Make a Conscious Choice to Get Fit

For those of us who have had time off from regular exercise or have maybe never been able to make training a habit, making a conscious choice to get fit is the only way to make it happen in the long run. Whilst you might be fed up of trying and failing to make a change, here are a few tips to make it that little bit easier.

Join a community
Invariably, this is met with one of two objections. First, I don't want to commit to a group and then let everyone else down when I quit and, second, I'm so unfit right now, I'll embarrass myself - I'm better training on my own. However, both of these excuses show that you're already setting yourself up for failure. You're either planning to quit or you're putting up a barrier to even getting started!

Remember, everyone is unfit at some point in their lives - not everything that people share on social media is the truth! That flattering picture they shared? Good lighting. That run they posted a pic from? They might have just walked there. Don't let someone else's Instagram be a judge on your own fitness! The first step is deciding how and where to train. Training communities, whether they're for a sport or just exercise, in general, are there for people to get fitter!

Clubs and groups are always welcoming of new people, no matter how out of shape you are or think you are! Communities are a way to make friends and keep your regime up.

Start off slowly
If you're planning a new training schedule and diet, take one step at a time. Most people fall off the wagon because it goes off way too fast at the start! It's much easier to make a change and keep it if it's manageable and it's one of two or three small changes, not 10 or 15!

Meaningful changes don't happen overnight so don't think that by switching out carbs, cutting calories by 500 per day and going to the gym 6 days a week is going to transform your body in a week's time. Sure, you might drop some water weight, but you'll have smashed your willpower into pieces. You'll probably feel irritable and have low energy - it's not sustainable.

Decide on one or two small changes you can make each week that will help work towards your fitness goals. Drinking more water and eating more protein is a perfect way to begin a long term change because they involve consuming more! In reality, of course, they'll act to keep you healthy a satiated and stop you from snacking on junk foods! Then add a 20-minute walk, twice per week to your schedule.

If you can manage those changes for two weeks, then think about adding in one or two more. Walk for a little longer or do three walks per week. Add more vegetables to your diets or cut your calories down by 10% each day. These changes are sustainable and can set you up for long-term progress.

If you falter, get back on the horse
One night or even a couple of days of bad eating doesn't suddenly undo all of your hard work. If you've only been at your new plan for a few days and something goes wrong, you've changed too much too soon. If you've managed to stick at it for a few weeks, it's normal to have a relapse.

However, don't throw in the towel completely! You need to get back on track as quickly as possible. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and stop telling yourself you can't do it - take it one step at a time and make those small changes again. Too many people make excellent starts to lifestyle changes but give up after the first sign of weakness - don't let that be you!

Keep track of your progress
If you don't keep track of your progress you can't be sure what difference your programme is making. Weigh yourself regularly (at the same time each day), take photos (from the same angle, in the same light) and waist, chest and hip measurements so you can see how your body is changing. Ideally, do all three. It's not enough just to go by the odd look in the mirror or whether you "feel" like you're losing weight or not.

Sometimes only tracking your bodyweight can be misleading. Your bodyweight can fluctuate significantly day-to-day and if you're replacing fat with muscle, you might be making good progress without knowing it. Don't let a lack of knowledge about your body be the thing that leads to demotivation.

Another important point is that if you're not showing signs of progress towards your goals (across those three indicators over a period of a couple of weeks), it might be time to change your programme. Perhaps you've been underestimating how much energy you've been consuming or overestimating how much exercise you've done. Maybe you're losing weight too quickly and you want it to be more sustainable and need to eat more food.

Final words
To summarise, we've given you four practical tips for getting into shape. Don't just jump into a brand new regime and expect everything to change if you're not prepared to make conscious choices about your lifestyle. Make these changes with the long-term in mind - there's no cheating the system and suddenly reaching all of your goals. Make fitness a conscious and long-term commitment by taking everything on board. Best of luck!

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