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7 Things They Don’t Tell You When You Start Exercising

 

1. Set your goals in months, not weeks

The reason most people fail their fitness and health goals is because their expectations are off – they plan in weeks, rather than months.

The first thing to know is that everyone wants to promise you fast results, but you’re going to need to be patient. Your body can change in amazing ways, but it will take time – adaptations happen in weeks and months at a time.

You can lose weight, gain muscle, look and feel better, improve performance, and significantly improve your health. The caveat is that you’re not going to do all of that in 2 weeks – so commit at least 3-months to your fitness goals.

Start with small goals, too. It’s always easier to crush a goal and set a bigger one afterwards, and the confidence that comes from that process drives you forwards and keeps you motivated. Set yourself up to win with goals like losing a few pounds, gaining a few pounds, or learning a new exercise. Winning feels good and it’s better than expecting the world in 2 weeks and being left disappointed.

 

2. You’ll become more aware of sitting for long periods

Once you start building a better connection with your body through exercise and movement, you become more aware of yourself. You’ll become conscious of bad habits like sitting for too long and how it tightens up the hips.

The first thing to know is that everyone wants to promise you fast results, but you’re going to need to be patient. Your body can change in amazing ways, but it will take time – adaptations happen in weeks and months at a time.

This kind of awareness is part and parcel of improving your connection between the mind and body. Posture, flexibility, and control all build with practice and you’ll start being a more self-aware body-owner!

This is great because it can help you take charge of your body and habits, even if that just means adding a little stretching or knowing, internally, when you need to move around a little bit.

   

3. You’ll feel more energetic, not less!

Everyone expects exercise to be a huge energy-drain, like you’re going to collapse into bed the moment you get home from work because you went for a run that morning.

The reality is usually the opposite: regular exercise is great for healthy energy levels. It supports better average mental performance, awareness, and even improves the energy you get from sleep by regulating your hormones.

This kind of awareness is part and parcel of improving your connection between the mind and body. Posture, flexibility, and control all build with practice and you’ll start being a more self-aware body-owner!

There will be some days where a tough session tires you out but – on average – you’re going to think and move better, together. Exercise is for more than just your body!

 

4. Your food-cravings may change

The way you eat is usually a reflection of the things you do and your prior experience and relationship with food. When you exercise, both of those things are likely to change as your metabolic needs change and you start developing different cravings.

Some people suggest that cravings reflect deep nutritional needs – such as craving salt being a reflection of low electrolyte (crucial minerals for muscle function) balance. This is one of the 3 most common changes in cravings:

  • Protein: lean protein sources like meat, fish, eggs, and others
  • Carbs: short-term energy sources like breads, pasta, rice, beans, pulses, and wholegrains
  • Electrolytes: salts – especially sodium, potassium, and calcium – are common
 

These reflect some of the increased demands exercise places on you. They’re obviously personal and you won’t know until you experience them – but they’re the most common.

Make sure that you have some food ideas on-hand for each of these categories so you can make smart choices when cravings hit. There’s a difference between a bag of crisps and a potato when it comes to carb-cravings.

 


5. Your self-concept is going to change

The big changes that most fitness-enthusiasts pick up on, but few people realize initially, is just how much regular exercise does for how you feel – and specifically how you feel about yourself.

Confidence is one of the most obvious changes that come with regular exercise, but there’s more to it than that. The self-concept is the ‘big picture’ of how you relate to yourself – how positive are you? How in-control do you feel in your own life? How proactively are you reflecting on your choices and habits?

Exercise helps improve self-concept across a wide range of factors by putting your back in control of your health and body, demonstrating that you can set and achieve goals, and improving your sense of power in your own life.

There are other ways to do this, obviously (like a meaningful career or building expertise in a hobby or skill), but exercise is direct. It’s one of the fastest ways of turning effort into real-world change, and that’s why it’s so effective in improving self-concept, health, and mental health simultaneously.

 

6. Sometimes it’s going to suck

Very few people talk about the fact that some days in the gym or on the road or on the track will suck.

Exercise performance is not linear – you don’t just get better every day. You get better week by week and month by month, with wild deviations from the average. You’re going to improve overall, but some days here and there will feel rough.

It’s important that you know that now because, when they arrive, you want to be prepared. If you expect some days to feel difficult and sluggish, then you’re not going to panic as much when they come around and you feel like you’re underperforming.

Every Olympic athlete or sports mega-star has had thousands of bad sessions. Expect them, don’t beat yourself up about them, and just try to squeeze out some positivity: you turned up, you worked hard, and you’ll have a better one next time.

Plan for bad days but work to turn them around. Exercise is beneficial to your health and fitness even when you’re not performing at your best.

 

7. Injuries exist – but you don’t need to fear them

Some people don’t exercise because they’re worried about injury – but it’s actually the other way around. People get injured because they’re weak in the joints or they’re unfamiliar with the physical activities they ask of their bodies.

Better technique, an appropriate program, and proper warm-ups all help to reduce your injury risk. Focus on form and control wherever possible – and don’t rush the weights – and you’re going to stay safer. Injuries can still happen, but responsible and sustainable training keep them to a minimum.

Injuries may happen during exercise – but you don’t usually need to be afraid of them. The vast majority are very minor and simply require a little rest. On the other hand, exercise reduces the risk of serious, chronic problems like osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, and countless other health risks.

You might be worried about spraining an ankle, but the risks are low, and the symptoms are mild, compared to the many health conditions and lifelong injuries that are associated with inactivity!

 

Final Thoughts

We like to focus on the glamour and pomp of exercise – but sometimes that misses out the important things that you need to know. We’ve outlined 7 of the biggest overlooked and important factors when you start exercise and hopefully that puts you in a better place to take care of your own health.

It’s a process that can be amazingly rewarding both for your health but, just as important, for how you feel and your quality of life. Exercise doesn’t need to be strict, monastic, and laborious – it can be a fun and enjoyable everyday part of your life that benefits your health, too.

Keep these 7 simple tips in mind and rethink exercise and what it can do for you.

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