[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]The always inspiring Kelly Olexa recently encouraged me and my fellow FitFluential Ambassadors to share our favorite fitness tips for people just starting out, or getting back in the game. As December kicks off, some of us may already be thinking about making New Year’s resolutions tied to fitness or overall well-being. Rather than wait a whole month, why not start today? Start small, but for Pete’s sake! start now.
After busting a foot, but still finishing the ING NYC Marathon, I found myself sitting on the sidelines for the few weeks after, wallowing and pouting. Now that I am feeling better, I am taking my own advice (for once) and starting small, starting now. No more waiting ’til Monday. Or January. While I may be taking some time off from marathoning (likely not a word), I need not take time off from the things that I love doing (and that don’t, um, hurt my little body)– boxing, shorter races, soccer, yoga, long walks with the bulldog, strength training, and some good old fashioned jump roping (also likely not a word).
If you’re starting a fresh fitness routine or bouncing back from illness or injury, I humbly offer (as a true non-professional, so please don’t sue me if a weighted ball falls on your big toe) 7 tips for starting small, starting now:
1. Schedule a physical. And, like, go to it.
This is a serious case of do as I say, not as I do, seeing as I would rather poke myself in the eye than go see my doctor. But I can promise you this: I am on the hunt for a new PCP, and as soon as I find one (who doesn’t routinely loose blood work, paper work, and appointment books), I will schedule that physical. And I will go to it. It’s important to see your doctor before starting any new routines. Why? Because it says so at the beginning of all fitness DVDs. And also, because it’s important to know where you stand on the overall health spectrum. It’s important to know your numbers– not just weight, but iron levels, cholesterol, and BMI for example. Your doctor can help you determine healthy targets and a plan for hitting them. A physical is a great starting point.
2. Set specific, attainable goals.
I find I am lost without a goal to work towards. Whether it’s finishing a 10k race, or practicing 21 days of yoga, it’s important to be very intentional about setting specific goals. We could all say, I will get healthier, but it seems like we humans are destined to be perpetual works in progress. We can always be getting healthier. Having a clear outcome and timeline in mind keeps me motivated. The goals don’t have to be grandiose. They just have to be something you’re willing to commit to, and work towards. You can certainly start small when it comes to goal setting, just be sure to not limit yourself. A few goals I am currently working towards:
- I will attend 12 boxing classes during the month of December
- I will run a 27 minute 5k before St. Patrick’s Day
- I will set aside time for prayer or reflection each day during Advent
One of my favorite tools for goal setting (and goal getting) is my fitbook. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I love their “write it down, make it happen” approach. Being able to see the big picture really helps me to stay on track with the small steps.
3. Know your motivation.
In addition to knowing what you’re working towards, I think it’s important to also know why you’re working towards those goals. Is it to improve your overall health? To have more energy to play with your kids (or Frenchie)? Know your motivation, and come back to that whenever you’re faced with fear, doubt, or thoughts of throwing in the proverbial towel. Internal motivation is a powerful thing. It helps fitness feel less like a series of tasks, and more like a lifestyle.
External motivation can be a great help too. Perhaps there’s a special event on the horizon? Or you’ve got an awesome pair of yoga pants just dying to make their debut at the gym? Or perhaps it’s the gym itself– paying an arm and leg for my gym membership is motivation in itself to maximize my time there.
4. Starting small doesn’t require buying a whole bunch of
Truly. You don’t need a lot of stuff to get fit. I 100% advocate getting fitted for shoes, especially if you’re going to be running in them. Specialty run/walk stores are a great place to find the shoe that best supports your unique feet and running patterns. I used to buy running shoes because I liked the colors. And because they looked cute. If I was a game show hostess, my name would have been Vanity White. Bahahaa. And then I got some sense knocked into me, and actually found shoes that fit. And that supported my training. I’ve learned my lesson.
Other investments you might consider making:
- A yoga mat comes in handy for, well, yoga… and also stretching, foam rolling and weight lifting. We have concrete floors, a little extra padding is always welcome.
- You might want to wear a pedometer to track your daily steps. It’s recommended we log at least 10,000 daily; find out how many you log in a normal day, and work up from there. I wear a teeny, tiny fitbit and love trying to top my “personal best.” It also serves as a good reminder to get up and move during the day, whilst working to bring home the imitation bacon bits at the office. There are plenty of inexpensive options available on Amazon, and local sporting goods stores (I felt like an old person when I typed sporting goods store… that is what they’re called, right?)
- A weighted ball is great for ab work and toning, plus they double as a home security system. No robber I know would want to get clocked in the head with one of those. But, um, for the record: I don’t know any robbers.
- Resistance bands are perfect for toning and stretching, easily packable for working out on the go. Check YouTube or Fitness TV for workout suggestions.
- A set of free weights might be helpful to have on hand– I grabbed mine at Target in 5lbs, 8 lbs, and 10lbs. Not all at the same time though. They don’t make bags sturdy enough for that purchase. Soup cans, and jugs of water work too.
- And last, but not least, I recommend a jump rope for getting your heart rate up and working on balance and coordination. And pretending that your in 3rd grade gym class again.
Some of the most effective exercises for me, though, require only my body, something I conveniently bring with me wherever I go: squats, lunges, squat thrusts, and planks.
5. Celebrate your accomplishments. Every single (big and small) one of them.
You don’t need to climb Mt. Everest in order to warrant a good pat on the back. Or a new iTunes jam. Or a pedicure. Or a really long nap. Celebrate each step you take towards those goals. I spotted a great article in Self Magazine this month about treating yourself. Many of their suggestions take only a few minutes, and cost $free.99 (my favorite price).
Let your friends and family share in your successes and hard work. It’s okay to brag a little. I try to limit the number of days I wear a race medal to work (3 out of the 5 worksdays/week, generally), and when I moved up a level in boxing recently, I only told Nick 16 times instead of 17.
6. Try something new. Maybe something a little scary.
Getting stuck in a rut can be frustrating. Once my car got stuck in an actual rut, and when it got unstuck, the frame was cracked. It spent a few days in the auto repair place (to the tune of $1400+) getting fixed. As soon as it was fixed, though, it ran like new. Did that real life metaphor do anything for you? Mostly I was just venting, but perhaps there is a real life application there.
Getting unstuck, and shaking things up a bit, does a body good. Boxing has been the ultimate shake up for me. I am largely terrified every time I walk down the alley to the boxing gym. Once my hands are wrapped and the music is blaring, though… it’s on.
7. Find something you love, and get out there and do it.
Sure, life is full of unpleasantness. But most of us are lucky enough to have choices and options. We may not be able to choose to hire a minion to complete such tasks as scrubbing the bathtub, but if we can choose to incorporate fitness into our lives in such a way that makes life more pleasant… welp, we’ve done something right.
Please stop reading and start… starting. Start small if you wish, but start now.
Also On Tap for Today:
What are your best tips for starting now? What’s your motivation?