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Published on September 9, 2020

How to Start Exercising Right Now (And Stick to It)

How to Start Exercising Right Now (And Stick to It)

So, do you want to learn how to start exercising right now?

Let me start by saying this: I am practically giddy with the idea of you sitting on the other end of this computer. You’re about to start a whole new lifestyle, and that’s no small feat. The confidence, energy, vibrancy, passion, and discipline it will bring to your life will be well worth it!

While I know you’re committed, I’m sure there are some questions you have on your mind as well, including “Where do I even begin?”

Well, because I care about your success, my answer won’t be as cut and dry as “You need to do these exercises” and such.

Creating a new lifestyle does not only mean changing your physical but also mental habits, after all. Yes, you could start working out, but that would be a disservice. You would be making things far more challenging on yourself than you need to.

There are three things that you can build on to make a change last:

Mindset

Let’s start with the foundation of your goals: mindset.

As a fitness manager, I have witnessed how a slight change in mindset has the power to change lives. You just need to:

1. Know Your Why

If you were to walk up to me in a gym and ask how to start exercising, I would stop you in your track and answer you with another question. “Why do you want to start exercising?”

I do this because behavior change is an emotional thing! Typically, it takes someone hitting rock bottom to commit to change.

For me, I was chronically ill for years. I started working out to save my life! For some, they might have gotten out of breath and have not been able to play with their kids. One client of mine saw a picture of herself that brought her to tears. She didn’t even recognize herself anymore.

These are the emotions that will propel you to your goal. You need to know why you are doing what you are doing. Just knowing what to do will never help you reach the potential you deserve.

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Check out this article to start making your dreams come true: 10 Fitness Excuses You Need to Stop Making Now

2. Create SMART Goals

Now for the fun part: goal setting. This is an exciting moment. You get to dream up what you want out of your habits. What dreams and goals do you want to reach?

Merely writing a goal down will make you 42% more likely to achieve them.

But there is another professional secret I would like to share with you. It is the power of a SMART goal.

A SMART goal is a way of breaking your big goal into actionable steps to help you reach that goal!

Take the goal of someone wanting to lose weight, for instance. Turning that into a “smart” plan will look like this:

Specific: I want to lose 40 pounds of body fat.

Measurable: I want to lose 40 pounds by February 1st.

Achievable: I can safely lose 2 pounds a week by doing strength training and cardio 3x a week.

Realistic: Am I willing to commit enough time to reach this goal?

Timely: Each week, I will lose 2 pounds. Each month, I will lose 8 Pounds. By 5-6 months, I will reach my target weight.

Using this goal-setting method indeed clarifies your goal. It gives you simple action steps that will guarantee your success!

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Behavioral Change and Habits

How to start exercising can be relatively simple: do it. But if it were easy, we would all be doing it, wouldn’t we?

What if I told you there was a way for you to work out naturally? You wouldn’t have to think about it — you would just wake up and do it.

It all lies in the power of the habit.[1]

If you’ve ever read atomic habits, you understand that you will be spending tons of unnecessary energy without patterns. Once the practice becomes second nature to you, you will find the goals easier to accomplish.

Why? Because a habit “is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.”

Think about a bad habit you’ve always wanted to break. It’s hard to stop doing that because the pattern is literally ingrained in your brain.

The same thing goes with good habits. Once a good habit is achieved, your brain will do it almost automatically.

How nice would it be to find yourself working out without even having to think about it?

There are several ways to build a habit, but these are my two favorites:

1. Habit Stacking

Habit stacking is a way of building new habits by taking advantage of existing ones.[2]

Your brain likely has already formed hundreds of habits. E.g., brewing coffee every morning, brushing your teeth, pulling out your phone when you get stressed, or driving a particular route from work.

Instead of trying to build a whole new habit from scratch, you can just borrow from these other habits.

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For instance, you change out of your work clothes each evening (I hope!). So, you could make your new habit of changing into your workout clothes instead and texting a friend your workout for the day.

This is actually how I built my love for working out in the first place. Each evening, I would place my workout clothes and gear on my bed. Then, first thing each morning, I would change into them and go for a walk or jog. Before long, mornings became a foundational habit that I later built on.

2. Make the Habit Accessible

Our brain always likes to do the easy thing. If we complicate a situation by adding unnecessary steps, it’s doubtful that we will follow through.

The simple solution is to make your habit easy.[3] For instance, when I learned how to start exercising, I prepared for it the night. This way, it only took one step (changing) before I was ready to workout.

Now, that’s turned into me creating a gym bag, writing my workout programs in advance, or hiring someone to write my workouts for myself. I also have a specific area for tracking all my goals and progress.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure the heavy lifting is already done the day before you actually do it.

3. Commit Daily

This might seem obsessive, but it’s crucial to commit to your goals daily. If you don’t, you will likely fall out of the habit.

In my case, that means working out every morning. Sometimes my workout might not be intense. In fact, I limit my movement to recovery for at least one day and go on a hike, walk, or stretching. However, the daily consistency guarantees that I won’t fall off the bandwagon.

For most people, this isn’t something that they have to commit to for a lifetime. Still, I think everyone should do it for the first 30-90 days.

I use something called a thermometer checklist to track my consistency.[4] It has been a game-changer!

Exercises

The final step is actually to choose what exercise to do.

My recommendation is to spend the first 30 days, just creating a habit. That could mean attending classes, going on walks, doing strength training — whatever it takes for you to gain consistency seven days a week.

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Once your habits are built, there a few types of exercise you can incorporate to see positive results.

1. Cardio

Almost everyone already knows about cardio. Working in a gym, I always see the cardio equipment more flooded than anything else!

Cardio is excellent for your heart and helps you burn calories immediately. However, cardio doesn’t boost your metabolism and make you lose fat long-term (if that is your goal).

Another thing to keep in mind is that cardio isn’t beneficial unless you are either working out often or pushing yourself to raise your heart rate.

2. Strength Training

Strength training sculpts the body and allows you to burn more fat over a more extended period.

This is true for several reasons:

  • It reduces insulin resistance (if you are sensitive to eating carbs, that is).
  • Muscle burns fat, so the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn daily.
  • Recovery from strength training boosts your metabolism for the next 2-3 days.

If you were to ask any fitness expert if cardio or strength training gives people better results, almost all of them would say strength training will do the job fast.

How to Do Strength Training:

If strength training works so well, then the obvious question is, “Where do I start?”

From a personal trainer standpoint, I always recommend starting with stabilization exercises.[5] These workouts will help build up your core muscles and increase your balance so that you don’t get injured later on.

If the linked exercises above seem hard to learn, I would recommend starting with either hiring a personal trainer (my apparent preference) to guide you through everything or taking up yoga classes (which improves your stability and core moves).

Once you’ve mastered some balance and stability, then you can do other workouts as well.

Bottom Line

Best of luck on your journey! To make things easy, you need to remember the following:

  1. Know your why
  2. Create SMART goals
  3. Make accessible habits
  4. Commit to your daily habits
  5. Spend 30 days just making a habit of moving forward
  6. Do cardio and strength training

If you’re struggling with the nutrition side of habit building, here are more tips for you.

More on Jumping Into the Fitness Wagon

Featured photo credit: Luis Quintero via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Katelyn Delaney

Owner of Revifi -- Fitness Training & Life Coaching

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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