If you're over 40 or in midlife and decided to start your fitness journey, congrats on taking an important step to improving your health and well-being! The benefits of exercise and strength training go beyond the physical - your emotional and mental health will improve as well!
Here are 5 mistakes to avoid so your journey won't result in injury or giving up on your goals.
1) Everything, Everywhere, All at Once
It’s tempted to want to do it all– start a diet, work out 7 days a week, sign up for kick-boxing, HIIT and yoga to shed weight and “get those goals”. But this can lead to burnout and injury. More is often not better - start off with small, achievable fitness goals and allow yourself recovery days. Likewise with your eating habits - if you’re trying to cut too much out of your diet, you may be eliminating important nutrients as well as doing damage to your metabolism.
2) Coming on Wrong and Strong
This is especially the case with strength training. Lifting using poor form or lifting weight that’s too heavy are recipes for disaster. And as we get older, it's harder to recover from joint or muscle strain. Safety should always be the priority, consider hiring a personal trainer or take classes where the instructor will demonstrate the proper form for different exercises. Start off with light weight or even no weight to practice each move. As the reps become easy, you can increase the weight by 3-5 lbs. Rome wasn’t built in a day – muscle building takes time and there are no healthy shortcuts. Focus on consistency and the results will come in time. Which leads to my next mistake to avoid……
3) I Want Results and I Want Them NOW!
Expecting results too quickly will just as quickly lead to disappointment and giving up. If your goal is to drop 20 lbs. for your sister’s wedding in 6 weeks, you’re not only setting yourself up for failure but even if you are able to lose the weight, you’re probably going to gain it back and then some. It’s natural to be eager to see results, but it’s important to set realistic goals and to approach fitness with a long-term mindset. Change takes time – as I said above, consistency is key as well as patience and giving yourself grace. Anticipate temporary setbacks and plateaus - don’t see them as failures but as feedback to learn what works for your body.
4) Trying to Out-Train a Poor Diet
I’ve had clients who thought that once they started working out regularly that they could eat or drink whatever they wanted. Fitness is a lifestyle – nutrition and exercise go together like peanut butter and low-sugar jelly. Make a journal of what you typically eat and identify what healthy changes you can make in your diet. If you love snacking on the candy your co-worker keeps in her desk, start bringing fruit to work to avoid the temptation. If you’re eating out more than you eat home-cooked meals, a goal could be to reduce the restaurant dining to once a week instead of 3 times a week. Small changes go a long way, avoid the fad or crash diet route. Aim to eat more wholesome foods and fewer pre-made meals or snacks and you’ll be on the right track. And the last mistake to avoid…..
5) Comparing Your Journey to Others
Each person is unique. Don’t get caught up in the social media abyss of body transformations and compare your progress to others. You don’t know who is using a filter or other means to achieve their “dream” body. Just because the photos say “One Month Transformation” doesn’t mean it’s true. Prioritize feeling good in your skin – moving easier, sleeping better, and stressing less. Of course, you want to look in the mirror and love what you see but it begins with loving yourself first. Let the things you do to improve your wellness come from a place of self-love. Fitness isn’t a sprint, it’s a lifelong marathon and that’s perfectly fine.