Getting Fit 101

Last month I did a post called  Healthy Eating 101 that addressed the most common questions I receive on how to start eating healthier. Now, it's time to get to the other essential part of getting healthy - exercising! One of the biggest obstacles to getting into a fitness routine is finding motivation. I have previously written on the psychology of motivation and shared 10 tips on how to find the inspiration to begin, and stick with, a fitness program. Once that hurdle has been crossed comes the fun part - where do you even start? I'll take a look at two types of activities I engage in regularly and discuss how I started in them and what I've found to be the most successful techniques.

Strength Training

I'm hoping by now everyone know's how important it is to strength train. Just in case - here is the main reason why I do it at least 3 times a week.

For every 3 pounds of muscle you build you burn an extra 120 calories a day. Plus, strength training will help decrease overall body fat so while the scale may not budge a lot 5 pounds of muscle is much more dense then 5 pounds of fat! That's where you'll see women complaining about the scale going up but their loosing inches. If your fitting back into those skinny jeans does it really matter what the damn scale says? {For my rant on scales you can see this post}

I do all of my strength training at home with a set of 5 or 8 pound weights. The very first DVD I purchased years ago is the same one I'd recommend to those of you just starting to work on strength - Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred.

30 day shred

You can read my full review here but basically it's the perfect spot to start from 'ground zero' and it progresses up to level 3 which I still find to be a challenging workout. I remember trying to do level 1 and I don't think I could even make it to the end - and I definitely couldn't keep myself in plank! Hey, we all got to start somewhere. You can actually view the entire level 1 workout on youtube here.

If your ready for a more challenging routine at home my latest obsessions are Tracey Mallet's F.I.T and Jillians Extreme Shed and Shred. The thing I love most about working out at home is that it saves a ton of time in driving, and it is significantly more cost effective then getting a gym membership. A set of weights and a few DVD's will be under $50 and will keep you going for months!


Originally, I started off running last year (it's only been a year!?) doing a version of the popular Couch to 5k program. You start off with alternating running/walking intervals - anyone can do that! Within 2 months you should be able to run a full 5k (3.1 miles) without stopping. I actually progressed quickly through the program and ended up doing something more like the Beginners 5k program from Hal Higdon (pictured below.) Here, you don't plan to talk walk breaks, but you just do the best you can to run each distance listed.

Hal Higdon

I started running a few months before I got my iPhone but here is my first run recorded via RunKeeper!

2013-05-14 15.06.08

My average pace time then was 12:30 for a short (3-4 mile) run. I later went on to use Hal Higdon's Intermediate Half Marathon training plan to run my first half this April and my pace was about 10:30 for 13.1 miles - quite the improvement!


Finally - the one piece of equipment I use no matter what activity I'm doing is my Polar heart rate monitor. I am in seriously love with this thing. You can read my full review, with video, here. Being able to keep track of how many calories I'm actually burning with each workout is important to me. Most people severely overestimate how many calories they burn exercising! It's also incredibly motivating to push just a little extra, or for a little longer, to see that 'calories burned' number go up. I also use it to keep an eye on my heart rate while working out at home. It can be easy to half-ass things sometimes and if I look down and my HR is going down significantly I start putting some extra energy back into my workout.

How did you first start strength training or running?

What is the one bit of advice you'd give someone just beginning to workout?