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How To Get In Shape (Plain Talking Advice)

Here goes, how to get in shape… It’s a sad fact but you can’t get in shape by just sitting on the couch and thinking about it. Diets don’t work, or not unless you watch what you eat forever in an effort to avoid the weight gain rebound. Plus sometimes your best friends become your enemies when you start to get fit, (yes really).

So can you be fit, get in shape, and buck the increasing trend of piling on the pounds? Let’s do some plain talking…

how to get in shape

What’s Your Inspiration To Get In Shape?

It’s important to start out with some inspiration. This can be anything from…

  • Squeezing into the wedding dress you optimistically bought.
  • Being able to run up a flight of stairs without keeling over.
  • Keeping up with your energetic toddler.
  • Having the confidence to date.
  • Doing your best to reach retirement age and enjoy it.

Your goal is personal. It doesn’t matter to me one jot if your get-in-shape goal is losing a few pounds or if you want to run your first marathon.

My only proviso is being realistic. Those pictures on Instagram are mainly fake. Chasing unrealistic goals just ain’t healthy.

I found a great visualizer tool recently. Now it’s not perfect, and won’t work if you have big gym muscles, but it gives an idea of what a healthy weight should look like. What I like is the big range. If you’re at the upper end of a healthy range it’s still fine. By all means, get in shape but make sure your weight loss is healthy.

Write Down Your Goals for Getting In Shape

This part is about commitment. If you don’t write down your goals it’s easy to ignore them when getting in shape isn’t going to plan.

Write down your “get in shape” goal and stick it somewhere you’ll see it every day. Take your big goal and break it down into smaller steps so you don’t psych yourself out. For example:

“By the end of this month I will have lost 4 pounds and be able to run 3 miles non-stop”, is easier to get your head around than “In 12 months’ time I’m going to be 2 stone lighter and run my first marathon”.

Find your exercise motivation. If it’s getting fit for summer and the holiday of your dreams, stick some inspirational pictures next to your desk – running in the sunshine on the golden sand.

Take Your Before Pictures

You may not be keen on taking pictures, but having a reference point will help you see how far you’ve progressed. Visual images are an easier way to judge how much body fat you’ve lost than any figure on a scale.

Why? Because as you get in shape, you’ll gain muscle and muscle is heavier than fat. Take up running for example, and you may not lose much weight, but your body shape will definitely change.

Take a front and side-on image.

Record Your Weight And Start A Food Diary

Most people are like me. They hate recording what they eat. There’s nothing like writing down the minutia of what you eat in a day to discover where all those hidden calories come from.

Getting in shape comes down to two factors: exercising more and eating the right food. You’ve guessed it. Getting through your body weight of M&Ms every year really doesn’t help.

Starting off with a food diary will show you in plain sight exactly where those extra pounds are coming from. Maybe you just eat too much or perhaps you have an Achilles heel when it comes to diet. (Mine’s bread and peanut butter).

How To Eat To Get In Shape

I wish it wasn’t true but what you eat can be way more important than exercise when it comes to getting in shape.

There have been times in my life when my exercise level has been so extreme the pounds have just dropped off. (Believe me – running or climbing at altitude equals guaranteed weight loss).

At other times I’ve exercised regularly and the pounds have still crept on. The reality is most of us underestimate the calories we eat and overestimate the calories we burn.

Unless you’re a growing teenager and can get away with eating anything and everything, (just watch out for your twenties), you have to be aware of what you eat.

Ditch The Diets

I’m not a fan of diets. The US weight loss industry hit $72 billion in 2018. If diets worked, why would we keep spending so much money on them?

The truth about most diets is they work for a limited period. As soon as you hit your goal weight and the diet ends, the pounds pile back on. One-third of dieters regain more weight than they lose.

That’s terrific for the weight loss industry. They can sell you the next must-try diet and the cycle begins again. Atkins diet didn’t work – try the New Atkins diet. Paleo diet didn’t work for you, try Keto, or what about Dukan…

There’s always another diet to try with most claiming fast easy weight loss!

The Problem With Dieting To Get In Shape

Most diets are too extreme. You often don’t learn healthy eating habits and you lose weight too fast.

For most people, a healthy weight loss is 1 pound per week. Yep boring. It doesn’t compete with those attention-grabbing headlines “Lose 10 lb in 7 days” or “How to lose 50 lb quickly”.

Lose weight too fast and your metabolism shuts down. Our bodies are amazing and can adapt to a lower calorie intake. Not so great when you’re trying to lose weight.

What’s more, some of these diets can really screw up your perception of what you should be eating.

Take the high-fat, low-calorie Keto diet. With a Keto diet, your body is tricked into burning fat by restricting carbs. It may avoid the trap of a lower metabolism but as soon as the diet ends, (or you lapse), you could find yourself on a high-calorie diet where your weight skyrockets.

Yet we all keep falling for the latest fad.

