Want to love exercise but you struggle getting started, finding something you enjoy, or just plain don’t enjoy it? Today we’re talking all about finding joy in movement and exercise no matter where you’re at right now.
EXERCISE: PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION
Where to start and how to stick to it
Guest Post by Katie Haney
Do you ever wonder why it seems like an exercise program is so complicated and overwhelming that we struggle to even get started? Are you frustrated with all the information out there about what to do, when to do it, how much to do, and everything that tells you you're not doing enough?
If you feel overwhelmed by not knowing where to start or how to stick to exercise, you're in the right place today!
The first myth to debunk is that you need "things" to be successful at working out. When in reality, you really don’t need new clothes, a gym membership, or even the latest protein powder.
You don’t need to have certain workout experiences or be at a particular fitness “level” to be successful in consistently working out. The key is to just get started. Take that first walk. Lift that first weight. Start where you are right now and take one step in the right direction.
TIPS FOR STARTING AN EXERCISE PLAN AND STICKING TO IT
Are you new to working out or have a new gym membership? Getting back into a routine after a long break? Start small.
Instead of jumping right in and trying to pound out 6 days per week of hour long workouts, try meeting yourself where you are right now. Try finding that next step and start there.
Also, don't compare yourself to anyone else. This is your journey, not theirs. You know your body and what is best for you. Follow it. Starting small increases your chances of following through, and consistency will be encouraging and give you the motivation and momentum to keep going.
Ideas for starting an exercise program
Go for a walk
Go on a hike
Try some body weight exercises (pushups, lunges, squats, etc)
Play with your kids at the playground (get them involved in your workout too!)
Get a coupon or Groupon online to try a new fitness class
Find a You Tube workout to follow (here's a simple plan to download with videos)
People say that it takes a village to raise kids, and I think it applies to fitness too. Sometimes when we are starting on a new fitness journey, it can feel daunting, but bringing in our village can make an enormous difference in our success.
Ideas to stay accountable and consistent with your exercise
Ask your spouse to support and encourage you
Hire a personal trainer (online or in person)
Go with a friend to a fitness class or gym
Join an online support group
Share your goals on social media
TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
It might feel intimidating, but try finding a method of tracking that works for you. You can take progress pictures, track measurements, or even track how many pushups or squats you can do. What about tracking the amount of weight you can lift?
There are so many ways to track. If you are seeking physical changes in your body, then go ahead and take progress pictures. If that feels too overwhelming, track other progress indicators that will help encourage and motivate you.
Hopefully this post has encouraged you to look at exercise in a simplified way. You can now approach working out without guilt from not doing it perfectly from the start. In fact, you will have setbacks. That's ok. It happens to everyone. Learn from the setbacks, and continue along.
Find someone to help keep you accountable. Track (and celebrate) your progress and hard work. There is beauty and freedom that comes when we take care of ourselves physically without guilt or strict schedules or regimens or obsession with food.
Being strong and fit (whatever that looks like you) takes simple, every-day decisions that are rarely glamorous or attractive or alluring. It's the tough in-the-moment choices that drive us forward (or stall us). It’s the little decisions day in and day out that results in the greatest progress.
Living a healthy and active lifestyle does not have to be complicated or frustrating. Just start where you are and build from there. And remember, it’s about progress, not perfection.
Living in sunny Southern California with her husband and three kids ages 5, 3 and 1, Katie is a former high school Spanish teacher turned military wife, mama, and NASM Certified Personal Trainer. She is Precision Nutrition 1 Certified, a Pre and Postnatal Fitness Specialist and holds NASM Specializations in Women's Fitness, Weight Loss, Nutrition, Youth Fitness, and Group Fitness Training. Katie trains clients in the United States, Canada, and Australia from her online coaching platform and is passionate about helping women be their strongest selves yet, no matter what stage of life they are in.
Why do you exercise?
Or if you don’t, but want to, why do you want to exercise?
Are you looking for weight loss? Better fitness? Better health and wellness? To reach your short or long term goals?
Let me ask you another question. What would you say about your body image right now?
Are you confident with where your body is, or are you frustrated with where it is? Do you want to build more self confidence or love your body more? If so, today’s post is for you. And before I move on, you don’t have to completely dislike your body for this post to resonate with you. On the contrary, this post is for you to help build your self confidence and body image strength.
In fact, do you ever find yourself thinking or saying negative statements about your body? Maybe consciously, but also maybe subconsciously. In fact, approximately 90% of women have some sort of body dissatisfaction.
Today my goal is to help you find ways to use fitness to help you improve your body image and be confident with who you are, confident in your ability to reach your goals, and feel stronger as a woman, mother, daughter, sister, friend, etc.
