Jillian Michaels

January 25, 2018

How To Start Your Fitness Journey Off Right

“Where or how do I begin?”

It’s one of the top fitness questions I get asked, and understandably so. Beginning any journey is intimidating, let alone one that is health and fitness related. But with the proper information and preparation it doesn’t have to be.  

I’m guessing you’ve heard that if you want to make your goals a reality, then you must bring action to your intentions. However, this is isn’t completely true. In fact, it’s literally incomplete. The key is to bring informed actions to your intentions. Think about it for a second: If you blindly take action, but it isn’t thought through, chances are things will not only not workout, but you could even do more harm than good.

Start a business, but don’t do the homework on it you will go out of business. Start a diet regimen or fitness program, but don’t have the proper plan in place you could harm your metabolism, injure yourself, and potentially beget a cycle of yo-yo dieting. So that said, what is the proper plan? 

I have outlined the steps I put all my beginners through below to ensure you get off onto the right foot and best ensure your success.

1. Understand the math.

Weight loss, weight maintenance, muscle gain – any and all of these goals involve simple math. Fat is nothing other than stored energy. The calories in your food are units of energy. Eat too much food (more than you are burning through activity in a day), no matter how healthy it is, and you will store that extra energy as fat. Period. End of story. So to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume. To maintain weight you consume the same amount of calories you are burning over the course of your day. To gain weight you must eat more calories than you burn in a day. Basically, rule one is that you must have a meal plan in place that helps you understand how MUCH you are are eating.  This is why the recipes in all my meal plans have calorie counts based on servings.  And a good golden rule for weight loss is to eat no less than 1200 calories for women and 1600 calories for men a day.

2. Food quality does matter, but not in the way you may think.

It has zero effect in the immediate moment on how many calories you burn. However, the quality of your calories will come in to play over time. If you are consuming fake fats, fake sugars, fake colors, fake flavorings etc. these things can not only harm your immunity, create an environment ripe for disease, but damage your fat burning hormone production. To clarify, food quality is not about carbs, macros, gluten, etc. It’s about common sense. Eat whole foods. Avoid chemicals in foods whenever possible. Go organic with meat, dairy, and think skinned fruit and vegetables whenever possible.

3. Pick a fitness plan you can live with.

You don’t have to go to a gym. You don’t have to workout for hours. You don’t have to workout crazy hard. But you do have to exercise around 4 times a week. Preferably for 20 to 30 minutes minimum. Now, if you are an extreme beginner I often suggest a walking regimen that progresses steadily with time. 20 minutes a day get out and go for a brisk walk. If you can handle more, the next question we need to ask is what do you like to do? Would you spin? Would you do yoga? Would you do resistance training? Would you try pilates? Or a combination of all the above? Because while there are definitely fitness techniques I can point to that get results fast, if you hate doing them it does us no good. The best workout is the one you can stick with consistently. This is the reason my app has literally hundreds of workouts and exercises of all kinds—kick boxing, yoga, bootcamp, 5k etc. It’s to make sure there is an effective program for everyone’s needs.

4. Get a coach.

Once you have decided what it is you’d like to do you must make sure you are doing it properly. And having a fitness expert guide you (at least in the beginning ) is very important. It helps to prevent injury and insure best results. If you are concerned that this is expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Yes, you can hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to show you around the gym. Teach you how the equipment works. Create a beginners program for you. Or, you can take group classes for beginners like a level 1 yoga class, introduction to spin etc. And of course, the cheapest and most obvious solution would be to workout with a fitness expert via a streaming platform, app, or DVD workout. Ideally you would look for the word beginner in the title. No matter what type of workout you have chosen. And even more ideal would be a program for beginners that lasts at least one month up to three. This way you have an expert gradually progressing you to an intermediate level of fitness while you also learn how to train yourself safely and efficiently should you choose to. The Fitness For Beginners program in my app does exactly this. It takes you from total beginner to intermediate athlete safely while delivering tremendous results.

5. Embrace the concepts of permission and balance.

Most beginners believe that they have to do it all or nothing and, to make matters worse, they think they need to do it all perfectly. This is a sure-fire way to set yourself up for failure. People are not perfect. You will have setbacks. You will fall off the wagon. So plan for it ahead of time.  You can do this by practicing what I call the 80/20 rule. (Even if it’s 70/30 the world won’t end.) This basically means that you try to make the majority of your calorie allowance healthier foods, but you allow for 20 to 30 percent of them (daily) to come from your favorite treat foods. This way you don’t feel deprived and you don’t feel discouraged when you have a piece of pizza – which is totally normal and fine. There’s room for less healthy foods in an overall healthy lifestyle.

6. Build support.

One of the top reasons people site for abandoning a fitness goal is lack of support. There are many places to find this (believe it or not). It could be a bestie, a co-worker, a fellow soccer mom, but it could also be a running group that you find on Meetup.com or an online community like mine. The Jillian Michaels Workout Junkies are a perfect example of this, and we currently building message boards within the app membership for people to connect and find each other.

Ultimately, the key is patience and fortitude. Be kind to yourself. Be loving. Be fluid. If you don’t like something, then change it. Trust the process. You’ll get there, bud. I promise.

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