Starting out on a fitness journey, whether you are just starting to exercise or planning a new challenge, can be daunting. While there are many different factors that will decide whether you succeed, there are some basic building blocks you can adopt straight away to give yourself the best chance of achieving your goals.
#1 Hit your hydration target
People underestimate the importance of proper hydration and often struggle to take in enough water throughout the day. Water can have a great impact on weight loss! It's been shown to 'trick' our brains into feeling full. The signals for hunger are extremely similar to the signals for thirst, so they become intertwined and can be easily confused. Get adequately hydrated by hitting your daily hydration target.
A good place to start would be 0.044 litres x body weight in kilos. So, if you weigh 70kg, you'd need to drink 3.08 litres of water per day for optimum health, and ideally this should come from water alone. A great app I like to recommend to clients is Waterlogged. It allows you to set up your daily target and gives your reminders to drink, as believe it or not, it's very easy to forget!
#2 Eat more protein
Protein intake is the first nutrition factor we look at in new clients, but like water intake, it is often neglected. For individuals who are trying to increase muscle size and/or decrease body fat protein is a necessity. A high protein diet has been shown to increase levels of satiety, meaning you feel fuller for longer, with several studies showing the advantages of a high protein breakfast over a carbohydrate one for better calorie control and consumption.
When it comes to the consumption of protein women should aim to consume 1.6-2g of protein per kilogram per day, though this is of course dependent on training goals, individual circumstances and outcomes. If you're not hitting the lower end of this then you definitely need to get more protein. Using the macronutrient tracking feature on apps such as MyFitnessPal makes tracking your protein intake really easy. You
#3 Don't take on too much in the gym
When starting out on a fitness journey, or increasing focus, people often try to take on too much. Don't promise yourself that you'll go from no sessions in the gym to four or five a week, or from twice to six times! While the motivation is great, such a drastic change is unlikely to stick in the long run as you haven't allowed time for training to become a gradually bigger part of your lifestyle.
If you don't visit the gym at the moment, set a reasonable goal and aim to go for two or three sessions a week. If you can stick to this for a few months, think about increasing it. Remember, when it comes to training less is often more.
#4 Mix up your exercise
Many people rush straight for the treadmill or cross trainer when they join a gym, and while there is room for steady state cardio in some exercise programmes, there's not time in one looking for rapid results!
A well-balanced programme for somebody looking for results in a relatively short time frame will be made up of a few weights-bases sessions per week, with one or two High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions each week. Try to make room for at least one, as it will greatly benefit any weight loss attempts.
#5 Get enough sleep
Although diet and exercise are important, there are changes made outside the gym that have a huge impact on performance. Sleep is a key factor. A really helpful goal is to make more time for sleep, improve the quality of sleep or create a better night time routine.
Whatever you hope to achieve with exercise, addressing the basics is a good start. Despite the common myth that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, researchers have found that it actually takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a habit with 66 days being the average, so the sooner you make these basic principles part of your everyday life, the sooner you'll be able to make further changes!