Real Fitspiration (thanks to tumblr and The Exercist)

A site that I find myself frequently is this – Fitspiration. I’m not a tumblr user, so I don’t ‘officially’ follow it, but I keep it open on my iPhone so I can check it once a day. Whoever runs it is brilliant, they choose great pictures, quotes and prose to inspire and motivate into a healthier lifestyle, and a lot of the time they’re pretty funny with it, too. I thoroughly recommend it.

There are often references to another tumblr user, The Exercist, who I regret not looking up before. It turns out this is another smart, sensible page for encouraging fitness, I’ve not read much of it but it looks great so far.

This is the page I found myself at today – I Really Want To Start An Exercise Routine – and it’s really helped me adjust my priorities when it comes to my admittedly small efforts to work out. I have to tread the fine line of balancing sleep with any down time I get and also the unpleasant backlash CFS sometimes provides when I push my body too far. Keeping these points in mind will hopefully help me to keep myself in line, and not get disappointed in my efforts or sucked into an unhealthy mindset. Thanks, tumblr! And thanks to The Exercist 🙂 — BWG

1. Clearly define your goals. You need to know what you’re working towards. Things like “Get healthier” and “Like myself more” are both very admirable, but they’re also very vague. Start thinking about specifics. Do you want to run a mile in under 9 minutes? Lower your cholesterol levels? Squat your body weight? Set something more definite and tangible.

2. Take a look at both your abilities and the resources available to you. The sort of exercise equipment that you can access is going to affect the sort of workout you can do, as will your fitness limitations. You can’t run if you don’t have a safe environment to run in, for example, and you can’t do intense cardio if you have respiratory difficulties. Acknowledge both the things that you have and the things that you don’t. And most importantly, think about what you enjoy. Exercising should be fun, so don’t ignore the activities that you like the most and the ones that you absolutely loathe.

3. Start researching the types of exercises that fit within the above parameters. You want something that will help you move towards your goals while still existing within your pool of resources. Google is going to be a big help in giving you ideas here, as will fitness websites like Bodybuilding.com, Fitocracy, FitSugar, Shape and tumblr here. Talk with your doctor and a potential trainer in your area. Educate yourself about what you’re getting into and how you can do so safely.

4. Make some flexible plans. Any routine that you create right now is just a guess – You won’t fully know what you’re capable of until you jump in. The first couple weeks will be an experiment to see whether or not the new plan suits you. If it’s too difficult, don’t feel bad about dialing it down. If it’s a breeze, feel free to increase its intensity. Play around with the number of days you exercise (just include at least 1 rest day per week and don’t exercise the same muscle groups 2 days in a row), play around with intervals and intensity, and play around with exercise types. Give yourself 1-2 weeks before drastically changing your plan. This will give you enough time to try it out properly. If it’s working and you enjoy it, then you will have done it for just ling enough to create a habit. And remember – Just because a plan worked for someone else does not mean that it will work for you. Copying another person’s workout routine may provide you with a place to start, but don’t be afraid to make your own adjustments. You are a unique individual with your own needs and goals, so don’t feel pressured to take on a specific workout routine just because someone else achieved positive results from it.

5. Ask for help when you need it. People make their living off of planning workouts. If you don’t know what you’re doing and aren’t even sure of where to start, seriously consider joining a gym or hiring a trainer. They can at least get you started. If you can’t afford that sort of commitment, then start browsing through online workouts that suit your needs. There are plenty of graphics floating around #fitblr that you can choose from and read through. Use them as a guide. Just be aware that, if you don’t have any expertise or experience, trying to plan your workout alone can be dangerous and time consuming. Talking to a professional is really the best choice for complete beginners.

6. Have fun. Always have fun. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, then you shouldn’t be doing it. Try something else. Not every single workout will be filled with rainbows and unicorns, but you shouldn’t dread exercising. It should leave you feeling happy and fulfilled. If your workout is just breaking you down, then step back and reconsider. Start back at the beginning and figure out exactly what you want from this. Unless “be miserable” was listed as a goal, you shouldn’t actively force yourself through workouts that you hate.

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