When you are overweight it can be more difficult to get started on an exercise program. Being overweight lends itself to certain issues that need to be addressed prior to starting a new workout regimen.

Here are 9 steps to do in order to correctly begin, healthily sustain, and help your chances at being more successful in your exercise program.

1. Always start with contacting your doctor to see if there are particular exercises that you should avoid.

For example, if someone has diabetes, doing exercises barefoot would not be advised. Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the feet which may prevent a person from knowing if their foot is injured.  Plus, an injury to the foot may develop into an ulcer or a serious infection.

2. Find a certified personal trainer who works with weight loss clients.

It has been my experience as a personal trainer that it is generally in the beginning where most people get hurt.

People who have never worked out or have been sedentary for a while may easily get hurt when trying to do exercises they are not used to or have never done before.

Getting injured in the first few weeks of exercising can be a debilitating blow to morale and will be another obstacle to overcome on the road to better health. Therefore, find a personal trainer who understands your needs and can help you navigate an exercise program that will prevent injury and help you get to your fitness goals.

There are many options for personal training to meet most budgets, from one-on-one, small group, to online coaching.

3. One way to start exercising is to begin a walking program.

Walking is one of the best exercises for the body. In general, it is a gentle activity that can be done by most people. Walking burns calories, helps prevent osteoporosis, and is free.

A walking program is a concerted effort to walk for a set amount of time each day and throughout the week.

Walking can be done every day; an example program can be Mon–Fri walk 30 minutes a day, and Sat–Sun walk for 1 hour each day.

Make walking fun by inviting a friend or adopting a dog. You can also join walking clubs which you can find on sites like Craigslist.

4. Find an activity you enjoy and do it consistently.

Exercising doesn’t necessarily mean having to go to the gym. Gardening, dancing, or even dart throwing are all physical activities that burn calories. But in order for such activities to help you lose weight, they must be done regularly.

For example plan to garden for 2 hours each weekend or for however long you are able, and do it consistently. Add this activity to your walking program and be active daily.

5. Effective weight loss programs are where results are measured so that one is aware of their progress.

There are many ways to measure results. The usual measurements are weight, circumference, body composition, and Body Mass Index (BMI).

For a new exerciser, unless you are working with a personal trainer, in which the techniques mentioned above are the best, I advise using a more readily available tool such as your clothes and cell phone camera.

A tight pair of jeans are the perfect piece of clothing to measure yourself with to see if you are making headway in your exercise program. Take note how snug your jeans are, then every two weeks, check to see if those same pair of jeans are getting looser! Take a whole body picture in your undergarments and do so every few weeks to see if you are looking slimmer.

If you are not seeing and feeling the changes you want, go back to your program and see what you can do to create improvement. With my clients, I always advise a holistic approach which translates to: are you moving enough, are you eating correctly, and is your mindset optimal?

Mindset is key to achieving any goal. One’s mental and emotional state can either drive one to success or impede their efforts.

6. Prepare your mind.

Get it clear in your head why you want and need to implement this exercise program. Dig deep to find the reasons that will motivate you to succeed. The more compelling the reasons, the better your chances.

Write down these reasons so that if a moment of weakness arises, you can remind yourself why you must keep pushing forward.

7. Develop a success-promoting tier of goals.

This means creating short-term goals that are easily attainable that help support your long-term aspirations.

It is crucial to feel good in the beginning stages of an exercise program because this builds momentum. One way to increase your chances of success is to see yourself accomplishing some of your goals early on.

For example, an immediate goal could be to make a doctor or personal training appointment and go to it. Next, you may give yourself a goal of walking 30 minutes, 3 times within your first week. Let these small accomplishments motivate you to pursue your larger fitness goal.

8. Choose a holistic approach.

A holistic approach means to view the problem in its entirety; from its immediate effects, to its underlying cause.

We know that weight gain is not caused by one thing. It is usually triggered by a combination of factors some of which are: not moving enough, an emotional reason, a health condition, eating too much, and / or eating the wrong things. Therefore, to be successful at solving the situation, a multiple of approaches must be considered.

In previous steps I mentioned, movement and mindset are aids to weight loss, but even more important is eating healthily.

One cannot lose weight by exercise alone because you cannot out-run a bad diet. You simply cannot burn enough calories within a day to combat a destructive eating habit.

Add a nutrition component to your exercise program and find long-lasting weight loss success.

9. Recruit people to help you stay on track.

When a person tells other people about their plans, it creates a “silent” contract of accountability. Most people want others to believe that they keep their promises and are the kind of people who “do what they say.”

There are many ways to have this type of accountability. One is to enlist a good friend or relative. Tell your friend that you plan to start an exercise program. Ask him or her to periodically check in on you to see how you’re doing and to be supportive when you’re together by helping you make healthy choices.

Personally, I have used Instagram for just this type of accountability measure. Instagram has a very supportive and engaging community of exercisers. I use this inspiring community to support my efforts in becoming a better yogi and my aspiration of a free-standing handstand!

Follow these 9 steps and I am certain you will see change and find success in your efforts to be healthier. Good luck!

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