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gherkins4lyfe

Newbie Needs Your Help Setting Goals

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Hey everyone!

 

So I’ve recently decided that I would like to improve my fitness but I have no idea what I'm doing and need some help.

 

I’ve done some of research on exercise and diet but the more I read, the less I feel like I understand. I know there’s still a lot I could learn from other people so I've decided to ask some of my questions here. I have so many of them, but for the sake of everyone’s sanity I’ll just do one at a time, so here is my first question for now:

 

How do I set realistic fitness goals?

 

Here are some of the major reasons I would like to become fit:
-Improve my terrible posture from spending years in front of computer screens

-Build body confidence and slim down

-Improve my standard of life overall

 

I am a female, 170cm and roughly 69,1kg (although my weight seems to fluctuate). I know I'm not necessarily dangerously overweight just yet, but it's been slowly rising so I want to get my fitness under control before it's too late. I'm not sure what type of goals to set when it comes to fitness, or how to measure them and how long it should take before I can expect to see results. I've tried getting into exercise without a clear goal before, but usually give up within the first week or two when I don't already see changes. I know that's probably unrealistic, but I just don't know what to look for. I have read that weight isn’t a good indication of fitness, as muscle weighs more than fat, so if I burn fat but build muscle I won’t necessarily lose weight...? I've never really been in shape before either so I don't know what I'm capable of and what I should be expecting from myself.

 

Anyways, feel free to ask for any additional info you may need, and thanks for all the help! :)

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What you've heard about weight not being a good indicator is true. 

I'd say work on building body confidence now. As someone who has been scary skinny and borderline overweight, I didn't see myself as I actually was in those moments. I can look at photos now and what I see is whether I was happy or not - which actually has nothing to do with my weight in either situation. This podcast is one place to start

 

As far as setting fitness goals, most are realistic... so long as you give yourself time and are dedicated to getting there! Developing a movement practice at any level will improve your standard of life. So, how about starting with something that will get you past that first 2 week stretch, and see how you're feeling? This would get you started with the habits that you can scale as far as you want. Developing a movement practice at any level will improve your standard of life. 

What is your activity level now? Do you walk, jog, bike, etc? What do you like to do? 

Nutrition-wise, Steve has written several posts on "healthy eating" that are pretty good. Just remember that you can't out-run your fork! 

(Top Nerd Fitness blog posts)

 

As someone who also has chronic desk shoulder and bad posture, strength training in my back, core, and shoulders have helped. Even more, mobility work has helped open up the tight stuff. Here are a few of my faves (#1 and #3).

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Hey there! I think your initial goals should be about trying different forms of exercise to see what you like. In the long term, you'll stick at the sport you love. But it's hard to know what you'll love without trying things--sometimes you might be surprised. For example, I always imagined weightlifting was for dude-bros and never thought I'd fall in love with it, but I did. I also thought it would be "easier" to work out alone instead of in a class, but it turns out the schedule, the social aspect, and the expectations of my classes keep me coming back.

 

As for long term goals, what do you think you'd like to achieve? I am strongly biased toward strength training, because I think it hugely increases quality of life especially as we age (most people lose muscle starting in their forties, which is a big part of what makes elderly people frail). It makes everyday activities like walking, sitting, standing, carrying things and climbing stairs easier and more comfortable, and can absolutely give you better posture. It also increases your cardiovascular fitness, though maybe not as much as proper cardio or HIIT. Another thing I love is that you can improve your strength rapidly and set really concrete goals, e.g. deadlift your bodyweight or overhead press the bar for the first time. It's super fun when you're a beginner because you're achieving personal bests pretty much every time you set foot in the gym. Then later, when things slow down, you still look forward to new personal bests, and get a pretty awesome feeling from being stronger than you ever though possible. Lifting also increases confidence, body image and mood, especially for women.

 

As for slimming down, the main ingredient in weight loss is diet, not exercise. Exercise can make you more hungry, actually, so it may or may not be helpful. But lifting ensures more of what you do eat is used for muscle, so it can lead to transformations in shape even as you stay about the same weight. 

