This is a guest post by Stefanie O’Donnell of CougarFitness.
Transforming your body and fitness level is project a lot of people would like to take on, but very few people actually follow through to completion. Why is this?
- Is it super difficult to achieve?
- Is it expensive and time-consuming?
- Is it a goal that is too lofty to reach?
The answer is no to all of the above questions. What most people need is simply the recipe on what to do and how to get started. Let me provide you with that here.
But first, here’s proof.
It’s important when you have a vision, to have a plan laid out with steps along the way to help you achieve your goal. If you don’t start out with a solid plan as your foundation, then, you will have no direction and no way of measuring your progress.
Step 1: Take Action
The very first step in beginning your personal transformation is taking action. You are doing that now just by reading this post and cutting through the clutter so you can get started right away. So, congratulations on taking action! This will be the first of many small steps in your fitness journey.
I would take a look at the calendar and mentally clear some time for yourself. Make sure this is a good time for you to make changes in your schedule, your eating patterns, and your lifestyle. If you have a vacation coming up in two weeks, or an impending surgery, or other stressful situations going on, it may be better to wait for a less-stressful time to begin. I’m not an advocate of postponing things, I just want you to set yourself up for success from the very beginning. There are enough unforeseen challenges that will arise along the way.
Step 2: Set Realistic and Achievable Goals
Next, decide exactly what you want to accomplish. Be very specific about how much you want to weigh, what you want your measurements to be, what level of body fat you’re aiming for, and what size clothes you’ll be wearing at the end of your transformation.
In order to set your goals properly, you have to know where you’re starting. Weigh and measure yourself so you have a “beginning point” to refer back to. From there, you can calculate a reasonable timeframe for your goal. By “reasonable” I mean the likelihood that you will be able to burn off 1-2 pounds of body fat per week. So, for example, if your goal is to burn off 20 pounds of fat, you might set your deadline for 10 weeks from now. The main point is to set a deadline that is realistic and achieveable.
Write down your beginning stats and your final goals on a piece of paper so you can track your results as you go along. It is very motivating to see your dream coming true right in front of your eyes. It’s also a powerful mental tool to sit down each morning and evening and reread your goals to yourself and visualize yourself achieving them.
I recommend tracking your progress (weigh-in and measurements) once a week, on the same day each week, under the same conditions. Chart your progress so you can make adjustments along the way if necessary.
Step 3: Determine Your Nutrition Plan
Nutrition is the next key element. To make real changes in your physique, you not only have to work with weights and do cardio, you’ll have to pay strict attention to your food intake as well. Use an online calculator to determine your caloric needs and how much of a calorie deficit you will need to reach your goals in a timely fashion. Also, decide how many grams of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats you will require each day so you can properly plan your meals. Once again, there are many helpful online sites to help you figure this out.
Step 4: Decide on a Workout Program
The next step is to find a good workout program that you like and will do. The ideal program will include cardiovascular exercise and weight training. You will most likely need to perform cardio 5-6 days per week for 30 to 45 minutes at a time. As far as weight training, decide if you will be working out your whole body with weights every other day, or splitting your muscle groups up and working them on different days. There are many many programs available on line that you can download, as well as workout books detailing what you must do. You can also hire a personal trainer if that’s something within your budget.
Step 5: Make the Commitment to Transform Your Body
Probably the most important thing out of everything I’ve just mentioned, is that you must commit to achieving your goals. Commit 100%. Tell everyone what you’re doing and enlist their support. Find friends who want to do the program with you. Make it impossible for yourself to quit; donate all your “fat” clothes, make it too embarrassing to not finish, pay for a photoshoot for the end of your transformation. Essentially, make quitting much more painful for yourself than just following through and finishing what you started.
Step 6: The Transition Back to Real Life
Last, but not least, formulate a plan for transitioning out of your program and back into real life. You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste so make sure you have a plan to gradually bring yourself back up to maintenance level calories. Keep up your workouts, just tone them down to a level that you can fit into your everyday life.
Enjoy the new health benefits you have achieved through all your hard work and your new lifestyle. And, most importantly, enjoy the new you!
Stefanie O’Donnell is the owner of Cougar Fitness ; a blog for fit women who are not in their twenties, but look like they could be. It’s the place where smart women go to give and get information on health and fitness, diet and nutrition, beauty and more. It’s where smart men go to find out the dirt on how Cougars stay hot and get the inside scoop on the Cougar Fitness Lifestyle.