6 Things You Must Do Before Starting a New Workout Program

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Starting a new workout program is almost always exciting – or at least it should be! Before you get too crazy though, remember that it’s important to do a few things first. Knowing these things before you start will allow you to “see” what you’ve accomplished along the way which will help you stay motivated.

6 Things You Must Do Before Starting a New Workout Program - via LiftingMakesMeHappy.com

Get your doctor’s okay. This is especially true if you’re a complete beginner. You need to be sure you’re aware of any underlying health conditions and even if you know you have any complications to begin with, your doctor should know what kind of physical activity you are planning to participate in. (I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear about it!)

Weigh yourself. Out of all six of the things on this list, I’m willing to be that most people do weigh themselves before starting. When weighing yourself, do so first thing in the morning. While starting weight IS important to be able to compare to when you’ve finished a program, there are a few more things you should be keeping track of. And just remember not to get too caught up with the numbers on the scale. More on that in the next thing on the list.

Take measurements. Measurements are SO important because you’ll be able to see inches lost even if you haven’t lost that many pounds. When you’re burning fat and building muscle, it’s going to be difficult at times to see much difference in the numbers on the scale (depending on your current physique) but you WILL notice inches lost. You’ll see it in the mirror and you’ll feel the changes in the way your clothes fit. I just use one of those measuring tapes for sewing.

Be sure to measure the following:

  • Waist (at belly button level)
  • Hips (widest part – may have to turn sideways to see where that is)
You may also want to measure:
  • Waist (at the smallest part)
  • Each thigh (at about the mid-point)
  • Each bicep (flexed, unflexed or both if you choose)
  • Chest
  • Calves

Take before photos.  I know what you’re thinking… but taking “before” photos is SO important. Just think of these as your “goodbye photos”. They’re for your eyes only and they will serve two purposes: The first is that you’ll see what you looked like before you started so you can see the differences after 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, etc. The second is that at anytime you get discouraged along the way, you can take out your “before” photos and tell yourself that you don’t wanna look like that anymore – or ever again! Great motivation.

Record body fat percentage. If you haven’t checked your body fat percentage before, you definitely should. You can estimate this online using various calculators but you’ll never know for sure without actually physically measuring it for yourself. You’ll get the most accurate reading if you measure body fat in 2-3 different ways, but we’ll keep things simple here. To track your body fat percentage you simply need to choose one method and use it throughout the duration of your program.

Three examples:

Keep a food diary. Keeping a food diary or food journal is crucial if you’re trying to lose weight. A food journal allows you to visualize what you’re putting into your mouth. This makes it easy to analyze how you’re eating and where you could make some improvements. When tracking, log every single calorie that touches your lips. It’s very easy to make calorie counting mistakes but just remember that each one counts! It’s a good idea to track water consumption too. I usually try to aim for 64 ounces each day. You can keep a food diary using a notebook or online for free using MyFitnessPal.

*NOTE: Once you’ve started your program, I recommend tracking your progress every 30 days along with way. Thirty days is a sufficient amount of time to be able to see changes in your body. If you want you can weigh yourself more frequently but I’d suggest no more than once per week. Also, if you do choose to weigh yourself weekly, be sure to weigh-in on the same day of the week (like Wednesdays).

*ANOTHER NOTE: When taking measurements, body fat and checking weight, I’d suggest doing so at the same time every day. I tend to like mid-afternoon for taking measurements and checking body fat percentage and first thing in the morning for weigh-ins.

*Repeat steps 2-5 every 30 days.

Good luck, you got this!

xo Mindi

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My name is Mindi and I'm an office manager and blogger living in Minnesota with my husband and our blended family of four children. Thank you for visiting Lifting Makes Me Happy! I fight depression and anxiety with healthy living and writing. I hope you are encouraged and motivated by the things I share here. I appreciate you stopping by!
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  1. Absolutely! Keeping track of progress is very important; whenever you feel down and like giving up, looking at how far you actually have come will sure raise your spirit and make you continue.

    One addition I have to offer for weighing: Not only make it the same day / time of the week, but also the same circumstances. Weighing yourself before or after you had breakfast, for example, can make a difference of 1 – 2 lbs.

  2. Great post Melinda. I’m just starting my fitness kick (post January start really!)

    When I started I only benchmarked my weight, NOT my dimensions and after reading this, I wish I had…

    Thanks! Consider yourself in the RSS feeder…


  3. Jon Fitness Leicester says:

    Im gonna be honest I like to weigh myself before and after a workout. I know its wrong. But it makes me smile. Great advice Melinda.


  4. One of the key things to keep in mind in asking yourself why do you want to get in shape in the first place? There are a lot of things that you can do to get yourself motivated but the thing that will keep you motivated for the long term will be your why. For me the reason why I even got into the fitness industry was because I myself workout because it makes me feel better and gives me a mental edge and I want to promote that to everyone.

  5. Great list for starting a workout program. I also advise my clients to write their fitness goals in the present tense like they are happening right now. If they can see or read them in the morning and before they go to bed, it will stay in their head and they are more apt to make it happen.

  6. I completely agree with knowing your reason of why working out. People these days (especially women) do it for acceptance and that is incredibly unhealthy. A person’s identity is not in the size clothes they wear, it should be how they feel. Confidence everyone!
    Thanks for all the great tips!

  7. Thanks for this post! I’m starting my new fitness routine next week, and I definitely need all the tips and help I can get!

  8. These are great suggestions! Finding the motivation to stick to an exercise routine always gets me every time. I get excited about the possibility of a fit body, and then feel frustrated with low progress. Here’s some good information on the benefits of exercise (minus the complete focus on losing weight). It helped me stay motivated to keep exercising, even when I had a bad day on the scale. http://betterhealthwashington.com/?p=743

  9. Wonderful article! It’s good to read and be reminded of the basics. Will definitely pass on!

  10. Great Tips, I never thought of taking measurements of my body, it’s really helpful because you can tell which parts of the body changed and which parts didn’t. I used to take before and after pics and record my weight, but I will definitely add the measurements to my list .

  11. These are all great points. One more thing I like to do ( and my wife loves to do!) is to write down my schedule so I know what time and what workout I have to do on certain days. It helps to keep us accountable and on track. Great tips on here!

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