It’s a new year and now you feel it’s finally time to get your butt in gear and work on shedding that unwanted poundage from the holidays. The entire holiday season you said to yourself: I will start that program on the first of the year. I can eat a few extra cookies I am starting next month. Well, now it’s next month and you don’t know where to start. You see friends and colleagues on Facebook checking in at crossfit, Planet Fitness, LA Fitness, the YMCA or deciding to let Shawn T torture them doing Insanity Max 30. All these programs and fitness centers can be confusing and intimidating, especially if you are new to this type of activity. I am hear to tell you that you are not alone. I deal with patients on a daily basis that are afraid to do simple exercises in a room by themselves, let alone at a gym. It’s normal to feel this way. It’s also normal to feel like a slob from not controlling yourself over the Christmas break. Trust me I have been there and it is not a good feeling. I wanted to put together a small list of ways to pick a program that you are comfortable with to start your fitness journey.
What is your fitness level?
This is a very important question to answer. Most that are starting a new program for their New Years resolution are novice. This will drive you to what type of program you want to get into. If you are a beginner, you are going to want to start off with some low impact exercises as well as some light cardio. You don’t want to get into something like Insanity Max 30 or Crossfit right out of the gait. If it starts out too difficultly, the chances of continuing the program are very slim. If you start out with something that you can get small wins quickly, you are more likely to continue.
Have you ever purchased or participated in a program before? Why did you stop?
If you have participated in a program in the past, whether it was a DVD, Crossfit, your own workout at the gym, spin class whatever. How did it go? Was it too difficult? Did you finish it? If not why did you quit? All these answers to these questions will drive you to decide if you want to try and follow a program similar to others in the past. If you have done something in the past and you enjoyed it I would recommend to do that again to build up momentum.
How would you characterize your eating habits?
A lot of people feel that they need to workout 7 days a week to keep their ideal weight. Well, I have news for you…THAT IS TOTAL BS! If you are using working out as your primary way to lose weight you will lose your mind! Eating well, and eating clean is a big portion in weight loss and control. Have you ever heard the expression you are what you eat? That statement could not be more true! If you are stuffing your face with food heavy in sugar, carbs and processed garbage you are never going to win the weight loss battle. You can work out until you are blue in the face, but if you do not change your eating habits you will lose.
Do you have a specific goals?
This is another important question. What are your specific goals? Is it weight loss? Is it to get stronger? Is it to get those abs that you always wanted? The sooner you create your goals the easier it will be to choose a program suited for you. Again if it is weight loss, changing your eating habits is so much more important than trying to get to the gym 6-7 days a week.
Do you currently have any medical conditions that would prevent you from doing specific activities?
Do you have back pain? Do you have issues with other body parts? Are you a diabetic? Do you have problems breathing or issues with balance? I would recommend that if you have any of these issues to contact your Physical Therapist to first get evaluated to see if you would benefit from starting a new program. This way you are being seen by an expert in musculoskeletal problems while you are starting this program. Then you can be transitioned right into a program designed by your Physical Therapist. It’s also always a good idea to check with your Primary Care Physician to make sure you are ready to start something new.
Change things up so that you do not get bored.
Once you find and figure out what is best for you don’t continue to do the same thing over and over again. Change up your workout routine. Make if fun. Make it challenging sometimes and easy other times. I try to change up what I am doing every 3-4 weeks. Sometimes I just go for a run. Sometimes I just do strength training. And sometimes I do both. I might get bored and decide to do a Shaun T workout with my wife…and it sucks! But afterwards it feels great! Maybe to a palates or spin class with a friend. Maybe go for a brisk walk or run. Remember something is better than nothing at all. And my best advice to you all while on this journey is find a PT…and by that I mean a Physical Therapist!