So you’ve finally decided the time has come to take charge of your life and begin the journey to physical fitness. You’re tired of being tired and not crazy about the extra weight you have been carrying. Something’s got to change and you’ve decided to start exercising. Before you take the plunge here are 7 mistakes to avoid before you begin your program.
Mistake #1 – Failure to Get a Physical Exam – Before you begin your program make sure you get a physical exam from your health care provider. This is the safest way to start, especially if you have been sedentary for a long time. Once you learn the results of the exam you will have a baseline to start with. Be sure to tell your doctor that you plan to get active and ask him if he has any suggestions to help you become physically fit. It is very important to ask if there is anything you should not be doing in order to prevent any injuries. Starting an exercise regime without your doctor’s OK could cause a set back down the road because of an unforeseen injury.
Mistake #2 - Not Setting a Goal –This can be the trickiest part of establishing your program because most people, when asked what their goal is, respond with the words, “To Get Healthy”. Getting healthy can mean different things to different people. To one person it can mean the absence of disease. To another it might mean being able to run up a flight of stairs without losing your breathe. Fail to plan, plan to fail. Consider the following when setting your goal.
· Be Specific – The more specific you are, the higher your success rate. Do you want to get your weight down or are you looking to get stronger? How much weight do you want to lose? How much stronger to you want to become?
· Be Realistic – Losing 30 pounds in 1 month is not (and should never be) a realistic goal. Take into account your physical condition, your age, and your stamina. Remember, we are all unique (that’s the good news) and the type of body type you have will influence your results.
· Be Thorough- What type of exercise is best for you? Research the different types of workouts and choose one that fits your personality. There are so many choices out there, if you pick one and it doesn’t agree with you, quit and try something else. You want to choose workout activities that interest you and those that will keep you involved in the program. If you do this the activities you have chosen will continue to challenge you as you progress.
Mistake #3 - Not Checking your Schedule – The last thing you want to do is set yourself up to fail. Is this a good time for you to start a workout program? Usually anytime is considered to be a good time, but there are those exceptions, like a vacation, or when you’ve taken on a time-consuming project at work. Consider your schedule to make sure that once you start any roadblocks will be minimal.
Mistake #4 - Not Finding a Workout Buddy – Studies prove that your chances of success will increase if you work out with someone else. This person can challenge you to workout harder. You can spur each other on when those cold Wisconsin days arrive and you would rather be indoors curled up in front of a cozy fireplace.
Mistake #5 – Not Setting up a Program – How many times have you seen “that guy” at the gym doing the same routine for months or even years with no results to show for all of the hard work he’s done? You don’t have to have a background in exercise prescription to set up a program. Something as simple as planning a walk, 5 days a week, at 3.8 mph, for a ½ hour each day can be a program. Don’t make it complicated; just make sure it is a plan that will progress as you do.
Mistake #6 – Not Tracking Results – Really? Do I need to explain this one…? You don’t want to end up like “that guy” I spoke about in Mistake #5. His body acclimated to that routine a long time ago, yet he continues to do the same old thing each time he works out because he never challenged himself to improve. Decide now how you plan to track your workouts and then make it a habit. Keep it simple, jot down the day, time, the exercise performed, how many sets, how many repetitions, and if weight is involved the amount of weight. When you need more of a challenge take small baby steps at first… walk one more block, do one more set, lift 3 more pounds, or try one more lap. Don’t forget to always listen and respect your body as you raise the bar to avoid injury. Remember, pain is the way your body tells you to knock it off, so be sensitive to what your body is trying to tell you. Quick Tip; when strength training, lift every other day to avoid muscle fatigue & injury.
Mistake #7 - Not Considering a Personal Trainer - If you’re not sure where to start consider hiring a Personal Trainer. The benefits for a beginner can be significant. The professional trainer can introduce you to correct movement, good form, and technique. Most gyms offer personal training so check with your gym to see if they have trainers on site. Not a member of a gym? Find independent personal trainers at certification sites like ACSM, ACE, or NASM. Some trainers offer discounts if you and a friend enlist together. All Personal Trainers offer different incentives and packages, so shop around to see which trainer is right for your personality and your budget.
Congratulations on your decision to begin your journey to greater wellness! But do yourself a favor and don’t set yourself up to fail before you have even begun your program. Good planning will assure a safer, happier, and more satisfying workout!
I wish you well!