This step-by-step guide contains everything that you need to know to get into the best shape of your life!
Is this your first time attempting to get fit? If not, think back to the last time that you tried to get in shape… How successful were you? What made you fall off the wagon? Acknowledging the parts that you enjoyed and changing the parts that you didn’t will dramatically increase your chances of success. This beginner’s guide to getting fit will show you how to apply the basics of healthy living to your new lifestyle!
Getting fit is about more than just diet and exercise. In fact, it requires a total overhaul on your way of thinking and living. There are three main components to a successful fitness journey: preparation, motivation, and follow-through. Embracing these three things will help you achieve all of your fitness goals.
The Beginner’s Guide to Getting Fit
Congratulations on making the decision to change your lifestyle! It’s not going to be easy, but it’s definitely going to be worth it! There are a few things that you should do before you get started, in order to set yourself up for success!
1. Take Your Measurements
Many people that end up falling off the “fitness wagon,” start out with negative thoughts in mind. Weighing yourself shouldn’t be something that you dread, it should simply be a tool to measure progress. Your weight does not (and should not) determine your value. Tracking things like weight, circumference measurements, and body fat percentage can help keep you accountable and motivated!
We recommend that if you choose to weigh yourself, do so once a week, right after you wake up. Weighing yourself everyday can be detrimental to your motivation, as weight can fluctuate up to several pounds, each day.
Circumference measurements should be taken around the chest, waist, and hips. Make sure you measure the same spot, each week. A good way to ensure this happens is to measure just below the nipple line, around the belly-button, and at the widest section of your hips.
Body fat percentage is a bit more difficult to measure as you need specific equipment to do so. Luckily, most gyms have the equipment available for you to use. If you don’t belong to a gym, you always have the option to purchase calipers or a handheld monitor.
2. Clean Out the Kitchen
Trust me, this will come in extremely handy when you’re trying to stick to your clean-eating plan. If you don’t have junk food in the house, you won’t eat it! Instead, stock up on nuts and fresh fruits for something to grab when you’re craving a sweet or salty snack.
3. Get Inspired
Before you begin a clean-eating and exercise regimen, you need to get inspired! Ask yourself why you’re doing this and write it down! Create a dream board with inspirational quotes and images that will help keep you on track. On a side note, be careful when choosing images. It’s crucial that you don’t get in the habit of comparing yourself to others. Remember, it’s YOU against YOU, no one else. Without consistent motivation and inspiration, you put yourself at risk of failure.
4. Choose a Couple of Goals
Once you’ve decided why you’re beginning this fitness journey, you need to set a few S.M.A.R.T. goals. These are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. This means that you should be very detailed in the goals that you set. They need to be something that you can actually accomplish, preferably in the near future. An example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal would be to say in 3 months you are going to lose 15 pounds. This gives you a viable weekly and monthly goal that you can safely and steadily work towards. You’ll want to avoid goals that are risky, or unattainable, like trying to lose 50 pounds in one month.
5. Surround Yourself with Support
Another way to ensure that you follow through on your plans, is to make your goals public. Tell your friends and family what you’re trying to accomplish. Chances are, they’ll want to support you however they can! You may also discover that one or more of them wants to go on the journey with you. Having an accountability buddy can motivate you and help you stay on track!
6. Plan Your Week/Month
Preparation is a huge component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Planning out things like what you’re going to eat, what workout routines you are going to perform, and when you’re going to perform them, will greatly improve your chances of success.
Aside from planning your eating plan and exercise routine, you need to make sure that you have the appropriate workout gear. If you’re going to participate in a running program, you’ll need to pick the right running shoes. Perhaps you’re going to start going to yoga or a strength program… you’ll need to make sure you have durable, yet flexible, clothing. Your workout gear is about way more than looking good. Appropriate footwear and clothing can keep you comfortable and more importantly, injury-free!
If you’re going to partake in at-home workouts, you must prep your equipment (preferably ahead of time). Make sure you have everything that you need before beginning your workout plan, so that nothing interferes with your routine!
