It is said that the hardest part is just getting started, and that was definitely the case for me. When I decided that I wanted to be healthier and lose weight, I knew that exercise was a big part of that, but I just didn’t know where to start. I am not a personally trainer (I am still studying for that), but I thought I would share with you how I did start.
Perhaps you have only just decided to get healthy or you have been on this journey for a while, but just focusing on food. What you eat is really important, but so is staying active. Exercise can be so many different things, and here are some of the things that I did to start.
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It can be easy to think that because you are unfit, you are unable to do any exercise, or you see people running marathons or doing 100 push-ups in a row and think just because you can’t do that, you can’t exercise at all. You can do something! A tiny bit of exercise is better than no exercise at all. I didn’t just decide to change and then hit the gym straight away, I took it very, very slowly and if you are just starting out, then I suggest that you take it slowly too.
- Walking – Don’t ever underestimate the awesomeness of walking. This is exactly how I started out and although at the beginning it was pretty depressing, as it made me realise just how unhealthy I was, without doing that I wouldn’t be where I am today. Instead of walking the 5 minutes to the bus stop, I used to cut through my back garden and sneak under the broken fence and through my neighbours garden (terrible I know) and it would only take 30 seconds. I was that lazy. So, I started walking to the bus stop. Then, after dinner each night, my husband and I would walk to the other end of our road and back. It was a fairly long road, so at a slow pace about a 15 minute round trip. Just doing this each day massively improved my fitness as I had gone from doing nothing, to doing that. I then started doing things like getting off the bus 1 or 2 stops earlier and walking the rest of the distance. Walking was a huge starting point for me and although I was out of breath and my heart was racing, little by little and day by day, it did improve. So if you are a total beginner, just walk. Even if it is for 30 seconds. The great thing about walking is it is free and doesn’t require any equipment, apart from shoes.
- Change workouts to suit your own ability – I post a few of my own workouts on social media, but I always say that this is what I do, not what you should be doing. But there is always a way to adjust it to suit your fitness abilities. For example, there are many variations of push-ups and I started doing them on a wall, so the wall was supporting most of my weight. With lunges and squats, only go as far as you can and jumping jacks could be more of a moving jack, rather than a jump. Take it at your own pace.
- Yoga – After I started my walking routine, I moved on to yoga. I think there is a misconception that yoga had to be really difficult and only for super flexible people. Of course there are a lot of difficult poses that require a lot of practise, but there are many different types of yoga to suit all abilities. I started off doing yoga on the Wii Fit and using YouTube videos. I wasn’t balancing on my head or anything, I was basically doing some gentle stretching and standing poses, but it really helped me to loosen up and get a bit more flexible, which then helped me when I moved on to other exercise. I would really recommend going to a yoga class to make sure you are getting in to the positions safely. There are loads of classes for beginners and any good yoga teacher will guide you through the class, regardless of your abilities. But there is a yoga class out there for you!
- Wii Fit – As mentioned above, I used the Wii Fit for yoga, but there are loads of amazing ways to get fit on it. It basically turns exercise into games, which is what I needed to distract myself from the fact that I was actually doing exercise. Every evening, my husband and I would play on it for about 30 minutes. Even something small like a computerised snowball fight makes you break a sweat when you are well over 200lbs.
- Swimming – After walking and at home yoga, I wanted to start working out outside of my house and for me that meant braving the swimming pool. I was terrified of being seen in public in a swimming costume. Sure, I had lost some weight by that point, but I was still nowhere near where I wanted to be. The first couple of times I was anxious and then after that I really didn’t care. I was there to improve my health. I should be proud of that, not ashamed and you should feel the same too. Plus, everyone else that was there was probably equally self-concious, so no-one was looking at my jiggly thighs.I couldn’t actually swim when I started. Well, I could, as I learnt when I was a kid, but I was still really unfit, so swimming took it out of me. So, I just started walking in the pool. Walking in the water is much harder than walking normally, because of the resistance of the water. After a few weeks, I started swimming, just for a few seconds at a time and gradually improved from there. Swimming is great, because it is low impact. So, if you have bad knees from carrying excess weight, swimming is a good option.
- Get some weights – Firstly, no, weights are not going to make you bulky. They will make you lean. Those photos you see of really muscular women, they are lifting REALLY heavy and eating a lot to support that to look like that. Adding some weights to your routine will not make you look like that (unless you want to and work hard at it, and that is totally awesome too). Buy some dumbbells or resistance bands to keep at home and use them to do some bicep curls whilst watching the TV. If you can’t afford weights, then use cans of food or water bottles.
- Exercise DVDs – This was one of my favourite ways to workout in the beginning, as there is literally something for everyone and any good DVD should give variations for each move for all abilities. I like anything that I can dance to, so Zumba DVDs were good for me as they were fun. I even convinced my husband to do one with my once – it was hilarious (but adorable that he was so supportive).
You don’t have to spend a fortune on DVDs, there are loads of free workout videos on YouTube that you can do. Just type in something like zumba workout or kickboxing and you will get a long list of works you can do in your own home. I still do Jillian Michaels workouts now and I really enjoy them.
- Start a running programme – When I finally felt like I was ready to run (I don’t think I was ever really ready to run as it was a challenge to say the least), I started the Couch 2 5k running programme and it took me from a running newbie to running a full 5km and then even entering a 10km race. It slowly builds you up each week to running a little bit further and you can always repeat a week if you are not ready to move on. Then sign yourself up for a race and have something to aim for.
Just remember to always take exercise at your own pace. It can be easy to get wrapped up in what everyone else is doing and wanting to be there too. But they didn’t start out running a marathon or swimming 5km. Everyone starts at the beginning too. Listen to your body, slow down if you need to, adjust the moves to suit your own abilities and most importantly have fun. You might have laughed at that last one, I know I did when I was starting out. Exercise? Fun? But it doesn’t have to be a chore! There is something for everyone and it might take you a while to find something you enjoy, or hate the least, but you will. Invite some friends over to dance like no-one is watching or go and play and game of tennis together. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to stick to it.
It might seem difficult in the beginning, but it WILL get easier. Trust me on that.
What are your tips for starting out with exercise? How did you start? Leave a comment below.
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