For those of us who want to be in better shape, lose a significant amount of weight or even make sustainable changes in order to be healthier or live longer, it can be hard to know where to start. Although we are bombarded with all kinds of information from magazines and the Internet, there is no way to filter it all, so we are left with a huge list of things to start doing but no idea which of them are most important (or even which ones are a waste of our time).With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 14 tips for complete beginners, so that you can start forming habits that will make your health journey easier, whatever your desired result might be.
AIM TO INCORPORATE 10, OR EVEN ALL 14 OF THESE WEIGHT LOSS TIPS INTO YOUR GOALS AND DAILY HABITS.
Eat like a healthy person
Exercise will make you fitter, but unless you sort out your diet and make appropriate food (and drink) choices to support your health and fitness goals, you won’t even get close to your full potential.Imagine you have already reached your goal; what would that person choose from the menu? What might they have for breakfast? Chances are it wouldn’t be sugary cereal or a huge fried breakfast every day. Keep a food diary or download a tracking app to ensure you get the right amount of protein and keep calories within a daily limit. Base your diet on whole foods with plenty of vegetables and try to avoid anything processed as much as possible.
Find your why
If you don’t have a good enough reason for wanting to change, you will be more inclined to give up before you reach your weight loss or other goal. Maybe your first thought is that you want to look good for a wedding or a landmark birthday, but what about after that? What will keep you motivated to stay healthy and not fall back into old habits? Thinking this through and writing down some of your thoughts before you start might help when things get tough (which they probably will at some point; after all if it took no effort to get in amazing shape then everyone would do it!)
Set up your goals
If your ultimate aim is to lose 20kg then you might think you have only 1 goal. However, research (and our experience) shows that we need to break down any large goal into smaller , more achievable parts in order to feel good along the way and cement our commitment. So, if your goal is to lose 20kg, your first goal could be to lose 2kg. Then 5kg and so on, until one day you realise you’ve reached your goal.If you want to ‘start exercising’, make it something tangible such as 3-4 gym sessions per week. Schedule them into your calendar as if they were business meetings and tick them off each time. Once you’ve completed one week aim to do 3 sessions per week for a month, then 3 months.
Plan to fail
This isn’t exactly what we mean, but almost everyone who has a weight loss or fitness goal will fall off the wagon at some point. Whether you plan to eat salad at a birthday party and end up devouring 3 slices of cake, miss a week of the gym due to work commitments or reach one of your interim goals and celebrate by drinking half a bottle of wine, the point is you need to have a plan for what to do when things don’t go exactly to plan.Eating or drinking an extra 500 calories on one day is one thing, but the real key to success is not letting that turn into, “Oh well, I’ve ruined everything, I may as well give up” and then spending the rest of the week feeling guilty, eating badly and ultimately eating an extra 10,000 calories. Remember consistency always trumps perfection, so learning how to be flexible while sticking to your plan is a very useful life skill to have in your back pocket.
Find healthy rewards
If you reach your goal, or one of your smaller milestones along the way, we would encourage you to mark the occasion or celebrate in some way. However, because you’ve broken down your goal into small achievable parts, you will be celebrating these fairly regularly. So it would not be a good idea to reward yourself with a 12 course dinner or big night out each time. Try to find rewards for yourself that might not be food or drink related, perhaps a massage or spa day, some new fitness clothing or tickets to the theatre.
Action creates motivation, not the other way around
Too many of us sit around and wait to feel motivated before we take action, but in fact just getting up and starting to do the task will motivate us to keep going. If you wake up in the morning and lie in bed thinking “I really should get up and go for a run”, then you’re already procrastinating.Try just getting up before even touching your phone and putting your workout clothes on even while you’re still half asleep. Getting your exercise in before you have a chance to second guess yourself is a favourite tip from some of our most successful weight loss clients.
Don’t make it 2 in a row
Whether it’s 2 unhealthy meals or 2 missed workouts, don’t make 2 mistakes in a row. If you have a huge spontaneous lunch, make sure you have a light and healthy dinner. If you don’t make it to the gym one day then go first thing the next morning. It’s much easier to get back on track the less time you spend off!
Something is always better than nothing
Can’t fit your hour at the gym in? Do 20 minutes instead. Forgot your running shoes? Take the time to meditate or stretch, or find another way to move your body. Busy lives and outside commitments mean that even the best plans sometimes become impossible to carry out, but if we learn to be flexible (see previous points) and do the best we can then we can still reach our goals.
Do something you enjoy
You may never have exercised before, so we would encourage you to try absolutely any kind of sport or activity that gets you out of breath and your muscles working, to find one that you enjoy (and will therefore stick to).Group fitness classes are a lot of fun for some people, while others prefer to lift weights alone. If you are very overweight then walking might be enough for you to begin with, as well as some resistance band work. As long as you have some form of resistance training and some form of cardiovascular exercise, the fitness world is your oyster!
Recruit a buddy
If you have planned to go for a brisk walk or jog at 6am and it looks a little overcast, you are less likely to cancel if you’ve arranged to meet someone else. We humans seem far more worried about letting another person down than we do ourselves so we can use this to our advantage. Buddies can help hold us accountable and, if you and your friend share similar goals then you can also discuss recipes, try a new sport together or even just vent to each other if you are having a difficult day.
Move at the weekend
Many people pick gyms near their place of work so they can workout at lunchtime or before/ after work. But that means they end up being more sedentary at the weekend, and if they go to the gym 3 days per week that means they end up having more non-training days than training days!Every weekend, try to pick some kind of activity that you wouldn’t usually do; try a mountain bike ride, kayaking with the family, zip-lining, a dance class or even a hiking trail. Getting outside reduces stress, and doing something active that lasts a few hours will mean you sleep better, feel happier, create a stronger bond with the people you go with and even burn more calories!
Remember to schedule rest days
Yes, we would like you to move more, but not all the time. Recovery time is just as important, if not more so, than the time spent exercising. Your body needs time to recover from the stress of exercise, and it is during recovery time that muscles are built. A rest day doesn’t mean lying on the couch though; you can still get your 10,000 steps in. It simply means a day off from strength training or anything that counts as a lot of exertion. On these days (one or maybe 2 days each week), try a beach walk, some yoga or stretching.
Prioritise your sleep
Sleep is vastly underestimated by those who are not yet where they want to be in terms of health and fitness or weight loss, possibly because it seems counterintuitive that sleeping can help you reach your goals faster.Not getting enough sleep contributes to eating more, feeling more sad or irritable and even food cravings as you seek comfort from feeling tired. Sleeping 7-9 hours per night however, will ensure you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day head on, starting with some exercise!
Keep going even after you reach your goal
When you reach your goal, you should feel immensely proud of yourself for getting there. But ask yourself what’s next? Your previous goal is now your new starting point, so a month or so before you are due to reach your goal, start asking yourself what might now be possible.
You don’t have to follow all these tips to lose weight, get in amazing shape and upgrade your health for the long-term. The important thing is to be consistent with those that you do choose to implement into your daily life.
ATP Personal Training uses a step-by-step process working with you to find out what works best for your unique circumstances to create new healthy habits that keep you sustainably healthy and in-shape.
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