The beginning of the year is a great time for people to start taking their health seriously. Unfortunately, that’s often very short-lived and motivation dies soon enough as the year progresses. This year is different though, right? You’re going to work out 3x a week, right?
Let’s make sure you get off to the best start you can. Don’t randomly emulate exercises you see others doing. Make sure you start your year off right by setting aside some time to create an action plan and visualize your health and fitness goals.
1. Count your Calories with MyFitnessPal
You are what you eat! Food is the fuel of the body. Your diet is essential to meeting your fitness goals. At the heart of all things fitness is the basic calorie count. This is a really simple idea: meet your calorie count everyday, and you will be on your way to your goal. Here’s how it works:
Use calorie counter to figure out your ideal daily calorie intake. Remember: once you start working out, you’re going to need to intake more calories than when you didn’t!
If you want to gain weight, aim to intake more than that amount of calories. So hypothetically, if your ideal intake is 2000 kcal, aim to hit 2100-2200 at first. If you’re trying to lose weight, aim lower than your ideal intake. In this case, you’d try for around 1800-1900. Work your way down, and don’t do anything too drastic. Give your body some time to adjust.
Track your calories with the calorie counter app on your phone. Conversely, you could memorize a bunch of approximate values (i.e. 100g of skinless chicken breast is around 100kcal) and track it via journal.
There’s also the matter of food composition and getting in the right type of nutrition, but if you’re just getting started, focus on your calories and use your common sense. What can you use to track your calories?
MyFitnessPal is a free calorie counter application that allows you to keep track of your food from wherever you choose to eat. Basically, you input the type of food you’re eating and MyFitnessPal will indicate how many calories you are consuming in this meal. It is available as an app for the iPhone, and can also be accessed on your computer. In case you’re skeptical, it has been endorsed by PC Mag, and also by other independent bloggers.
Naturally, working out is another very key element in staying fit and bodybuilding. Unfortunately, there are an absolute ton of plans out there to choose from. I remember being paralyzed with the simple decision of selecting a workout plan. I used the simple method of social proof: whenever I saw someone that looked like I wanted to look at the gym, I asked them what plan they used. I also poked around my friends that worked out, and sought a second opinion from them. From these inquiries, I found that the free StrongLifts 5×5 plan was pretty popular. (They also have an iPhone app.)
I ended up sticking with the Scrawny to Brawny plan, as it focused more on gaining weight and developing muscle. These two resources are totally useful for those of you looking to bulk up. Gradually, I transitioned to Rippetoe’s Starting Strength.
If these three decisions are paralyzing you, just start off with StrongLifts for two or three months. Go with the plan and show up to the gym.
These plans are tailored towards males. If you’re a female, I can’t totally say that I know of a stunning plan for you. I do know Bodybuilding.com is a useful resource for beginners looking to find a plan to start off with. They have a tool that can pick a plan for you based on your goals.
3. Stay Fit by Stretching at Work
Although the Guiding Tech team has the option of working from home, we also understand that the joys of working at an office. One of the difficulties at work, whether from home or the office, is the lack of exercise. It’s not exactly natural to stay seated in a chair for such a long period of time. Take these times to stretch lightly and make sure you remain injury free!