Whether you're brand new to exercise or have taken a hiatus and want to get back into it, I want to share 5 things you should know before you jump in.
- Meet yourself where you are. As trainers, it’s our job to create a program for you that is in line with your goals and needs, keeping in mind previous injuries, your current fitness level so you can DO the program and work to grow out of it. What I would stress for you to you is to understand where you currently are and not where you think you SHOULD be. The shoulds will only stand in the way of you focusing on the process and progress you are able to make. The shoulds will steal the wins you gain along the way. Celebrate your starting off point because with consistent work, you'll be able to look back and celebrate how far you've come.
- Weight loss (and weight gain are not linear). Whether you’re looking to lose weight or gain it, know that the process — if you want results to last a long time — will be more of a long-term game and not an overnight hurrah. It’s pretty common to want to weigh in/take measurements every few days or so to track your progress and while I'm known to talk people out of doing that, there’s plenty of research that shows people can feel more motivated if they see success early on in the journey. SO: If you choose to weigh in/measure more frequently than you normally do, please keep these things in mind:
- It is NORMAL for weight to fluctuate throughout the day, week and month! I repeat: NORMAL.
- Those 5 lbs that crept up over the weekend are very likely not fat gain (it would be SO HARD to eat enough in that time frame to cause true weight gain). It is way more likely to be fluid retention! Trust me on this.
- Look for trends with your numbers every 3 weeks or so. Yep, that’s right, not even week to week! Look at week 1, week 4, week 7 and so on, to have a better idea of what's really happening.
- Abs really are made in the kitchen. Food plays a huge role in fitness goals, especially as we get older. Getting into a regular, consistent exercise routine means you’ll be burning more calories than you’re used to and that can leave you feeling hungry! That’s normal since you’ll be disrupting your body’s major goal: To maintain homeostasis. The body HATES change so you'll have to outsmart it. Here are some things to remember:
- If you’re hoping to lose wight, you will need to feel hungry. Hunger is not an emergency, it’s a sensation (just like having to pee is very rarely an emergency). In fact, if you’re starting to exercise consistently and your goal is weight loss, feeling hungrier than usual is a GREAT sign! It means you’re in a calorie deficit which is what you need to lose weight! So while your body is telling you to find food to stop the hunger, allow yourself to feel hungry for 30-60 minutes before meals. I'm oversimplifying this a bit but hopefully you get the gist :)
- If your goal is weight and muscle gain, focus on increasing your whole food intake (specifically lean proteins since they are the building blocks of muscles!). Just because you want to make gainz does not mean you'll want to do it by eating as much candy as you can.
- It’s OK to say, “I hate this.” I was never an exerciser growing up and certainly never thought I’d fall in love with lifting weights. Sports were so not me so my physical activity was dancing (tap was my favorite!). A lot of my clients are in this boat, too, and I often hear, “I HATE exercise,” when I first meet them. You know what? That’s totally OK! Kudos to you for showing up to even try this thing you hate! I’d ask for an open mind, though. Might your disdain for exercise stem from a bad past experience? Could there be a chance to start liking the process if you were around the right people? Are there ways you LIKE moving your body? There are more and more forms of exercise out there that I KNOW it’s just a matter of staying patient and open to new things and you'll find your "thing".
- Be realistic with your timeline. I asked my client Allison what she wishes she'd known when she started working out. She shared, "Mostly, I wish I'd had more realistic expectations about the amount of time and effort I'd need to put in to see real results. I figured, welp, going from no exercise to some exercise should make a difference right away! Lol. Similarly, I wish I'd realized how important the accompanying dietary changes would be to my progress--I figured I wasn't eating that poorly to begin with so I didn't even address it for a while." Everyone has their own timeline. Once she found a dietary change that worked for her and she increased her exercise, she was able to speed up her weight loss and drop the weight she'd been looking to lose. I think she would have reached her initial goal eventually, though it would have taken longer. The beautiful thing is that now she's got the skills to know how changes happen which means she'll be able to take those skills with her for life! (And, if you read that piece about what you're willing to do to reach your goals, here's an update: Allison did lose those 5lbs she wanted to lose for vacation.)
I get so excited when people want to exercise or eat healthier and get so bummed when the novelty wears off. This is a lifestyle change and, just like it takes time to settle into a new city or a new relationship or a new job, it takes time to settle into a new lifestyle. So carry on and take your steps! And please contact me if you need anything!