By Steve Adams
It seems like most everyone I meet is wanting to “lose weight” or “get into better shape.” My follow-up is to simply ask, “What are you doing about it?” Ninety-five percent the time, their answer is “nothing.”
In fact, I’m willing to bet that if you asked your friends how if they feel fit, healthy and happy with their body image, you’d receive and overwhelming response of no.
Why is this? Because most people don’t know where to start, and the journey appears long and difficult.
Unfortunately, many of our lives are sedentary, sitting behind a desk or the wheel of a vehicle. We complete the formula for adding body fat with large quantities of readily available sugary foods and drinks.
If we were to break down fitness and health in a pie chart, we’d see about 60 percent of it as a proper nutrition, 30 percent as activity/working out and 10 percent as proper sleep.
While I could talk about all three of these topics for hours, let’s hone in on what I think is the easiest to start with – activity and working out.
Why do I think this is the easiest avenue to start with? Because it simply involves moving.
Simple is the key in getting started. Here are some good ways to keep it simple and less intimidating:
- Start with small increments of simple movements. In the morning or after work, simply start walking. Begin by walking around the block. The next day, two blocks, then three and so on. Before you know it, you’ll be walking a mile or more. You can do the same thing with push-ups, sit-ups, squats and lunges. Start one day doing one of each. The next day, two of each and so on. Best part about this method is that it’s completely free.
- Use your smartphone to guide your way. In a world of smartphones and iPads, there are a bunch of apps that can help provide you with home workout routines you can start with little or no equipment. It also will show you proper movement and technique. “7 Minute Workout Challenge” is a great one to start with. Apps are usually around $2 to $3.
- Join a fitness class. There are tons of fitness organizations in the Matthews/Mint Hill area that hold group classes – CrossFit gyms, boot camps and standard family gyms like the YMCA. The beauty of these group classes is two-fold. First, you’ll be able to work out with others like you, providing a built-in support group. Second, you get self-contained workouts in a set time frame complete with instruction. Classes may cost anywhere from $8 to $15 per class.
- Hire a personal trainer. If a group setting isn’t your thing and you lack the motivation to start moving on your own, a personal trainer may be a good course of action. The Matthews area has many personal trainers that are flexible with your schedule and can tailor a program to fit your exact goals and timeline. Most cost anywhere from $50 to $75 per hour.
Notice the common theme of the options I provided above?
They all involve having a plan and/or instruction. Many people take the route of simply “joining” a gym only to have the exact same fitness level months or years later. Watching people in gyms without instruction or a plan is like watching a zombie movie. People wander around from machine to machine without any idea of what to do. What they do end up doing is often done improperly and unsafely. Without guidance, you’re likely to hurt yourself or lose focus and motivation … And obviously won’t improve your health.
I’d equate it to making a cake from scratch without a recipe. You may know some of the ingredients, but I doubt you know how much of each to put in or the process to make it. The same goes for working out. Regardless of what avenue you pursue, you need to have a plan (recipe) and a resource to ensure you’re moving properly and safely. Without it, you may be doing more harm than good.
As you progress with your fitness, progress with your training and activity, as well. If you start with simple bodyweight movements and begin to plateau, integrate weight, high intensity or endurance training (again with proper instruction).
Once you’ve got your activity problem worked out, other pieces of the fitness puzzle should improve, as well. Sleep quality and depth should improve. Your appetite will likely change in a slightly positive direction, as well.
Take the first step in creating a positive habit. Start with a small step of just moving a little bit and increasing it slowly. Make that call to set-up your introduction to classes or first personal training session.
In my next article, I’ll talk about the more difficult, but most important, piece of the puzzle to tackle – nutrition.
Steve Adams has been a nutrition and fitness consultant for 10 years and is a Level 2 CrossFit Instructor among other fitness certifications. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and a MBA from Harvard Business School. Steve owns and operates CrossFit Kaiju (www.CrossFitKaiju.com) and Matthews Personal Training (www.matthewspersonaltraining.com) in Matthews.