Also, don’t forget to grab some containers for your meal-prepping. You’ll need them in a little while! 😉
What is clean eating? A clean diet is made up of natural, usually organic foods, that are grown from the earth or made with fresh ingredients. Chances are, if it comes in a box with a nutrition label, it’s processed in some way. A general rule of thumb to follow when eating clean is to stick to the outer edges of the grocery store (produce, meat, and dairy.)
Now that your pantry and refrigerator are all clean and ready to be stocked with the healthiest of foods, we can get to the fun part! Check out these grocery lists that will ensure you bring only the most nutritious foods back into the house:
- The Ultimate Paleo Grocery List
- The Ultimate Weight Watchers Grocery List
- Heart Healthy Grocery List
- The Ultimate Clean-Eating Grocery List
- Gluten-Free Foods Grocery List
When eating clean, you don’t necessarily need to track calories because the chances are much slimmer that you’ll overeat. With that being said, however, you should still be aware of approximately how many calories your body needs to function at its best, each day. If you’re interested in finding out for yourself, read: How Many Calories Should You be Eating Daily?
Now that you have a rough estimate of how many calories your body needs per day to reach your goals, we can get into the details. Calories are energy, and we get this energy from food. There are 3 main elements to the food we eat, called macronutrients. These are Proteins, Fats, and Carbohydrates (which include fiber).
1 gram of protein contains 4 calories, It is recommended that you get around 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight or aim to get 25-30% of your daily calories from protein. Check out this list of High-Protein Foods.
Dietary fat is another essential element to a well-rounded diet. There are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat. It is generally recommended that you get 25-30% of your daily calories from unsaturated fat. Contrary to popular belief, fat does not make you fat. Dietary fat can actually help you lose weight if you eat the right kinds in proper portions. For the best examples of healthy fats, check out 7 Healthy Fats that Promote Weight Loss.
Carbohydrates are the final macronutrient that we will discuss. There are 4 calories in one gram, and it is recommended that you get 40-50% of your daily calories from carbohydrates. Fiber is included as a carbohydrate. It is recommended that women consume at least 25 grams of soluble fiber, per day. For a list of carbohydrates that carry the most nutrients, check out the whole grains on this List of Whole Foods.
By now you’re aware of the types of foods that you should be eating, but at SkinnyMs we pride ourselves on our delicious and nutritious recipes. Finding healthy meals that will help you reach your goals are important, but it’s imperative that you still get to eat food that tastes good, as well! Check out these popular, clean-eating recipes:
- These 6 Scrumptious Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes are chock-full of nutrients, plus, you can prep them ahead of time!
- These 21 Clean Lunches in Under 10 Minutes will not only save you time, but also from consuming excess calories!
- Check out these 50 Easy, Healthy Dinner Recipes You Have to Try. Simple and healthy? Sign me up!
- Choose 1 or 2 of these 50 Clean-Eating Snacks to try each day! Keeping your house stocked with healthy options will keep you on the path to success!
The main thing that you need to remember is that you shouldn’t think of it as a diet, but as a lifestyle change, instead. A diet typically comes with an end date. This is not a temporary solution, but a permanent one. You don’t want to backtrack and have to start all over, do you? Of course not! Find healthy foods that you enjoy, and you’ll never look back!
You’re now aware of how much you should be eating, what you should be eating, and probably have a few recipes in mind that you’d like to try! Make your grocery list and get to the store!
If you’ve never meal-prepped before, you should read: How to Meal-Prep for your Weight Loss Goals. If you have, then get to washing, chopping, and cooking! It’s recommended that you prep meals for at least 3 days out. Depending on what you choose to make, you may be able to prep for the entire week.
Related: 7 Easy Meal-Prep Ideas to Prep Once and Eat Clean All Week.
Don’t underestimate the power of water! Aside from sustaining life, it can also help you lose weight! It is recommended that you drink at least 64 ounces of water, per day. Drinking a glass before each meal can stop you from overeating and aid in the digestive process. Keep a water bottle on hand at all times!
