15 VIP Fit Tips for the Beginner
Are you thinking about starting a health/fitness program? You should be!
Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic illness and disease, reduce stress, increase alertness, aid in weight loss, improve your sleep habits and most importantly, boost your self-esteem. These 15 tips will lead you to a healthier lifestyle and an exercise plan that you can really stick to:
1. Join a gym!
The benefits of joining a gym are limitless. Being a member of a gym is motivation in itself to get your butt in gear. In addition, most gyms have a variety of offerings such as classes, basketball/racquetball courts, swimming, etc. Not to mention the vast assortment of equipment alone guarantees a better workout than say, the fitness facility at your neighborhood clubhouse. Joining a gym also gives you the opportunity to interact with people on the same mission. You can people watch and decide if it might be beneficial for you to try out a new exercise, you have access to personal trainer knowledge if you have a quick question, but most importantly… you’re paying for it, so you know you better take advantage of this new investment! Even though in reality, when you sign a contract you’re probably spending less every month on a gym membership than you are that daily cup of Starbucks.
2. Find the right shoes
The right pair of shoes can make all the difference in the world! You may want to keep a couple different pairs on hand for different types of workouts. For example, running shoes should be light and flexible while you may want a pair with a little more support when doing calisthenics such as lunges, squats, etc.
True story: A friend recently bought me a pair of Nike Free running shoes as a gift. P.S. Here’s an idea fellas… Want to impress a lady? Skip the flowers and go for the running shoes! Hopefully she’s like me and doesn’t take that as you calling her fat and telling her she needs to get on the treadmill. 😉 But I digress… These shoes are amazing for whatever type of workout I’m doing. They’re light, flexible, stable, and they come in dozens of cute colors! I’m seriously obsessed with these shoes! Find your favorite Nikes here. While you’re at it, buy yourself some brand spankin’ new gym clothes. Can we be honest? You’re way more likely to get your ass in the gym if you know you’re looking fab!
3. Get started!
The idea of getting fit can feel overwhelming at first. Start by doing something simple every other day, or maybe 3 days a week. Something like walking on the treadmill, doing a yoga class or if you want to be super productive, read your favorite business journal on the elliptical or bike for 20-30 minutes. You don’t have to go fast, you just have to go. Just being at the gym will inspire you to work harder. Before you know it, you’ll be pushing yourself harder than you ever thought was possible.
4. Make time
You will never find time where you have none. You have to set aside time and hold yourself accountable. I’m not telling you to skip that work meeting that came up at 5:30 so that you can get your cardio on. But if you know that you have a meeting during the time you set aside for your workout, rework your schedule so that maybe you fit it in at lunch and then grab a salad or some fruit on the way back to your desk. If it’s a cardio day and you know you can’t do cardio late in the evening, go to the gym after your meeting and do weight training and do cardio the next day. You’re a modern woman, you know how to reschedule meetings, lunch with the girls, etc. so that you can take your kid to that soccer game right? You can reschedule your workout and still get ‘er done! Didn’t get much sleep the night before? Try getting it out of the way early in the day. Exercise will boost your metabolism and release endorphins. You’ll probably have more energy after your workout than you would the entire day if you skipped it. Have to unexpectedly work late? Go anyway. Seriously, just go. Even if you’re dead tired and feel like a worthless piece of *you know what*, it’s not pointless. You’re making progress and you’re setting good habits of forcing yourself to do something good for you. The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen. No excuses!
5. Sign up for a class
I would honestly be lost without my classes. When you take a fitness class, you’re doing a workout lead by a trainer who most likely spends a majority of his or her time researching the madness they’re putting you through. I’m not saying you’re going to like every class or every trainer. You have to find the ones that work for you, but when you do you will hopefully feel soreness like you’ve never felt before. And like I always say, “I’d rather be sore than sorry!” These trainers will push you harder than most of us will push ourselves. When you’re in a class surrounded by your peers, you are less likely to slack off and you are forced to follow through on all of the exercises. Of course you should always feel free to modify an exercise if it is beyond your current skill level, but you won’t stop just because you’re tired. The other great thing about fitness classes is that you develop relationships with the other people in the class. You can swap stories about what works/doesn’t work for you and hold each other accountable to show up every week. Sometimes it’s just more fun to work out in a group setting than all by your lonesome.
6. Learn to love cardio!
Most of us have probably heard the familiar phrase “Abs are made in the kitchen”. If you haven’t, then now you have. While I do agree that you won’t get a flat tummy by doing thousands and thousands of crunches and your diet also plays an important role, I think cardio plays an even more important role. You can have amazing abs, but no one will be able to tell if they’re covered by a layer of stubborn abdominal fat. The best way to melt this extra blubber away is to get your heart rate up with cardiovascular fitness. Not only does cardio make you look great, but it also helps to prevent heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. I don’t know about you all, but those don’t sound like much fun to me! As an added plus, the “runner’s high” is real, and it doesn’t come solely from running. Any time you get your heart rate up with aerobic exercise, you are releasing endorphins, reducing stress, and just making yourself feel incredible. It’s worth the pain and you will learn to love it!
