7 Mistakes You May Be Making When Starting An Exercise Program And How To Avoid Them

So, you’ve decided to start exercising. You’ve got a goal in mind and you’re feeling motivated to make it happen. That’s an exciting place to be. Before you jump in to doing the workouts take a little time to prepare. The following is a list of some common mistakes that can derail your fitness program and some tips on how to avoid them.

  1. Impatience – Once you get started with an exercise program it’s natural to want to see results right away. You put in a lot of effort when you workout, you expect rewards. But exercise is an investment. The body needs time to adjust and change. Trust the process and get good at appreciating even the smallest improvements to help keep you motivated while the bigger changes are developing.
  2. Too much too soon – This relates to item number 1. When you start an exercise program you want results as soon as possible. You may be tempted to push yourself way too hard in the first or first few workouts. This will likely leave you feeling very sore and defeated and have you giving up before you’ve really even gotten started. Pace yourself at first. You will learn how to push yourself over time.
  3.  No plan – Have you ever walked into the gym and felt a bit lost or overwhelmed? Do you find yourself not really sure what to do or just doing the same thing every time? This can be a killer for your exercise program. If you don’t know what to do to get results you’ll lose motivation. If you keep doing the same thing every workout your results will plateau pretty quickly and that’s no good for motivation either. If you have a plan you will know what to do how to get results. Consider hiring a trainer or try an online program that gives you workouts and creates a schedule for you to follow.
  4. Lack of a good warm-up and stretch routine –  This is getting a little more into the specifics of your workouts and it relates to number 3. Whatever workout you’re doing it’s important to give the body a chance to warm-up (usually 5 – 10 minutes of light to moderate cardio) before your workout and to cool down and stretch at the end. The warm-up and cool-down/stretch phases will help insure better performance an less risk of injury and will help you to stick with your program.
  5. Poor diet – While you can get results with just exercise you’ll do much better if you have a diet that supports your workout efforts. This is especially true for weight loss goals, but any results will come faster and be better in combination with a good diet. Not sure how to create a diet that will support your goals? The information is out there. You could hire a nutritionist, join Weight Watchers, do a program like P90X that comes with a nutrition guide or try food logging at a free site like MyFitnessPal.com.
  6. Inconsistency – Starts and stops and sporadic workouts will not get you results. Any fitness goal whether it’s weight loss, running a faster mile or being able to do a pull-up takes time. Each workout builds on the ones before, but only if you are consistent. Progress will happen over time if you stick with it. Try scheduling your workouts ahead of time like any other important appointment. Setting aside the time this way can make a huge difference in whether your workouts get done or not.
  7. Under estimating the importance of rest – Once you get some momentum going it can be hard to stop, but your body does need time to rest and repair. You might be thinking, “doesn’t that contradict what you just said?”. The reason it doesn’t is because regular rest is something that should be a part of your plan. Once a week or every couple of weeks, depending on how you feel, take a day off. Every few months take a week off. This doesn’t mean you sit on the couch and do nothing. You still want to be active, just at a lower intensity and no lifting heavy weights. Rest day activities would be things like a walk or a hike, an easy kayak trip, playing Frisbee or fetch with your dog, or doing some yoga.

There’s nothing here that you probably haven’t heard before. The one overriding key to remember is that it takes time. It takes time to change your lifestyle. It takes time to get results. It takes time to learn what works best for your body and for your schedule. Think of it as a life time pursuit and know that you, your goals and your fitness program will continue to evolve and change over time. Stick with it! It’s the best investment you will ever make.

photo credit: pasukaru76 via photopin cc

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