I know what your thinking, oh gosh not another cheesy article telling you about the importance of exercise… But no, I’m not going to tell you any of that. I’m just here to tell you how I managed to create a fitness regimen that changed my life for the better.
As long as I can remember I have always been an advocate for health, but I was far from healthy. I wished to be healthy and strong, I wished to be a healthy eater, I wished to be skinnier than I was etc. Don’t get me wrong, I already have the physical attributes, but for me, there has always been something missing. I was at a stage in my life where I was constantly trying to personally develop and improve myself, so finding things that could help me progress in my journey is imperative. Fitness was a big challenge for me, so I decided to start with that first.
I was determined to get healthy and maintain myself, but I had no idea where to start,
1. Start with a why
Before you start, you need to determine why you want to do it. Is it because you want to feel healthier overall? or you want to lose weight or start a new hobby? For me, my aim to was to maintain the physical attributes I had as well as to feel better in terms of energy levels. Once the why is established and clarified, you are more likely to start because your actions now have a purpose and meaning for you.
2. Exercise in small bursts…
When starting a new habit it is always best to start in small doable chunks. This is so that you can slowly integrate it into your routine without it feeling like an extra task to your already busy schedule. Also, give yourself mini rewards for achieving the small tasks you set yourself. I started small by jogging once a week and set myself small challenges to jog halfway around the park, or to a particular place without stopping. If I did I would give myself a small reward (such as watching my favourite tv show), and then I would set myself a bigger challenge the week after such as running around the park without stopping once to see how far I could challenge myself. The reward acts as a positive reinforcement of your behaviour so that you associate it with positive things, and thus you are more likely to do it again.
Over time, jogging in the park started to become so much easier, and I increased the number of times I jogged a week, the weight started dropping off, and I had mastered developing a small exercise regimen.
3. Conquer your fears, and conquer the gym
Now that the behaviour has become a habit and you have developed a small routine, you can start challenging yourself and adding other activities to the mix! This could be through adding different exercises into your routine or finding someone to work out with.
As my fitness priories started changing, I wanted to challenge myself in a different way. I decided that I would face my fear and sign up to the gym. Up to this point, I had a warped perception of the gym, did not feel confident to go by myself, and had no idea how to use most of the machines, or what exercises to do. To overcome this, I joined different exercise classes and I found a gym buddy/accountability partner who I could exercise with and learn from.
I can truly say that this is one of the best things that I could have done for my fitness journey. The exercise classes acted as a developing tool for me to practice and learn different exercises until I learnt how to do it myself. I developed my own work out plan using the exercises I learned so that each time that I would go to the gym, I would already have a structured plan in place to work out with. Also, having someone to go to the gym with was a brilliant confidence-boosting tool as the gym didn’t feel as daunting as we had each other. With the support of my gym buddy and my new workout plan, I was able to continue to maintain my weight and health through fitness.
4. See the results and maintain it
Maintenance is one of the hardest, but the most critical part of keeping fit. You need to carry on doing it for yourself and results.
I found that having a structured routine compelled me to consistently achieve my goals and I maintained a healthy weight and I started becoming stronger. Now because I exercise so often, I have found that a lot of my habits in everyday life reflect my exercise. For instance;
- I no longer desire to eat bad food because it will alter my mood and energy levels (plus I work too hard in the gym to let it all go!)
- I find myself not worrying so much about irrelevant things because I am constantly focused on me so I have no time to think about any negative thoughts.
- If I do think about a negative thought, I adopt the habits I have learned in the gym and logically try and see how I can overcome the thought rather than dwell on it, just like I would if I was learning how to learn how to use a new exercise machine.
- I have developed a sharper mind due to the practice of concentration on gym exercises, have developed the skills of integrity, support and taking responsibility through working as a team with my accountability partner (I cannot stress enough how this has helped me in my journey). In changing something, or doing something new, having an accountability partner is so important!
- My mind is now clearer and I now have the capacity to think about and plan the goals that I want to achieve, but most importantly, I have developed the confidence that I can do the things that I had never thought that I could before, because exercise was one of the most challenging hurdles in my life.
For anyone wanting to start a fitness regime, I would say it’s best to start small, and by yourself, so you know where you are in terms of fitness, you can work at your own pace, and there is no pressure to be a certain way. Then when you have mastered your own fitness goals and built up a small regimen, get an accountability partner/buddy and work together to set yourselves new challenges. You will find that once you have your buddy it will be more fun and you can stay motivated for those days when you don’t feel like going, and they will be the voice of reason to remind you why you started.
Don’t be disheartened if you fail (that is normal), I failed a lot of times during my journey too! Developing a new habit is not easy, but please make sure you pick yourself up and get back on it! (Your gym buddy will come in handy here as your #1 supporter!)
Remember fitness and health is a lifetime journey! 😀