Are you new to fitness and exercise? If so, it can feel EXTREMELY overwhelming to know where to start, right? Believe me, I know.
We all have to start somewhere. Even those rock hard gods at the gym who look like they're training for the Avengers started out as total newbs.
Let's normalise it and not feel intimidated and let's be okay to start out as a beginner.
You might make some mistakes in the beginning - in fact, you likely will. And that's okay - mistakes are our teachers, there to put us on the right track and make us fitter and stronger in the long run.
But if I could give myself 5 pieces of advice to my younger self, just starting out on her first health and fitness journey all those years ago, here's what I'd tell her, so I didn't have to learn out the hard way.
#1: You don't have to do ALL THE THINGS at once
The worst thing you can do when you're just starting out is getting bogged down in information overload.
Listen, nutrition and fitness are whole industries and professions. Don't feel like you have to learn everything in one night, do everything perfectly, or limit yourself to super restrictive "rules" for eating.
It's the fastest way to overwhelm, burn out, and giving up on your fitness goals.
Instead, just focus on making the healthiest choices you can.
Gradually build habits of good sense nutrition, doing any form of moderate intensity exercise for 30 minutes a day, drinking plenty of water and sleeping well.
You can always build on your knowledge and your habits later, but starting with these basics will give you visible results - and a lot of confidence.
#2: You probably don't need all those supplements
Babe, supplements like vitamins, minerals, aminos, pre-workout, whey protein, et cetera are expensive as heck, hard to maintain and really, if you're just starting out, you don't need them.
Unless you've been prescribed vitamins by a doctor or naturopath, need prenatal supplements, or you're taking simple supplements like a daily multivitamin for general health, don't bother. You're better to focus on good nutrition, and building that habit, than you are lashing out on an expensive gym stack.
Most supplements can be good for fitness professionals, athletes, or those looking to get that extra 20% from their workouts and results, but they're an unnecessary expense and chore for beginners.
#3: Don't rush into your workout without a proper warm up
This is a common rookie mistake I was guilty of back in the day! When I had limited time to work out, I would often skip the warmup, anxious to get to the calorie burning main workout.
Exercising without a proper warm up can be dangerous and lead to injury - which can put you out of the game completely while you recover. It's better to lose 5-10 minutes at the start of every workout warming up than to lose 5-10 days (or even weeks) healing from an injury.
Don't think about hitting that weights room or treadmill without a good warmup (at least 5 minutes) that includes light low intensity cardio and dynamic stretches to get the blood pumping and your muscles warm. You'll notice such a huge change in your workout performance too.
#4: You really need a good sports bra. Really. And good shoes.
Not all sports bras have been made alike. There are sports bras that are made for running and sports bras that are better for yoga.
Exercising without the proper sports bra can cause permanent breast tissue damage and premature sagging. Before hitting the pavement, make sure to go and get fitted for a high quality bra that minimises bounce as much as possible.
(For all my fellow large chested women, a word to the wise: you may even need two high impact sports bras for things like running, lest you get punched in the jaw by an errant mammary midway through your C25K jogging interval.)
You also need a great pair of shoes that are specifically designed to support your foot in your chosen sport.
Just like sports bras, not all sneakers were made equal. Some have a lot of cushioning - which is great for running, but dreadful if you want to do deadlifts and squats.
Flat sneakers like Converse are better suited to lifting weights, because your feet feel firm on the ground. But if you wore them on a run, you might experience foot pain, blisters, and place dangerous impact on your joints.
Make sure to do your research before buying a pair of sneakers so that you get the right fit for your workout. You may even need to buy a couple of pairs for different types of activity.
#5: Focus on form rather than weight
I used to get so hung up on how many reps I was doing and how heavy I was lifting that I forgot one crucial element to my training: form.
This meant that when I was starting out I got a lot of injuries: sore ankles, sore knees, shin splints, and back pain.
The most important part of your exercise program is that you are doing every exercise with exactly the right form. Doing an exercise improperly can put you at risk of injury, and it also may not target the right muscle group.
When you're learning a new exercise, go with the lightest possible weight and really focus on form and mind-muscle connection. It might even be worthwhile working with a personal trainer for a few sessions so you can understand how a move should look and feel in your body.
If that's out of your budget, it pays to spend some time researching that move on YouTube, paying attention to the cues. You can even film yourself and watch it back to see whether you're doing it with proper form. This is where working out in front of a mirror is helpful.
Once you've got the form down, you can start adding weight to make it more challenging. But if your form begins to slip, don't compromise quality for quantity. Move down to a smaller weight that feels challenging but doable with good form.
Mistakes are human and they're how we learn. Don't be afraid to be a beginner and enjoy the ride!
However, there are a few mistakes I made as a beginner to exercise which, if avoided, can make your workouts a lot more safe, effective and enjoyable. Starting simple, warming up, having the proper active gear, and focusing on form are simple principles that will help you go after your fitness goals with confidence - no matter how new to the game you are.
Now, on to the Captain's Log for yesterday.
Breakfast today was 3/4 cup of wholegrain cereal - oat flakes mixed with All Bran - and 1/2 a cup of skim milk. Simple, fast, delicious and good for you.
It's true that some cereal is sugary, but there are many varieties that are good for you and provide you with a delicious and important serving of wholegrains. Look for cereals that are high in fibre - over 3 g per serve.
Lunch was an Asian beef salad sandwich - I put some sliced roast beef on a slice of bread, topped it with the leftover Asian salad from last night and et voila - I was able to throw together a nutritious lunch before rushing off to the hairdressers.
For dinner tonight we had leftover quiche and salad - just the same as the night before. I was working late, so it was great to have something already prepared and ready to go.
Making dinner with extra portions is such a great idea if you're busy. That way, you can eat multiple times from one lot of cooking.
We'll either eat our leftovers the next night, or if there's more than a few nights' worth we'll freeze them so we have delicious homemade convenience meals ready to go for a busy night, rather than ordering in.
I've been feeling very run down and tired the last few days - you'll see from my previous posts that I've been having trouble with sleeping and it hasn't gotten any better, I'm afraid. Last night I managed to do some light aerobics followed by 20 minutes of yoga and Pilates and it felt lovely and restorative.
It feels a little frustrating to pull back on my workouts when I'm mid-challenge and doing so well, but I know this is the right thing for my body while I try and get a handle on sleep. The last thing I want to do is put extra strain on my exhausted body, or injure myself because I'm not concentrating on my workout properly.
I know it will get back to normal in a few days, so in the meantime I'm remembering my WHY in the first place was to look after my body and take the very best care of it I can. Sometimes what feels like a step backward is actually a massive leap forward in the right direction.
And that's a wrap on yesterday, my glam babies. Now let's have a little huddle for today's motivation message.
Above all else, if you remember this golden rule you'll become the person you always dreamed of being. Be your own best friend.
Treat yourself like you would your best friend in the world. Say kind things about yourself and to yourself. Do kind things for yourself.
Get to know as much about yourself as you can: your likes, your fears, your patterns, and your interests.
Forgive yourself the mistakes you made in the past, and have the highest intentions for your future. Want the very best for yourself, just like you would want for your girlfriend.
Celebrate your wins, cheer for yourself, and have your own back. Take yourself out on dates and enjoy your own company.
Spend time on your hobbies, your interests, and the things that matter to you. Have fun even when you’re the only person around.
When you treat yourself with love, kindness, and respect, you set the benchmark for others to do the same.
How will you be your own best friend today?
Until tomorrow, keep shining bright.
- Rhi xo