If you are a beginner when it comes to working out, all the exercise choices out there can be daunting. Many beginners also make the mistake of starting out by doing too much and expecting instant results. We also are faced with endless images in the media of the sort of body we “should” have. We tend to focus on perfection and when we fall short of that impossible ideal, we quit because of our discouragement and feelings of being overwhelmed.
So, what are some good ways to get started working out and then stay with it? First, try reminding yourself that your real goal is having better health, not achieving the perfect body. Then set smaller, more achievable goals. For instance, rather than deciding that you will go out and run 5 miles, try setting a goal of achieving 150 minutes of exercise per week. This could be a 30 minute walk, 5 days a week. This is much more doable and much less likely to result in injury when you are just starting out. Writing your goals down or keeping an exercise diary is a wonderful way to keep yourself focused.
Also try to incorporate physical activity into your everyday routine. Take a few flights of stairs rather than the elevator. Park your car a little farther away from the grocery store when you’re out shopping. You can even lift small 3 to 5 pound weights while you’re watching TV in the evenings. Downloading an app onto your smart phone or investing in a “fit bit” type device is a great way to keep track of the extra activity. You’ll be surprised and pleased to find out how much it can add up to every day and each week.
It’s also a great idea to try to include variety and fun in your workouts. Try taking different routes on your walks or bike rides or maybe visit a scenic area and walk or bike ride there. Music that gets you pumped up is another great way to have fun. Create playlists that get you moving. You can also try dance classes (ballroom, jazz, hip hop) or maybe join a softball or volleyball league. Finding a workout buddy is another excellent way to have fun and stay motivated.
Don’t forget to reward yourself for working out. Take time to notice the benefits you are giving yourself. Notice the good feelings you have after completing a workout. Enjoy the extra energy you gain and the way your clothes fit better. Make sure to pat yourself on the back. You can also reward yourself in material ways. When you achieve one of your goals, maybe you can get those running shoes you’ve been wanting or maybe you can download some new songs for your workout playlist.
Finally, be kind to yourself. If you miss a workout because life has gotten in the way, don’t beat yourself up. Just let it go and pick up again where you left off. Take a longer view – it’s important to remember that taking care of your health is a life-long lifestyle choice. If you feel that people may be judging you because you are a beginner, try to ignore those feelings. You are working out for you. Remember, the only bad workout is the one you don’t do!