The idea of working out is daunting, but it can be simplified. When I started going to the gym regularly I had no idea what I was doing, I just knew that I needed to make a change. Since then I have experimented with several different work out plans and I’ve gotten a lot more training and education on the way the body works. So here is my advice on how to find what works for you!
What’s your goal?
It always starts with figuring out what you want. Whether you have decided to work out to loose weight, improve over all health or tone up and train, you have to know why you are doing it. Because you know you should is a good reason to… but it’s not nearly as motivating.
Before you start working towards any of your goals you really should be medically cleared, especially if you are over weight or have any type of medical conditions. If you were to go in and start working with a trainer they will probably hand you a PAR-Q form to fill out (Physical activity readiness questionnaire). Please click the link and fill it out! If you answer yes on any of the questions, please talk to your doctor and get medical clearance before you start working out. I hope this isn’t scaring anyone off, I just want you to be healthy and safe!
Once you know why you’re doing this and that you’re medically cleared you can start making a plan.
Keeping a good hold on your weight is important for your health and function. Love your curves and the body you were given, but understand when those vivacious hips and bountiful booty go from sexy to a health hazard. Our sedentary life style and poor eating choices can lead to weight gain, and that puts a strain on your heart, lungs and other organs, as well as stress on our bones and joints, which were only ever made to hold so much. My best advice to start loosing weight and getting healthy is start walking! walk walk walk everywhere! Get your 10k steps in every day and try to sit less. Once you start moving your forward momentum will carry you through onto bigger and better things.
Tone up and Train
If your arms are starting to jiggle and your tushy isn’t sitting high and pretty like it used to, you might be looking to add a little more muscle tone. I often hear woman say that they want to get stronger and tone up but they don’t want to hulk out. Don’t worry ladies, that takes a lot of work and no one has ever gotten accidentally bulky. So what you need is a good strength training program. This post is all about general advice, and training programs really shouldn’t be generalized, so please before you start lifting and squatting and toning, talk to the weight training instructors at your gym, and ask them what’s best for you!
Whatever you’re doing it for please remember that results will be slow, but they will come! You might not see the muscle definition and the dropping pounds after the first two weeks, but I can promise you, you will feel good!
If you’re not training for a marathon or looking to get super toned, but just hoping to feel a little bit better and reap the benefits of daily activity, you can get a little more creative with your work outs. Walking is still my number one recommendation for feeling better, but that can get a little boring after a while. You can kick it up a notch and make it a hike rather then walk and start climbing some hills and seeing new and beautiful landscapes. or maybe try a new sport? You could try one of your local specialized gyms. I recently went rock climbing and that is a work out and a half for your arms! You could also try yoga, pilates, dance, kickboxing, Zumba, swimming…the list goes on. As long as your up and moving and using your muscles, you are getting healthy!
Where will you work out and how often?
This might not be as much a matter of choice, but more like working with what you have. Whatever that might be though, we can work with that. If you are from a small town and there aren’t many gyms around, you might want to look into your local recreation center. This is where I started and I am so happy I did. Their gym was small and limited but so was my knowledge. It was nice having small crowds and few options because it gave me a chance to really get comfortable being at the gym.
I’ve now tried several different types of facilities and they all have their merits. When you are making your choice (if there are options to choose from) you want to look at features like:
Hours of operation– When are you going to be able to get out and work out? For me it’s usually only early in the morning, before the day gets away from me, so I need somewhere that opens early!
Available classes and trainers– If you’re new to the whole gym thing classes are a great way to start. They will provide you with a lot of different experiences and education on posture and form. Trainers are a great resource to (says the personal trainer). I’m not just trying to insure job security here! Trainers have saved me multiple times from engaging in workouts that would have caused injury and they have some great advice on ways to keep it fun and interesting!
Other perks- A pool is a must for me! I love to swim and I usually try get in the water at least twice a week! For you it might just be the use of a hot tub that you’re looking for. Either way, ask around and see what they have to offer.
Cost – Cost is one of the biggest reasons that I hear for not working out. Can we all be honest with ourselves for a second though and admit that cost is not a reason to not be healthy.. it’s an excuse. I know that a gym memberships can sometimes be a little pricey (ok yah I know they are usually ridiculous, but stay with me here) but there are often many different price options between gyms. Consider this an investment in you! You are worth it. If the cost is completely out of the question, work out at home. Don’t make excuses.
How to avoid injury?
This is the most important part… one of the biggest fears for most people when they start working out is that they are going to hurt. Most believe the old saying “no pain, no gain”. This is not true! Pain is as we all know a bad thing. Good news, it’s somewhat avoidable. I wont sit here and tell you that your muscles won’t feel tired and achey after you work them for the first time, but there is a big difference between post work out sore muscles and an injury.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
This is fairly common, especially when you’ve never really lifted weights or done squats. When you leave the gym you might feel great, but later that day or the next morning, you will feel it. This is good, this is normal. The soreness that you feel is a direct effect of using them and them adapting and growing stronger. When you first start out don’t push yourself to hard. Take lots of rest days and listen to your body. To relieve the pain try soaking in that hot tub, or applying a heat pack to the sore area. There are also a lot of creams, medicinal and natural that will help sooth those aches away.
A muscle injury will not take it’s time to show up. It will shoot though you, and take you down. There are different levels of course but you will recognize them all by their immediate pain, redness, swelling or bruising. Your muscles are pretty resilient, so this doesn’t happen easily. Most commonly it will just be a pulled muscle, caused by stretching and working beyond your capabilities. To avoid this, just take it slow, don’t work till you’re completely fatigued and stop if it hurts.
Most common area of the body injured is your back. I don’t know if you noticed, but this is a rather large portion of your body. Your back and core muscles are meant to stabilize you more then anything. You need to have a good idea of posture and form when you are doing anything. There aren’t many bad work outs… just bad mechanics. Again this is a great thing to talk to your trainers about. Anyone behind the desk at your gym will be able to show you the best way to move to avoid strain. Most importantly you want to make sure that you keep your spine at neutral and avoid large curves in your back. Check out Correct your Posture before you work out, to see what I mean.
Now get out there
Those are the basics but there is always more to learn. Please use your local professionals and make sure that you are staying safe!
Oh and one more thing, for those of you who are a little nervous about getting into that gym atmosphere. You might be worried about being judged, looked at, laughed at or whatever else. If this is what’s holding you back please listen carefully. First of all, all those buff guys and toned girlies started somewhere. They didn’t always look the way they do, they worked hard and they achieved goals, just like you will. They are not judging you because they remember what it was like to start out. They are more likely quietly cheering you on, happy to see that you are out there trying to better yourself as they have. If you are one of those folks worried that others are looking at you, I say stand proud gorgeous! They ARE looking at you and that’s because you look damn good in those yoga pants! Why the hell else would you be doing those squats! Be confident and be proud of the change that you are making! You are strong, you are beautiful and hun, you deserve the best.
Stay Happy + Healthy and never stop adventuring!
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