Summer is here, and headlines everywhere are screaming at us to be prepared.
“Summer Slim Down!,” they shout.
“Get Beach Body Ready!,” they command.
“Learn How to Pick Your Most Flattering Bikini,” they instruct, assuming you feel anywhere near comfortable enough to don a two-piece.
It’s an easy time to feel overwhelmed, especially if you’re an exercise beginner. It’s also easy to feel frustrated by the washboard abs we see all over social media, leading to a feeling of defeat before you’ve even begun.
Fitness should be about how you feel from the inside out. Beauty is about how you show up in the world, and when you feel good, you look beautiful. Summer is the perfect time to start a fitness routine as a beginner because it’s lovely outside, but most beginners need some guidance and motivation to take that first step.
Here are NYCfitfam’s top five life hacks to help beginners take the first step towards achieving their fitness goals.
1. Make small, achievable goals rather than having the “Superman Syndrome”
Superman had to leap tall buildings in a single bound. You do not! By making lofty goals like “I’m going to lose 20 pounds this summer,” or “I need to have a flat tummy by next weekend,” you’re setting yourself up to fail. Instead, set goals that can be accomplished, contributing to a sense of pride in a job well done. Here’s a few we like:
- I will calendar my weekly workouts to fit comfortably with my schedule and make them non-negotiable
- I will fit in 30 minutes of movement each day, even if it’s a brisk walk or a good stretch session
- I will look ahead on the calendar, set a goal, and train for it. Whether it’s a 5K, a planned group hike, or an upcoming vacation, give yourself about eight weeks of training time to allow for safe, steady progress towards your goal. Don’t forget to take pictures along the way to track your progress!
2. Enlist accountability buddies
We can already hear you reading our last tip and saying “if I was able to stick with an exercise plan for eight weeks, I wouldn’t need to read this article!” Understood! That’s why we recommend enlisting “accountability buddies” to stay on track.
Nobody finds self-discipline easy, us included! Often times we’ll go to the gym with a goal to run a certain number of miles on the treadmill, only to find that within a few minutes of beginning, we’re fantasizing about hopping off to grab a smoothie instead! Luckily for us, as a married couple, we’ve committed to being accountability buddies together, which really helps us stay on track.
Here’s how it works: Say one of us has a goal to run four miles that day. We’ll set the intention by letting the other one know our plan, and then we’ll text them a picture of the treadmill dashboard at the end to prove we completed our goal. It seems simple, but it really mitigates that “maybe I’ll just do three miles and hop off” thinking and helps towards achieving goals and feeling proud of yourself after the workout.
3. Failure to plan is a plan to fail!
Entering a gym as a beginner can be completely overwhelming, and no one is expecting you to magically know what to do. The trick is, never enter a gym without a plan. Trainers are great, but if you don’t want to pay for one, the internet and even social media is full of quick, easy fitness routines you can save on your phone to help guide you through. Signing up for a class is always a great motivator too, and having an official “start time” will help you get your butt in gear. Pro tip: make sure to tell the instructor right away that you’re a beginner – that way you won’t feel pressured to “keep up” or like they’re judging you, and they can give you extra help throughout the class.
Any time you can turn your attention from inward to outward, you’re taking a step towards a better chance at happiness. Enthusiasm is contagious, and when you dole it out to others, it boomerangs back to you. For instance, when we’re running a 5k, we’re “those people” on the race course high-fiving strangers on the sidelines and yelling words of encouragement to our fellow racers who may be struggling. Why? Because by sharing the enthusiasm of the moment, we boost our own morale.
By getting excited about your fitness journey, you will create a layer of positive energy around the experience that will help boost you forward. Here are some examples:
- Reach out to a friend and invite her to join you in a 30 day yoga challenge.
- Post about your experience on Instagram, where there’s a beautiful community of likeminded fitness beginners to share in the excitement of your journey.
- Chat through your plan of action with family and friends, and encourage them to participate.
Make an effort to always use positive terminology when discussing your plans, rather than focusing on set-backs. Make fitness joyous and revel in the excitement of transmitting that joy to others!
5. When all else fails, trick yourself!
This is one of the simplest, most effective tactics we’ve got! If you know you’re one of those people who tends to get wishy-washy towards the day’s end, let your “morning self” guide your “evening self” into successful behaviors.
Here’s our favorite trick: On your way to work, stop at the gym and place your gym bag with your house keys in a locker. That way, you have no choice but to stop there on the way home… and once you’re there, you might as well just sweat!