Updated Sept. 26, 2007 - You simply can't go wrong by trying to stay fit. There are all kinds of reasons to get started: It's good for your health, your weight and your spirit. The question remains: How do you get started?
First, you have to have a plan. You can start with a "Fitness Goals Worksheet" that lists where you are, what you want to accomplish and by what date. (There is an example bellow.) Once that's out of the way, here's how to kick-start your fitness plan.
1. Set your goals. Think about where you'd like your fitness level to be in the next three months, being as specific and realistic as possible. Maybe you'd like to be able to walk or run a mile without stopping, complete 30 crunches, or simply be able to walk up the stairs to your building without getting out of breath. Any goal is good as long as it's meaningful to you, realistically attainable and will challenge you! Now, write down your goal in the space next to "My Long-Term Goal."
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2. Reward and rework. You'll keep yourself motivated by planning a reward each time you achieve one of your goals. It doesn't have to cost money, but it should make you feel great. How about giving yourself or getting a pedicure or that new Beyonce CD you've been wanting? When you reach a long-term milestone, reward yourself - you've earned it!
3. Plan how you'll get there. With your eye on your goals, think about some specific ways you can make them happen. Start with your physical activity: How will you move your body? List all the activities you enjoy, and don't just think "sports." Love dancing or gardening? Put them on your list. Include activities you used to love or always wanted to try; give yourself lots of ideas. Don't forget to include household chores; even washing windows burns calories, and both you and your home will benefit!
Determine when you can fit at least a few of the activities you've listed into your life regularly. Look at your calendar to find days and times that work best, and write them in the space provided. You might find it easiest to work out first thing in the morning, when there's less chance of something coming up; you'll start the day energized, with one less thing needing to be done. Or try your lunch break at work, after dinner and on weekend afternoons.
Don't have time? Consider that if something is really important to you, you'll find time for it. If a loved one got sick and needed you to care for him, would you find the time? Of course you would. It's time to make your own health just as important a priority. Try to make daily activity part of your schedule, just like brushing your teeth. Write it on your calendar just as you would any appointment. Try to aim for the same block of time each day, so you'll know not to schedule other activities at that time. Before you know it, moving more will become a regular habit.
4. Get support. As with any important life change, you can expect some tough going - days when things get in the way of your plans, or you're tired to your bones and ready to give up. On days like that (and there will be), the encouragement of a friend or loved one can make all the difference. Think about those people who can help you on your journey to become physically active, and list them on your Worksheet. Talk with everyone you list, and let them know how they can help you, whether it's by listing to your tales of woe, watching your child while you work out or meeting you at the park for a walk. The more help you have, the better your chances of success.
Once you've completed your worksheet, keep it handy and update it regularly. Most importantly, congratulate yourself for starting some healthy momentum. By mapping out the road ahead of you, you're already on your journey to getting fit and staying healthy.
And if you need more of an incentive, get a fitness partner. Here's how. And for more fitness tips, check out A Healthy BET.