There’s no getting around it: if you want to feel happier, healthier, and more confident—and have the body to prove it—you need to step up your game when it comes to fitness. But with so many conflicting opinions on the best ways to get in shape and stay there, breaking that plateau can be tricky.
Whether you’re just starting out or trying to get back into fitness after a break, setting goals, keeping track of your progress, and finding new ways to challenge yourself are all key elements of an effective fitness routine. Setting challenging but attainable goals is perhaps one of the most important things you can do as you begin working towards getting fit again after a break or beginning for the first time.
Make a plan
No matter what your goals are, the fact remains that nothing substantial happens without a plan. If you have a specific goal in mind, make a plan to get there. You’ll be less likely to quit if you have a plan and know what you’re aiming for.
If you’re just looking to get healthier, make a list of things you want to achieve, such as eating more vegetables, adding more protein to your diet, or drinking less soda. Little changes can make a big difference in how you feel. If you’ve taken some time off from fitness, don’t jump back into your old routine. Take some time to re-evaluate your goals and current fitness level.
You might want to do some research on how to prevent injuries. You may need to start out with a lower intensity and work your way up to where you left off.
Don’t be afraid to lift weights
You might have quit your old fitness routine because you were told that lifting weights will make you “bulky.” Well, you should know that this is an outdated myth. While lifting heavy weights can cause muscle growth, it can also cause your body to retain more water and increase your core temperature, which can result in a weight gain of only 2% to 3% of total body weight.
This is one of the reasons why you should use proper form when lifting, and why you should lift for no more than 45 minutes at a time. When it comes to lifting weights, the most important thing is to find a routine that is both challenging and safe for your body. And while you can always start out with lighter weights, you should be careful not to let the myth of “bulky” stop you from challenging yourself.
Track your food
If you’re not careful, you could easily find yourself eating more than you need to. Unfortunately, keeping track of your food intake can be difficult when you’re trying to juggle a busy schedule and hit the gym a few times each week. A simple way to stay on top of your diet is to use an app like MyFitnessPal, which keeps track of your calories and macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats).
Tracking your food intake doesn’t have to be a chore, either. In fact, many fitness buffs say that keeping a food diary is actually easier than writing it all down each day. If you find that keeping track of everything you eat is too much for you, don’t worry. You can start small by simply tracking your daily calories.
Commit to cardio
Many people who are just starting out with fitness will try to build muscle and strength while ignoring cardio. While this is a good strategy for some, others may find themselves struggling to lose fat. If you’re trying to lose weight and build muscle at the same time, you may have to put in more time at the gym. But, if you’re trying to lose weight and not build muscle, cardio is essential.
When you commit to doing cardio, you might find that you also have more energy and feel more confident in other areas of your life. Many people find that when they start to do cardio, they have a lot more energy overall. This can help you feel motivated to do more things and be more productive throughout the day.
Mix up your workouts
If you’re doing the same workout every day, you’re not challenging your body enough. You need to be sure you are using different muscles each day and challenging your body to stay fit and healthy. Try to do different things each day, like running one day, biking another day, and then doing a water workout on another day. You should also consider changing your workout routine every few months.
This will force your body to change and adapt, and will give you a fresh challenge. You don’t have to change everything at once, but you should definitely mix it up enough to prevent boredom and overuse injuries, especially if you are still getting back into your fitness routine.
Take care of your body
You’ve likely heard all of the old sayings about how you have to “earn” your muscles. This is true, but it doesn’t mean that you have to push yourself beyond your limits. If you feel like you’re pushing yourself too hard, take a step back. You should be able to finish your workouts feeling like you could do more, but not like you’re going to pass out. This can help prevent injuries and keep you from overdoing it.
When you take care of your body, you’re less likely to get sick, and you’ll be able to recover faster when you do get sick. You’ll also be able to do more throughout your day without feeling too tired or sore.
Don’t be afraid to fail
Nobody likes to fail, but if you never try, you’re guaranteed to fail. If you’re just starting out, you might find that you have trouble hitting your goals. This is normal. In fact, it’s expected. But if you give up because you don’t hit your goals the first time, you’re failing. Don’t be afraid to push yourself and challenge yourself. You’ll only get better if you keep trying.
And if you don’t hit your goals, don’t give up. Realize that you might have hit a wall and need to reevaluate your plan. You might have not given yourself enough time, need to make some adjustments, or might just need to push yourself a little harder.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to a fitter, healthier life. Fitness takes time and effort, so be patient with yourself and don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. With time, effort, and these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a happier and healthier you.