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.
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)
- Waist (at the smallest part)
- Each thigh (at about the mid-point)
- Each bicep (flexed, unflexed or both if you choose)
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.
- Body fat caliper
- Body fat scale such as the EatSmart Digital Precision Body Fat Scale
- Fat loss monitor
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!
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