How-To: Getting Started With a Total Fitness Plan

By Erin McPherson, Assistant General Manager at Inner Element Fitness, B.S. Exercise Sports Science

It is easy to focus on the exercise portion of fitness, but in reality, exercise is just one component of a healthy lifestyle. A total fitness plan incorporates exercise, nutrition, guidance, and personal accountability into an all-encompassing approach to taking charge of your own health. The goal of a total fitness plan is not to just achieve some image of the “perfect body,” but to achieve the body that is best for you, and to develop habits and activities that will support a path to life-long wellness. Total fitness addresses building your body physically, and then makes sure you supply it with the nutrition needed to achieve those goals. The inner element of total fitness is developing a positive mental attitude toward achieving optimal health.

The physical benefits of total fitness are easy to understand — better health, weight control, and heart activity. But the mental benefits of total fitness are just as important. Creating the best version of yourself results in a more positive approach to life, increased self-confidence, enhanced self-discipline and higher energy levels that can be directed to enjoying all of life’s special moments. Here are some how-to tips to jump-start your own total fitness plan.

What Is a Total Fitness Plan?

The four cornerstones of a total fitness plan involve exercise, nutrition, accountability and motivation to achieve success. Exercise and nutrition work hand in hand to build a stronger body and feed it properly, but you also need a way to hold yourself accountable for achieving goals along the way. Motivation is a key factor to keep focused on your plan, and that is why many people seek the support, guidance and social structure of a workout environment.

What is Most Important for Beginners Considering a Total Fitness Plan?

Many people think they can do it themselves when first starting out on a total fitness plan. But then it gets hard, or life throws a challenge at them. They set goals that are too high, miss them, lose their motivation and give up. So the first step would really be to seek professional help and guidance; find a coach or trainer to help you develop a total fitness plan, educate you, provide a solid foundation, and hold you accountable for meeting your stated goals.

What Goals Should You Include in a Total Fitness Plan?

Too many beginners start out with a huge goal and no real plan to achieve it. The key is to have both short-term and long-term goals. Long-term is the end goal of health or nutrition, but short-term goals break that down into smaller, achievable actions you can take along the way. If you have a target weight goal, for example, that is helpful as a starting point, but one short-term goal would be to break that down into learning to achieve that target by adding muscle or losing fat. Another short-term goal might be to add better nutrition elements into your everyday diet instead of just starving yourself. You want to find a safe and sustainable way to achieve the long-term goal, while still gaining skills to maintain a new level of health on a permanent basis.

What Workouts Should Beginners Use to Achieve Total Fitness?

It is helpful to have a coach or trainer who will assess your current situation and develop a workout plan that is best suited to your individual needs and goals. Seeking professional guidance can help create a visual, realistic, attainable plan to reach your goals. Although you can find plenty of self-directed workout plans, a fitness center provides a high-energy environment that is fun, encouraging, motivating and challenging.

What Role Does Nutrition Play In Total Fitness?

Most people don’t realize that nutrition is probably the biggest component of total fitness — it is really 80% nutrition and 20% fitness. What you are putting into your body gives you the energy you need to perform the fat-burning or muscle-building fitness regimens. Instead of denying your body of nutrition, you want to nourish it with micro and macro nutrients to safely achieve your goals.

What Pitfalls do Beginners Face When Adopting a Total Fitness Plan?

Beginners are usually “all in” and really excited about the process, but that is simply not realistic. Total fitness is a slow process that requires you to slowly transition your way up to where you want to be. You might start working out twice a week instead of going to the gym every day, so you don’t throw your body into shock. If you set yourself up for failure, chances are you will not succeed. Focus on one area or one element from each area, and then add in other components as you begin to realize results.

I recommend beginning a total fitness plan by simply starting to move with some basic exercise plans, and taking baby steps toward better nutrition. Get yourself a fitness and accountability partner with knowledge and education who will not steer you in the wrong direction, but who will outline short-term goals to make progress towards achieving total fitness.

Contact me today and I’ll be happy to get you started!

DISCLAIMER Please recognize the fact that it is your responsibility to work directly with your physician before, during, and after seeking fitness consultation. As such, any information provided is not to be followed without the prior approval of your physician. If you choose to use this information without the prior consent of your physician, you are agreeing to accept full responsibility for your decision.

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