Even though most humans are lazy by nature, we all strive to feel good. Being healthy & fit is an important part of our well-being. But sometimes it seems too hard. What does being fit mean? Is it feeling or looking good? Is it about exercising, sleeping, eating…? Is it a number on a scale? (Just so you know, it isn’t…) I know it’s confusing and I’m here to help. Let me offer you a basic guideline on how to feel fit. It’s all about asking the right questions: six to be precise. Let’s look at each of them.
1. What would I want to be able to do, if I were fit and healthy?
Ask yourself: “What are the things I would like to do better, more often or faster, during my everyday life or during training?”. The answer to this question can be as simple as “I want to be able to walk the stairs to my flat, without being breathless” or “I want to be able to do a split”. Don’t go all academic: just put your main desire in simple words. Skip the fancy. No one’s judging. Now, think about what you must do, to achieve that wish. Is it losing or gaining weight, gaining muscle & endurance or becoming more flexible? Keep it in mind.
2. What is the most realistic goal for me right now?
Determine what you could really do now with the time & resources you have today. Be realistic and prioritize. The thing you want the most, might not be the best first option. For example, you might wish to run a marathon, but it’s a long road to get there. You should focus on building up your endurance first.
3. What kind of goals do I have?
To set up your goals, analyze them using the ABC:
- A-goals answer the question “What can I change right here and now?”. These are the type of goals you should be able to tackle right away or in the next 24 hours, at the latest. Examples: no more junk food or drinking 3 liters of water each day.
- B-goals answer the question “What can I change in a month?”. These are the goals you are planning to conquer within the next 3 or 4 weeks. Make sure you update and adapt them as you go. Examples: no more coffee or being able to lift 15 pounds.
- C-goals answer the question: “What can I change in a year?”. This is your long-term plan. In reality, you should have no more than 1 or 2 ultimate goals to achieve within the next 12 months. Examples: fitting in a new dress or running a marathon.
4. What kind of exercise do I enjoy the most?
After setting your goals, the next step is finding something that you are passionate about. A nutrition program, a fitness studio you like, your favorite class… The options are endless. Don’t work out in a fitness studio if you hate the atmosphere. Find something you can do at home or outside. Don’t run alone if you dislike the idea… Find a running buddy! Don’t do yoga if you dislike it, try pilates! Remember that for you can work out every muscle group in different ways. You don’t have to stick to pushups & squats. Try swimming, dancing, skiing… anything that brings you joy.
5. What does my body tell me?
In general, our bodies let us know when something is not working. You just have to learn how to listen. The moment you are sore, aching or in pain, stop. Ask yourself what’s going on and why is there pain? Is it wise to train today? Don’t get me wrong, the good old muscle hangover you feel the morning after is good for you: it means that the muscle is working on building up more muscle mass. However, if you have exercised the same way a couple of times and something feels wrong, it’s time to look for a different alternative. Remember to give each muscle group a break between sessions but never stop working out for more than 3 days in a row. If you do, you’ll risk losing all the progress you’ve made!
6. And, most importantly, am I patient enough?
Every body works in different ways. Most people, who start working out, actually gain weight, before losing any. Don’t be confused if, at first, your body reacts differently from what you expected. Remember, different muscles develop at different rates, shapes, and sizes.
In reality, your journey to fitness won’t be as smooth and as straight as what I’ve outlined here. You will find challenges (intrinsic & extrinsic) that will make the road harder. Sometimes, you will get excited, and you’ll make huge progress in little time. Sometimes you won’t. Remember: it’s OK to feel frustrated, it’s OK to choose an easier route to begin, it’s OK to need a cheat day once in a while. Setbacks happen so, don’t be hard on yourself but KEEP GOING. Giving up is not an option!
Jana, owner of Cocos Cal Burn, is a certified fitness instructor, dance junkie & mother of a little earthquake of joy. She is a native German speaker who, nonetheless, feels passionate about offering women the possibility of exercising within a safe, fun, space in their own language. On her free nights, you can find her belting it out at the karaoke or on the dance floor in the coolest bar in town.
Photo credit: Hailing from sunny Florida, Loralee is an English & Spanish speaking family & children photographer who enjoys capturing bright colors, big smiles & childhood memories. She is a Munich resident since 2015 and mom to one very cute little girl. Find her work at Loralee Photography.