Bravo! You have made the commitment to get into shape. The “I don’t want to exercise” phase is over. Something inside of you has “clicked” and you are ready to begin creating healthier habits. So, where do you start? Begin by using the power of vision.

Visualization

Sit in a quiet place. Think of your fitness goals. Now, close your eyes and imagine looking in the mirror and seeing a fit and younger looking you. Imagine feeling full of energy, free of illness, and more fun loving throughout the day.

To achieve this vision and become fit and healthy, you need to eat well for proper nutrition, and do both cardiovascular and strength training. Follow the guidelines below and you will see the results you desire quicker and easier.

Food for Fitness

  • Drink filtered water. Water helps remove metabolic wastes (toxins) and will provide you with more energy for your activities. Aim for two to three litres per day.
  • Avoid sugar. Not only will sugar keep you fat, it can also set you up for sickness. Try the sweetness of stevia, a natural herb found in your local health food store. Stevia will keep your blood sugar stable while aiding in fat loss.
  • Eat every 2.5 to three hours. Eating revs up our metabolism to allow for quicker fat loss, keeps our minds sharp, and provides consistent energy throughout the day. Learn to eat till you are satisfied and not overfull so that you are hungry again for your next small meal.
  • Get your eight essential amino acids. Have protein at every meal or food-combine. Try a high-quality protein shake.
  • Eat “raw foods” every day. Raw foods are live foods and give us energy. Choose organic for their incredible taste and to avoid unwanted pesticides and herbicides (toxins).
  • There is nobody else like you, so your nutritional requirements are also unique. This is where a nutritional counsellor can help you create healthier habits and tasty alternatives that will fit your lifestyle.

Walk, Swim, Hike, Bike

  • See your health care provider before beginning any form of cardiovascular exercise. Obese people have a higher incidence of joint trauma when exercising; jarring motions should be altered during training.
  • Week one should involve a one-hour walk every day for that week.
  • After week one, aim for three to five days of cardio training for 20 to 60 minutes, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine.
  • Exercising too soon after a full meal can compromise oxygen and nutrient delivery to your working muscles (where you need it).
  • Always start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down for five to 10 minutes at a low intensity.
  • Stretch before, during, and after exercise. This will help improve your post workout recovery, keeping you pain-free with higher amounts of energy.
  • Maintain your heart rate at the “Healthy Heart Zone.” According to Chad Tackett, president of Global Fitness, this is 50 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. In this zone, 10 percent of the carbohydrates are burned (used as energy), five per cent of protein is burned and a whopping 85 percent of fat is burned.

Pump It Up

This exercise component is referred to as strength training, resistance or weight training.

  • Recruit a personal trainer. This is highly recommended. Your trainer can save you time by tailoring a fitness program to get you results faster and safely.
  • Watch your speed. When performing your exercises, use slow, controlled movements. Count one to two seconds for each lifting movement and three to four seconds for each lowering movement.
  • Start with light weights. The tendency to use too much weight typically results in poor form and reduces your ability to get results while increasing the risk of injury.
  • Change your routine every six to eight weeks. By doing so, you are continuously challenging the body to keep progressing (avoiding any frustrating plateaus). This can be done either by revamping the entire workout or just by changing a few exercises.
  • Avoid overtraining. Never train the same muscle group two days in a row (abdominals are the exception). Signs of overtraining are feeling burnt out, weak, and/or sore.
    After following these principles imagine how absolutely incredible you can feel. If others can do it, so can you. Go for it!

About the Author

Michele Hagadorn, CFT, is a nutritional counsellor, writer, educator, and owner of Fit N' Healthy Consulting.