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Exercise: Where Do I Begin?

By Heather Moreno Published 06/14/2006 | Fitness

Article

            It is common when someone who is interested in our coaching program emails or calls for a consultation to immediately ask, What should I be doing?   My response is always, I dont know.  This shocks a lot of people because they expect me to answer immediately with a detailed fitness regimen.  Why cant I do that?

            I cant give them any immediate advice because I dont know what their baseline is.  A baseline is a measurement of where you are starting from.  Common baselines include measurements such as body weight, body fat percentage, cholesterol, and blood pressure.  These are important measurements, but even more are needed.

Break It Down

            Comparing your baseline to your ideal state of physical wealth can feel overwhelming.  Long-term goals are called such because they take a long time to achieve.  For instance, if your goal is to lose twenty pounds it can take a while maybe as long as six months or possibly longer before you have lost that weight and feel successful.  After all, to lose 20 pounds, you would need to create a deficit of 70,000 calories, and that takes time.  As Ive said before, there are no quick-fix solutions to the enduring gains of real physical wealth.  It takes time and energy to get where you want to go.  To bridge the gap from here to there, break the journey down into measurable, achievable, short-term goals that allow you to feel successful every day. 

            Using your fitness journal, set as many three-month goals as you think you are able to achieve.  Then break those down into weekly goals, charting your fitness routines on a daily basis.  When setting your goals, keep in mind the measuring stick of challenging-yet-do-able: set goals that are challenging enough to produce results, yet do-able, or realistic, enough that you are likely to achieve them. 

            While I talked about realistic goals in the previous section, it is also possible to set a goal that presents an insufficient challenge to you.  Setting a goal of something you already do most of the time, say walking the dog for fifteen minutes per day, is not challenging.  If you set a goal and you dont feel it is somewhat of a stretch to achieve, a little bit out of your everyday comfort zone, consider upping the ante.  In the dog-walking scenario, you could add ten minutes of exercise prior to walking the dog, for a total activity time of 25 minutes.  Using the challenging-yet-do-able measuring stick will help you to set goals that will stretch you towards your ideal state of physical wealth, while at the same time be realistic for your schedule and current state of fitness.

            To keep you additionally motivated, you can use motivational exercise tools to measure your progress, such as the pedometers, accelerometers, and heart rate monitors.  These monitors allow you to set specific goals and give you instant feedback about the effectiveness of your efforts. 

Sample Plan from Baseline to Goal

            The following sample plan will show you how to move from your baseline measurement to achieving physical wealth.  Below each area, write your own plan.

Sample Baseline

This is your measurement of where you are starting from:

  • I am exercising (walking) once per week for 25 minutes burning 175 calories per session.
  • I am burning an average of 300 calories per day (not including exercise) my job is somewhat sedentary so this is not difficult for me and I notice that on the days I am the least active, I am more tired.
  • My heart rate range is 115-125 beats per minute during my walk which feels easy/moderate.
  • I eat only one fruit/vegetable per day. 
  • I skip breakfast most weekdays, which makes me ravenous at lunch and I over-eat.
  • I eat cookies in the evening when Im stressed this tends to happen Monday through Thursday when my workdays are most hectic.

My Baseline:

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            Be sure to congratulate yourself for the progress you make along the way, and seriously consider giving yourself a reward.  People often find it motivating to hold out a prize for themselves when they achieve their short-term goals, ranging from a new outfit or book to a spa treatment or evening out.  Additional motivation never hurts!  Remember, you deserve at least a pat on the back from yourself youve set and achieved important goals.  Youre moving along the pathway to physical wealth!