How to Begin Your Fitness Journey
“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2 (NKJV)
Wouldn’t it be great if the Lord could forgive us our calories as easily as He forgives us of our sins? Oh, if I only had a magic wand and could wake up tomorrow with no cellulite on my thighs, no stretch marks on my belly, and arms that don’t double as a back-up mainsail. But there is no magic wand. There isn’t even a magic pill, shake, powder, bar, or beverage that will effortlessly convert you into a fit person overnight. My dad has always pointed out that all those commercials for miracle cures always have that disclaimer, “YOU’LL LOSE WEIGHT WITH OUR PRODUCT (and proper diet and exercise) SO CALL NOW!”
Nope. It takes 8 hours a day in the gym, living on a ranch in California, with full-time personal trainers yelling at you and weekly challenges and public weigh-ins. THAT’s how a not-so-fit girl becomes an athlete. Right? Wrong.
Misty McCord is 5’2″ and weighed 200 pounds when she was at her heaviest. She was never a skinny girl, but after three babies, asthma, fibromyalgia, high cholesterol, and several car accidents that left her injured, she knew something had to change. “It’s funny,” she says, “I can’t recall the exact moment that I realized I needed to change; I just remember telling my doctor I needed to get healthy because my children were going to need me for a long time.” Her doctor gave her some weight loss options, but it was really through her own research and determination that she found success.
So, Misty slowly started making some changes, focusing first on her diet. After losing about 30 pounds, she started exercising. She lost some more weight. After that, she went full throttle. Misty never spent 13 weeks on a ranch. She just stuck with it. Today, she’s maintaining a healthy 130 pounds, holds the title of Mrs. Southern Oregon International, and travels the state of Oregon advocating for low-income and special needs children, and inspiring women with her real-life story of becoming one of the fit people.
And you can, too. Here are some tips for ditching the excuses and starting toward a life-changing path to get your earthly temple into shape:
Set Short-Term Goals
Determine realistically how much you would like to weigh based on your gender and height. (Click here to calculate your ideal weight range.) Regardless of how much you want to lose, give yourself a starting goal of 10%. If you weigh 175 pounds right now, you may want to lose 35 pounds altogether, but your initial goal will be to lose 17 pounds. Give yourself about 3 months to lose every 5 pounds. Don’t think those one or two pound losses are much to get excited about? Think of those pounds in terms of butter. One pound is 4 sticks of butter. That’s a good week’s work, right there.
Get Cleared for Take-off
Getting your doctor’s stamp of approval isn’t just a legal disclaimer. Especially if you’re overweight, you’ll want to have your doctor do a general exam, and possibly some blood work, before you go gangbusters on this new healthy lifestyle. You may feel fine–and you probably are. But the last thing you need is to pass out on a treadmill at the gym. Keep in mind that your doctor is a physician, not a weight loss expert. “I love my doctor,” says Misty, “and she is very proud of my success, but she knows it was by my own research and seeking out experts in fitness and nutrition that has kept me lean over the years.”
Plan to Succeed
If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail. Planning is, by far, THE most important part of this fitness journey. Plan your workouts. Don’t just plan to work out. Plan the time when you’ll work out–make an appointment with yourself, and stick to it. Plan what you’re going to do for a workout. It might be a challenge at first, but it’s a challenge worth overcoming. “I found that once I made the commitment to myself to be healthy and fit so I could be a better mother and wife, everything fell into place,” Misty says. But don’t get discouraged if life changes and you have to adjust. Misty’s husband travels overseas for work, and she’s had to make changes to her schedule–but she still makes fitness a priority.
Plan your meals–EVERY meal. I use these forms from Franklin Covey*, which let me plot meals on one side and organize my shopping list on the other side. And don’t forget to PLAN YOUR SNACKS. When you’re working out and eating healthfully, your body is working better, the food you’re eating is better, and your body wants more of it. You’re going to need to snack, so plan what those snacks will be. Also, plan a treat! Don’t deprive yourself of a little sweet now and then. So, maybe you’re scheduled to eat 2 squares of dark chocolate or a small bowl of ice cream on a Friday evening. It’s not cheating if it’s part of your plan!
