1. Set realistically attainable goals.
You must have tangible short-term and long-term goals for your fitness program so that you can gauge your progress and stay motivated. It’s crucial to have a “baseline” before you begin so that you can measure your success. A qualified personal trainer can give you a complete fitness analysis that will aid you in developing a personalized fitness program which addresses your particular needs. Having goals, particularly short-term goals, allows you to track your progress and keeps you motivated when times are tough and you don’t feel like exercising. Keeping a journal of your cardio and resistance training workouts, as well as tracking what you eat is truly a fitness success “secret.” Just remember that your goals should be realistic and attainable. The best way for you to understand what is realistic and attainable for you is to talk to a fitness professional – not to buy into the “hype” of infomercials or diet and fitness products that blatantly mislead.
2. In the beginning your fitness plan should not be overly aggressive.
One of the biggest problems most people encounter when starting a fitness program is rapidly depleted motivation after only a few weeks due to an overly ambitious fitness plan. Two days per week of 20-minute low-intensity cardiovascular exercise (walking, jogging, biking, swimming); and two days per week of 30-minute light resistance training (using weights or resistance machines) is adequate in the beginning. As you become acclimated to the lifestyle “shift” you can add more days and get improved results. But beware: if you try to do too much too fast, you may end up quitting altogether. If you’ve tried and failed doing it alone then I suggest you get a training partner or personal trainer who will help you sustain your motivation and accountability.
3. Eat regularly throughout the day.
Fasting or overly restrictive diets will enable you to lose weight – in the short run. Because the weight you lose is primarily water weight and lean muscle tone. But in the long-run it has exactly the opposite effect you want. When you restrict your diet, your body instinctively thinks it’s being starved and shifts into a protective mode by storing fat. Your body’s energy expenditures will be fueled by your lean muscles causing your body fat to remain essentially the same while you lose vital fluids and muscle. The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism becomes, and the less fat you burn. You should be eating three nutritionally balanced meals each day, and you should have at least one or two healthy snacks. Avoid fried and processed foods at all cost – talk about dead calories! Here’s a good rule of thumb: make sure that you are consistently “grazing” on health foods about every three hours. This includes at least half a gallon of fresh water every day. This keeps your metabolic furnace firing, so you burn more at a faster rate.
4. Don’t waste your time working small muscles with isolated movements.
If you don’t enjoy doing resistance training, or are pressed for time, concentrate on working the largest muscle groups with compound resistance movements. Most people want to lose fat and tone and firm their bodies. The way to do that is to use resistance to train the large muscle groups. Try to incorporate compound movements, which means the exercises you choose incorporate multiple muscle groups, and compound movements are known for quickly increasing your metabolism.
5. Always stretch.
Stretching improves flexibility, blood flow, muscle recovery, low back pain and a host of other things. Additionally, stretching can prevent injury, make you sleep better and improve your performance in all sports. Always stretch, but be certain not to stretch cold muscles. You should always warm up before stretching. However, it is very important that you know how to stretch to achieve optimal fitness results. Never bounce, or aggressively push and pull a muscle beyond its natural range.
6. Set exercise appointments with yourself.
Use your day-timer to set appointments for exercise – and then stick to them. You wouldn’t miss a business meeting or client appointment, would you? So don’t miss your exercise appointment with yourself. Nothing is more important than your health. Nothing. Everything else will crumble around you if your health goes south. So make your exercise appointments a priority. If you find it difficult to keep these appointments, then consider hiring a personal trainer who will hold you to your commitment. When you have money invested, and someone waiting for you to show up – you are much more likely to actually show up!
7. Remember the benefits of resistance training. Remember that feeling of euphoria you experienced after a particularly good workout? You experienced that feeling because the most powerful “feel good” drug in the world – endorphins – are coursing through your veins. If there is a panacea, it’s exercise. It will fuel your motivation on those inevitable days when you just don’t feel like exercising. Additionally, exercising with resistance has tremendous benefits for your metabolism. Further, resistance training is the only way to sculpt, tone, and tighten your muscles on demand. Do you want shapelier legs? Resistance training will give it to you. How about a firm perfectly shaped rear? Resistance training will give it to you. Firm tummy, defined arms and a strong back? Resistance training will give it to you. Being physically fit affects every single aspect of your life: you sleep better, eat better, love better, overcome stress better, work better, communicate better and definitely look better!
8. Never Ever skip breakfast.
If you want to maximize your fitness results or fat-loss efforts, you’ve got to eat breakfast. Even if you don’t exercise at all – breakfast remains the most important meal of the day. Your breakfast should contain complete proteins and complex carbohydrates A great breakfast is oatmeal (not the pre-packaged, pre-sweetened kind) with a little honey and banana and a protein drink. Or try scrambled egg whites with Healthy Choice turkey sausage.