Not sure where to start? Being overloaded with information? Here is the basis of what you need to do to become the fit person you’ve always wanted to be.
Work On Improving Food Quality
The first step towards getting fit starts with your diet. While exercise is always a good thing, the biggest changes in your body composition will be seen by cleaning up your diet.
When I say clean up your diet, I don’t mean purposely lowering your calories – yet. There will come a time when you’ll want to cut your calories some to lose weight, but lowering your calorie intake of an already bad diet is a recipe for nutrient and energy deficiency.
One of the most important parts of the beginning of a lifestyle transition is to make sure you don’t feel restricted or deprived. To accomplish that goal, we’re not going to take anything out of your current diet. Instead, we’re going to start adding in some good food. What you’ll soon realize is that this addition of healthy food automatically begins to push out the bad stuff.
Each week you should work on a nutrition goal. This goal should be realistic and achievable. Perhaps that means adding in a glass of water at mealtimes, or it could mean adding some veggies to dinner. Whatever the case, continue working on that one single goal until you can accomplish it. Then, start working on the next.
In time, your diet will start making a shift from unhealthy to healthy, and with it, you will begin to see changes in your body composition. Remember, what goes into your body is reflected on the outside.
Ramp Up Exercise
Next up is adding in some physical activity. This is a common place newcomers make a mistake. They go from sedentary to an hour or more of intense exercise a day with the hopes of shedding fat fast. This places an insane amount of stress on the body.
Your body needs time to adapt to physical stress and increased energy demands. Your body is not an on/off switch. It more resembles a dimmer, where it slowly shifts and transitions from the external demands placed on it.
That means we need to slowly ramp up our exercise levels. Adding in 1-2 days of strength training at the beginning is plenty to get things going. You’re going to need those extra days of rest at the beginning anyways, as new exercise tends to result in higher levels of muscle soreness than normal.
Once you feel like you’ve established a routine with this amount of exercise, you can begin to add in more. If you like to run, then add in a day of running. If you like yoga or pilates, then add in a day of that instead. Then, continue with that one single added day of activity until you’ve established that exercise habit too.
Trust me when I tell you that your body will thank you. Not to mention, you will be much less likely to experience physical and mental burnout. Weight loss is slow in the beginning, and doing an inordinate amount of exercise and not getting your expected results tends to end in frustration and giving up.
Create a Small Calorie Deficit
Finally, if need be, now is the time to purposefully create a calorie deficit. This isn’t always necessary, however. What you might notice is that in the process of improving the quality of your diet you end up eating less automatically. If this is the case and you’ve been losing weight at a safe and reasonable pace already, you can forgo cutting your calories further.
However, if you feel good and you’re ready to get the weight loss going, a slight reduction in calories is all you need to start seeing results. Slight does not mean 500-1000 calories. You do not need that large of a deficit to get things moving. A minimal 100 calorie reduction in food intake is enough to start making progress.
Not only will this allow you to eat more food, fuel more exercise, and give you a better state of mind, but it will also leave you plenty of room to further cut calories when your weight loss stalls.
What you don’t want to happen is to cut your calories by 500, and end up with an intake of 1200 calories right from the start. You will lose weight, but your body will quickly adapt. Then, you will be forced to add in more exercise or further reduce an already low calorie level.
Instead, make a small 100 calorie cut and then monitor your weight over the next couple of weeks. If you didn’t lose at least .5% of your body weight, you can then cut another 50-100 calorie from your diet. Repeat this process as necessary and you will achieve sustainable weight loss.
If you follow the 3 basic steps outlined in this article, you will be well on your way to achieving the fitness lifestyle you always knew you could have. Don’t make the mistake of getting ahead of yourself. Slow and steady wins the race. Be patient. Stay consistent. Fit is right around the corner.
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