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
Preparation is the other half of the planning puzzle. You can have a great plan, but it’s a lot easier to implement if you prepare. I try to prepare all of my meals the night before, as much as possible, even if I’m not working outside of the home the next day. I even go so far as to pre-measure the creamer for my coffee and store it in the fridge in a little container. Oatmeal is all measured out, ready to add water and pop into the microwave in the morning. Salad is all made up, dressing measured out. My afternoon snack of almonds and dried fruit is all measured out, ready to grab. If my food isn’t ready for me when I’m ready for it, I’m much more likely to make a poor food choice. Plus, it makes food journaling a snap!
Have Some Fun
A lot of people dread exercise, thinking that in order to lose weight, they have to go to some overly-choreographed aerobics class, or take up running. It doesn’t have to be torture. Try some new things, and find something you enjoy. You might try bike riding, Zumba, hiking, roller blading–just try some different things and see what gets you motivated. I watched a gal at the gym almost literally shrink before my eyes over the course of many weeks when she discovered that she loved spinning. She hated walking a treadmill, but she did it for years, because that’s what she thought she had to do. Then she tried a spinning class and couldn’t get enough of it. Find a passion, and exercise will be a pleasure.
Misty agrees. “I’m 40 and I just started Karate!” she says. “I was literally sitting in the bleachers at my daughter’s soccer practice when a 6th degree black belt ran over and told me I was going with him as he took other mothers to work out on basic karate stuff. I remember saying no, but ended up working on basic kicks with the rest of the moms. I had a good time, met new people, got some great workouts, and I just enrolled in classes!”
You didn’t gain weight overnight. It’s not gonna come off overnight. Give yourself time. You’ll have great weeks, and you’ll have crummy weeks. Keep your overall goal in mind, and don’t give up! You’re not looking for short-term results, so don’t make a short-term commitment. You’re moving into healthy lifestyle, not planning a vacation from an unhealthy lifestyle.
Get the Family Involved.
“Train up a child in the way he should to, and when he grows old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) This is true for spiritual lessons, as well as a fitness lifestyle. My local YMCA offers a family Zumba class on Sunday afternoons. Encourage your children to participate in exercise through sporting programs and play, and don’t be afraid to let them surprise you. It always amazes me when I’m passed up by an 8-year old while I’m running a 5K. But in order for that kid to be running in a 5K, their parents had to let them. So, parents–let them! There are great running programs out there for boys and girls.
Sometimes the hardest part of really adopting a healthy lifestyle is getting the hubby involved. “If I could have done one thing differently, I would have got my husband on board from the beginning,” Misty says. “It wasn’t until I was 50 or 60 pounds lighter…that he finally ‘got’ with the program and started asking me about nutrition and fitness training. I had just started eliminating ALL processed foods from our diet. No more Coke or ketchup for him. We started at the YMCA together and he took up running on the treadmill while I lifted weights.”
Make It a Lifestyle
One of the biggest mistakes we make when we try to lose weight, is going on a diet. Sure, you can drink those shakes for 6 weeks, or count points for a few months. But “diets” are short-term fixes. You want long-term results, which requires adopting a new lifestyle. Even once you hit your goal weight, you don’t stop working out, you don’t stop eating well. If you go back to your old food and lack-of-fitness habits, you’ll most likely also go back to your old weight.
As moms, we have a lot of titles. Cook, janitor, teacher, chauffeur, volunteer, and so on. Most of these titles describe things we do for others. It’s okay to add “amateur athlete” to that list of titles. Maybe you won’t end up competing for the Olympics (or who knows– maybe you will!), but increasing your physical strength will better equip you to fulfill all those other roles, and make you an active role model for your family.
What changes have you made or are trying to make to improve your and your family’s overall health and fitness?
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I have had awesome success losing weight and balancing my health numbers with First Place 4 Health. It is a Bible Study based, fitness, life change program. I signed up in September 2012 at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fl. Since then, I have lost about 20 pounds through prayer, whole grains, lean meats, fruits, veggies and good oils. It has been slow and steady and it is definitely a life change, not a DIEt. There are probably programs offered in your local area, so I urge you to seek them out. It works – you just have to change your mind.
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