People often ask me “Tameika, HOW do I start a fitness routine?!”.
Well, it all begins with a plan. Here are my go-to five steps to help you with developing a realistic and maintainable fitness regimen. The key to starting this program is to be honest with yourself. Don’t commit to a routine that you can’t follow through. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you kick start your fitness journey.
Step 1: Goal Setting
When speaking with clients, I start with the most important question: What are your goals? If your goal is to lose 20, 60, or 100 pounds, your routine may be more intense than someone who wants to tone up and shed a few pounds. Goal setting is key and making your goals SMART-ER is essential…and here’s how.
S: Specific: Get as specific as you possibly can. Why (what are the benefits of your goal)? Who (probably you but maybe you have a buddy)? And how will you be doing this?
M: Measurable: Do you want to lose 10lbs? Shed 5% body fat? Fit into a pair of size 26 jeans? The more quantitative you are, the more you’ll be able to realize your success. We are so hard on ourselves, and always want to achieve more, but if we set measurable goals, we can feel successful in our accomplishments!
A: Achievable: Don’t set yourself up for failure. To lose 30 lbs. in one month is not realistic or healthy. If you’re looking to lose a large sum of weight, stick to 1-2 pounds per week. Slow and steady wins the race. This is not a sprint… it’s a marathon. Remember, you are developing a lifestyle.
R: Relevant: Ensure your goals are connected to where you are in life. Relevance is key.
T: Time Bound: Put a time stamp on it! Again, ensuring it’s realistic, this will add some accountability to the mix.
E: Evaluate: Is your program working? Evaluate after 4 weeks. Review where you were at the beginning of your program (whether you’re measuring success by weight, measurements, body fat) and compare to where you are after a month.
R: Re-evaluate: Constant re-evaluation is key. Never stop revisiting your plan. Life changes, and your regimen will need to change accordingly. To avoid plateaus, I suggest changing things up every 3 months.
Step 2: Scheduling the Time
Now that we’ve set our goals, let’s factor in something we all struggle with – our time! How much time can you commit? Really ask yourself and be honest. Remember we are creating a lifestyle, this is something you must see as being realistic. Get out your calendar. If you don’t have one, get one. I’m old fashioned, and I love the paper and pen method. But if you love your smart phone, open that calendar app. Now, plug in all of your weekly commitments. These are things like your work schedule, your children’s commitments, church, or date night. Believe it or not, I do this every Sunday. Once my commitments are in, I plug in my fitness schedule. If you’ve never been active before, start small. Aim to be active 2-3 days per week. You need to crawl before you can walk. If you have the time, aim for 4-5 days. Now that you’ve committed to a number of days, plug it in. Don’t worry about the activities yet – we’ll get to that. For now, just plug in “Active”.
Step 3: Finding the Right Activity for You
Ok, we’ve now set the goals, allotted the time in our calendars, it’s now time to make it enjoyable. Perhaps, the gym isn’t for you. So take out a pen and paper, and jot down all the things that you enjoy doing that involve moving. Rock Climbing? Yoga? Kickboxing? Aerobics? Sports? Running? Write them all down. Always have this list handy. I play volleyball weekly. Yes, I’d burn more calories busting myself in the gym, but I enjoy it! Having fun is the key to a sustainable lifestyle. Check out your local community centre to see a list of activities available to you.
The activities you choose must also align with your goals. My approach? I ensure that for 3 out of my 5 active days, I am doing something that brings me joy. I play volleyball, do a group class, and do yoga. The other two days, I ensure I’m in the gym weight training and getting my cardio in. Mixing fun with the necessities is key to seeing results. If the gym isn’t for you, maybe incorporate a few days a week where your cardio and weight training are intensified (perhaps a demanding sport like soccer/basketball, or a group bootcamp class at your local community centre).
Now that you have the time in your calendar, and the activities you love, plug them in! Each Sunday, plug it in, and commit to it.
Step 4: Set Reminders & Commit
Now that your regimen is set, hop onto your smart phone or open up your agenda, and put a reminder every Sunday to set out your plan for the week. Every Sunday when you create your activities for the week, look back to your goals, as well as your activity list, and slot in accordingly.
Commit to the items set out in Step One, Step Two, and Step Three. If you don’t follow your commitments, you are only cheating yourself. It’s up to you to commit to what’s been set out. No one will do it for you.
Step 5: Re-Evaluate
Lastly, please re-evaluate. After 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and 12 weeks – see how your regimen is working. Are you achieving your goals? If not, change it up! So long as your diet is in check, and you continue to challenge yourself, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be seeing results!
Have fun and good luck!
Since losing 90 pounds, 10 years ago, Tameika has devoted her time to helping others achieve the happiness she found on her journey. As a Certified Personal Trainer, she has helped over 400 clients, both in person and online, lose a cumulative total of 3500+ pounds. Stay up to date by checking out her blog and following her on Instagram @TameikaG.