Step #1 – Plan Goals
It is important to start with a set of long-term and short-term goals to work toward. Some long-term goals might be to run a marathon, enter a fitness contest, do a photoshoot, fit into your favorite outfit or lose a certain number of pounds and inches. Short-term goals might be a pound per week or an inch per month, to wear a certain item of clothing within a month or 2, or lift 3 pounds more with a certain exercise or muscle group within 3 weeks. Figuring out your goals and setting them is what your main objective will be. You can and probably will adjust them as you go along because results usually bring new goals!
Step #2 – Benchmark Progress
Before you begin you will want to take photos to show your physique before you get started and use these images to compare to later photos (usually monthly) so that you can view changes as they occur. Along with the photos which are usually front, back and side, you will want to take some measurements around your right arm, chest, upper and lower thigh and along your waist at the smallest circumference as well as along the belly button area. A measuring tape works best because it is cloth and you can get this at any dollar store around your area. You want to make sure and wrap the tape all the way around the body part being measured so you might need someone else to help you out. Make sure to write these numbers down along with the date recorded and focus on taking measurements on a monthly basis for enough data to view and compare your results. By keeping detailed records you will be able to determine if you need to adjust anything with your diet or exercise plan.
Step #3 – Plan Your Training
With a little research or the help of a trainer, you can plan out your workouts on a weekly and monthly basis and modify your goals with small progressions in both your cardio workouts and weight training sessions.
The goals you set will dictate the type of training you need. You can work on planning certain areas that you want to focus on (tighter butt, leaner abs) but also make sure to train your entire body at least once per week. Include all of the information about your cardio, warm up and cool down sessions along with any stretching so that you are covering all your bases. Keeping a log of what you do will assist you in watching your progress and it will also help if you need to get advice from a professional since trainers work best with previous information regarding your exercise and diet history. Extra activities can add up so make sure to log them as well with dates, times and the intensity level.
Step #4 – Examine Your Diet
Logging detailed data about your diet can really help to show you where you need to make changes. Key points to consider are meal frequency which should be every 2-3 hours, meal quality which should include lean protein, fibrous green veggies, clean carbs such as tubers, brown rice, oats, yogurt, beans and high protein breads, some fruits (although certain types can affect sugars in your system) and fats which should include items like seeds, nuts, avocados, olives, coconut and their respective oils.
Step #5 – Drink a Lot of Water
8 glasses of water per day is not really ideal but it seems to be a minimal goal because people are so bad about getting their water requirements and instead choose coffee, juice, soda and electrolyte drinks.
I recommend aiming for 2-3 liters per day because if you are exercising and eating right then you will need this amount especially if you drink fruit juice or coffee! Fat loss, skin health and overall wellness depends on this.
Step #6 – Convenience Over Inconvenience
Make things simple for yourself. At first you may be overwhelmed with all of the information you need to know but eventually it does become a true lifestyle change with real habits so you have to work slowly toward these changes reaching a few at a time as you get used to things. Carry around nuts, fruit, protein bars (watch the nutritional values or make them yourself), water and pre-cooked chicken breasts, lean steak or tuna so that you have something healthy at all times. Prepare all of your meals a week ahead and freeze some of the food to make it super convenient.
Keep a towel and workout clothes handy by keeping them in your trunk or gym bag. Have your workout routine pre-planned so that you have an agenda when you get into the gym. This keeps it easier to avoid missing a workout. You should also have a home workout back up plan by keeping an exercise ball, dumbbells and exercise bands at your house for a quick workout when you’re pressed for time.
Step #7 – Sleep
The last component that most people ignore is sleep. I know it can be hard with the reality of work, kids and our busy lives but there must be enough sleep and recovery included in our lives for the benefit of living a quality and vibrant life. Getting seven hours of sleep per night is ideal and if you need to include naps during the day then do so but it is best to get the full 7 hours straight if you can. Eating healthy and training hard will help you stay on track with proper sleeping habits because you will be tired at the right times from your hard work in the gym and fall asleep soundly by avoiding junk food at night.