Before we start collecting half drank bottles of water in our cars back seat and throwing around barbells, we need to do a simple self assessment to better understand why and how we are going to go about getting fit.

Let’s try to answer the following 5 questions:

  1.  How healthy are you? – I am not a proponent of self-diagnosis and would urge anyone who is considering a change to their lifestyle habits to visit a doctor and get a full check-up. Underlying health conditions are no fun and if you have health insurance generally these check-ups are included at little to no cost to you. There is no reason not to get some tests done by a medical professional for a simple piece of mind.

* Remember to take things slow when you are starting. Try to approach your fitness endeavors as if they were a marathon, not a sprint. If anything you are doing feels wrong, stop.

2. What is your goal? Everyone wants to “lose weight” or “get in shape” but what exactly does that mean? It has been said that all roads will eventually get you to your destination, but I believe having a planned out route on a map might be a better approach to getting there. By having such vague goals you are only setting yourself up for hardships or at worst, failure. In order for us to be successful we must lay out clear, concise, and measurable goals.

These goals must also have an end date. Instead of saying that you want to “lose weight” a better approach would be “I want to lose 10 lbs in three months.” This identifies what we want to do, how much we want to lose, and the time we want to accomplish it by. If you are looking for more suggestions and help, click here to read my article on goal setting.

3. What is your motivation for getting in shape? – We need to identify why we are doing this in the first place. What is a meaningful personal motivator for you to get in shape? For example, this could be life longevity, boosting your self-esteem, achieving a life goal, or maybe improving your quality of life. No one should be able to really answer this question besides you. Make it personal and make it meaningful.

4. Who/What will keep you accountable? – This ties into goal setting and is an important tool to use when trying to achieve any type of goal. What are you going to do to make sure you keep yourself accountable for your actions? There are many creative ways you can do this; three approaches that I believe work the best is monetary, celebratory, and social checks. No one wants to waste money, everyone wants to celebrate an accomplishment, and no one wants to let anyone down (Better to fail then wonder “what if”).

5. How will you achieve it? –You need to figure out what your limitations will be and how you are going to accomplish what you set out to do. What is your plan of attack going to be? There are a million ways to achieve your fitness goals and the more specific you are, the easier it will be to choose the right path. Something that I found helpful when I have had limited knowledge on something is to keep things simple in the beginning and to ask as many questions as possible. Over complicating things can lead to confusion and feeling overwhelmed. Think of fitness as learning a language, you need to learn the basics before you can start making jokes (This motto is from Charles Poliquin). Heed the advice of trusted professionals and lifelong fitness experts.

You don’t necessarily need to pick some fancy gym, or some complicated workout routine, or kill yourself from the start by working out twice a day; remember, fitness is a marathon not a sprint. If you approach getting in shape by sprinting you will quickly gas out, risk the possibility of injury, and end the entire awesome process of becoming a better version of yourself before you even had a chance. A better approach is to introduce your exercise time into your daily schedule gradually. Try to find a way to allocate a small block of time to work on you each and every week. Click here for an article I wrote on how to add habits to your daily routine.

Recap.

  1. Address any current medical issues – get checked out by a doctor.

2.   Create a S.M.A.R.T goal – Keep it realistic, keep it simple, keep it specific.

What exactly do I want to achieve?

Where?

How?

When?

With whom?

What are the conditions and limitations?

3. Identify your motivators – Why exactly do I want to reach this goal?

4. Figure out how you are going to keep yourself accountable to your goal.

5. Build a game plan for how you are going to achieve your goal – find a solution that works for you and your schedule.

Up Next: Picking the right gym – At home gym products & services.

This is part 1 of a series of articles that were written to help you get in shape. If you have and suggestions on something you’d like to see added let us know. Don’t forget to like and share this article if you found it helpful!

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