It often seems like life would be easier if someone would just hand you a book or a blueprint that tells you what to do and when to do it.
You could just follow the steps and achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself. The truth is that sometimes that can happen.
However, in most cases it is better if you create the plans and steps for yourself. You’re a unique individual with your own personality, goals, and lifestyle habits.
And the fact is that when you create your own plans, you’re more likely to achieve success. This is particularly true when it comes to fitness.
This article takes a systematic approach to helping you create a fitness plan that’s designed to help you achieve your fitness goals.
You’ll assess your fitness level, set goals, uncover your fitness and motivation personality, and integrate fitness into your life. The changes can be dramatic and life altering.
Let’s get started!
Step One: Assessing Your Current Fitness Level
The first step to creating a realistic fitness plan is to assess your current fitness level. Whether you’re “off the couch” or have been exercising for some time, this is an important step to take.
There are a number of ways you can assess your current fitness level. Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities. You can choose to do all, some, or none of the activities.
Walk for a mile at a moderate pace and record your heart rate and pulse.
Record how long it takes to walk a mile at a moderate pace.
Note: If you’re used to jogging or running, consider recording your heart rate, pulse and time at a jog.
Measure strength by performing basic calisthenics. How many push-ups can you do before your body gives out and you can’t do any more? How many sit-ups? How many squats? How many pull-ups?
Note: It’s okay if you’re at zero for some of these activities. Many people cannot do a single pull-up. Don’t be hard on yourself. We’re just getting a starting point here. There’s no pressure or judgment.
Measure flexibility. From a standing position, can you lean over and touch your toes? How far can you reach? How far can you reach forward while seated on the floor with your legs in front of you?
What are your body measurements? This can be a fun way to track both weight loss and muscle growth and development. Measure your waist circumference and record it. You can also measure your thighs, chest, arms, and rear end.
Weigh yourself and calculate your body mass index as well. Again, these numbers aren’t something to feel bad about. They’re your starting point. It’s how you will measure success.
Be Honest and Aware of Any Health Conditions
Another aspect of evaluating your fitness and your starting point is to be honest and aware of your current health. If you have any health conditions or challenges, those need to be considered when creating your fitness plan.
It’s always a good idea to talk to a doctor to get a thumbs-up from them, as well as guidance regarding any health challenges you may be dealing with.
Now it’s time to move forward and ask yourself some tough questions. It’s time to assess your goals. They’re the foundation for your fitness plan.
Step Two: Assess Your Goals
Why do you want to create a fitness plan? What are you hoping to accomplish? When you look to the future, what does it look like?
What do you look like and what are you able to accomplish? These questions can be difficult to answer.
Let’s first take a look at the different types of goals you might set and then explore how to approach them in a realistic manner – meaning you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to.
The Different Types of Fitness Goals
There are of course many different ways to approach improving your fitness. It’s also important to realize that certain types of goals may suit you more than others. For example, if you’re a competitive person then your fitness goal may be to train for a marathon or a weight-lifting competition. If you simply want to improve your health and fitness, you may create lifestyle goals.
Weight-loss goals – One of the most common reasons that people want to get into good shape is that they want to lose weight. Exercise, when it’s part of a healthy diet, is a great way to burn calories and lose weight. You may have a specific goal weight in mind.
Train for an event – Do you have an event on the horizon that you’d love to participate in? Creating a fitness plan for it now could mean that you achieve a personal record when you compete.
Improve overall health and well-being – Exercise can be a great way to have more energy, more confidence, a stronger immune system and to enjoy a happier life. Lifestyle goals are a fun way to approach fitness for many.
More muscle tone and a better beach body – Maybe you just want to look great in your swimsuit or feel confident at your next reunion. Create a vision in your mind of what you want to look like and establish a fitness plan to get there.
What’s your goal? What do you want your fitness plan to achieve?
Write it down because we’re going to take a look at how to attack that goal and succeed in just a few steps.
Next, it’s time to explore fitness activities and find one or more that you enjoy.
Step Three: Find Activities You Enjoy
It’s difficult enough to change your lifestyle and add exercise to your life. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing then it can be downright impossible.
The old “no pain no gain,” adage is fine if you’re having fun. If it’s just a painful chore then you’re probably not going to stick with it for long.
This is why it’s so important to enjoy your fitness activities. If you love to run, then run. If you love to dance, then dance. It’s about moving your body and feeling great.
Let’s take a look at a few different types of fitness activities and examples.
Strength training – To burn fat and tone muscles, strength training is required. However, strength training doesn’t mean you have to go into the gym and lift weights (although you certainly can if you want to).
Body weight exercises - Bodyweight exercises like lunges, push-ups and squats are easy to do at home. Or try yoga or Pilates. You can have fun with kettlebells, rock climb, and yes, you can lift weights. Circuit training and resistance training are also different types of strength training programs to consider.
Cardio – Cardiovascular exercise is great for building endurance and burning calories, and many sports competitions are cardio related. You can walk, run, jump rope, bicycle, dance, hula hoop, and box – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Rowing, elliptical machines, swimming and tennis are options to consider as well.
Flexibility – If you’re seeking a way to become more flexible and enhance your mobility as well as your strength, consider activities like dancing, yoga, Pilates and even aerial dance or yoga.