Before we move on, I’ve put together a very simple exercise program for you to follow. It’s a great one to get started on and can be performed as an at home exercise plan. Click the button below to grab it and get started with an exercise routine you’ll love right away. (Plus, it won’t take you more than 20 minutes!)
4 STEPS TO IMPROVE BODY IMAGE THROUGH FITNESS
STEP 1: LOVE YOURSELF NOW
Before you reach any goal, lose any weight, or start any program to change your fitness, you first need to appreciate the here and now.
I so often hear from clients that they will start loving themselves when…
“When I fit into my jeans”
“When I lose the weight I want”
“When I have time to take care of myself”
“When my kids are older”
“When I’m not too busy”
And the list goes on. But the truth is, if you don’t love yourself now, I can promise you, there will be no difference in self love, self confidence, or body satisfaction even if you reach your goal. It’s true. I’ve seen it time and time again.
So, the first step to this whole journey is to start today by finding love for yourself from day one and practice it throughout your journey. It might be simple at first, but that’s ok.
If you’re looking for ways to do this, check out my posts on creating a healthy body image through positive mindset shifts, creating body confidence no matter what stage of life you’re in, and practicing gratitude for your body.
The key is to start with something small. I usually recommend starting with gratitude. Be grateful for where your body has been, and how it’s arrived where it is today. Have you carried, borne, or nurtured a child? That’s incredible. Practice gratitude for it. You may even want to go further and start being more thankful for those stretch marks because they mean you have a beautiful child. Maybe you’ve worked hard toward a goal, or your body has pushed you through a difficult time in your life? Be thankful for the experience you’ve been through. Then, be thankful for today. For the opportunity to improve, to progress, and to build strength as a woman.
STEP 2: START SOMEWHERE
Now that we have a practice for self love, self compassion, and body image, let’s move on to talk about the ways fitness can help improve your self and body confidence.
First, it’s ok to have a goal. It’s ok to want to lose weight. It’s ok to want to make physical changes with your body. It’s not ok to dwell on the negative or dwell in the past.
Create some realistic goals for yourself. If you want to lose weight to be able to accomplish more at the gym, at home, or just to feel like you’re living your best life, that’s ok.
The key with any sort of fitness program is to JUST START. (After any sort of clearance from your doctor if needed). Don’t wait until everything is perfect with your schedule, your life, etc.
Find something you love and get started. If that’s a simple walk every day, go for it! Find some workout videos online, go to an exercise class with a friend, involve the family in fitness. Whatever it is for you, just get started on something you can stick to for a bit.
Also, don’t forget to START WHERE YOU ARE. If you’re not a runner yet, don’t go out and try to run 5 miles. It’s unlikely you’ll do that again!
Pick something, and start there. Remember, everything counts. You WILL see results as you are consistent and continually improving, changing, and pushing yourself each day.
STEP 3: ALWAYS INCLUDE STRENGTH TRAINING
Step 3. My favorite.
Want a quick way to feel better in your own skin? Strength train. Lift weights, do lunges, do anything to get those muscles working!
Whenever someone comes to me to get the “toned” look, I tell them strength training will be key. No, you will not bulk up, it’s not in a woman’s makeup.
But you will find yourself feeling firmer, stronger, and happier with your body. Two of my favorite workout plan sites include Ace Fitness and Bodybuilding.com. You can find specific exercises or full body workouts. And don’t forget, my workout plan is filled with a great mix of cardio and weight training to really kickstart your fitness goals.
You don’t always need weights to strength train, but I recommend if possible to find one set of weights you can use just to take it to that next level. Lunges, planks, squats, pushups… they all count as strength training. Anything that pushes your muscles to get stronger.
If you want to feel better in your own skin, always include strength training.
STEP 4: DON’T FORGET NUTRITION
And lastly, don’t forget about your nutrition. We only exercise a little bit each day, but we have to eat multiple times per day. This means nutrition is KEY.
Nutrition is a big subject. Today, I’m going to keep it simple.
In fact, I love the quote by Michael Pollan, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.
It covers everything. Eat real food. Don’t over eat. And eat your fruits and vegetables!
Of course, nutrition can get complicated in a hurry, but just remember the best nutrition (and exercise) program for you is the one you’ll follow.
Pick one thing to change at a time. This could be cutting back on one sweet each day, eating a side of vegetable instead of a bread at dinner time, adding a snack with fruits or veggies.
The key is balance. Find the balance that works for you. Try to build your meals around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. It truly is that simple.
If you find yourself suffering from any emotional, mindless, or distracted eating patterns, you can read through my mindful eating series to help you find that balance with nutrition you’re looking for.
The key is to get started today. Get started on loving yourself for who you are right now. Get started on a simple program that you love and will follow. Start changing one thing about your nutrition today.
The small changes add up to exponential growth.