1.Change your diet
Diet and training go hand in hand and no approach would be more certain to produce results than taking time to focus on both. People often ask which one is more important and this question is kind of like asking which one is more precious – air or water? The body needs both. Naturally, if you’re just embarking on your journey to a healthy way of life, you can start with diet – improve its quality and regulate the amounts you consume. Still, you will see for yourselves that moving more motivates you make better choices about your diet. It is as if the body can feel what it needs and you feel like eating more nourishing and higher-quality food.
2.Start moving more
Depending on how sedentary your way of life used to be, start by increasing your amount of physical activity. Movement is not only about workouts. Workouts are a small part of movement. Movement means walking as a part of our everyday lives, taking the stairs, squatting to rest instead of only sitting on a chair and going down below the level of the seat in general. I am a proponent of sitting on the floor/ground or lower than a chair – this challenges you to position your body in a different way and is basically a kind of everyday mobility. The body adjusts to the exercises we perform every day. Most people sit on a chair, in a sofa or in their car, i.e. they do the same things over and over. Getting fit comes down to being healthy and functional, and there is no healthier body than the one that can move within its full range of motion.
Movement is all the times you stand up to stretch or the times you see a horizontal bar to hang from (30 days of mobility).
All of this is a breath of fresh air for your joints and something that helps feed your cells and makes you feel good.
3.Start working out – mindfully
Quite often people ask me to design a training plan for them. They tell me they are not training currently and define their state of fitness as “poor”. When I ask them how many times a week they could work out, they say “between 5 times and every day”. This is the most sure-fire way for you to quit. Most people’s approach to training is like their approach to diet – all or nothing. We go from one extreme to the other, but this is the path to failure. Change is a gradual process and success is just a habit. A habit we develop and not an action we force into our lives. It is much more sensible for you to start working out twice a week. This will allow your body time to recover and also to get used to the movements. You know that, when you have to study, knowledge accumulated over a longer period of time is much more lasting than the information you try to cram into your mind a couple of days before the exam. If you have been sedentary in the past, every workout will cause muscle soreness which will make you feel stiff at the beginning and kind of tired. Workouts a couple of days apart will allow your body to feel well and be ready for new exploits. Fewer workouts will let you optimize your schedule and will fit into it naturally and not as something you feel obliged to do, but can’t make the time for. When you get used to two workouts a week, you can increase the number.
4.Schedule days and times to work out
The reason most people struggle with working out regularly is that workouts are always something fluid – something that can take place, if you can make time for it, but it may also fail to take place, if something more important or more interesting comes along. I have a very busy schedule and if I go with the flow, I will never have time to work out. To me a workout is something I make time for. I know exactly at what time of the day I work out and I rarely compromise and do something else in that time slot. The only thing that can stop me from working out at this precise time is an actual emergency. This way I know that when a person asks me to fit something into my schedule, I check and know that this time slot is filled up. It doesn’t matter if it is filled up with my personal workout. Take it as an investment into yourselves that is not very time-consuming, but the rate of return is extremely high. This way you develop a habit. Your body and mind begin to expect this time of the day and they know this is when you do physical activity. And even on those days when you are not feeling up to par, you crave this internally and you start your workout. And all you have to do is start. Open your day planner right now and book two or three hours of the week that will be reserved for you. When someone asks you to do something, you will check your day planner and know that these time slots are not free and you will suggest another time.
5.Decide during which part of the day you will work out
We are all different and we feel differently during different parts of the day. Some people are more active in the morning, while others – in the evening. Some like to get up early, while others don’t. In our society we are used to thinking of early risers as successful and labeling late risers as lazy. This is not true. Whether you get up early and go to bed early, or you get up later and stay up later is a matter of habits and preferences. Further on in this post you will read that it is good to go to bed early, but nevertheless, if you feel that you are not very active and awake in the morning, there’s no harm in scheduling your workouts in the afternoon or evening. I for one always feel stronger in the early afternoon, but I always work out in the morning. The reason is that I am too busy later in the day and if I miss my morning workout, I would probably not be able to squeeze it into my schedule for the day. Also, working out is important and meaningful to me. If I don’t work out in the morning, there is always an important task in my subconscious that is left undone. And last, but not least, I love the way my body comes alive afterwards and I feel even more motivated. Other people like evening workouts, because they say that this helps them unwind, since they are already done with everything they had to do and don’t have to worry about anything. Everyone is different. This doesn’t matter. Just determine which type you are and don’t try to force yourselves to do something others do. What they do is not right for you, if it doesn’t suit your instincts and preferences.
