YouTube is your friend! Look for simple beginner workouts that you can easily work into your fitness routines. They don’t have to be too involved and overly complicated, but they should work up a sweat.
Bottoms Up! Drink Your Water
There’s no getting around it. You must drink water to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Because your body is made up of about 60% of water, the majority of your body weight, water is needed to flush out toxins, regulate body temperature and help with your brain function. Have you ever gone a day or two without drinking water? Do you remember feeling sluggish, foggy and out of sorts? Did you feel constipated, bloated and had that ‘blah’ feeling you couldn’t shake? Water affects all of those things plus it keeps your skin glowing! Who doesn’t want smooth, clear skin! I know I do!
Strive to drink half your body weight in ounces or at least a gallon (128 ounces) a day. This means if you weigh 200 pounds, you should be drinking 100 ounces of water daily. Certainly, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule but it’s a good measure to use to determine how much water you should be drinking. Consuming that much water daily can seem impossible to do but you can get creative to make it a little easier.
Add slices of fresh fruit like strawberry and lemon to infuse your water and give it some taste. Add other herbs and fruits like mint, cucumbers, oranges, lime, rosemary and more. The possibilities are endless.
Drink tea (without sugar) and water enhancers like these to count towards your water intake and make the task more bearable. PRO TIP: Be sure to read the ingredient list on any water enhancers that you consider purchasing. Steer away from those that list propylene glycol, sucralose and salt as ingredients. I’ll share more about these in a later post however, feel free to do your own research and learn why they’re not good for you.
Implement these three (3) things to help jump start your fitness journey. In short, they will make it a little less overwhelming when you begin, plus you’ll be more likely to continue to navigate your new healthy lifestyle. Let me know if these tips were helpful in the comments below. For more on food and fitness, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for workout videos and tips on how to balance foodie life with fitness life.
Anquanette Gaspard is a food and travel entrepreneur, freelance writer, blogger, and social media influencer, based in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Anquanette uses her blog, CruzanFoodie.com, and social platforms to share her experiences in a way that is authentically Caribbean.