7. Switch it, Change it… Rearrange it
When I say Switch it up, I don’t mean lifting different muscle groups on different days. Doing hundreds of reps of bi’s, tri’s and shoulders one day, abs the next day, and lower body the next may work for dudes who want to bulk up their muscles and increase the amount of weight they can lift, but I don’t know very many females who share the same goal. Sure, we can do light weight and more reps to try and tone muscle, but most women need more than weight training alone. That’s simply not enough of a workout if you want to see results. (At least not for this girl). No, when I say switch it up, I mean change up the types of workouts you’re doing. On a given week, you want to have a mixture of cardio, weight training and flexibility training. Here’s my current fitness schedule:
Monday– Pilates Class
Tuesday– 3 mile run
Wednesday– Total Body Class
Thursday– Yoga Class
Friday– 3 mile run
Saturday– 1 & 1/2 mile run (warm-up), then full body resistance training (machines)
Sunday – Yoga Class
Now, this is the schedule that I have worked up to over the years, and it changes all the time. If you’re a beginner, you probably won’t want to push yourself this hard at first. But do try to keep a variety of workouts in your schedule to incorporate muscle confusion and also so you don’t get bored. We’ve already discussed the importance of cardio. Pilates and Yoga classes, I have found, help me to reduce stress and keep me grounded, so these aren’t “musts” for your particular fitness routine. You may want to try kickboxing, zumba, or something else if those appeal more to you. However, you do definitely want to incorporate some kind of weight/strength training into your schedule. Keep in mind that muscle burns about 4 times more calories at rest than fat. Lifting weights will not make you look like Arnold if you’re sticking to light weight and doing lots of reps. I’m not suggesting that because you swapped three pounds of fat for three pounds of muscle that you treat yourself to that daily Snickers bar because you think your newfound muscle will just burn it right off. It’s true that muscle burns more energy at rest, but only up to roughly 10 extra calories for every pound of muscle. So, an extra 10 pounds of muscle to your frame would burn an extra 100 calories. Every little bit helps, but still… PUT THE CANDY BAR DOWN!
And no I don’t mean go on one! The majority of diets out there are fads and they’re – say it with me – TEMPORARY. As soon as you go back to your normal eating habits you will gain the weight right back. It takes a permanent change to see permanent results. And by permanent change I don’t mean you have to go vegan, vegetarian, or even low carb. Start by cutting out sugar from your diet. Replace the sugar in your coffee with stevia – the only zero calorie all natural, chemical free sweetener on the market. I swear by this stuff. I even carry around the packets in my purse in case I go out to eat and order an Iced Tea. You can buy it at most grocery stores, you can cook with it, and they even make soda called “Zevia” that’s sugar free and isn’t loaded with harmful chemicals. Check it out! You can also start by preparing more meals at home, packing a healthy lunch, or limiting the times you go out for dinner to once or twice a week and go from there. I’d be willing to bet you feel so much better that you continue your new healthy habits. Here’s a thought: your body craves what you put in it. If you’re constantly eating crap, you’re going to crave more crap. If you’re eating healthy, good for you vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, that’s what you will eventually start craving. Don’t even keep that crap in your house. You’ll be less tempted to splurge. Also, avoid processed foods. Read the ingredient labels. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, your body shouldn’t either. Know what you’re putting into your body, trust me it’ll thank you for it. And while we’re on the subject, every time you see “fat free” or “sugar free” you should be thinking “chemical shit-storm“. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can still eat that junk because the label says fat free. You’re doing more harm than good with these alternatives. They’re loaded with harmful ingredients and besides, your body and brain need good fats to function properly. The fats you want to avoid are trans and saturated fats, and stick to poly and monounsaturated fats and omegas. Don’t avoid your avocado and nuts because they’re high in fat, those fats are good for you. They’ll fill you up and they’re high in lean protein, which you need to increase, especially if you’re starting a workout regimen. There’s a book called “Eat Right for Your Blood Type.” This is an interesting must read for anyone who is interesting in improving their diet. Purchase it here.
