Baby Steps to a Healthier Life: 5 Ways to Start Your Diet & Exercise Program

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Image by: John Schultz
By MacKenzie Nelson-Greene

My sister has been talking about exercising for about four years now. In nearly every conversation I’ve had with her, she mentions how she needs to start running or doing crunches. Every once in a while, she says she needs to start doing yoga.

I try to give her advice, but in the end, the truth remains: She has to be the one to start. Finally, I realized that the best way that I can help her begin a workout routine is to show her that not everyone can run a six-minute mile the first time the hop on a treadmill—as a matter of fact, no one who just begins can run a mile that quickly.

Baby steps can lead to great things. It is just important to motivate yourself to start and keep yourself going. If you are like my sister, check out these five baby steps that can help you begin your health plan, and get you in a full workout in no time.

#1) Start Cardio Slowly

Many women who haven’t yet begun their health plans, often try to create health plans that are too extensive for beginners. Actually, every woman’s health plan should begin differently based on your athletic abilities. The best way to begin your cardio workout is to get on the treadmill or elliptical and go until you sweat.

Begin at a lower setting to ensure that you can maintain balance and a good momentum. Once you start sweating, try to go an extra minute. Eventually, you will hit what I like to call the “good sweat.” This is when the sweat just starts pouring out of you.

Don’t feel ashamed by any means if that good sweat comes after only ten minutes. Remember, in that ten minutes, you are burning calories. When I began my workout routine, it only took me seven minutes to get to the good sweat. At my peak, it took me seventeen minutes to hit the good sweat.

Every time you get on the machine, work until you get tired; then try to go an extra minute. Do know that at different times during the month or depending on how long you’ve gone without exercising, there will be days when you can’t go as long as the time before. Do not let this stop you. Any exercise is good exercise.

#2) Begin With the Basics

If you’ve purchased a workout DVD, you know how intense it can be. I remember when I first started my workout DVD. It seemed as though the warm up before the workout was the complete workout. I was sweating and panting and sore before the workout even began.

For this reason, I like to tell people to start with the basics. Don’t jump into a workout routine that is too intense. After your cardio, start by doing jumping jacks, crunches, pushups, and perhaps a little bit of free weights.

Never overdo it in the beginning. If you do, you might give up, thinking that exercise is not for you. Remember, your body can only handle so much. If you push too hard, it will not give you the effect that you want for your health plan.

#3) Start Buying Healthy Food

When you go grocery shopping, do you grab chips, chocolate, and frozen meals? Consider your grocery list. It is time to start buying more healthy food, isn’t it? Now, I don’t recommend going through your pantry and refrigerator and throwing everything with a certain calorie and fat content away.

Remember, in any diet plan, it is only detrimental if you deprive yourself. Instead of disposing of the foods that you love, ease into a more healthy diet plan by reading labels and understanding what is in your food. Start swapping out products in your pantry as you go grocery shopping. Instead of sugary cereals, try some sugar free oatmeal. Instead of chips, reach for some low calorie organic popcorn.

Eventually, your entire pantry will transition into healthier foods for your body.

#4) Inspire Yourself

It is important to support and inspire yourself as you begin your workout routine. A great way to do this is to find a photo of yourself at the ideal weight. Post it somewhere you can see. Take a photo of yourself right now, and place it next to the photo of yourself at the ideal weight.

Every week, update your photo, and place it next to the one with your ideal weight. You can watch yourself thin out as you head to your goal.

Give yourself a little bit of inspiration to boost your confidence. As you see the changes in your body, you will want to boost your health plan.

#5) Write Everything Down

It is a good idea to keep a health journal. In the beginning document everything you can about your health plan: Weight, all exercises, and all food (including nutritional information).

For the first two weeks, I recommend weighing yourself every day. While many health professionals frown upon this, I think it is important in the beginning. By documenting what you eat and how much you exercise, you will be able to keep track of the problem foods, the problem times of the month, and how much the exercise actually helps.

Do not weigh yourself and consider your weight. Make sure you weigh yourself to get a better understanding of how your body actually works.

By documenting your health plan, you will become more aware of what you are putting into your body. Just understanding how certain foods and exercises affect you will help you create the perfect health plan for you.

It’s easy to talk about creating a health plan for yourself. It is important to remember that it is just as easy to implement your health plan. Don’t forget that it just takes baby steps to get yourself started. Eventually, you will be a workout, healthy eating machine! What are some of the baby steps you take when beginning a health plan? Share with us in the comments below!

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