Often when people look at getting healthy and in shape a few standard reactions kick in. Usually they kick into the extreme and then lose motivation relatively quickly.
If weight is the biggest focus then rather than learning how to eat better (which in turn will provide more energy and the exercise almost starts kicking in for free) they’ll jump onto some fad diet or order nutrisystem. In each case cheating quickly takes over and they are back to square one,
If fitness is the initial focus, then they might buy some sort of flimsy ab trainer off an infomercial or splash out on a treadmill for $1000. Often the reasons differ, but mostly because “it will be so much easier to work out if I have the equipment at home”.
The focus though is on external things that you think will make you weight and/or fitness goals happen much more easily when the true place to look is within.
The most important thing to do is define a goal – something quite specific. Only with a goal can you pick a direction to go in and pick a path that is sustainable. This needs to be specific and achievable (aggressive is fine – unrealistic is not) – e.g. I want to lose 10lbs total body weight while losing no more than 2lbs lean body mass
Once you have a goal, you need to plan how to achieve that goal. Ask friends that are in shape, talk to a good trainer, go online and research. There are probably many ways to get where you want to be, some better than others for you. Personally I recommend some form of resistance training as at least 50% of your exercise time and cardio for the rest of that is what you enjoy.
Given that there must be a lot of equipment required right? Dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls? Actually not really! Its possible to get a thorough all-body workout with little equipment. For example, fill a back pack up with books, or grab a bag of mulch or sand from the shed and use that to perform squats or lunges. Take a cheap exercise band and use it to perform bent-over rows or bicep curls. Drop on the floor for planks, side-planks, pushups or burpees. Use a small chair or table for tricep dips. Find somewhere at home to perform pullups or chinups.
What about cardio? Should I get that fancy treadmill? No! Personally I’d save the space at home and either hit the trails or pavement, or join a gym. You can get gym membership for $10 a month. Your $1000 treadmill is paying for 8 years of gym membership. At the gym you’ll also have a much higher grade of equipment and more options – ellipticals, rowing machines, spinning bikes, etc.
Okay, so I’ve established that you need a goal, and then you need to outline a method to achieve that goal AND that it isn’t necessary to buy any or much equipment. So what IS the vital thing you need. Well if I added that the last trait that you need to be successful in your pursuit to your goals is CONSISTENCY the answer becomes a little more obvious. The easiest way to get consistency (and motivation in a way) is to own your results – and you do this via a WORKOUT LOG. This can be as simple as a small notebook from CVS or as elegant as an application on your smart phone. Either way, you should record every single workout and ensure that you have achieved your target. Week on week you can tweak your target or try to beat your previous weeks effort (distance run, faster time, more weight etc) to prevent your efforts from stalling.
From my own experience, my progress was quite slow until I decided to keep a workout routine, track via a log and STICK TO IT. Knowing what I need to do at each workout and more importantly being able to compete against “me from last week” really accelerate my progress.
The best thing is its easy and cheap to try this out. By writing down what you do it makes it much easier to analyze and improve your training and get fitter than ever.