You’re prepared, motivated, and your clean-eating plan is on point! This means that it’s time to focus on your workout routine! Exercise needs to be more than effective, it must be enjoyable as well. You’re not going to follow-through on something that you don’t look forward to, right? Probably not. Choose a form of training that you enjoy and you’ll reach your goals in no time. There are 5 different components that your workout routine should include.
1 & 2. Warm-Up and Cool-Down
A warm-up should take 5 to 10 minutes, tops. You can warm up on the treadmill, bike, elliptical, stair-stepper, etc… The choice is yours! Find out Which Warm-Up is Right for You. Performing a warm-up will prepare your muscles and joints for your workout, helping you to avoid injury.
After your workout and before you stretch out, you need to cool down. Cooling down allows your body to safely return to its resting state and will help you avoid unnecessary injury. You only need 5-10 minutes to devote to your cool-down, as well. While it’s likely you’ll be tempted to occasionally skip your cool-down, we strongly advise against it. You may save yourself 5 minutes, but you put yourself at risk for injury that can take weeks or even months to recover from.
There are many different methods of performing cardio, but only two main types: Steady-State and HIIT. Some examples of steady-state cardio are walking on the treadmill at a moderate pace and/or slight incline or using the bike or elliptical at a moderate pace and/or moderate resistance. This type of cardiovascular exercise should be moderately difficult, keeping your heart rate at about 70-80% of your maximum heart rate. The AHA recommends that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise, each week.
The second type is HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training. This form of exercise can be performed on a piece of cardio equipment or using body weight moves like jumping jacks, burpees, jump squats, etc… HIIT incorporates short periods of low-intensity cardio with shorter bursts of high-intensity moves. The goal is to bring your heart rate up and down in an attempt to boost your metabolism. The AHA recommends that you get a minimum of 75 minutes of HIIT, each week.
Check out some of our favorite cardio routines and training plans!
- Beginner’s Running Program
- Lose Weight with the Walk Fast/Slow Plan
- 30-Minute Melt Off the Weight Cardio Workout
- 14-Day HIIT Cardio Challenge
- 28-Day HIIT Body Weight Workout Challenge
4. Strength Training
All too often, this form of training is thought of as optional, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Strength training is an essential element to a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle. This form of exercise doesn’t just strengthen the muscles, but the bones, joints, and connective tissues (tendons and ligaments), as well. Other benefits include: better balance and coordination, improved endurance, decreased risk of injury, increased muscle mass, faster metabolism, and better quality of life!
It is highly recommended by the AHA that you perform at least 1 set of 8-12 reps per muscle group, at a challenging weight, 2 days a week. This is usually sufficient to fatigue the muscles, however, we encourage you to feel free to do more!
Try these beginner strength training programs:
- 7-Day Intro to Weight Training Plan
- 15-Minute Circuit Workout to Tone and Shape Your Whole Body
- 21-Day Body-Toning Workout Plan for Beginners
- Long & Lean Lower Body Challenge
- Fast & Easy Full Body Dumbbell Workout
The final component to a well-rounded workout regimen is a flexibility routine. You can (and should) stretch every day in order to maintain your flexibility. If you can’t stretch every day, you need to at least stretch after every workout. An effective flexibility routine can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. Yoga routines will not only improve flexibility, but posture, balance, and coordination, as well.
Try out these great flexibility routines:
- 10-Minute Beginner’s Yoga Workout for Balance
- 10 Best Yoga Poses for Absolute Beginners
- Yoga Workout for Weight Loss
Aim to work out 5 days a week. Set aside 5-10 minutes for a warm-up, 15-30 minutes for cardio, 5-10 minutes for a cool down, about 15-20 minutes for a strength routine, and 5-10 minutes for flexibility training. On average, you will need about an hour for your workout, 5 days a week. This may seem overwhelming at first, but keep in mind that your health is now a priority! Remember… follow through.
Tying it All Together
This beginner’s guide to getting fit has provided you with all of the information that you’ll need to get started on a fitness journey. You’ve learned how to prepare, how to stay motivated, and what you need to do in order to follow through! Most importantly, remember that a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated. Eat healthy food, seek out support and motivation, and move a little each day! You can and will reach your goals this time!
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