6.The dose is what makes variety beneficial
A mistake we often make when we want to get fit is to start doing too many things at the same time. We start going to the gym. Our best friend takes swimming lessons, so we join her, and our neighbor takes boxing lessons, so we can’t miss out on that either. Besides, zumba is in fashion and we like to follow the trends, so we take up that too. When you are fit, there’s no harm in practicing various sports. I do that myself. But when you are just beginning, this is another way to fail. The body can only take in so much information and movements. Afterwards it needs time and repetitiveness in order to adjust to them. This is what you must give it – time and persistence. Start doing one or two kinds of workouts and don’t bother with anything else. Lay the foundations – there will be plenty of time to practice the other sports afterwards. My near and dear ones are always joking with me that I take up new sports and practice them fanatically for a couple of months, then I stop. This is not exactly true, but it is true that when I take up something new, I practice it almost exclusively. Then I somehow master the basics and stop feeling the same need. I keep making time for the activity, but it is one of many workouts I do. But before that I always take the time I need to master the basics and let my body adjust.
7.Train with a coach or with someone who knows what they are doing
Most people think they are too good to ask someone else for advice and help. I think it’s no accident that we each do something different. Focusing on one field allows us to get to know it in detail. Knowing how to guide every person through it, regardless of their individual characteristics and challenges. If you start training with someone who can help you lay a stable foundation, you will make progress much faster. It will spare you all the wandering around and the time you would otherwise need in order to unlearn the poor habits. Besides, no matter how much you know, you can always see things from the different perspective that the other person brings. To make progress, you need structure. Whatever you do, you will get some results initially, because even using the gym equipment aimlessly is better than doing nothing. But you will hit a plateau at one point or another and this will often be enough to make you quit, while in fact you hit this plateau for a reason and the reason is your lack of structure and a correct training method.
8.Don’t underestimate sleep
I have written a lot about sleep and how important it is. Most people underestimate it, because they don’t consider it an important factor for getting fit and achieving a healthier way of life. However, sleep – amount and quality – largely determines the hormonal environment in the body and this environment is what determines what use the body will make of the information coming from food and workouts. Don’t forget: sleep, rest and the surrounding environment create the internal environment in the body. The workout is the stimulus, while food is the building material. When one is missing, the other two can’t work optimally. You will not miss out on anything, if you go to bed an hour earlier. You will only feel even more refreshed. And the more energetic you feel, the more you will feel like doing physical activity. The more sleepy and tired you feel, the more likely you will be to decide that today is not a workout day.
9.Define how you measure your progress
I always repeat to myself that what can be measured can be achieved. I have been through a phase where I went 4-5 years without stepping on a scale or taking my measurements. At that time I believed that was the best solution, but then I realized I had been wrong. I agree that the scale is not the only way to measure progress and that body weight depends on a lot of things. I agree that when you train with weights, your body weight can go up, while your measurements go down. So it is important to rely on several ways to measure your progress in order to draw the right conclusions. Our subjective idea of what is going on is quite often out of touch with reality. Sometimes we complain we are not making any progress, while our measurements and body weight actually tell a different story. In other cases we think we are making progress, but shy away from the measuring tape and the scale, and if we measure and weigh ourselves, we would see this is not true. I think that measuring your progress gives you a chance to really achieve your goals. Because even if you take a step back, it would be quite small and you would realize this in time and adjust your actions.
On the other hand, if you have no ways of measuring your progress, you may be taking steps back all the time without realizing it, and then it will be much more difficult to make adjustments. Or the other way around: you may be making progress, but feeling like you are not, and quit, even though you’re on the right track.