Starting Fitness Journey Right – The new is scary, especially when you feel like there are unknowns around every corner. Fortunately, fitness doesn’t have to be the metaphorical monster under the bed for fitness enthusiasts like you.
Whether you want to get into strength training for the first time, run a mile without stopping, or just want to lead a more balanced lifestyle with the help of exercise, these tips are sure to help.
Starting Fitness Journey Right
Success as you begin your fitness journey is just a click away. Check out 12 helpful fitness tips to keep in mind as you begin a lifelong relationship with exercise:
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Editor’s Note: The content is intended to be informative, but should not be construed as medical advice.
. When starting a new exercise and/or diet, it’s always a good idea to consult a trusted medical professional. We are not a medical facility. The comments and articles on this site are not intended to be used to diagnose, prevent, and/or treat health problems. They are not a substitute for consulting a qualified medical professional.
Mastering the mind is a critical step in improving your quality of life – and your fitness journey. Control your thoughts and you will be in control of your own destiny no matter what comes of it: Boxing, running, jumping or lifting.
Pro tip: Write your goal on a post-it note and stick it to your bathroom mirror (or wherever you usually look at it).
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Before starting a detailed exercise and nutrition plan, you need to set SMART goals. SMART stands for “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound,” which helps goal setters summarize what they want to achieve and act productively. (1)
Maybe you want to run a mile without stopping before the end of the year, or you want to lose a few pounds before your wedding. Whatever your goals are, remember them on days when you need a little extra motivation. Your “why” drives you to be consistent.
Remember to be thankful for what your body is doing. Begin each exercise by saying (in your head or out loud) a part of your body that you are grateful for. An example of this is, “I’m thankful for my strong legs because they let me run.”
Imagine repeatedly telling a friend that they’re not good at running or strong enough to lift a certain weight. You probably wouldn’t, right? If you wouldn’t tell a friend the negative things you think about while exercising, you shouldn’t tell them to yourself. Keep your mind (and self-talk) positive and confident.
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This practice of positive thinking extends far beyond the beginning of your fitness journey. You’ll find that a positive mindset allows you to face challenges and obstacles ahead (and, hello, who doesn’t want to be more resilient?).
Pro tip: Turn on a playlist that helps you stay in the moment. This may sound like more relaxing music than you’re used to, but it allows the brain to focus on your movements.
It can be tempting to zone out during exercise, but studies (2) show that it’s more beneficial to intentionally focus on specific movements as you perform them. When you focus on specific muscles, you can more precisely touch your muscles, which can improve your gains. It’s a great way to practice mindfulness (your yoga teacher will be proud, too), and stay in the moment with your body.
Plus, if you’re trying new moves, staying in the moment and connecting your mind with your muscles can help reinforce good habits and get proper form.
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Pro tip: Intense exercise is more bearable with a friend, so consider trying something new with a friend by your side.
Everything is more fun with a friend, right? Some data (3) even go so far as to say that when given a choice, people will choose physical activity with a friend over being alone.
So when you’re feeling low on motivation, invite a friend or two to try an exercise class with you. Not only will you have a spot partner, but you will also have someone to motivate and encourage you through a difficult set. What’s not to love?
The body is your vessel for exercise – and you can only have one. Treat your body well and you’ll be ready to brave whatever comes your way.
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Pro tip: If hydrating is difficult for you, make it fun! Buy a colored water bottle and you might expect to drink more water.
Yes, it is important to drink water. But did you know that it greatly affects the body’s ability to perform during intense exercise? (4) Studies continue to show that dehydration affects the physical and mental aspects of exercise.
This usually means that your body may struggle to perform movements and exercises that you would normally be able to do if you were better hydrated. It also means that your short-term memory suffers and you can do less work, or at a lower level, in general. Long story short? Drink more water throughout the day – it will affect your workout.
A gallon of water per day is an oft-cited benchmark, but it can be a lofty goal if you’re not used to it. Start with 64 ounces (that’s eight eight-ounce glasses) and you’ll be well on your way, not to mention well hydrated.
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When you exercise, mechanical tension and metabolic stress create small tears in your muscle tissue. These small tears need time to heal to become stronger, which requires a lot of rest and time off.
Bigger muscles aren’t the only reason why getting at least one rest day per week is important. You’re at a higher risk for overuse injuries if you don’t give your body the time it needs to rest and heal. And who needs a pulled hamstring or sore hip?
Beginners can do well with just three days of exercise a week and four days off. As you get used to the demands of exercise, you can increase the frequency of training if you wish.
Pro tip: Healthy eating looks different for everyone. Consider consulting a medical professional if you are unsure about recommended usage.
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Your body works like a car. If you don’t fuel your car, eventually it will run out of gas and won’t move. Also, when you don’t give your body enough calories, you’ll start to notice a decrease in your exercise capacity (and energy). The same idea also applies to carbohydrates, which provide short-term energy to your body during exercise.
Long story short? Don’t limit your caloric intake or carbs too much because you think it will speed up weight loss. Spoiler alert: Nope. Most people can tolerate a daily caloric deficit of 500 to 1000. Beyond that, you are likely to experience extreme fatigue or muscle loss.
Just as rest days are important for performance, so is eating enough protein. And since muscle tissue is made up of protein, you might think that recovery is better with enough protein. Wondering what else is good for protein?
“Proteins are essential for many body processes,” explains a 2018 Sports Health study (5). many body functions.”
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And if you’re not sure how much protein your body needs, it’s always best to consult a registered dietitian. However, for a general estimate, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36 or use a handy protein calculator:
Your exercise won’t do it by itself. Here are some tips to get your push into gear and crushing your next (or first) session.
Wearing comfortable clothing will eliminate most issues. Okay, just kidding, but wearing breathable, stretchy clothing while exercising can help you keep your mind on task. Look for moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester and nylon, and stay away from materials like cotton, which absorb sweat like nobody’s business.
And if you plan to run, walk, or jog often, consider proper fitting for running shoes. Many stores that specialize in running will evaluate your gait, arch, and foot strike to fit you in a shoe that supports you.
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If you’re starting out in one of the strength sports (ie, powerlifting, strongman, weightlifting, or CrossFit), this also holds. A pair of low, flat and stable shoes are ideal for hitting the weights. For Olympic lifting in particular, a pair of heeled weightlifting shoes is a must.
Pro Tip: Don’t compare your training to others. You don’t know their fitness goals or fitness routine.
It’s so easy to get caught up in what you (or others) expect. Instead of letting ego (or “should”) rule your training, find ways to scale difficult movements to still feel the burn.
You don’t have to do everything exactly as prescribed to reap the benefits of the transition (and others around you don’t care what you do). For example, if you’re not ready to do a full burpee during a CrossFit WOD, increase the downward movement by doing part of the push-up on your knees or without
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