In this day and age, it can feel intimidating to even hear the words “fitness” and “nutrition” muttered in the course of polite conversation. The concept of health and fitness has become so confusing and convoluted over the last several years that many of us don’t even know where to begin. We know that we need to do something, but the thought of wading through the piles of contradictory advice and fancy gyms on every corner leaves us feeling defeated and tired.
This recent fitness craze is both good and bad, in my opinion. It is great that people are starting to understand the impact of fitness on their long-term health. We know so much more about exercise physiology now than we did even 5 years ago. There are fantastic options that are effective, efficient, and don’t take 3 hours and lots of equipment.
The bad news is that it has become so daunting to make sense of all the options that many people just throw up their hands and consider it a lost cause because they don’t know how or where to get started. Should we be doing HIIT workouts? Spin classes? Yoga or Pilates? Should we cut out all carbs, try this keto thing or just drink beet juice for 10 days straight? I will admit that even as a fitness professional I sometimes get caught up in this confusion. It’s like sensory overload, and it’s practically impossible to know what you should really be doing to get and STAY fit and healthy.
My absolute favorite clients are the ones that fall into this category. People who desperately want to make a change but don’t know how to start and are afraid that if they do, they will ultimately fail. People who think that they are too out of shape or too old to start exercising because they won’t be able to manage. People who have been telling themselves that they would start fresh on Monday, week after week for years.
What do I tell people who are in this vicious cycle of self-defeat? I tell them that it is NEVER too late to start. You are NEVER too old or too out of shape to turn your fitness and your health around. You will be amazed at what your body can do and how good it can feel. The confidence earned through conquering the next level of fitness will spill over into every aspect of your life. You may also be amazed at the fact that you can make an impact without breaking the bank or adding another huge time commitment to your already busy schedule.
My first suggestion is always to start small. The goal should be to make incremental changes that will add up over time and are sustainable for the long term. Lifestyle changes that will stick with us so we don’t find ourselves back in the same situation a year from now. We have all lived through enough fad diets and exercise programs to know how that works. Drastic changes that we know are unrealistic and unlikely to be maintained do not set us up for success.
If you are starting from scratch then my advice is to create a plan for yourself and stick to it. Writing down your plan and your goals is critical if you want to make a serious change. I also encourage you to think about WHY you want to start on a fitness journey. Write that down as well because that’s what is most likely to keep you going when things get tough, and things WILL get tough. Do you have a family history of diabetes or heart disease? Kids or grandkids that you want to be more active with? Have you lost your self-confidence and you really want to improve the way you feel about yourself? Don’t just write these things down, go back and re-read them every day when you wake up. Sometimes that daily reminder of our WHY will give us the push we need to keep our eyes on the prize.
I promise you that taking that first scary step to map out your goals and get moving will create some momentum and motivation. If you are starting from ground zero maybe you start a new routine of stretching each day when you wake up. Start adding in a 20-minute walk, 3 days a week. Slowly increase the time and intensity and even add in short periods of jogging as you feel yourself improving. Convince a friend to go try that yoga class that you have been thinking about. Try a routine of jumping jacks, modified squats or lunges and some sit-ups while you are watching tv at night. You can look online for videos showing proper form for any exercise and stretch you can think of. Slowly start to incorporate some of these things until you feel your body responding. Once you are feeling stronger and more confident then it’s time to worry about the next steps. The point is that deciding that you want to get healthy does not mean that you have to run out and join a gym or start trying advanced moves that could injure you or turn you off completely to the process.
Getting started is undoubtedly the hardest part, but if you can take that first step it just may change your life in more ways than you can even imagine. Remember that breaking bad habits and starting new healthy ones is a process, so be kind to yourself along the way. Be sure to celebrate your small successes. There will be setbacks and road blocks. There will be days that you just don’t think you can do it. Don’t beat yourself up over missed workouts or perceived failures. Just start fresh the next day, forgive yourself, and move on. You CAN do it and one day you will look back and be so glad that you started when you did.
© copyright 2017 Hadley Sorensen all rights reserved.
Hadley Sorensen is a health and fitness coach who lives in Virginia with her husband and 3 boys. She is an avid reader, runner and fitness instructor who has a passion for helping others learn to enjoy exercise. Hadley uses one-on-one coaching as well as virtual accountability groups to provide support and motivation to her clients. Her guiding philosophy is that it’s never too late to take charge of your health and improve your level of fitness. Find her on Facebook @HadleySorensenFitness