Good for you! Making a plan to get in shape isn’t just about how you look in your favorite jeans. Getting in shape is one of the best ways to extend and improve your quality of life. You’ll reduce the risk of chronic illness and handle stress better. Here’s what to expect.
Slow and steady wins the race
Getting in, and staying in, the fitness game is the biggest hurdle. Cross that and the benefits continue to accrue. Better blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk of insomnia and improved functional fitness. What’s functional fitness? That just means it is easier to do the regular activities of daily living – climbing stairs, lugging groceries and reaching onto shelves or cabinets. Still, if the biggest part of your motivation is how you’ll look in your favorite jeans, expect to start seeing a difference in about six to eight weeks.
Start with some baseline measures so you can more accurately chart your progress. Use a tape measure for your thighs, waist, arms and any other places you want to improve. Using a scale of 1 to 10 ask yourself a few questions such as:
- How easily can I climb a flight of stairs or walk a block without feeling winded?
- How well do I sleep?
- What is my overall energy level throughout the day?
- How happy am I with health indicators? For example, what is your A1C number, cholesterol and blood pressure?
- Include any other measures that are important to you.
Use a journal to chart your progress. Being in amazing shape is about how you look, AND it is about how you feel.
Keep up the good work
By month three, you should see some big changes in your body. Expect to lose inches as well as pounds and to have more energy. You may even find that your blood pressure and cholesterol are lower, and your mood is better. Good job.
Managing the plateau
Progress comes quickly in the beginning and slows with time. Adjust your routine and keep at it! Tapering is normal and does not mean you aren’t still helping your health with exercise. Record all meals and snacks in your journal to be sure you aren’t taking in more calories and fat than you realize. Add in some HIIT (high-intensity interval training) if you haven’t already. HIIT helps you supercharge your fat and calorie-burning power. Unlike steady-state exercise, HIIT alternates high-intensity exercise with lower intensity exercise. For example, you can alternate one minute of jumping jacks with 15-seconds of high knee lifts.
Depending on where you started (everybody is different) you can expect to get in better shape in three to six months and amazing shape in about a year. Be patient with yourself along the journey and stay focused on the big picture…improved quality of life. Looking better is great but feeling better is beyond amazing.