Complex, overwhelming, difficult, complicated. All of those words were said this morning as I spoke to a friend about what it takes to get in shape.
I had asked her to ask me one specific question she had about fitness or the process of getting fit. I was hoping that my answer would encourage her to get started on the journey that I know she so wants to begin, and relieve some of her anxiety of the unknown. But, she couldn’t come up with one specific question – she had too many and didn’t know where to start. This led into a conversation of her telling me that fitness seems too complex and complicated to be doable, and me trying to get her to believe otherwise.
I originally wanted to title this blog Getting Fit Isn’t as Hard as You Think, because I actually said those exact words to my friend during our conversation. But the more I thought about it, I realized that “hard” wasn’t really the word I wanted to use. Because getting fit, losing weight, building muscle, becoming strong, or any other fitness goal you may have, is not necessarily going to be easy to achieve. In fact, it’s going to be hard, at least some of the time.
I know that’s a brutal truth, but honestly, if it were easy, wouldn’t you have done it by now?
I have worked hard, and even harder, to achieve the majority of my fitness and physique goals. So I didn’t want to mislead anyone by using the original title I had come up with. What I was really trying to say is not that getting fit isn’t hard, but that getting fit doesn’t have to be complicated.
I do believe that far too many women are allowing that myth to keep them from getting it done, and my conversation with my friend reinforced that to me. She is someone who wants to get into better shape, but has overwhelming thoughts of what that will entail; and I know she’s not alone.
We all have barriers and obstacles that we have to overcome when we want to make fitness a part of our lives. Time. Energy. Busy schedules. Beliefs about ourselves. Knowledge. Access to a gym. Affordability of having equipment to use at home. Injuries. Life. All of that, compounded by the fact that most women don’t know what they should be doing to actually get fit, is enough to make someone’s head spin.
But I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Below are 9 principles that, if you understand and implement them, will make your journey to getting fit much less complicated. This doesn’t make the workload any lighter or make the leg work any easier; you have to know that getting fit requires hard work, and it’s tough sometimes. But, by following these principles, you’ll be doing what’s actually important when it comes to the process of getting fit, eliminating a lot of guesswork and confusion, and getting good at the actions and behaviors that are going to accelerate your progress and keep you moving forward. I’m talking fitness success… simplified!
9 Principles to Simplify the Process of Getting In Shape:
#1. Know your goals and review them often.
Well-defined goals are kind of like a GPS. They keep us on track and are great at re-routing us back onto course after we make a wrong turn.
Don’t underestimate the power of having goals, especially when they are well-defined (get specific!) and are frequently visited (daily is ideal). They simplify the journey to getting fit because they:
- help us stay on course
- are strong motivators
- create a clear plan of action (achieving short term goals that lead to the achievement of the long term goal in mind)
- help us regroup and move forward after a setback
Set a few goals. Define them. Write them down. Read them often. Say them out loud. Picture yourself achieving them. Don’t skip this step!
#2. Stop rushing. Getting fit, the sustainable way, takes time.
It would be wonderful if getting fit could happen in a matter of weeks. But the truth is, unfortunately, that it’s not a super-quick process. It’s when we believe that it is, however, that we make things complicated.
Every time I wanted to get fit in a short amount of time (30 days was my usual go-to timeframe before a special occasion), I would try to do a million things at once. Every fad-diet and crazy workout plan sounded perfect, so I would set out to do it all. At once. Because I was rushing.
Think about that scenario and what it would be like to incorporate several different, usually conflicting, diets and workout programs into one huge plan. Then compare that to the idea of adopting one healthy, “get-fit” habit at a time. (Even two or three at a time could be pretty manageable!)
If your goal is totally transform your life, body, and lifestyle, drop the expectation that you will be able to do that within a few weeks’ time. It’s not realistic, first of all, and it will only make your journey to getting fit very complicated and likely unsuccessful.
#3. Get direction with your training plan.
