Here’s a tricky question: what is the hardest part of taking care of your health and fitness?
Maybe it’s perfecting those stubborn barbell squats? Or strictly adhering to your meal plan for several weeks?
Truth is, the journey is never going to be easy – as a popular quote goes, “what doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t change you”. However, for the absolute majority of people, the hardest part is the very first hurdle encountered, which is getting started (and subsequently committing).
We experience this every day when talking to the lovely ladies who are interested in doing one of our Challenges, or struggling to get back into fitness after life got in the way. To no surprise, tips for getting started (preferably without getting overwhelmed!) and re-committing to an exercise and nutrition regime are always a hot topic.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a magical solution that’s going to make it all easy! Ultimately, you are going to be the one doing the work, and assuming responsibility for the process is an essential first step. However, we can provide some seriously amazing tips and tricks that can help you set goals, manage your expectations and stick to the chosen path long-term, no matter what life throws at you.
Below are some of the best strategies for starting your health and fitness journey - and committing to it! And to motivate you even further, Rachel and Emma also share their favourite tips on how to stay inspired and focused on your goals, no matter what.
Choose your why
The first question to ask yourself is this: WHY are you embarking on this adventure?
There is no right or wrong answer, so long as it comes from a place of self-love and a genuine desire to do something for yourself, as opposed to external pressures and others’ expectations.
For example, by trying to lose weight to match societal expectations without genuine internal motivation, you aren’t likely to succeed. Instead, you could think of a more practical reason that’s going to significantly improve your life in a certain way – for instance, to keep up with kids or simply to look more “like yourself” if you have gained weight due to stress and aren’t fully comfortable in your current body.
Likewise, you may not be as interested in changing your body shape at all, but instead you may want to improve performance-related parameters, being that endurance or strength. In this case, any appearance-related goal is going to be useless.
Remember, any reason is acceptable, whether it is appearance-driven or health-related, so long as it’s your goal and not someone else’s! Trying to achieve someone else’s ideals is exhausting and usually unsuccessful, so focus on your health and happiness instead.
Rachel’s top tip: “When I started my fitness journey, I was amazed by the way it made me FEEL – energised, healthy, happy and looking forward to new achievements! Maintaining this mindset remains one of my biggest drives for making health and fitness my lifestyle.”
Pick an approach you’re likely to enjoy
There’s probably no bigger killer of consistency than dreading what you “have to” do! Fortunately, though, with health and fitness there is always more than one way.
Structured exercise is not your jam? Move your body in a different way, such as joining a dance class, trying some martial arts, going on long walks – or better yet, incorporating a variety of training styles into your routine. Over time, you may find that your preferences change, and that’s fine too.
Not enjoying rigid meal plans? Try flexible dieting (also known as “if it fits your macros”/ ”IIFYM”), learn about tracking macros, and incorporate literally anything you want into your day.
At the end of the day, most approaches involve the same basic principles, such as strategically manipulating daily energy intake and expenditure to achieve certain goals, progressive overload, and other universal nutrition and training concepts. So, before committing to a certain lifestyle, make sure that it corresponds with your goals and is enjoyable on many levels, otherwise you’re bound to get frustrated and give up on the idea sooner or later.
Emma’s top tip: “There is no need to get stuck in a single style of training, as this can lead to boredom and limit your progress! I enjoy resistance training the most because of how it can create, change and enhance my shape. However, I also love throwing some cardio in the mix, both LISS and HIIT. Implementing a variety of training styles ensures I can train in ways I enjoy whilst getting amazing results!”
Set sustainable goals
Setting sustainable, clear goals may seem like an overwhelming task – but making effort to do so is a very important step, as it keeps you accountable and makes assessing the progress much easier.
One of the easiest ways to set goals is by using the SMART approach, which describes goals as:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Attainable
- R = Relevant
- T = Time-based
When setting a goal, every single criterion should be met! For instance, “lose some weight” is a very vague goal that is not likely to get you anywhere as it has little meaning and accountability to it. Likewise, “lose 10 kg in a week” is not a great goal either, as although it possesses some of the SMART attributes, it’s hardly attainable.
