If you haven’t exercised or tried to eat clean in a while (or ever), the first day of a 30-, 60-, or 90-day fitness and nutrition program can feel intimidating. The thought of embarking on a weight-loss journey can seem scary. It doesn’t have to.
First, you can read these tips for getting started with nutrition and fitness to help you take that first step on your fitness journey and establish lasting healthy habits. With these simple suggestions, you can begin to prepare your body and mind for a healthier lifestyle before you even break a sweat or eat your first green vegetable.
How to Get Started With Fitness
1. Figure Out How Many Calories You Should Eat
Knowing is half the battle, right? Use this simple method to determine approximately how many calories you should try to eat each day, or consult your fitness program’s nutrition guide, and begin to make small adjustments to reach that daily goal. Using a nutrition tracker like MyFitnessPal can be extremely useful in helping you figure out how many calories are in the foods you eat and where you’re overindulging.
Get your muscles stretched and ready to move! If you haven’t used your muscles in a while, do some gentle stretching to wake them up and get familiar with the current limits of your flexibility. Knowing where you’re tight can help prevent injury.
Try these stretches to improve hip and lower back flexibility so you’ll be ready to move comfortably in workouts.
3. Start to Move More
Even if you’re not pushing play yet, you can begin to make an effort to move your body more every day. Take a walk, stand (or do squats) when you talk on the phone, take the stairs, park a little farther away from your destination, stretch during television commercials, rearrange the furniture in your living room. What suggestions do you have for adding gentle movement to your day?
4. Drink Water
Being dehydrated can make you sore even if you don’t exercise. Set yourself up for success, and minimize initial muscle soreness, by drinking plenty of water in the days leading up to the start of your fitness program. Get in the habit of drinking enough water every day. Start by finding out how much water you need and get tips to help you drink enough.
5. Throw Away Junk Food
Empty your desk, cupboards, fridge, freezer, car, and secret snack stash drawer of foods and drinks you know you shouldn’t be eating. If you want to reach your fitness goal, prevent temptation by removing junk food from your house. If the packaged foods are unopened, donate them. We know you spent good money on those Ding Dongs and Doritos, but they’re doing the opposite of helping you reach your goals. If throwing them away seems like a daunting task, try these six tips to kick your junk food habit.
6. Build a Healthy Pantry
Now that you’ve eliminated the processed junk food from your home, replace it with good-for-you staples that will help you create healthy meals every day. Here is a list of 17 pantry essentials to get you started.
7. Set Up Your Workout Space
When considering how to get started with fitness, look at your surroundings and make some decisions. This could be as easy as moving the coffee table in your living room, or as elaborate as setting up a dedicated gym in your garage or basement. You won’t need much space to exercise, but it’s a good idea to figure out where you’ll do it and make the space usable and inviting for the workouts you’ll be doing.
8. Plan an Outing That Involves Exercise
A great way to get into the spirit of exercise before you actually commit to a fitness program is to plan activities with friends that get you moving. Invite friends or family for a hike, go ice skating, or organize a softball or flag-football game.
9. Find Your Reason Why
If you’re only focusing on the numbers on the scale or tag of your skinny jeans, chances are you’ll feel frustrated a lot more often than you feel motivated. Those things won’t inspire you in the long term. Find a new reason to show up every day to work out or make healthy choices turn into lifelong habits. It’s got to be strong that you’re not going to quit. What is most important to you? Make that your reason why.
10. Build a Support System
When considering how to get started with fitness, remember that getting fit doesn’t have to be something you do alone! Announce your commitment to get healthier and stronger to your friends, family, and coworkers. Start or join a Facebook group, or recruit workout buddies and accountability partners to help you stay motivated when your resolve starts to slip or you feel tempted to make unhealthy choices.
11. Make Time in Your Schedule
Figure out when you’ll fit exercise into your daily schedule and begin to make adjustments to reserve that time slot every day. Will you work out in the morning? During your lunch break? In the evenings?
Schedule exercise time in your calendar and commit to it as an important meeting with yourself. You wouldn’t skip a meeting with your boss just because you feel tired or grumpy, would you? No, you’d be there on time with a smile on your face and do your best to impress.
12. Lose a Few Pounds Before You Start Exercising
Kick-start weight loss and learn healthy eating habits by starting with one or two small changes at a time. This can make the transition into eating healthy foods easier and strengthen your willpower.
13. Figure Out Your Triggers
Many people make healthy choices for the most part, but when a certain thing happens or they start to feel overwhelmed, those choices go out the window and somehow a dozen donuts gets eaten. Identify the triggers in your life that cause you to not take care of yourself like you normally would. Make a list if you need to. By recognizing triggers when they start to happen, you will be able to more easily take a step back and stop from spiraling out of control.
14. Start Slowly
You don’t have to go full speed on the first day. I know you want results fast, but if you’ve been spending the last few months (or years) sitting on the couch, you may either injury yourself or be in so much pain that you can’t walk the next day if you push too hard. That certainly won’t motivate you to keep going. You should be exercising at a level that makes you feel good, not cause pain.
On Day 1, just do the first ten minutes of a workout, then add a few minutes each day until you can do the full workout. Ten minutes of exercise a day is better than no minutes.
“It’s very tempting to begin an exercise program with a lot of enthusiasm, but try your best to go at a reasonable pace,” says fitness expert Manny Varjak in his article 5 Steps to Avoid Muscle Soreness. “If you’ve never exercised, or it’s been a long time since you have, go much easier than you feel you are capable of on Day 1 and ramp things up at a pace that is based on how you feel. If you’re not sore, go a little harder the next day. If you are sore, take it down a notch.”