We all may want to make health and fitness goals for ourselves, but where should you begin? How do you learn to stick to your goals? It’s not easy, but living a healthy life is not as impossible as you may think. Luckily we’re here to help with some basic rules to help get your started.
Rule #1: Make Diet a Priority: 7 Quick Nutrition Tips
Reaching your health and fitness goals doesn’t mean you just focus on exercise and perfecting your workout routine. Experts will support that what you eat plays a big part in how you feel and in your overall health. In fact, research from The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) associates unhealthy eating with the risk for obesity and other chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and potentially even certain types of cancer (x).
You want to choose foods that are going to fuel your body and give you energy, not ones that will interfere with how it functions. A healthy, balanced diet is key to a healthy lifestyle so you can reach your short-term and long-term fitness goals. Here are some quick nutrition tips.
Rule #2: Practice Different Exercises for Your Health & Fitness Goals
The next step to reaching your health and fitness goals is to try different types of workouts and find what works best for you. You can keep your exercise routine simple when you’re first starting out and then adjust your routine as your body adapts. You can create your own workout routine or try group fitness classes like yoga, pilates, HIIT classes, dance fitness or spin for guided exercise.
How to Create Your Own Workout Routine
Step 1: Set your goals.
First, start by identifying your goals. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish, whether it’s losing weight, building muscle, improving endurance or increasing flexibility. It may help to write your goals down so you can refer back to them.
Step 2: Choose your exercises.
Like we said before, you can keep it simple and create a regimen you’ll be able to stick to. Pick a set of exercises you can master and work your way up from there. For a full-body workout, pick at least one exercise to target different parts of your body. Here are some examples of bodyweight exercises:
Step 3: Create a routine.
And make sure it’s realistic. To start out, choose one exercise from each group in the above section and add it to your routine. Start with 3-5 sets and 8-10 reps of each exercise. Start with the simpler exercises and work your way up to more difficult ones.
If you get tired of your routine, you can stick to the same overall formula but change up the exercises. For example, instead of squats on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you can do a different quad exercise each day.
Consider how much time you’ll be able to take out of your day to exercise. Maybe you can take a full hour to workout. Maybe you’re busier and you’ll only be able to carve out 30 minutes. But if you have 3-5 sets of each exercise your total workout will be about 45 minutes long, not including your warm-up and cool-down.
Step 4: Set a schedule.
Consistency is key. What’s the point in spending time creating a workout routine if you don’t follow through with it? Again, make sure you build a routine you’ll be able to stick to. Just like the exercises you choose, start simple and work your way up. Set a goal to exercise 2-3 times a week and if you want, you can advance and start working out more often.
Step 5: Make time to rest.
But it’s important to remember that working out every day doesn’t automatically guarantee muscle building. To build muscle, your body needs to recover. Working out breaks down the muscles, but your resting period builds them back up as your body repairs damage and adapts to the exercise (x).
Different recovery techniques may include stretching, massage, compression, cryotherapy, active recovery. Your post-workout diet also plays a big role in restoring the nutrients that your body loses during exercise. You can also try supplements that can help support the body’s natural muscle recovery process such as:
Rule #4: Stay Hydrated
To put it simply, hydration is how the body gains or loses fluid to maintain homeostasis. Staying hydrated helps maintain energy, regulate body temperature, support digestion, prevent infections and distribute nutrients throughout the body (x). Studies suggest that proper hydration can help improve performance and prevent injury, since water helps lubricate the joints. You’ll also need to hydrate to replace fluids that the body loses, such as when you’re sick or when you sweat (x).
How Much Water Do You Need?
As of 2015-2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not set a specific recommendation for daily water intake in general. Instead, it’s pretty generalized and varies from person to person depending on factors like “age, sex, pregnancy and breastfeeding status (x).”
Instead, experts seem to recommend listening to your body and simply drink water when you’re thirsty (x). Overhydration can actually cause hyponatremia, a condition characterized by excess fluid and low sodium, causing an imbalance in hydration homeostasis (x). To stay hydrated, you can carry a reusable water bottle with you so you can refill when you run out. Most of your daily hydration should come from fluids, but you can also turn to water-rich foods:
- Bell peppers
Rule #5: Set Realistic Health and Fitness Goals
Setting goals is a great way to get motivated to accomplish your health and fitness goals. But make sure they’re realistic to set yourself up for success. One easy way to do that is if the goals are measurable—that is, if you can track your progress to see changes.
For example, if your goal is weight loss, you can track your progress on a scale. Or if your goal is to build strength, you may be able to see your progress in how many reps you can do in the gym. You can measure changes in endurance, flexibility, etc. It may not be easy to see those changes right away, but be patient and stay consistent.