As someone who has been weighed in at higher than what would considered an ideal weight for the majority of my life, I know how challenging it can be to get started with any kind of exercise. If you’ve never done it before, or it’s been a REALLY long time since you’ve been active, the whole concept is really quite daunting.
So today, I’m here to talk about how to get started, to get that ball rolling toward a fitter and more active YOU. Deciding to try getting something started is a huge part of the process but if you’re reading this, you’re probably at least considering it. Firstly, I want to say – be gentle with yourself.
It’s so easy to launch into something on a Monday morning and say you’ll do something every day for the next x number of days. It seems achievable right? It’s okay, you like a challenge, you’ll be fine. But what happens? You get really sore and tired in the first day or two and you have to miss a day. You feel like you’ve failed and it’s hard to get back on the horse the next day or the next week to carry on with your plan to get ninja fit.
What if I said we could change the plan? Start with a different approach? Let’s face it, I think pretty much everyone reading this would have launched into a plan of this kind at some point in the past. Reality is, none of us are still “on plan” – I know I’m not! I started something in September last year and I got about 30 days into a 100 day challenge. My uncle died, my joints were aching, it didn’t feel good anymore and I lost the plot. I should know better than to put myself up for something like that, I know it doesn’t work but hey, everyone messes up sometimes.
“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start” – Nido Qubein
How about we make a plan together to get started? Get started with a sensible and manageable approach that will see us continuing, in some fashion, over a long period of time. What is the smallest amount you can manage on a weekly basis? Something you know you could do that won’t be too hard or take too much time? It could be something as simple as doing five laps of the hallway several times a day or using stairs instead of lifts. It could be a 30 minute personal training session once a week. It could be going for a swim twice a week. It could be a gentle walk around a local park for 15-minutes a few times a week or a group exercise class – just about anything really.
Have a think about what that might be for you. It will be totally different for everyone based on what you think you can manage. According to a rheumatologist I saw a while back, I need to start off by just walking and/or swimming to try to avoid the joint and muscle pain I experience if I exert myself. I find swimming a pain in the butt – I love it when I do it but the whole getting wet thing and all the showering before and after, not for me on a regular basis. I think my plan will be to walk a lap of one of my local parks at least 3 times a week. It takes me less than 15 minutes to do a lap of the park and it’s only 1.3km or so around. It’s not something that will take too much time, it isn’t a distance that I will find too challenging. Write down what you think you could do, no matter how small.
Now, start working your plan into your life. When will you do it? This is a good way to see whether what you’re aiming for is manageable for you at the moment. In my case, I know that at least on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I should drive past that park to get home after my morning clients so I’ll aim to stop off and do a quick lap on those days. If for some reason I don’t get there on one of the days, Saturday can be a back up day. And if I don’t get there then either, there’s always the next week. No need to feel guilty, just keep aiming for my 3 laps a week.
Once you get used to doing what you’ve decided to do and you’ve managed to do it for a while, it’s been easy enough to make happen and you’re recovering well/feeling good – you can start to bump things up a bit. Each time you find you are managing easily with what you’ve decided to do, add a bit more of you’d like too. And don’t be afraid to change course if you decided you can’t do what you set out to do for whatever reason or you are no longer enjoying it. It’s important you enjoy what you’re doing – it’s your game, you can change the rules whenever you need to.
Long story short? Here’s the summary –
- Start off with something really achievable – meaning you know you can physically do it, the concept isn’t horrifying and you have time (on a regular basis) to do it.
- Once you’ve implemented this, managed to do it on a semi-regular basis without having to drastically change your life, you feel good and recover well afterwards, feel free to add some more exercise into the mix.
- Taking baby steps and adding exercise to your life progressively over a period of time will help you keep this as a sustainable part of your new lifestyle. We don’t tend to be able to maintain the changes if we are using the “bull at a gate” approach.
- Never be afraid to change course if your circumstance change or you find it’s not working, take a step back and do a bit less or try something new – it’s ALL about finding what works best for YOU!