We’ve been tackling our fears this week and identifying what is keeping us from starting a good workout and nutrition plan. Read Part 1 of Finding the Courage to Start here. We know that to truly succeed and feel deeply healthy and fit, it requires a complete commitment on our part, and not just a little dabble here and there.
Fully committing is scary for a number of reasons. You could be afraid of failing—afraid that it might work for others but not for you. You could be afraid of losing a lifestyle that you’re comfortable with. You could be afraid that you’ll get injured or it will end up being too hard. You could be afraid that you’ll look silly and feel embarrassed. You could also be afraid that you will succeed, but you won’t really like the results and attention.
You need courage to face these fears and start anyway - to look at all these scary things and say, “so what! I’m doing it anyway!”
One gargantuan fear that is a hindrance to starting a committed workout and nutrition plan is the fear of the unknown. Have you ever felt that you DO want to jump in, completely commit and see some real change in your life, but you have no idea how to begin? You don’t know where to turn for the most effective and trustworthy advice?
This is what we’re bombarded with (I’m actually quoting real articles on Pinterest’s Health & Fitness page…I only scrolled one click to find all these):
“8 Moves to Banish Back Fat”
“The 30 Day Plank Challenge”
“3 Moves for Slim Thighs”
“How to Reset Your Hormones and Melt Fat”
“How to Get a Bigger Butt, 28 Day Program”
“The Best Protein Sources for Fat Loss and Muscle Gain”
“6 Weeks to a New You”
And this is my favorite: “High Yoga: Does Weed Have a Place in Your Yoga Practice?”
I’m confused and scared, so I can’t even imagine how you must feel. No wonder we just dabble, try a little of this a little of that, add some hope and prayer, and see what happens.
This is horribly discouraging because you can look at these articles (and it doesn’t have to be Pinterest! Grab a Shape magazine, it’s all the same) and think, sure I’d like to slim my thighs, have a bigger butt, banish my back fat, and I should probably throw some planks and weed in there too. Guess what happens? Nothing. Nothing happens and nothing changes.
No wonder you don’t want to fully commit to a workout and nutrition program because this is scary. Nothing ever seems to work when you try it.
What a mad cluster of fitness and nutrition advice.
Most women I coach have dabbled in fitness and healthy eating. We begin with a review of their workout history and it usually looks like this: some running in the past, perhaps a 10k or even a ½ marathon training program; some fitness classes with friends from time to time, like Zumba or Baby Boot Camp; an occasional workout DVD that they’ve tried, like Insanity or Jillian Michaels; but nothing that ever stuck and nothing that they ever felt awesome about.
We also do a review of their eating habits and they usually look like this: most feel like they generally eat healthy; they try to incorporate whole grain foods whenever possible; they're trying to eat less sugar and alcohol; they have salads from time to time; but they still have a hard time getting rid of their baby weight or the 20 pounds that have crept on over the years.
Am I hitting the nail on the head, here? Does this sound like you?
Step into my office...
I’m going to share my secrets with you of the exact methods I use when I get a beginner started. I want to completely erase the unknown, the fear of not knowing where and how to start something that you can fully commit to. Here’s what to do.
Fitness: You need to start by learning a good dynamic warm-up. This is the very first thing I teach my clients. In my dynamic warm-ups, I incorporate exercises that are imperative to master. The intensity of a dynamic warm-up is moderate enough that most everyone can do it. It might be somewhat easy for more experienced women (you Insanity dabbler, you!), but it is a lesson in technique. EVERYONE needs to start here.
Follow along with this dynamic warm-up video.
I want you to do this three days per week for the next two weeks. That’s it. This will soon become your actual warm-up, but for now you will just do this. Memorize these exercises, master them, and make them look as pretty as you possibly can.
Also, get yourself a foam roller and start giving your muscles some love. Most likely, they’re a mess and could use some deep tissue attention. You can do this everyday, but definitely do it every time after you practice your exercises.
Next, learn how to stretch properly. As we age, we dramatically lose flexibility, which leads to so many avoidable issues. Follow along with this stretching video and learn the most important areas to stretch. (You can come back and watch this later while you’re doing it, but I highly recommend zipping ahead to minute 3:35 for a hilarious cameo.)
That’s all for now. Do this for the next two weeks, at least three times each week, and then pick a workout plan based on your ability level (beginner, intermediate or advanced). It’s best if you do at least two workouts each week, but it’s better if you do 3-5.
Nutrition: You need to start by wiping your brain clean. You have been bombarded by all sorts of information, some true and some not. With information overload, food starts to look inherently bad and putting together a meal becomes a game of Chutes and Ladders. “How the heck am I supposed to be eating?!”
With my new clients, we implement just these couple things and learn to do them really well.
So, you eat four meals a day, eat protein and produce at every meal, and drink lots of water. And that’s it! We just start with these simple habits. Doable, right?
When these habits become ingrained in you (which may take a month), THEN we can talk about carbs, fats, sugar, processed foods, cheating, etc.
(You like reading ahead, don’t you? You can learn all about those things here.)
Now you know exactly what you need to do to get started.
Learn the dynamic warm-up, foam roll your muscles and stretch well. In two weeks, pick a workout or two based on your ability level and keep going. Eat four meals per day, protein and produce with every meal, and drink lots of water. Do this for about a month and then try some harder habits.
This should completely eliminate the fear of the unknown and not having a clue as to where to start. I know this doesn’t sound like much right now, but that’s the point. You can do this!
This is not scary, it’s not overwhelming, and it’s something that you can sustain for a long time.
You will naturally improve over time, able to do harder workouts and implement more challenging nutritional strategies, but stay in the realm of doable.
Ready to stop dabbling?
I hope you feel ready to stop simply dabbling in fitness, fully commit, and jump into the deep end. We have identified and faced your fears, and removed one of the biggest ones, the unknown. And now you know that the deep end is not so scary after all. Come on, a dynamic warm-up for the next two weeks and eating protein and produce!? You’ve got this!
You are courageous. You are strong. And you are brave. Now go prove it!
And do me a favor, stop pinning health and fitness tips (unless they come from Strong Mommas!).
Megan P. Dahlman
Hi friend! I'm a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Precision Nutrition Certified Coach, Wife to Scott, and Mom to two crazy boys, Calvin & Peter. I train hard, eat well, rest just enough to keep going, and do my best to maintain a heavenly perspective. I'd love to coach you to do the same. Cheers!
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