Starting a workout and healthy eating plan is easy. I’ve started dozens, but sticking to them is a different story. I’ve only been able to stick to one. If you are like I was – constantly trying to get fit, but persistently failing – then here are some tips on creating a successful workout plan that will help you drop pounds, tone up and get healthy.
You don’t need an Abdominizor or a ButtCruncher to get fit and lose weight. You just need to read this article.
#1 Choose a Main Goal and Lots of Mini-Goals.
The biggest hurdle for anyone trying to work out and lose weight is their lack of progress. However, this obstacle is usually just in their heads. Imagine building a great Egyptian pyramid. You see a thousand foot structure in your mind, and feel enthusiastic to get started. You work your butt off moving bricks – lifting, pushing, sweating. It feels good, woo!
A month passes and you look at the work you’ve done so far: 1,000 bricks versus the millions left. What? All that work for this? You feel you should’ve just sat on the couch watching reruns of ‘Jersey Shore.’
Exercise can easily feel like this scenario. That is my main reason for quitting so many times. Finally, I figured out why this happens to so many people: they are focused on one large, seemingly unattainable goal.
Confucius has the answer to fitness: A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.
How to Break Up Your Fitness Goals
In order to feel like you are accomplishing your goals, you need to start with smaller, more attainable ones. Say you’re 5’10’’ 190 pounds and you want to get to a fit 160. Don’t focus your expectations on 160 pounds because if you weigh yourself and see 180, you will be disappointed.
Instead, tell yourself, “I want to lose one pound by next Saturday.” When your scale drops to 188, you’ll be beside yourself. In a couple of months, these small steps will translate into your ultimate goal.
Your goals don’t have to be about weight – it can be to fit into those jeans you grew out of last year; to run a half mile at the gym without stopping; to swim an extra lap of the swimming pool; to play soccer with your kids without having a heart attack.
Keep your goals small and you will definitely see progress. This progress will motivate you so much that one day you’ll wake up on top of the pyramid you built.
#2 Measure Everything
It’s hard to notice changes in your body, as you live in it and see it every second of every day. You may be stuck in a rut, trying to lose weight, but not noticing a difference. In reality, your body is changing…. but SLOWLY. If you’re like me, you want to see your progress so you look in the mirror almost daily. This is a bad habit because you don’t notice gradual change.
Before you start working out, get a tape measure and start writing down your numbers. Measure your arms, stomach, chest, legs (thighs, calf), neck, etc. Write them down in a notepad or computer and as you start working out, you can make weekly or monthly logs. Besides giving you a more reliable record of progress, it tells you which workout routing works the best.
Maybe the month you tried running an extra mile every workout resulted in an extra half an inch off your waist. You’ll start to see your body’s fitness patterns and how to optimize your fitness regime.
#3 Have Fun
Do not look at exercise as a chore or punishment. There’s no point in doing something that makes you feel miserable. If you don’t like running, don’t hit the treadmill every day. This tip is about creativity. There are millions of ways to exercise, and I guarantee there are thousands you will like.
You may hate running, but enjoy basketball. Well? You know the answer to that.
The pool is boring and repetitive laps are killing you; try taking a surfing lesson! Here are some fun ways to work out: Yoga classes, dancing, volleyball (or any sport), rollerblading, and mudruns! Get creative, and just get started!
#4 Lower Your Expectations.
Just like the love advice I’ve been given all of my life, you should lower your expectations when exercising (sorry – that was a terrible joke).
I’ll break it to you right here: getting fit takes years. Yes – I said YEARS. Suck it up and deal with it – you have years. If you don’t, then why are you bothering to exercise? Don’t expect a six pack in a month if you’ve had a beer belly all your life, it ain’t happening. At it’s maximum level, your body can gain about a pound of muscle per week. More realistically, a person will gain about a pound every six weeks if they are working moderately hard.
For fat loss, expect a pound or two of weight loss every month if you are working hard. Because that’s how long you took to gain it.
Although this may sound like bad news, it isn’t. This means that you can’t look at exercise as a temporary thing. You need to think of it as a lifestyle change, but one that is exciting and fun and will add years to your life.
How to Create a Workout Plan
When creating a workout or weight loss plan, make one that fits into your life long-term. So many people want fast results that they schedule four days of their week to hit the gym in the next month. After a month, they are burnt out, get thoroughly sick of exercising and ‘eating healthy,’ and revert back to their old, unhealthy schedule.
In order to make exercise a part of your life, slowly and comfortably integrate it into your schedule. Dedicate one hour on Saturdays for the next month. Look forward to it and enjoy it. When you feel comfortable, add another day. Soon, you’ll be loving it rather than seeing it as a chore.
Like all great things in life – education, marriage, work – the best way to succeed is to cheat! I’m kidding about that, but with working out, it’s a different ball game. Your body is a wonderful organism, and as any living thing, it cannot be treated like a machine.
Some days, I just feel like ‘cheating’ on my diet and exercise plan by eating that tub of ice cream and chilling at home. Being too strict on yourself will just make you break easier. If your mind and body know they can cheat if necessary, you will actually be less tempted to stray.
The trick here is to tell the difference between cheating once in a while and a full blown affair. If you’re sucking on the last bits of cheese on the bottom of a box of pizza, you’ve gone too far.
The best trick is to give yourself one day a week, or one day every other week, to throw your diet and exercise out the window. By giving your mind and body a day off every once in a while, you’ll find yourself renewed and refreshed, and ready to start ‘back at work’ again on your fitness regime on Monday.