Hire a trainer, buy a DIY program, or learn some fitness principles and concepts on your own – but don’t go at it blind. Fitness, and getting fit, is way more complicated when you have no idea what to do. And, the results you want are probably not going to be achieved by randomly stringing together workouts that showed up on Pinterest. (I know that sounds harsh, but workout programs are written the way they are written for a reason!)
Having a prescribed plan of action for 4, 6, 8, or 12 weeks can be the difference in seeing lots of progress or little-to-none. My first 3 months of lifting were spent with me wandering around the gym doing the stuff I liked or wanted to try or saw my dad doing – but there was no purpose or direction to my workouts. When I started my first DIY, written-by-a-professional lifting program, I was absolutely stunned by how quickly I saw my body changing and how strong I got, in just a matter of a couple of months!
#4. Get consistent. It’s an absolute must.
I cannot stress this enough. Second to training in a way that is actually appropriate for your goals, consistency is the most important factor in getting fit.
Progress is made – and sometimes at unbelievable rates – when we prioritize consistency and do what it takes to get our workouts done.
As an added bonus, being consistent over the long term means that when you have periods of time when you are more inconsistent than consistent (like the whole second half of my summer), you don’t totally lose your fitness gains. In fact, you get to remain fit, with much less effort, while you convince yourself to get back into being consistent again. It’s actually kind of amazing.
#5. Progressively challenge yourself.
Our bodies adapt, and they do it quickly. Getting fit requires us to constantly challenge that process of adaption, which is another reason why it’s important to have a plan of action in place for your workouts and training program. Acquire the drive and motivation – and the grit – to constantly push yourself past your limits and refuse to get lazy, comfortable, or stagnant.
#6. Don’t ignore your eating habits.
I know, I know, you were probably hoping this wasn’t going to show up on the list, but I couldn’t leave it out. If you really want to get fit and get in shape, and make the process much more simple, you have to be mindful of your eating habits.
This does not, by any means, mean you have to follow a restrictive diet, eliminate your favorite foods, eat only chicken and broccoli, etc. In fact, you don’t even have to follow a diet or meal plan. You simply have to become more aware of how and what you’re eating, and make sustainable adjustments to improve that over time.
#7. Understand that rest, recovery, and de-stressing are just as important as your workouts.
Such a simple concept, but one that can be super difficult to implement. Getting enough rest and recovery is a must, especially if your goals include building muscle or strength, or toning up. Or if you have performance goals.
Our bodies need the delicate balance of intense training vs. rest and recovery. Without it, you’ll end up burned out by overtraining, which prolongs the time it takes to achieve your goals. You’ll be tired, lacking energy, and have no motivation. Worst case scenario you’ll screw up your metabolism, which really complicates things.
Get enough sleep, take rest days, do restorative activities like light yoga and leisure walking, and take time for yourself to just relax. The word recovery also means getting proper, adequate nutrition!
Also, find some stress-relieving activities that you enjoy. (Working out may even be one of them!) Get familiar with what works best for you when you need to relieve some stress, and make sure you do it, as often as needed. Being stressed elevates our cortisol levels, which causes a domino effect of negative responses in our body, including holding onto fat and making us crave junky foods. Getting good at de-stressing will not only make getting fit less complicated, but will be a useful habit for the rest of your life!
#8. Know that getting fit does not have to consume your entire life.
Really, it doesn’t. You can get fit – very fit – while living and enjoying your life, and without becoming an obsessed maniac. It takes hard work, consistency, grit, perseverance, tenacity, self-motivation, a strong plan of action, and getting in tune with what your body wants/needs – but you do not have to uproot your life in order to be successful. Isn’t that refreshing?
#9. No matter what, show yourself a whole lotta love.
This makes getting fit an enjoyable, rewarding, successful process. ♥
Want more insights & strategies to get in the best shape of your life, transform your mind, & become an even more amazing version of yourself? Add your name & email address here. Every week I’ll show up in your inbox to inspire, motivate, & guide you into living a remarkable, purpose-filled life. #thegoodlife