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How To Start Getting Fit

Red lace up sneakers, get walking, get fit.


Getting fit doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. You can get fit in minutes a day of consistent movement. I don’t know how many people I’ve talked to about fitness who start out doing some extreme work out plan and get in about two days of it before they give it up altogether and proclaim working out is too hard. They set themselves up to fail from the start. Of course working out is too hard when you have been sedentary for years and start a regime that is not realistic for your fitness level.

Let me preface this fitness advice with the notice that you should never do anything I suggest without consulting your doctor first; I am not a doctor or physical fitness professional. Use your head.

That said, I am a fit forty something and I know from experience what worked for me and what did not work for me. I have also learned from paying attention to what other people have tried and whether or not they failed or succeeded.

1. Get Your Head Right

We have like 60 thousand thoughts a day and most of them are repetitive, what is the thought loop repeating in your head? If you think thoughts like:

“I can’t get fit”

“I don’t feel like it”

“This is too hard”

…what kind of results are you are creating in your life? Seriously, pay attention to your self-talk. If you are hearing thoughts like the ones above, begin to practice thoughts that are more useful to you, like:

“I’m becoming fitter each day”

“I’m learning this new way of life”

“I am doing this”

Changing your mindset takes practice but the awesome thing is, We Can Change. We can go from throwing our power away to claiming the reigns of our lives with the simple practice of paying attention to our thoughts and redirecting them to serve us. It’s possible! You can become a super fit person. You can live a healthy life. You can…!

Ok we got our heads straight, let’s get to work.

2. Get Movement Into Your Day - Do This Right Now

If you have a sedentary job or spend your day on the sofa, it is important that you break-up with this habit first. Get up at least each hour and move around.

If you did nothing else for your fitness, do this.

Set an alarm on your phone to go off on the hour and simply get up and move around for at least 1 minute. Go grab a cup of tea, refill your water, dance, do anything besides sitting or standing in one spot immobile for hours on end.

3. Start Small, Start Slow, Be Realistic

Little bursts of activity here and there will add up each day. Park at the back of the lot, walk your dog, stand for tasks you normally sit for, take the stairs, every time, do not discount how much these habits will improve your overall fitness.

Ask yourself, are you doing something that is sustainable? Are you going to want to stick with it long enough to get the results you want or until you’re ready to move up a fitness level?

Create a healthy lifestyle by building in good habits slowly, do not overdo it and burn yourself out before you gain any traction, be realistic, I know people who have started with daily Beach Body Workouts or P90X and they quit before they even get started. These are great fitness programs, but in my opinion, they are too advanced for someone who is just starting to peel herself off the couch.

Depending on what your fitness goals are, intense workouts are not required for good health.

4. Get More Steps

The absolute best exercise for beginners is walking. Yup. Walking. Get yourself a cheap pedometer or a fancy I-Watch and begin tracking your daily steps. The average American according to the Mayo Clinic walks about 3000 to 4000 steps per day. I recommend you start tracking your steps and aim to beat your number each day until you reach 10,000 per day.

Fun fact. Most modern countries average two thousand or more steps than those of us in the U.S. and apparently French women walk three times more than American women.

If you work in an office setting and hit the afternoon slump, skip the caffeine and take a 10 minute walk break instead. Better yet, subscribe to Life with Shanna the Podcast and go for a walk while you listen each week.

If you live somewhere that is walkable, skip the car and choose to walk instead.

5. Do Activities You Love

Do you love swimming, hiking, or walking at the mall, do it. Find activities you love to do and get up off the couch and do them. Here are a couple ideas:

  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Hoola-hooping
  • Jumping rope
  • Hiking
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Mall Walking
  • Dancing
  • Cleaning
  • Raking
  • Sports
  • Biking
  • Skiing
  • Skating

6. Pair Up

If you know someone you can pair up with to get in a walk or a work out, do it. Just choose your partner wisely. Don’t choose someone who might convince you to skip the gym and grab a drink instead. Find someone who is going to follow through and get the job done, someone who wants to get fit too.

What’s Next?

Now it’s time to design a work out routine that moves you to the next level. I won’t go into detail in this article but things like squats, lunges, crunches, and push-ups can be done with no equipment. Google the proper form for each exercise you choose or consult a personal trainer to be sure you learn the techniques to avoid injury.

Choose 4 exercises like the ones I mentioned above that work your whole body and do this simple routine, or one like it 2 to 3 times per week. Start with 2-5 repetitions (reps) of each exercise for 1 round (set), increasing the repetitions as your strength grows. When you get up to 12 (reps) of each exercise do them all twice or for 2 sets. Continue to add sets until you hit 4 - 6. On your off days choose to walk or do another activity you enjoy that keeps you off the couch.

At this point you are ready to explore the world of fitness and build and design a routine that works for you. Maybe it’s time to hire a trainer or join a gym with staff that will help you. Just remember to keep it fun and change it up so you don’t get bored. If you don’t work out for a week, two, or three, start again, start now. Get up and do it, that time off will soon be behind you and you will be back on track.

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