Anyway.... there are other kinds of sports but I can't really sing their praises. I do love my martial arts classes because there's a social aspect, and a skill aspect; it's fun trying to learn to do the moves better. Much better than running on a treadmill with nothing to think about but "how many minutes have I got left". My goals are to get through the different belt levels. I'm sure it's making me fitter, too. 

So yeah, your goals will flow from finding the kind of sport that you enjoy doing and want to make progress in. One caveat: not all sports will necessarily give you better posture. If you have slumped shoulders and anterior pelvic tilt (from sitting a lot), you need something more specific: stretches for the hip flexors (that's the muscles in the front of your hips); some kind of rows for your upper back; and some sort of exercise to strengthen the glutes. 

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@IslandGirl_Becks Thanks for the advice! I'll definitely be checking those links out.

On 5/10/2019 at 9:10 AM, IslandGirl_Becks said:

I can look at photos now and what I see is whether I was happy or not

I get what you mean by this. I wouldn't say that my body confidence is through the roof but when I compare it today to what it was a few months ago, I can see that it's been improving. I've never taken much care of my fitness before so at the moment, the confidence thing is more about knowing that I'm doing my best than it is about what I look like (if that makes sense?).

 

On 5/10/2019 at 9:10 AM, IslandGirl_Becks said:

What is your activity level now? Do you walk, jog, bike, etc? What do you like to do? 

At the moment I do a quick workout once in a while. I found this poster by Popsugar and did it once or twice (I could only ever do one circuit though), then I started taking that idea and adding in my own exercises. Now I've got a list of exercises (about 14 or 15) that I do for 30 seconds each (with resting in between). So I think I'm doing HIIT workouts, but I'm not 100% sure I know what they are so I can't say for certain. I'm trying to do this circuit once every second day but I only came up with this idea yesterday so I'll have to see how it goes. Other than that I don't really do much. 

 

My eating habits are also pretty bad. I want to make a meal plan but I just haven't gotten to it yet. I live with three other family members so I have to make one big one for the four of us, which feels like a lot of planning. I've been looking into meal prepping but I haven't had much time to figure it all out and work up a schedule. We recently moved to a new country so everything is still a bit chaotic.

 

@Harriet 

On 5/10/2019 at 10:58 AM, Harriet said:

I think your initial goals should be about trying different forms of exercise to see what you like.

I think that sounds like a great idea! Like I mentioned earlier, I only recently moved to where I live now, so I don't really know about all the activities going on around me but I'll work on finding out more. I try to stay away from sports though, as I'm pretty easily sunburnt. At the moment I don't have my own transport either so that might complicate things, but I'll try to work around it.

 

On 5/10/2019 at 10:58 AM, Harriet said:

As for long term goals, what do you think you'd like to achieve? I am strongly biased toward strength training, because I think it hugely increases quality of life especially as we age (most people lose muscle starting in their forties, which is a big part of what makes elderly people frail). It makes everyday activities like walking, sitting, standing, carrying things and climbing stairs easier and more comfortable, and can absolutely give you better posture. It also increases your cardiovascular fitness, though maybe not as much as proper cardio or HIIT. Another thing I love is that you can improve your strength rapidly and set really concrete goals, e.g. deadlift your bodyweight or overhead press the bar for the first time. It's super fun when you're a beginner because you're achieving personal bests pretty much every time you set foot in the gym. Then later, when things slow down, you still look forward to new personal bests, and get a pretty awesome feeling from being stronger than you ever though possible. Lifting also increases confidence, body image and mood, especially for women.

It sounds like strength training could be what I need, but I'm not completely sure how to do it? I want to see how I can try to afford a gym membership soon but at the moment that's not an option yet. I don't have any equipment at home either because I don't know what would be worthwhile buying.

 

Would strength training and stretching also be the best option to improve my posture? I don't really know what types of training there are to choose from.

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