Some good examples of SMART goals for fitness and nutrition include:
- “Lose 2 kg of body fat in a month in order to get closer to a healthy weight range”
- “Increase barbell weight for 8 reps of squats by 10 kg by the end of the 6-week Booty Challenge”
- “Prepare lunches and dinners for the work week ahead on this coming Sunday”
By having clear goals structured like this, you are increasing the likelihood of staying on top of everything and assuming full responsibility for your progress.
Rachel’s top tip: “I love goal setting! I make sure to set short-, mid- and long-term goals, and each category consists of specific goals that are achievable in those timeframes. Generally, long-term goals include more global, substantial changes – but I also have smaller, more specific goals for each week (e.g. going heavier by X kg in specific exercises), and even mini-goals for each day (e.g. completing my training each day and having all my meals). Ticking off even the smallest goals creates an amazing sense of achievement and keeps me motivated!”
Schedule it in
New positive habits are hard to form as is – so don’t make it any harder by not scheduling the time for practising them!
A classic example is going to bed with a vague intention to maybe go to the gym in the morning, only to wake up and decide to do it “later”, which is then spontaneously overridden by after-work drinks with colleagues. You wouldn’t treat an important business meeting this way – so why make your health and fitness optional?
Instead, commit and make time for it. Put your allocated workout times into your calendar and stick to them as if they were non-negotiable commitments. Over time, it will become a habit – but especially at the start, you can’t be too organised, trust us!
The same approach goes to all aspects of your new regime. Make time for meal prep, know which day of the week is going to be your go-to rest day, and also consider what you’ll do in case of inevitable emergencies (e.g. doing a home workout if you can’t get to the gym one day, etc).
You are important, so go ahead and make time for yourself and your goals!
Emma’s top tip: “I always make training a priority, make room for it in my calendar, and generally do it first thing in the morning. This way, I know that once training is done and dusted, I can focus on other tasks while already feeling accomplished and energised!”
Make it convenient
Starting a new exercise and nutrition plan is difficult enough without overcoming constant tiny obstacles along the way, such as running out of nutritious foods in the middle of the week with no time to shop or discovering all your exercise clothes are in the laundry bin 5 mins before heading to the gym.
Don’t create additional stressors – make every step of the way as convenient as possible!
- Plan ahead, as discussed above
- Prepare your gym gear the night before to make sure you can just grab it on the go
- Keep an inventory of your pantry and fridge contents to never run out of basics
- Make sure your route is optimised for the day
- Always keep a few snacks handy in case you get stuck somewhere with no access to nutritious foods
Convenience is such an underrated factor that makes your journey so much easier – so try implementing the tips above and make sure you’re always prepared to face the day and crush your goals!
Rachel’s top tip: “Wherever I am and whatever I can get access to, I pre-plan my sessions as much as possible – e.g. pick a gym close to my location and make sure my outfit is ready! Sometimes, I even schedule sessions with my family and friends, which means we get to spend time together while smashing our goals.”
Give yourself some love
Repeat after us: emergencies will happen. Unexpected things will happen. You will not achieve 100% perfection. These are just facts, because we’re all human – but acknowledging this doesn’t mean giving up! Instead, it’s a pathway to setting ambitious yet realistic expectations, as well as giving yourself love and compassion you deserve.
Celebrate small victories, keep growing, reflecting and learning – and most of all, remember that what you’re trying to achieve is not a quick fix confined into a few weeks of hard work. Instead, you are building a whole new lifestyle, and this alone is worth a lot.
Team BBR’s top tip: “When it comes to your health and fitness journey, it’s the process that matters most, not the end point (which, by the way, doesn’t really exist). So, take it one day at a time, celebrating every achievement, no matter how big or small!”
Hope these tips find you well, and keep pushing it, beautiful lady!
Rachel, Emma and Liz