With the holidays just around the corner, it can be hard to stay health-conscious. There’s simply too much delicious food around to suppress your urges. One big meal leads to another, and then people offer desserts that are seemingly endless. Soon enough, the first of the year comes around, and you’ve gained five pounds out of the blue. And now you’re searching for a guide to fitness made simple.
While holiday weight gain is a bit overestimated by many, it’s still the time of year when people are most susceptible to gaining a little around the midsection. To combat this – or limit the damage at the very least – we’ve compiled a guide to fitness made simple.
Getting in shape is never easy, but the first step is always the hardest. Manage your fitness to start feeling better, lose weight, and look great for beach season.
Diet might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to fitness, but it’s arguably more important than working out. Diet and exercise are both necessary, but if you’re focused on losing weight, then diet should be your priority.
In fact, studies show a higher rate of weight loss in people who dieted without exercise than in those who exercised without dieting. Dieting in the cornerstone of fitness, and without changing your diet, you’ll constantly be at a disadvantage.
Even though that’s the case, changing your diet can seem daunting. Going to the gym for an hour a few times a week can seem easy in comparison, but you need to do both if you want to see results.
Dieting Made Simple
You don’t need to sign up for some crazy, complicated, celebrity-endorsed weight loss program if you want to get healthy. The Jack Black weight loss diet probably won’t work for an average person with a 9-5 job and a family. You can simplify your diet and record the same results.
Programs like Weight Watchers make it easy to track your calorie intake. These kind of diets are very flexible, and allow you to create your meals from what you like to eat. Other diets are more restrictive than these programs, but you can find a general outline of them online.
If you don’t mind cooking your meals at home, there are several healthy, delicious recipes you can find in specific diets like the Flexitarian diet. This diet is more extreme but focuses on creating filling and nutritious recipes that don’t require meat at every meal.
If you want to take smaller steps, the best thing you can do is start preparing your meals ahead of time. The fitness community refers to this as “meal prepping,” but it’s as simple as buying, preparing, and portioning your food before you eat.
Not only will meal prepping limit your portions and create a healthier diet, it’s also a lot easier than cooking each meal before you eat. If you shop and prepare your meals a few days ahead, you don’t have to worry about cooking dinner when you get home from a long day of work. Removing this hurdle also gives you more time to spend in the gym and eliminate the downtime between your workout and when you eat.
Deciding on a healthy, tasty meal a few days beforehand will guarantee that you eat healthier. Instead of ordering out or cooking something fast and unhealthy, meal prepping doesn’t let you fall victim to momentary urges. You may want to get a pizza, but you’ve already prepared that chicken and brown rice dinner in the fridge.
Another primary aspect of fitness made simple is the workout portion. It’s common for people to go to the gym and have no idea where to start. Ten minutes on the treadmill can take it out of you if you’re not used to running, and that hard warmup could mean you’re tired for the bulk of your workout.
If you’re trying to make drastic changes in your fitness level, you can make the mistake of trying to do too much. If you go to YouTube and search for workouts, you’ll likely see a list of bodybuilders who spend two hours at the gym focusing on their chest alone.
If you’re just getting started, you don’t want to follow these methods. Going to the gym five or six times a week is too frequent for beginners, and it likely seems daunting anyway.
Start by going around three times each week. Work your whole body each time you go. Beginners often follow the lead of their bodybuilding friends and focus on only a few muscle groups each time. You’ll get to this stage eventually, but if you’re just starting you need to build a solid foundation first and foremost.
Once you get in the habit of going to the gym three times each week, kick it up to four times – maybe even five. Everyone’s body is different, and each person requires a different amount of rest.
Listening to your body is an essential piece of advice we can give you. If your chest is sore from your last workout, don’t push through the pain. Each time you work out a muscle, you’re tearing the fibers and forcing them to repair and adapt. That’s how you gain muscle.
If you work your muscles while they’re still tired, you’re causing more harm than good. There’s no shortcut to reducing fat and building muscle. Sometimes you just have to wait for the muscles to repair themselves before you can work them again.
Don’t try to push yourself too far. If you do, you won’t see desired results, which gets frustrating and demoralizing. Time in the gym is great, but you need to rest, sleep, and recover if you want to see substantial improvement.
Compound exercises are not the only way to find results through your workouts, but they are the most effective. Compound movements refer to exercises that use multiple muscle groups at once. Classic compound exercises are squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, and bench press.
Eventually, you’ll want to include a mixture of compound movements and isolation exercises (exercises that focus on an individual muscle group). To start, though, you’ll want to spend most of your time perfecting these compound movements.
These exercises are more taxing on the body than isolation exercises, but they’ll give you a strong base from which to start. Once you get comfortable with these exercises, they get easier and can even be quite fun. Through these movements, you’ll see firsthand proof as your strength increases, which will give you a goal to aim for.
Tracking Your Progress
Tracking your progress as you embark on your fitness journey is paramount to success. Weight loss and muscle gain don’t come overnight. They’re a gradual process. Especially when you’re starting, it’s hard to notice minor changes in your body. Two pounds in a week doesn’t sound like much, but these small milestones add up to substantial change.
Progress photos are some of the most inspiring tools you can use. When you decide to start getting in shape, take a shirtless photo of yourself in the mirror from at least three different angles.
As you continue to make progress, take pictures of yourself in the mirror every few weeks. After a couple of months of effort, you’ll start to notice changes in your body when you compare it to older photos.
The scale doesn’t always tell the whole story. In fact, the number you see on the scale can be discouraging at times. Progress photos allow you to notice small differences in your body you otherwise wouldn’t. Weight loss isn’t all about numbers, so make sure you have a visible reference to keep you motivated.
Weight Loss Graph
Making a weight loss graph is another useful tool when it comes to tracking progress. Just like in body changes, minimal weight changes are hard to notice because they happen over such a long time. If you’re obese, these numbers will likely change rapidly. If you’re only a bit overweight, though, progress will seem slower and less satisfying.
To start a weight loss graph, pull up an Excel spreadsheet (or comparable program). Place the dates in Column A, and the weight in Column B. Record your numbers for a few months, and whenever you need inspiration create a graph out of the data. This can be a powerful tool in motivation, as it will let you see how far you’ve come.
Fitness Made Simple
We’re not going to lie to you: fitness takes hard work and dedication. Still, it’s not as hard to get into as it seems. Find an exercise you enjoy and a diet that’s easy to follow. Meal prepping is one of your most valuable tools on this front.
The secret to getting healthy and staying healthy is keeping your motivation. Do anything you can to show yourself the improvements you’ve made. Weight loss is a process, so you need to use weight loss graphs and progress photos to reinforce how far you’ve come.
Follow these tips to shed the extra weight and become a happier, healthier you.