You’ve made up your mind: it’s time to get healthy, or at least healthier. Fantastic! But where do you start? How do you start? There’s no need to immediately dedicate an hour of cardio every day, or eat only salad and boiled eggs starting right now. Small steps can lead to big changes, and overwhelming yourself is a recipe for failure. If you’re looking to start a healthier, more active lifestyle and stick with it, here are some tips from Gabriel Patterson, fitness trainer in Toronto, to help you start and stay on your path to success.
Aim Low to Aim High
You’re just getting into something you might never have tried before. You know you need to change your nutrition and start an exercise regiment, but don’t shoot for the stars just yet; you may wind up crashing into the ground. Instead of setting yourself up for disaster, aim low at first. Start with eating better. Working more vegetables into your diet, cutting down on soda, and drinking more water are good places to begin your new, active lifestyle.
Setting yourself on the path to success means setting small goals for yourself in the beginning. Once you get a handle on those, set one or two higher-aiming, but still attainable goals. For example, get used to eating greens with your meals and drinking more water, then set your sights on cutting down on sweets. Achieving smaller goals gives you a taste of success that will go a long way in keeping you motivated when you really need it later.
Of course, you won’t have the success you want in your new lifestyle if you don’t incorporate some kind of exercise into your routine. Along with aiming low to aim high, exercise caution with your exercise. Just as it takes time to achieve a fully active lifestyle, it takes time to achieve better physical fitness. Going to the gym and aiming to knock out 100 reps with a 20-pound dumbbell when you haven’t lifted anything heavier than a gallon of milk in over a year is a recipe for disaster. Not only will you knock yourself off your path to an active lifestyle by setting your sights too high, but you also could and probably will actually hurt yourself if you go too hard, too fast.
Start with lighter dumbbells, walking or lightly jogging on the treadmill, or even lighter body-weight work. By starting off with your actual fitness level in mind and setting your goals accordingly, you’ll be able to continue your exercise regiment longer, and you’ll see those great results a lot sooner than if you decided to go hard and heavy right off the bat.
Get Off the Scale
The scale is neither the friend you want nor need right now. While the numbers may very well plummet in the beginning, they’ll stop moving soon and then the discouragement sets in. That initial drop is from your body shedding water weight. For some people, the amount of lost water weight is very dramatic, and for others, not so much. The human body only has so much water weight it needs to shed, and while it’s different for everyone, it tends to come off fast for most people. Basing future expectations for weight loss off of that initial water weight shed is exactly what can knock you off your path to an active lifestyle and ruin all the work you’ve done so far.
Scales don’t tell you how much muscle mass you’ve gained, and they don’t take into account the fact that you might have some extra water weight from a salty meal, or maybe you have a lot of extra “matter” in your colon that is skewing the numbers at that moment. There is a time and a place for the scale, but the start of your active lifestyle is not that time or place.
There are no “jump starts” to a healthy and active lifestyle. The key to keeping on your path to the new, healthier you is consistency and pacing yourself. Start with your current fitness in mind, aim low to achieve your higher goals, and don’t allow yourself to be discouraged by a box that can’t measure how far you’ve actually come. Follow these tips, and you’ll find yourself well on your way to achieving the active lifestyle you want for yourself.
Gabriel Patterson is a fitness trainer from Winnipeg, Canada. Gabriel makes a point to get to know his clients and their health goals so he can help them visualize and attain their goals. Mr. Patterson emphasizes a healthy diet and lifestyle, bolstered by mindfulness and meditation practices. When he is away from the gym, Gabriel Patterson can be found at a yoga class, cycling or spending time with his friends and family in Toronto.