Year in year out, one thing that we can depend on is that people will flood commercial gyms with the best of intentions, only to give up after a few weeks.
The reality is that fitness can be tough early on, but it can also be beautiful, fun, and fulfilling. I’ve written this blog in the hope that it will educate, inform and set expectations correctly from the get-go so that you stick with fitness beyond the early challenges.
Here’s my 5 things that you need to know when thinking about fitness.
You Need To Find What Works Best For Your Goals
Fitness is packed to the brim with confusing systems, workout methodologies, and gimmicks.
Between Crossfit, Metafit, Beach Body, Yoga, Pilates, Spin-fit, etc. There are literally 100’s out there claiming to be the best. It can get confusing. What ones work though?
Well, all of them. However, not all of them will be the correct fit for you. It will take some time, a lot of trial and error, or a bit of homework.
Obviously, it’s not a good idea for a 55-year-old person to jump into Crossfit or a 21-year-old who’s looking to build muscle choosing Spin-fit.
The key is tailoring your style of exercise towards what you want to achieve, looking towards those who have already achieved the goals, and following them.
You might want to hire a personal trainer/coach to help you. A good coach will tailor your form of exercise around your desired goals with the advantages of motivating you and holding you accountable.
There Is No Quick Fix
The quick fix is a myth.
We’ve all seen the “amazing transformations” that pop up on Instagram and Facebook. They make it look so quick and easy. Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case.
What you see and read is the end result. They don’t tell you about the many setbacks and feelings of failure and dejection along the journey. It doesn’t tell you about the life events, and drama that derailed the progress.
You must accept that at times your journey will be a challenging one. It’ll involve hard work, commitment, consistency, and most importantly patience. Start thinking about the small wins along the way to keep motivated. Also, look into what James Clear describes as “Habit Stacking” in his book Atomic Habits.
Basically, habit stacking helps develop positive habits by building on what you already do and time boxing your activities so you can develop greater consistency.
Progress is key, even the smallest of steps should be appreciated as a win. F*ck perfection! When it comes to fitness, done beats perfect every time.
If you accept these truths, and practice habit stacking then you’ll stand a much better chance of achieving your fitness goals.
You Don’t Have To Give Up The Food That Brings You Joy
One of the big mental blocks people have around fitness is food. We all love hedonistic foods a bit too much, and most of us don’t want to give up these “fun” foods for the “Broccoli” diet.
The good news is that you don’t have to give up the foods that bring you joy. You can lose weight while eating ice cream, or having the occasional chippy. It’s all about moderation.
If you indulge a bit more at the weekend then eat a bit less throughout the week to offset it. This is just common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people think that drinks don’t contribute to their overall intake, or “forget” about that cheeky takeaway on a Saturday night.
Going on to the low fat, low calorie, sin-free health kick might work for some, but in my experience, most won’t adhere to it. The diet that works for you is ultimately the one that makes you happy.
So instead of cut out just cut down. Make sure that you’re having enough healthy, nutritious foods, but still occasionally treat yourself with some of the fun stuff. If you enjoy the fun stuff a bit too much, then you can always increase your weekly exercise to offset it.
Weight Loss Isn’t Linear
It’s likely that when you first start exercising, you’ll lose a few pounds in your first few weeks. You might. “Wow, this is great! I’ll be at my ideal weight in no time.” Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Sooner or later you’ll put on a pound or two and not know why.
It’s easy at that point to get dismissive and think, “This is no longer working.” This usually results in giving up, and going back to square one.
However, there are several things to think about, for example, illness, measuring your weight after a big dinner, and if you’re a woman’s menstrual cycle. All of these can cause fluctuations in weight.
There’s also the possibility that once you enjoy a bit of weight loss, you start to introduce more “fun foods” after the first few weeks. First few weeks of exercising people usually make better food choices, but as time goes on their old habits slowly return, and this can lead to weight loss hitting a plateau, or a small weight gain.
You’ve got to look at the long game. It’s called a journey for a reason. Sometimes you’ll take one step forward, and take two steps back. Be patient and don’t feel defeated when you occasionally step backward.
Fitness Isn’t Only Physical
Your brain and your body are interlinked. Exercise is not only good for your physical self, but it is also good for your brain. I look into this in-depth in ‘Does Exercise Build A Better Brain?‘
When you increase your heart rate and blood flow, you actually release more oxygen to the cells that live in your brain. Have you ever taken a quiet walk and noticed that your mind starts to seem clearer? The same principle stands true whether you’re walking, swimming, or lifting weights.
Although physical changes are what most want when they begin their fitness journey, the real win is the emotional and mental changes that ultimately improve your life experience.
There you have it, 5 Things To Know Before Starting Your Fitness Journey.
“Strength for Life”
Davie McConnachie is Scotland’s leading health and wellness coach, multi-award-winning gym owner, motivational speaker, and the founder of DMC Fitness, a fitness education facility known as the premier choice for 1-2-1 personal training. He has inspired thousands of people to fall in love with fitness – his true mission in life.
In his own fitness journey, Davie has athletically competed in Mixed Martial Arts fighting for Scottish and British titles, boxed for Scotland’s top amateur boxing team, and competed internationally in Girevoy (kettlebell) Sport.
Diving into the world of sports and wellness has helped Davie to deal with his own inner demons. He. overcame many dark times using his own unique method to complete his cycle of H.E.A.L.I.N.G.