9. Skip the cleanse
Cleanses have an effect similar to laxatives. They flush everything out of your system including nutrients and leave you drained. Not to mention most of what you loose in a cleanse is water weight which you will gain back immediately. Also, keep in mind if you’re on a fitness regimen, cleanses make you feel temporarily thinner and you might think you’re losing actual weight, when you’re not at all. Due to this false sense of confidence, you may be tempted to slack a little at the gym or eat that extra serving of dessert. (Cleanses make you hunnngggryyy!!) If your goal is to detoxify your body, try researching some foods that are known detoxifiers. Some of these are shown in the illustration below:
10. Find your workout style
Do you prefer working out alone, or are you more motivated with a friend? Do you prefer high or low impact cardio? What time of the day is best? Everyone’s body is a little bit different and the way you achieve results might be a little bit different than the way your best friend does. You have to know what’s best for you, which will come with time and trying different things. It’s important not to give up on an activity after trying it just once, unless you’re dead certain it’s not for you. Give things a fair chance to grow on you. For extra help in determining your fitness personality, take this quiz! I am a Social Sportswoman. 🙂
11. Never skip your Stretch
What you do AFTER your workout is equally as important as the exercise itself. When you’ve completed a workout, don’t pat yourself on the back, tell yourself good job and hurry home. You’re not done yet! THE most important thing you can do post-workout is stretching. You also want to cool down, drink plenty of water and refuel your muscles with protein, but that stretch though…! Not only does it feel amazing, but after a workout, muscles naturally contract. Stretching prevents them from shrinking. It allows them to rebuild and grow bigger and stronger, allowing you to get the full benefit from your workout. SO STRETCH IT OUT, WOMAN!!
12. Don’t forget R&R
Ha! Eight hours of sleep. Who has time for that, right? I know, I know… It’s hard for the modern woman to get enough sleep! With our busy schedules and stress levels through the roof, sleep is usually the first thing to get cut from the equation. I cannot emphasize how important it is that you try your hardest to get quality sleep every night while you are training. Of course, everyone’s body chemistry is different and some of us can get by with less than 8 hours. But I think you will find, that if you’re loyal to your fitness plan, you might need more sleep than you have in the past. And since you’re working harder during the day, it might be easier for you to fall asleep at night. The bottom line is that the best training plans will not work if sleep is neglected. Without sufficient sleep, you’re muscles aren’t getting enough rest for muscle cell growth and repair and you will not see the results you’re hoping for. When you sleep, growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis in the muscles occurs. You also can’t slack on your protein, but that’s the easy part. Make sure you’re getting enough Z’s! And hopefully your doggy is better at letting you sleep than mine.
13. Zone out
We’ve all been there. We’re sitting on the couch watching our favorite Netflix series and then all of the sudden the potato chips you said you were only going to have a few of are gone. That’s right you’re a victim of “the zone”. Here’s an idea: apply that zone out to your workout. Nobody likes cardio, let’s be real. The 9 minutes you experience when you hit the snooze button are definitely not the same 9 minutes you experience on the treadmill. There’s no greater evidence that time is relative! Next time you’re on that treadmill, bike, or elliptical, ZONE OUT. Read a book, listen to some tunes, or do nothing. Allow yourself to fall into that ever so familiar trance that you so often fall victim to on the couch and before you know it, the cardio is done. Finished. Adios!! And what better feeling is there than the feeling when you’re finished with cardio?
14. Take a day off (if you want)
It’s a good idea to incorporate a rest day into your week. You don’t want to over-exert yourself and you want to allow the appropriate amount of time for muscle recovery. As I said earlier, much of this occurs during sleep. But rest days are time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise, which you will definitely need at first. The number of rest days needed per week will vary from person to person based on your body type and the amount of physical activity you already deal with during the course of your day. For example, aside from walking around all day in VERY uncomfortable but gorgeous heels, my job isn’t very labor intensive so I consider Sunday my rest day. I still go to yoga class, but since that isn’t much of an intense workout and I love me a good stretch, it’s downtime compared to the rest of my week… And I LOVE going to the pool afterward (weather permitting). There’s no better reward for all of your hard work than to go to the pool or the beach and show off your results! Pool day!! 🙂 Wow, that’s a bright pic!
15. Love yourself
Fitness is important, but it is not nearly as important as learning to love yourself and exerting self confidence. You have to know what makes you sexy. Everyone’s got their something. Yours might be your hair, your tatas, that booty, your legs, your eyes, or your smile. Love your something and know how to work it. Don’t be more concerned with the number on the scale or those few pesky dimples in your thighs than your inner strength. Remember people are made in a different shapes and sizes. There is such a thing as genetics so it’s crucial to accept your body the way the good Lord made it. The goal here is not to push yourself to an unachievable extreme. The goal is to be the healthiest and most fit version of yourself that you can be. Stop comparing yourself to that bitch at the gym that’s 5’8 and 125 lbs of solid muscle. You don’t know her! Maybe her job is in the gym! Instead you should be focusing on all the great progress you’ve already made! For example, let me tell ya, this girl has some hips. I can do hips, buns & thigh exercises All. Day. Long. and they’re not going anywhere. If you look at my family tree, you can see where I get them. My mama has hips, her mama had hips, so on and so forth. They’re here to stay. Guess what? I’ve learned to love my curves! And any lucky fella I end up with is going to be a fella that loves him some hourglass curves! Learn to love your imperfections. You’re beautiful and you’re doing something great for yourself! Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just keep consistently working hard and be patient with yourself. You will get amazing results.