Adopt Healthy Eating Instead

We’d all love a quick weight loss fix but losing 1 pound a week really adds up. If you have 50 lbs to lose, you can still lose it in one year! That’s a big deal. Even better if you then keep the weight off.

The experts may argue about the details but they all agree on the basics:

  • Fill up on veggies.
  • Eat a little fruit.
  • Choose higher fiber carbs- wholegrain is best.
  • Cut down on junk food (processed food high in saturated fats and sugar).
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water is best).

Make One Small Change At A Time

I get it. You’ve decided to get in shape. Right now you’ll commit to doing anything. Just take this advice:

Extreme changes are hard to maintain.

It’s better to make one small change at a time. Stop chasing perfection. Instead, celebrate the small gains.

Rush right in with a healthy eating plan when you’re used to living on takeaways and your body is going to struggle. Instead, make the changes gradually and they’ll become second nature.

Maybe start by cutting out sugary drinks and swapping those chips for a helping of veggies.

The following week you could switch those choccy bars for healthy snacks. Chomp on some carrot sticks.

A gradual transition to healthy eating.

Get In Shape By Moving

I’m betting this isn’t the first time you tried to get in shape. What happened before?

If it was a complete failure – learn from the experience.

There’s no point in making the same mistake over and over. If you hate going to the gym, find a different way of exercising. If you tried running and thought you were going to die being out in the wet and cold, do something else.

I may be a runner but that doesn’t mean I can’t respect people who think it’s purgatory. You just need to find what you enjoy doing and do more of it. These fitness tips will give you some ideas.

It could be dancing, climbing, cycling, yoga, squash… the choice is up to you. There’s way more chance you’ll get in shape if you do something you love.

Haven’t found anything you enjoy doing yet? Keep trying new things.

We are designed to move. The lives we lead today are unnatural. Our ancestors were chasing down prey and gathering berries. The more you move the better you’ll feel.. and the better the results.

Find Your Supporters

Getting in shape sends out ripples. There are the new friends you make when you join a yoga class. Or the huge welcome you get when you pluck up the courage to head out with your local running group.

There are people out there who want to help you. Maybe fellow “get in shape” converts. People at the same fitness level who you can sound off for inspiration. Hook up with for a run or walk or a regular gym session.

Surround yourself with these supporters.

I want to warn you about the haters…

As you get fit and lose weight, not everyone is going to be thrilled. Sometimes your friends can be the biggest critics. Have you seen Brittany Runs A Marathon? Loved this film.

In the film, Brittany’s friend Gretchen consistently tries to sabotage her efforts to get in shape. It’s an all too familiar scenario for people trying to get fit.

I’m not saying you need to cut ties with all your current friends to get in shape, but just be wary. Surround yourself with supporters if you want your efforts to be a success.

Sleep And De-Stress

Exercising regularly can help you feel more wide awake and energetic during the day. Yet you will need your sleep.

Getting by on less than 7-8 hours of sleep a night is a good way to ruin your weight loss plans. Without adequate sleep, your body won’t function at its best. Your willpower is affected and your metabolism can slow.

Stress is another big risk to your fitness. When we’re stressed we reach for comfort foods. Comfort eating blows many a weight loss plan.

If you’re a sufferer, try and keep a diary and discover what causes your triggers. Knowing your triggers can help you come up with tactics – so the next time you have a bad day you go for a walk to blow off steam instead of reaching for the biscuit tin.

Stress can also cause your body to produce more cortisol, a stress hormone that promotes body fat and makes it harder to lose weight, especially around the stomach.

Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

It’s not just that too much alcohol is a health risk, alcohol has a lot of empty calories. It won’t surprise you that it also reduces willpower.

How often have you ended up eating food you regret after a big night out? If you’re trying to get in shape, sadly it’s time to restrict those glasses of wine…

Getting in shape doesn’t have to be a battle of willpower. Finding activities you enjoy, that get you moving and increase your heart rate, is key to being fitter. Surround yourself with like-minded people and it’s far easier to start loving life by being fit!

Ready to share your experiences?

If you’ve found this post helpful, you may enjoy my other fitness-related articles:

It's a sad fact but you can't get in shape by just sitting on the couch and thinking about it. Find out what you need to do to lose weight and get fit. #fitness #fitnesstips #weightloss
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How to get in shape?

Find you inspiration to get fit, start a food diary, take small steps to improve your diet, get in shape by moving and finding an activity you love, find a support group, sleep, de-stress and watch your alcohol intake.

How long does it take to get in shape?

It depends on your starting point but even in 3 to 4 weeks you’ll start to notice significant changes if you commit to getting in shape and exercise regularly. Stick at it and in 3 to 4 months you’ll be amazed by the results.

What is a good way to start exercising?

Running or fast paced walking are both good ways to start exercising. They both burn a lot of calories and will raise your heart rate. Start with short distances and build up your weekly mileage as you get stronger. Add body weight exercises such as planking for all over fitness.