The good, the bad and the ugly about starting your exercise program
You’ve made the decision to start exercising. You take that first step, go to the gym, work out, get up to do it again and you feel tired, worn out, and sore. It gets a bit worse over the next few days, and by the time you feel good enough to go back to the gym you have lost your motivation.
It’s time to train smarter not harder! When starting out, we usually have a lower tolerance for exercise. We get tired faster and don’t recover as quickly. Being unfamiliar with the exercises leaves us feeling unsure and defeated. When we feel like this, it’s no wonder that we don’t enjoy it, and feel like we’re being punished for trying to do the right thing for our health!
The good news? It does get easier! When you get going into the routines, you’ll be able to work harder, and the exercise movements become more familiar. You’ll become more comfortable with your environment and have the reserve and ability to recover better and reduce the fatigue caused by initial exercise. You become stronger and more experienced; even new exercises come faster and become more effective more quickly. Does that sound like other aspects of your life when you take on something new? A new job? A new hobby? Many things in life take some time and effort to get used to, but are worth it in the end.
Here’s how to overcome those “beginner’s hurdles:”
- Start with activities and equipment with which you are most familiar.
- When starting out, consistency is more important than heavy workloads (for the first few weeks). It doesn’t take as much training to benefit you as it does someone who is well trained.
- Don’t do too much too soon! It is better to start and finish knowing you could have done a bit more during your first few workouts. Go slowly – if you can, get help from a professional trainer to keep you on track and minimize pain or discomfort.
- Remember social support. Friends help us maintain new behaviors and offer positive reinforcement.
- As you improve, take note of how far you’ve come. Have you increased your weights, your treadmill workload or your duration of exercise? Do you see and feel how it is helping you in your daily life and activities? Are you able to do things easier, faster, with less pain and more ease of movement?
Finally, if you are struggling, remember that this is normal when starting anything new. This is your cue to take a moment, get some help, and make an adjustment in your plan, so that you can continue to move forward in a way that works for you.