Getting a fresh start with anything can be challenging, but particularly so when it comes to introducing an exercise routine and improved diet into your everyday life. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, boosts mood and energy levels, combats illness, improves sleep quality and sex drive, and can be fun and social. So, how does a person initiate an exercise routine they will not only stick to, but also enjoy doing?
“Simply getting started with that first workout or first exercise is the hardest part,” says James Gaida, owner of Fit Body Boot Camp in Cochrane.
Gaida says one of the reasons why a lot of people abandon a new exercise routine is because they take on way too much from the onset. “To go from no exercise to committing to two hours a day, seven days a week, isn’t very realistic,” he says. “Alternatively, going from no exercise to committing to 30 minutes, three times a week, is more likely to stick.”
Some other roadblocks people face when kicking off a new exercise routine can be dealing with past injury or aches and pains, being uncomfortable or embarrassed about their body, having low energy levels, or the common excuse of just being too busy to fit it in.
“Everyone has a busy life and adding in one more thing to do is overwhelming. This is real and I get it,” says Gaida. “The truth is that intentionally prioritizing my fitness and self-care is the key to allowing me to function at a higher level with all of those other things in life.”
Gaida says working out with a friend, scheduling fitness into your day, exercising first thing in the morning and not expecting perfection are all strategies that can help establish a sustainable exercise routine. “If you miss a day or week, you are not failing,” he says. “Just get back on track the next day and try again. You can only fail if you quit trying.”
“The feeling you will have from being fit will be a constant motivation to keep moving forward.”
The Food Factor: Why Exercise and Diet go Hand-in-Hand
Establishing a new exercise routine is a great way to kick-start a healthier lifestyle, but it’s only half the battle. The other half is eating well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. says a healthy diet helps you boost immunity, lower the risk of certain illnesses and live longer. Vincci Tsui, a Calgary-based registered dietitian, certified intuitive eating counsellor and author, says it’s important not to focus solely on weight as a motivator for eating a healthy diet.
“Weight is not an accurate reflection of a person’s health status, and we have less control over our weight than we think,” she says. Tsui also pushes back against the notion that there are “good” and “bad” foods. “All foods nourish and all foods provide nutrition,” she says. “There’s a lot of messaging out there that any food that’s not an unprocessed, ‘whole’ food, or any eating occasion that is not a planned meal, is ‘bad’ or devoid of nutrition, when, in reality, all foods have nutrients and all foods nourish.”