Fitness programs – If you like a variety of exercises, consider something like P90X or CrossFit, or join a gym and take fitness classes. These activities mix it up with a number of different strength and cardio exercises, so you’ll never get bored.
Try Many Things and Mix It Up
If you aren’t sure what type of activities you like, take a few months and try different things. Take a dance fitness class, try yoga, head to the gym and get on some of the circuit training machines or visit your local CrossFit gym.
Also think back to what you enjoyed as a child. Did you like to ride your bike or climb trees? Maybe a spin class or a rock climbing gym is in your future.
With Your Peers or On Your Own?
Finally, when considering the type of fitness you enjoy, also think about whether you prefer to work out with others or on your own. Fitness classes and clubs can be a lovely way to meet new people and form a community, but they’re not for everyone.
You might also exercise with friends and hold each other accountable. Friends can be a wonderful source of support and motivation.
If you enjoy working out on your own then consider activities that are more solitary. You might enjoy running or working out in your home. There’s no right or wrong answer. Finding the activities that you enjoy, however, will help you reach your fitness goals.
Step Four: Breaking It Down into Bite-Sized Pieces
One of the reasons that many fitness plans and resolutions fail is that humans are naturally impatient.
We want instant results. It doesn’t mean we’re lazy but we often want to be rewarded quickly for our efforts. However, sometimes that just doesn’t happen.
Some goals can take time, dedication, and patience to achieve. However, it’s also important to see progress so you can stay motivated.
Answering the following questions will help you take your goal and turn it into your reality.
Question #1 What do you need to do to reach your goals?
For example, if you are training for a marathon then you need to begin putting miles on your legs. You need to train for distance several times a week. This probably means you’ll want to find good running shoes.
You’ll also need to be able to set aside time at least once a week for a long outing, probably several hours. This may mean that you need to change your schedule.
If you’re striving to lose weight then you’ll need to combine both cardio and strength-training exercises for the best results. Identify facilities or equipment that can help you accomplish this.
Create a list of the things you need to do and the steps you need to take to reach your goals.
Question #2 How much time do you have in your schedule?
Okay, this is an important question because most people over or underestimate how much time they have.
Take a look at your schedule and decide how much you can realistically do. Then give it a try. For example, if you think you can exercise for an hour a day, then give it a try.
It’s seriously okay if you can only exercise for ten minutes a day. Baby steps are often what’s required to achieve a long-term goal. Those ten minutes a day may stretch to twelve and then to fifteen and after a few months you may actually be exercising for an hour a day.
Take a look at your schedule and decide what you can realistically accomplish right now. If you need to take baby steps, then decide how you want to increase your time.
Question #3 Realistically, what can you accomplish in a week/month?
In addition to finding time to achieve your fitness goals, there is also the detail of taking steps toward your goal. For example, if you want to lose thirty pounds then you’re not going to lose it all in one week. How much will you lose in a week or a month?
If you’re training for a marathon, when is the event and how do you want to tackle the increasing distance? You’re probably not going to go out and run 20 miles this week. Will you run five? How will you increase your distance?
Remember that baby steps are okay as long as you’re pushing yourself to gradually improve over time. Create a rough draft of your plan. Identify your goal and your deadline to achieve your goal. Create a schedule that supports you to both gradually increase time and effort between now and your deadline.
Step Five: Follow Through
All the plans in the world won’t help you reach your goals if you don’t follow through on them. Fortunately, you’ve created a plan that works for you and that you can take consistent action on. (here is a free Weekly Fitness Progress Sheet to help you keep track of your workouts and progress!)
There are also many tools you can use to help you stay on track:
Tracking your progress and results – Tracking your progress is both motivating and informative. Find a system that works for you and track your daily efforts. You might enjoy an online application, a website forum or membership site like FitDay.com where you can interact with others, or a simple notebook.
Motivation – Identify things that motivate you. For example, you might treat yourself to a massage at the end of the week or month if you’ve achieved your fitness goals. You might buy yourself a new workout gadget or simply enjoy a day off.
If you’re motivated by achievement then shoot for time, distance or weight goals. For example, you might run a 12-minute mile right now and aiming for a 10-minute mile may be exactly the motivation you need.
Gear up/equipment – Sometimes there’s nothing quite as exciting as buying the gear you need to start an exercise program.
Whether it’s a pair of shoes or a new piece of home gym equipment, gearing up can be exhilarating.
If you’re on a budget, try some of the used fitness equipment stores where you can find good equipment at a reasonable price.
You deserve to have the health and fitness you’ve been longing for. It’s time to take action. Create a plan that fits your current level of fitness and your fitness goals. Embrace your likes and fitness personality.
And remember that you don’t have to go from the couch to a super endurance runner overnight. Set realistic goals and take steps that make sense for you. You can do it!
For more information on losing or maintaining your idea weight, check out our Weight Loss Tips.
Achieving and Maintaining Healthy Weight
By incorporating healthy eating habits and exercise into your life, you will improve not only your weight, but also your overall physical and mental health.
The body requires long-term harmony and support and in order to lose weight successfully, there are a few weight loss tips and simple steps that need to be incorporated into your lifestyle.
Take advantage of the research we here at NHH have done and take just a few minutes right now to learn more fantastic weight loss tips and strategies. And, by the way, they’re free tips, of course!
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