Thinking about how to start working out takes a lot more time than actually going out and doing it. This is especially true for those who have been sedentary for a long time. It’s even worse for those who have been overweight or underweight for most of their lives. After all, committing yourself to fitness means a lot of changes have to happen.
And change means uncertainty. The most stressful scenario is when you don’t know how things are going to play out. Uncertainty makes us overthink. It makes us worry. Uncertainty is what makes us anxious. We don’t know what exactly will happen in our fitness journey. It’s all-new experiences, and that can be a bit daunting. But that’s okay. If you want to live healthier, this is the time for you to steel your resolve and just go for it.
For many of us, the past year felt very long and drawn out. With the virus, lockdowns, and all the mask business, we’ve all been too busy with other stuff to focus on fitness. Now that the new year is here, it’s the perfect opportunity for us to begin anew.
Starting a fitness journey may not be easy, but it’s definitely not impossible. If you’re wondering how to start working out (and how to stay consistent), here are a few tips to help you out.
1 Understand your motivation
We all know that exercise is good for us. The real challenge lies in finding (and keeping) the motivation to get going. But what is motivation in the first place?
Motivation is the force that drives you to move. It puts you in a disposition to carry out goal-driven actions. To find your motivation, you must first ask yourself: what makes you want to exercise?
There are two forms of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Examples of extrinsic motivators are what you hope to gain from working out. Do you want to achieve a leaner body? Are you hoping to become stronger? Do you expect to lose weight or gain muscle?
Intrinsic motivators, on the other hand, are internal. It’s less about the outcome of the activity and more about the process. A good example is whatever hobby you may have. You do it because you enjoy it.
Knowing your driving forces will make it easier for you to reignite your fire when you feel burned out.
2 Find a workout you enjoy
Having said the above, do know that intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic. People are more likely to be consistent with their workout when they enjoy it. Studies show that there is a link between enjoyment and exercise adherence!
Feel free to explore the activities available to you. Don’t be afraid to go on a trial-and-error process as you find the one for you. If you don’t quite know where to start, here’s a recommendation: try out martial arts.
For us who practice it, no other exercise is as enjoyable as martial arts. While training, you get your heart pumping and your muscles aching. Plus, you engage your mind to become more flexible and capable. (Even in stressful situations!) Sometimes, you don’t even notice how hard you’ve pushed yourself until you’re sore all over.
(Sore is good! It means your muscles are rebuilding to get stronger. The added effort means you’ve burned more calories than usual. And more muscle mass means you raise your BMR – the number of calories you burn each day!)
3 Join a gym with a conducive environment
When you dedicate yourself to your fitness journey, you’re in for the long haul. The local community is something you have to consider before joining a gym. That means your coach since they will guide you through the process, and also your fellow gym-goers. After all, while your gym buddies aren’t the deciding factor, they play a significant part in your journey.
Of course, by ‘conducive,’ we’re leaving things up to your interpretation. Some prefer working out in groups, in which case, your gym buddies can make your gym experience… or break it. Ideally, you’ll find people who will keep you accountable to your goals and challenge you to do better. If they’re as committed as you to taking fitness seriously, then all the better!
On the other side of the coin, you may be the type who prefers peace and quiet when working out. In that case, you’ll want to find a gym where people don’t typically crowd together as much.
4 Avoid being too hard on yourself
A very common beginner’s mistake is going too hard, too fast. Fitness isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. A marathon with no finish line, that is. Pace yourself accordingly so you can go further and last longer on your journey.
The human body isn’t a fan of big changes. In fact, it tries its best to keep everything relatively balanced. You sweat when it’s warm to help cool down and shiver when it’s cold to generate heat. Your first run is likely just a brisk walk or a light jog because your legs and lungs burn when you go faster. If you try to lift too heavy, you can injure your joints. (And those take forever to heal!)
Slow and steady is the way to go when it comes to fitness. In the long run, it’s not about how hard you push. Instead, it’s about how consistent you are with your healthy habits.
And we’re not just talking physically. It’s good to have goals, but it’s better to keep an open deadline if you want to live a healthy lifestyle. Rushing yourself to lose weight, build muscle mass, or lift heavier can’t end well. Chances are, you’ll end up frustrated, injured, or worse, burned out of the gym.
Perhaps we’ve all wondered how to start working out (again) at some point. It can be hard, true. It’s nerve-wracking for those who have never worked out before. But, as they say, the first step is always the hardest. Nothing will happen if we let doubt cloud our minds.
Keep your eyes on the goal, and keep marching on. Even one small step at a time will take you far.