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How to start a fitness journey

Starting a health and fitness journey can seem intimidating at first, but you don’t need to worry. Take it slow and follow these simple suggestions. Here is a Q&A with renowned Canadian fitness instructor and long-time contributor and guest editor to our sister magazine, Optimyz, Nichelle Laus.

Q: I need to get started on a health and fitness journey. Where would you recommend I start?

The internet is a daunting place. I mean, it’s called the “world wide web” for a reason; it’s easy to get lost in the various strands of information it provides. What might have started as an innocent cat video search on YouTube leads you to research how to install backsplash using margarine and $7 oil paints.

Fitness Education

While the internet is a useful resource for nutrition and training, the first “diet” you have to put yourself on is an information diet. Stick to one to three reliable sources (friends, professionals, websites, magazines) and refer back to them for all your questions. Make sure your sources are trusted, rooted in science, and have experience to back up what they’re saying. Your sources should also have values that coincide with your own.

As an example, there are doctors who prescribe B-vitamin injections and low calorie diets for rapid fat loss. While that is an effective method for some people, it’s not something I could get behind when making recommendations to a busy, active mom who wants energy to work out. So verify your sources of education and start your information diet now!

Nutrition for Fitness Routines

While it sounds like a cliche, “just eat clean” is probably the most useful phrase for a beginner on their fitness journey. Begin by drinking more water (try to drink 8-10 glasses every day), swapping out processed foods for natural ones, getting rid of soda, and consuming low/no-fat options instead of full-fat ones. 

Cut back on the three S’s: sugar, salt, and soda. These are usually the biggest culprits when it comes to categories of food that hinder fat loss and increase bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Once you’ve been able to reduce your intake of those S’s for two to four weeks, you can look into eliminating other foods or categories of foods that aren’t serving you in your quest for a healthier life. Forming healthy eating habits will help you on your journey.

Starter Training for a Fitness Routine

I’m going to take the Occam’s razor (simpler is better) approach to training, and say, “move more.” We don’t have to get into the intricacies of how to divide your body for maximum strength, or even what rep range you should be using for muscle gain.

I want you to focus on getting in 8,000 to 10,000 steps every day, with a simple workout 2-4 times per week, even if it’s just a quick bodyweight circuit from one of my previous articles. Focus on the use of compound (multi-joint) exercises, and hit big muscle groups (legs, back, chest) preferentially over small ones (abs, arms, shoulders).

Remember that the most important step to starting your journey is just that –starting!

More Insight: Check out this helpful article on creating a daily movement routine when you’re over 50.

Author: Nichelle Laus is the owner of Optimum Training Centre in Toronto, Ontario. A fitness and cover model, figure and bikini competitor, competition preparation and transformation coach for Team Laus, she is a certified personal trainer, and kickboxing and kettlebell instructor. Nichelle is also a motivational speaker and proud mom of four boys under the age of eight.