To those of you who are just getting started on your fitness journey, perhaps as a New Year’s resolution, read this:
Leading a fit and healthy lifestyle isn’t about spending every day in the gym.
It isn’t about giving up all of your favorite foods and treats, or thinking that you are better than anyone else. It’s about taking care of the house of your soul: your body; the vessel which determines how long you get to spend with loved ones, having experiences, learning and laughing till your heart is content. It’s about finding balance.
It starts with a decision to make a change.
This will take discipline. However, there is no need to completely rid your life of ice cream or beers with good friends. There’s no need to spend every second scrutinizing and nitpicking yourself. The best diet is one that you will do, one that is flexible to your life, one that adjusts and adapts as you do, just as the best exercise routine is one which brings you joy and clarity alongside progress, and doesn’t consume you. That said, the changes you will undergo depend entirely upon the effort you put in, both with moderating your consumption of unhealthy foods as well as the frequency and intensity of your workouts.
Start with a few days a week for 30 minutes a piece, or with one less fast food meal.
Reduce your intake of soda or fast food; fill your fridge with healthier options; get a gym membership and start off with a manageable schedule. Rather than saying “I’m going to get into shape,” begin by defining a smaller goal; work on it, conquer it and move onto the next step. When you change too much all at once it’s easy to become overwhelmed, and more likely that you will give up on yourself. So often I witness people trapped in a vicious cycle of pushing too hard only to bog down and quit, time and time again, new year after new year. I’m speaking from experience here, friends. Even if you fail, you will continue wishing you had stuck with it. Your body wants you to make healthy choices, and it will thank you when you do.
Focus on the little accomplishments.
Take pictures of yourself, keep a workout log or simply be mindful of the positive steps you have taken so far. Notice and be proud. Any worthwhile change takes time. I can assure you, the aesthetic results will not come as quickly as you may wish, but even the smallest step in the right direction will lead to a world’s worth of positive difference. Regardless of how long you have been working at this, I advise you to shift your focus from what you can see to what you can feel. Performance is the key; as you steadily improve your performance and your habits your body will inevitably follow suit.
Ditch the time scale.
To have truly succeeded in the goal of becoming fit and healthy you must make the change for good. Health is a requisite for life. In order to live long and live well, your decision to become healthier must become permanent. If you persist in counting down the days until you reach “Success”–whatever that means to you–you put yourself at risk of growing complacent or losing stride altogether. In the mission of fitness there is no universal time frame and there is no single correct method of instating the change over time. While our bodies are fundamentally the same, they respond differently to various techniques–and at different rates. As you make continuous adjustments to your routine, you will eventually discover the methods that work best for you. And ultimately, if your goal is to get into better shape, you will need to set a new standard for yourself and stick with it.
The benefits you will experience:
Routine exercise increases metabolism and energy levels, promotes proper hormonal balance, decreases stress and anxiety, helps protect against countless life-threatening diseases and bolsters confidence. Therefore, leading a healthy lifestyle increases one’s capability to experience life to the fullest–to do exciting things, stay up later, wake up earlier, and view the world in full color. To take care of yourself is to take control of your life. Invest in yourself and the fruits of your effort will be returned tenfold.
Keep striving, friends. If I can do it, so can you.