Step-by-Step Guide to Beginning a Fitness Program and STICKING WITH IT!
August 17, 2015
I talk a lot about WHY you should be healthy, WHY you should be fit and I try to be motivating. What if you're past all that and ready to START but aren't sure which way to take the first step? Here you go - laid out step-by-step.
So you're ready to start a health and fitness program. YEA! GO! Wait...don't just go. What will do, when will you do it, where, how....?? First, let's talk about S.M.A.R.T. goals.
SMART - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
Specific - Lose 25 lbs. NOT 'lose weight'. Be specific! What do you want? Fit into those size 6 jeans? Eat healthy? OK but 'eat healthy' is too open-ended. Be specific - 'eat 5 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables every day, 3 servings of lean protein and 8 glasses of water'. See where I'm headed?
Measurable - Again, lose 25 lbs works here. 'Lose weight' does not. You can lose and gain water weight from day to day and that wouldn't count, right? Your goal needs to be something that can be measured - pounds lost, inches lost, body percentage change, number of veggie servings, minutes run, number of strength workouts completed, amount of time spent meditating.
Attainable - Lose 25 lbs is fine so long as you actually need to lose 25 lbs. If you're 5' 10" and weigh 130, losing 25 lbs would not be a good attainable goal. Likewise, saying your goal is to lose 25 lbs in two weeks is not an attainable goal. (OK, yes, you might be able to do this but WHOA please don't try. There's nothing, NADA, healthy about that. It's actually harmful.) Don't set yourself up for failure by setting a goal that isn't achievable. Also, make sure you have the tools in place to attain your goal. Support system, verification from a Dr., if necessary, that you should lose the weight.
Realistic - This goes hand in hand with Attainable. It's not realistic to lose 25 lbs in two weeks. It's not realistic to think that your current enthusiasm for this new program will translate into a perfect program - perfect diet, perfect workouts, perfect everything. Be realistic about what you can change and when you can change it.
Timely - Back to our 'Lose 25 lbs' goal. Average weight loss, if you're doing everything right, is 1-2 lbs per week. PER WEEK. In other words, losing 25 lbs in a healthy way could take 3-6 mths. Make sure the goal you set is a short enough time frame to keep you excited but not so short as to guarantee failure.
I've drilled the S.M.A.R.T. goal idea into your head. Let's put it into practice. Go grab some paper and a pen. I'll wait......
At the top of the paper, write your BIG goal. No need to be SMART here, we'll get to that in a minute. Just write down the big one. Or two. Whatever. Last time I did this exercise, I think I had 5 or 6. No rules.... Working through this process helps you define what your goal really is. Maybe it isn't just weight loss. Losing weight is fine but what if you're still flabby? Maybe what you really meant by losing weight was losing body fat?
Now, is that BIG goal Specific? If not, underneath your BIG goal, write it out so that it is specific. 'Lose weight' would become 'Lose 25 lbs'.
Next, is that BIG goal Measurable? If not, underneath the Specific goal, define how you'll measure your BIG goal. 'Lose 25 lbs' is measurable. 'Run more' is not. 'Increase run mileage by two miles per week' is measureable.
Is that BIG goal Attainable? If your BIG goal is to be a bikini model, that MIGHT not be attainable. Not trying to discourage, just saying..... 'Lose 25 lbs' is specific, measurable but might not be attainable. Maybe an attainable weight loss goal for you is 10 lbs. Or maybe you need to reasses your BIG goal to read 'Lose body fat'. Underneath your Measurable goal, phrase your goal to be Attainable, if it isn't already. Maybe your BIG goal is specific, measurable but requires a huge support system you don't currently have.
**Side bar - I weigh more than I should for my height. I'm muscular. Losing weight for me is not easy. So if I want to 'slim down', my goals are to clean up my diet, up the strength training and lose body fat. Not lose weight. Think attainable!**
Now we're on to Realistic. Again, hand in hand with attainable. Maybe you can lose those 25 lbs. But is that really realistic? Would you look like an emaciated skeleton? Or maybe you are tackling too much. Is your goal to eat healthier measured by weighing every gram of food you put in your mouth? Unless you're accustomed to competition dieting or just very, very anal, this might not be a very realistic goal. Under Attainable, phrase your goal to be Realistic if it isn't already.
Lastly, Timely. Is your BIG goal timely? This is a dance. Too far out and it doesn't seem real or attainable. Too near and you're just setting yourself up for failure. Using our goal of 'Lose 25 lbs', a timely goal would be 'In 4 mths'. Underneath Realistic, write out your timeline.
Using our example, your goal should look something like this -
Specific - lose 25 lbs
Measurable - weigh myself each Monday morning as soon as I get up.
Attainable - yes, I'm making a plan and have a support system in place to cheer me on.
Realistic - yes, my Dr. recommended the weight loss and my body fat percentage indicates I could lose 25 lbs of fat and be in a healthy range.
Timely - 5 months to lose the weight, 1.25 lbs per week.
Woohoo!! Nice goal setting! Now on to the specific plan.
Let's drill down into that goal. If you want to lose 25 lbs in 5 mths then in 10 weeks, you'd like to be down about 12-13 lbs, right? And in about a month, you'd like to be down 6-7 lbs. WRITE THOSE DOWN! Break your BIG goal into smaller goals. It's much easier to tackle smaller goals that one big one. And we're going to get even smaller....
So 6-7 lbs in one month. How are you going to get there? How many workouts will you do each week? Of those workouts, how many will be strength, cardio or a combination? Exactly what will those workouts look like? For our example, your weekly plan may look something like this -
Sunday - rest or yoga class
Monday - Run 3 miles at the gym at 5.5 mph.
Tuesday - BodyPump class
Wednesday - 30 minutes on the elliptical at a level 7. (Yes, you want to be this specific)
Thursday - Free weight routine (then lay it out - exactly what exercises you'll do, the weight, the reps and number of sets)
Friday - Kick boxing class
Saturday - Bike ride with the family, at least an hour.
Revamp this weekly plan as needed. It could be exactly the same for a month, then you change it.
What about your eating plan in order to get to the goal of 6-7 lbs lost in the first month? Do exactly the same thing. Plan exactly what you will have for breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and dinner. Do as much prep work on Sunday. Grill a TON of chicken, make and freeze healthy breakfast burritos, salads for lunch and plan easy dinners that make leftovers to last two nights. You are significantly more likely to stick to it if you PLAN.
So that's Month 1 and a goal of 6-7 lbs. What about Month Two (or getting to the half way point of 10 wks)? Repeat this same process of laying out EXACTLY what your workouts will look like, EXACTLY what you will eat for each week.
By breaking that BIG goal into small, weekly plans that feed into a short term monthly goal, you WILL succeed!
It matters not what your goal is. This process can be done for any goal - healthy eating, daily meditation, new job, a big project, ANYTHING.
And last but not least, if you want help with the process, just message me! I'm happy to do a little one-on-one with you and get you to a working plan!