Hopefully you have had a chance to get cleared for beginning a fitness program with your doctor. Today, I’d like to start talking about laying the foundation for success in your quest to get healthy. Don’t worry, none of this is complicated and you may have heard many of these things before. Unfortunately, people tend to forget about these sorts of things. Let’s look at diet first.
We need to “makeover” your pantry. Go through everything and get rid of the bad stuff. What qualifies as bad stuff? Here is a list of the most concerning items:
- Soda both regular and diet
- Anything with high fructose corn syrup
- Anything with trans fats
- High Sodium items
- Anything with butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) or butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
- Aspartame or Saccharine
- Anything with artificial dyes
These are the worst offenders in your pantry. Any health guru or doctor is going to agree these are things you need to watch out for. When you are shopping to restock your pantry or fridge, read the labels. If it’s got this stuff in it, don’t buy it! If you are having trouble weaning yourself off the bad stuff there are always healthier alternatives to be found.
There is a lot of conjecture over what exact macronutrient profile you should be tailoring your diet to but don’t worry about that today. Our approach is the small goals model. Big rapid changes don’t usually stick for most people. We want to build positive habits.
For a starting point with fitness training, I am personally recommending starting slow. Build that habit with positive actions and worry about variations or intensity in the coming weeks. Your next few weeks should focus on making time for physical activity and figuring out your fitness level. By starting off slow we are also helping prevent injury. I’ve tried to get back on the fitness wagon only to overdo it and injure myself so I know it can be hard to be patient. Here is what I would use as a beginners fitness plan:
- Steady state cardio
Steady state cardio is just what it sounds like; a moderate effort without intervals. Your aim is to keep your heart rate at 50% to 60% of your maximum. Find out your max by clicking here. Start with short 20 -30 minute sessions and gradually increase the time spent up to about an hour. Even adding an extra minute is progress. If you can hold a conversation with ease you need to up the intensity. While you can do any type of cardio this way, walking and biking are the easiest on your joints. You can do either of these activities in or outside the gym and with or without company.
- Body weight exercises
Think PE or calisthenics and that will give you an old school repertoire to work from. Start small with things like squats, push-ups, crunches, lunges, calf raises, basic ballet moves, and planks 3x a week. Watch some videos on YouTube on form so you know you are doing them right. Use a mirror if you have one. Just because these are simple, classic moves does not mean they will not challenge you and bring some results to your program. These exercises when done correctly are low risk moves. Once you feel out how your joints and ligaments are responding, you can mix in more plyometric movements like burpees, mountain climbers, and half jacks (like jumping jacks though you don’t go all the way up with your arms). Listen to your body throughout this process. If something really hurts, don’t do it and check in with your doctor. Soreness is one thing; real pain is your best indicator that there may be a bigger issue at play.
On a side note, I myself am getting back to fitness after a string of debilitating injuries. I’m going with you on this fitness journey and I’m happy to help provide you with any suggestions or variations on an exercise to accommodate your specific injuries. If you are severely injured or are doing physical therapy, let your health care practitioners guide you to the best options. I’ve received my therapy and am now on a self-administrated plan with guidance from my doctor. Speaking of my own fitness, I’m about to go practice what I preach with an hour of steady state cardio on a recumbent bike!