“There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only passion for life.” — Federico Fellini
Having a purpose and passion in life keeps me off the couch more than any resolution. My personal loves, dreams and vision constantly drive me towards improving myself in specific areas. When you begin to enter the world of fitness to change your life, there are a variety of tips to get you started. Here are four that I have found to have been most important to my success.
1. Commit to you! Decide to follow through with your goals no matter how tough the road may be and no matter how little progress you encounter. There are times when everything seems more important than going to the gym.
For example, someone may need a ride; I might be behind on straightening up at home or just tired from work and kid. I still go! When running on the treadmill, I’m not only grateful that I mustered the willpower to follow through, but I’m also one step closer to my goal. On a journey of 1,000 steps, the 200 toughest steps count just as much as the easier 800.
2. Take small steps! Don’t overwork yourself or drastically cut calories when you first begin exercising. Do either and you’ll definitely end up crashing and either quitting or feeling very frustrated. I made this mistake a few times. I cut calories so low I ran out of energy, and my body rebelled by holding on to fat because it was hoarding calories internally!
3. Be publicly accountable! Tell a friend or two your goals so that they hold you accountable. When I first began my weight-loss challenge, I told my family so that when we had gatherings (which in my family and the community are typically centered around food) they would ask me about my progress. With them watching, I knew that I couldn’t eat that white cupcake with homemade frosting, let alone have a second helping of my mom’s sweet potato pie!
4. Know how and where to begin your journey. People often begin their weight loss (or muscle gain) journey without any idea as to what to do or even where to begin. I’m going to give you several pointers to remember before you begin a workout program:
• First, if you haven’t been active in many years, see a physician to ensure that you are physically able to work out and have no restrictions.
• Use proper technique when you begin weightlifting. When you sign up at most health clubs, they will provide you with a free personal training session to teach you proper techniques. Request that the trainer show you basic exercises and techniques, not complicated exercises that make you dependent on their instruction. If weightlifting at home, educate yourself on the exercises before you try them; in future articles, I will cover specific and general exercise techniques. Bad technique can injure you and is less effective, so make sure you’re aware of what you’re doing.
• Don’t skip warm-ups and cool-downs! Professional athletes don’t take the field for a big game without warming up first, and neither should you. Warm-ups prevent injuries by reducing stiffness; cool-downs prevent future stiffness.
• Every four to five weeks, change up your routine so that you don’t get bored. For example, if your main focus is cardio, try the Stairmaster instead of the elliptical machine. Find ways to keep workouts fun. Contrary to what magazines may say, there’s no specific formula to successful workouts.
Living a healthy life is not just a promise you make to yourself once a year — it’s daily promises. Before you begin working out, lay the groundwork for success and know what you need to do to succeed. You’ll prevent injuries and succeed much faster. If you find yourself getting bored with exercising, change up your routine. This is your journey, so do what makes you happy!
Latrice Marie welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her at www.facebook.com/pages/La trice-Marie/489150201109966. For specific examples of exercises, Latrice invites readers to view her blog at: latricemarie.blogspot.com.