3 considerations for the beginning exerciser to stick with it
There’s nothing wrong with going in all guns blazing when you’re beginning to change your body. You’ve got your mind made up, your gym membership or exercise equipment is bought. Plus, you have a huge desire to change what’s staring back at you in the mirror.
But this can lead to some silliness. 😊
When you start something new (like exercise) or coming back to something after a break, there is a honeymoon period. Not like the one after a marriage, but the period where everything is sweet and going your way.
Your workouts are going great, you’re making progress and your friends are asking what’s your secret.
You think you got this and then (sometimes) it begins to crumble. Your hours of work increase, you get injured, one of your kids gets sick and well, you get the picture. You run into a roadblock. Then you start missing workouts and your enthusiasm and confidence dwindle while the scale begins to creep up.
Like Mike Tyson said, ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’
Again, there’s nothing wrong going in with all guns blazing but having a plan B helps too. If you’re a beginner, coming back after a break or you’ve come back and hit a roadblock, then I’ve got your back.
Here are three considerations which will help you decide what you need and not just what you want. Plus, this will help you plan for the evitable punch in the mouth along your fitness journey.
1. Finding Out What You Need Work On
Do you need mobility, fat loss or strength? The answer may seem obvious when you look in the mirror but there are other factors that come into the equation when losing fat too.
Here are 3 assessments from Dan John which will help determine what you really need.
Assessment 1 Weight, Body fat percentage, height, and waistline
B.F % –
Instructions – Your weight and height are self-explanatory. Get a measuring tape and measure your waist at belly button height and your waist at the widest part of your glutes. If you don’t have access to a body fat measurement device, your local gym should have one.
Assessment 2 Three unusual questions
- How many pillows does it take you to get comfortable at night? –
- Do you eat colorful vegetables? –
- Do you exercise 30 min per day? –
Instructions – Answer them and I’ll explain later.
Assessment 3 Physical
Push up plank for 2 min –
To the floor and back up (5 points for each. Minus one point for the use of your hands and knees)
Getting down from standing –
Getting up from the ground –
Instructions – You remember the plank, right? If not, watch the video below for a quick refresher.
Try and hold this position for 2 minutes and good luck. Try to go to your happy place during this test.
The second test involves getting down and then up from the ground without using your hands and knees. Anytime a hand or knee touches the ground you’ll lose a point from 5 and then you’ll total your score out of 10.
Don’t overthink it, just do it.
What These Tests Tell You
Test One This is telling you (if haven’t figured it out already) whether or not fat loss is your focus. Take your waist measurement and divide it by your hip measurement and check the chart below.
Health risk Women Men
Low 0.80 or lower 0.95 or lower
Moderate 0.81– 0.85 0.96 –1.0
High 0.86 or higher 1.0 or higher
If you’re in the high category, fat loss and working on your glutes is going to your thing. But wait, there’s more. To find your ideal waist measurement, halve your height in inches. For example, I’m 74 inches tall, so 37-inch waistline or below is my ideal waistline.
Keeping your waist measurement half your height will help keep you above ground longer.
Test Two The more pillows it takes you to get comfortable at night suggests (according to Dan) a lack of mobility. If you’re using two or more pillows, working on your mobility is recommended.
Do you eat your vegetables? Be honest, we all need to eat more vegetables (unless you’re a vegetarian) and the more colors you have on your plate, the better for your health and waistline.
Movement is the key for your health and wellness. Do you move for 30 minutes a day? If not adding more movement and sitting less is advisable.
Test Three If you can hold a push up plank for 2 minutes, you’re strong and strength is not the factor holding you back. If you’re unable to hold it for at least 1 minute, strength training will be your thing.
The get up and down is a test overall mobility. If you scored 7 or below and use more than two pillows to get to sleep, incorporating mobility exercises into your routine is crucial.
The ability to get up from the ground is an underrated skill because if can’t, you’re in real trouble.
Putting This All Together
If you’re a one it’s because you passed all the tests except the pillow and get up and down test (which is rare) and working on your ankle, hip and shoulder mobility is your task.
Two is working on mobility and fat loss. Inefficient exercises like KB swings, Goblet squats and loaded carries combined with cutting back on sugar, eating more colorful vegetables and drinking more water is something you’re going to fall in love with.
Three is working on fat loss described above.
Four (which is a lot of women) is combining fat loss (test one) with some good old-fashioned strength training (test 3). You’ll have a steady diet of squats, picking up heavy things from the ground and pushing heavy things overhead.
Five means you passed every test except the push up plank test (test 3). This means strength training is your path to enlightenment.
A six (which is a lot of men) involves getting stronger (test 3) and staying mobile (test 2 and 3).
If you’re a seven, you need everything.
If you need help coming with a plan for these test results, contact me here.
2. Finding Your Deeper Why
When you exercise, you do it for the reason to look, move and feel better. If you had all the time in the world and money and motivation were plentiful, reaching your goals would be easy.
Unfortunately, life is not like that because it’s messy, wonderful, and joyful. Sometimes all at the same time. Life doesn’t care if you want to lose 20 pounds or get a 6 pack.
Your path will hardly ever be in a straight line and life is not going to roll out the red carpet for you to achieve your goals
There will be obstacles and reasons to quit and that’s why it’s important to spend time finding your why, so you have a deeper reason, more skin in the game and reasons NOT to quit.
When you have a deeper reason, you’re more likely to keep going through the tough times.
Here’s An Example
Spend some time in self-reflection and ask yourself the 5 whys. The 5 whys you ask. Don’t worry here’s an example.
Why do you want to exercise? To lose weight.
Why do you want to lose weight? Because I don’t like the way I look.
Why don’t you like the way you look? Because I’m 35 pounds overweight.
Why is losing 35 pounds important to you? Because I’m pre diabetic, have low energy and I can’t keep up with my kids anymore.
Why is keeping up with your kids important? Because they’re young and I want to be a better parent to them for as long as possible.
Please spend some time finding your why before you get too much further along in your exercise journey.
3. Do You Have The Time
Thinking like a traffic light and buying a calendar will help you here. These two unrelated items will set you up for long-term success. (1)
The calendar gives you an idea about where you want to go and what lies ahead. The traffic light analogy lets you know if it’s time to go, go ahead with caution or time to come to a complete stop.
Green light periods are the times when you’re not so busy. You can attack your diet and exercise with intensity and focus because you have the time and energy to do so.
For example, when the kids are at school and there’s not a lot of stuff happening at your job.
Yellow means caution. If you’re a parent and have the kids’ home during school holidays, it’s probably not the best time to start a new fat loss program or anything for that matter.
Red means stop. Things like surgeries, death of a loved one, divorce or moving to a new house are all consuming and deserve your full attention. Doing a little exercise will help with the stress but trying to lose 30 pounds with a new workout/diet routine is not probably going to happen.
Picking the time to attack, slow down or stop is as simple as buying a calendar and thinking like a traffic light when scheduling your time. Then you can go ahead and attack with gusto.
If and when life punches you in the mouth, you will have a plan to absorb it. Doing a little pre planning will smooth out the bumps you will face when trying to crush your exercise goals.
If Mike Tyson comes for you, sorry. You’re on your own.
1. Dan John, Before We Go An ongoing philosophy of lifting, living and learning. 2016