Everyone working out needs a realistic view of their expectations, and of what their program would be like.
First, you need to understand that this is a big responsibility. So align your expectations according to the amount of work you are ready to put in, and the sacrifices you are ready to make. In my experience, there are two major mistakes people make with taking on too much at once:
The ‘I want it now’ approach: Because of my passion for all things health and fitness, people come up to me all the time and ask the same question: ‘How can I lose 30 pounds over the next month?’ Okay, so it’s not always 30 pounds and it’s not always a month, but you get the idea. In my opinion, if health is one of the top things on your mind (and I mean health, not just looks), this is the absolute worst way to think. Don’t think about exercise and nutrition as ‘How much can I starve myself today?’ or ‘How much less can I eat?’ . The truth is that your body can go into shock from losing too much weight at once. And if you do lose the 30 pounds in 30 days, what happens next? Do you revert back to your old diet and exercise routine? Or do you stick to that intensity for life? If you force your body to make such a dramatic change, so many things could go wrong with your health. Your organs may not get the nutrition they need, and the amount of food your body requires to maintain your weight would have dramatically reduced. In this case, you’ll have to make even more cuts to maintain the new weight.
The ‘I must be an expert on my first day’ approach: Too many people make the mistake of going into exercise with an all-or-nothing mindset. Everyone’s body reacts differently to what we put into it, and so it is always a good idea to take it slow and watch your body’s response. The risk of doing too much at once is that you may just do exactly as you’re told, and then give up when it doesn’t seem to work for you. We should learn that we are not meant to implement things exactly as they are communicated to us. You individualize everything else about yourself – your fashion sense, your career path – so why not tweak your exercise to suit your body? I’m not saying advice is wrong; obviously, I’m giving it. But I think we need to let our bodies cope with the advice given to us. For example, if you read a magazine that says you need to run five miles a day to stay healthy, and you have not run since you were fifteen, it may be easier on your body if you start slow. Maybe walk for a few days first or run for a shorter distance before you fully apply the instruction.
However, please don’t take this recommendation as an excuse to be lazy. The only way you can be successful is if you move upwards in your exercise pattern. Recognize that you need to be extremely physical, but recognize what your body is telling you at different points in your life.
To steal the words of Bryan Kest – a yoga instructor from one of my exercise DVDs, “If you push too hard, you may hurt yourself, and you wouldn’t have the drive to get back on the floor tomorrow; If you don’t push hard enough, you may not actually get much out of this. It’s your job to find that balance.”