If you’re thinking of starting a new fitness regime, which all massage therapists should have, use these 10 tips for beginners to make sure that you reach your goals. 

 Keep It Simple

 Those people you see in the gym running for an hour or lifting heavy weights began somewhere just like you.  Remember it’s a lifestyle and change doesn’t come overnight.  The cool thing is your body can learn to do anything you train it for.  Want to build upper body strength so your neck doesn't hurt while doing massage?  Take it step by step and you will get stronger and those little aches will go away.  In order to avoid injury, make sure you familiarize yourself with the basics first.  This is a good time to hire a personal trainer to teach you how to use the machines, show you proper form and write you an appropriate workout plan tailored to your current fitness level.  Start off with some shorter sessions and then expand your workout as you become more confident and as your fitness level advances.

Prepare For Your New Routine

 It’s a good idea to see your primary care physician in case there are any health conditions you have that would require you to avoid certain exercises.  Then you want to set smart goals.  Make your goals specific with attainable time frames. 

Lose 15 pounds in 3 weeks is a bit unrealistic when healthy weight loss is 2-3 lbs. a week.  A better goal might be complete a 5K fun run 12 weeks from now and schedule yourself for the race so you have to be ready.  If the weight loss comes even better!  From years of personal training I can tell you the goals that people stick to the most have to do with how they feel instead of focusing on how they look. 

Don’t Let Preconceptions Put You Off

It’s easy to look at some of the gym regulars and feel intimidated and out of your realm.  Don’t let your insecurities take over!  Many others around you are feeling what you’re feeling and most of those regulars would be happy to help you.  Put on your music and do your thing.  Afterall, everyone is there for the same reason.  To be healthy!   

Plan Out Your Routine

Make a plan.  Not only for what you will do at the gym but when you will go.  The days and times need to be written into your schedule each week like an appointment.  This may take getting up earlier or fitting a short 10 minute session in between massage clients on a busy day but the rewards for your body are worth it.  I had a client write “health hour” in her schedule for all her gym days.  Some of the workouts can be done outside the gym too.  Maybe your health hour on Mondays is a walk with a friend.  This will also allow scheduled rest days which your trainer can help you understand when and how many to add. 

Commit 100% 

Your body and health transformation needs complete dedication from you. You can’t skip a day or two here and there, and expect the same results.  Even if you have a vacation planned, check out the local gym or hotel’s gym and make sure to take time out of each day to continue to work out. Keep up with the healthy eating too.  See tips on how to eat while on vacation here.

Cardio is necessary

There is a whole anti-cardio crew out there.  They will lift weights all day but don’t want to take the time for cardio.  You know if it’s you.  Cardiovascular exercise needs to be used in conjunction with weight training for the best health benefits.  Think of cardio as training your heart to become stronger and more efficient to prolong your quality of life.  Cardio is the perfect complement to strength training to be sure the muscle can be seen.  Cardiovascular exercise makes you leaner so the muscle shows. 

Eat Healthy

All body shaping goals can only be achieved by eating a healthy diet. If you’re going to the gym and then going home and eating a double cheeseburger with a 2-person serving of French fries, you won’t do your body any favors.  The nice part about putting the work in at the gym is you automatically begin to watch what you put in your body.  You have a choice to eat a second helping of dessert or stick to one.  Eat all things in moderation and with the thought of getting through that next workout, you’ll make good choices.   


Change Your Eating Habits

There are all kinds of fad diets and tips out there.  When you’re beginning an exercise program it’s wise not to take part in anything too drastic within your diet.  This view is arguably conservative but here’s the logic.  You will begin asking your body to move in ways it’s not used to.  This puts stress on the body, although good stress.  If you simultaneously severely restrict calories or food categories (carbs, fats, proteins) this also puts stress on the body.  These combined stressors are unnecessary as your body needs to build muscle and eating right aids that muscle growth.  Better to focus on eating whole, plant-based foods for 60% of your diet and eat fresh proteins and complex carbohydrates and fats for the other 40%.  Don’t skip meals and consider three small meals a day with 2 snacks if eating more often works better for your body.  This can take some planning ahead in order to always have food available while at work and options when there's no time to eat between clients.          

Use Visual Inspiration

It can be helpful to have a visual inspiration to keep you motivated to lose weight or improve your health.  One way is to put sticky notes around your house, car and office with inspirational words of encouragement like, “5 lbs down”, “you got this”, “eat for health” or “vegetables every day!”  Also, a picture of your upcoming vacation where you will wear a bathing suit, or a picture of your grandbaby who you want to pick up give simple reminders of your goal and keep you on track.  Another way is performing a Google image search to find photos of people who have a body shape and size similar to your own ideals.  Print out the image or images and display these where you will see them all the time, for example near your work desk, on your car dashboard or on the fridge. This will ensure you have a visual goal that will keep you motivated every single day.  

Show yourself some grace

You will have an off day.  Something will get in the way of the workout time you had planned.  Your eating will not be perfect and some days it will be terrible but as long as you get back to it the following day, you’ll be fine.  It’s not the end of the world when you get off track.  Just refocus and get that good workout in the next day.  It takes consistency.  If you follow your eating and workout plan 80% of the time you will hit your goal. 

In summary, fitness includes exercise and healthy eating habits.  You won’t succeed at one without the other.  It will take time and effort to learn what works for your body but the rewards are priceless for your longevity and quality of life.  No one has ever said “exercise was a waste of my time.”    

Until next time

Be fit, be strong, today is the best time to get started

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