It’s never too late to get back in shape. No matter how old you are or how long you’ve been inactive. The key is to take it at a sustainable pace and to focus on the important stuff.
Here’s a simple game plan you can follow to get back in shape. You can do this at any age… even if you’ve been inactive for a long time.
We’ll break down exactly what you need to know about nutrition, motivation, exercise
Get your mind right
When looking to get back in shape a lot of people make the mistake of focusing on diet and exercise first. In fact there are two prerequisites that you need to address ahead of those two factors.
The first one is getting your mindset right. You’ve probably experienced this if you’ve tried any other diet or workout plan in the past.
The reason so many people fall off track just weeks after they’ve started a fitness program is that they didn’t have the right motivation, discipline and mindset before they started.
What’s your why?
Before putting on your running shoes, picking up a weight or restocking your kitchen with health foods, ask yourself… why is it you want to get in shape in the first place?
Is your motivation – your why – strong enough to keep you on track, even when times get tough? When you want to fall off your diet, have that piece of cake or skip your workout?
Getting back in shape is all about lasting lifestyle changes. This requires strong motivation. Without it you’re likely to throw in the towel when things get tough.
Here’s how you get it:
Design a 30 day mission statement
Your ultimate goal may be to lose 50 or 60 pounds, but focusing on that right off the bat might feel a bit intimidating. It might even demotivate you or prevent you from getting started in the first place.
Of course, having an end goal is important… but in the beginning, focus on the first month and create a 30 day mission statement of what you want to accomplish.
Start off by thinking about two things:
First, take a minute to think about your current behaviors around eating and exercise. Think about the impact they have on your health, fitness and well-being. What are the costs that these behaviors are bringing into your life?
- physically: pain, health issues or being overweight?
- financially: costs for medication or health care?
- in your relationships: not being able to keep up with your kids or your partner feeling less attracted to you?
- emotionally: feeling insecure or unattractive?
Secondly, spend some time thinking about the benefits. Imagine it’s a couple of months from now. You’re in better shape… fitter, leaner, healthier.
What are the benefits and joy that have been invited back into your life as you’ve gotten back on track? Are you leaner? More energetic? More confident?
Once you’ve identified the costs and the benefits, you can design a 30 day mission statement.
In the next 30 days I’m committed to exercising three times a week after work and eating healthy every single day. I aim to lose 10 pounds and improve my performance at work, my relationship and to feel more confident about myself and my body. I accept the costs of investing in my health and fitness because I know how important this is to my longevity and staying around for my family.
That’s just an example of a mission statement. The key is to be specific about the costs and benefits.
So, that’s the mindset piece. But there’s another thing you should look at before you even think about diet or exercise, and that’s
The next thing you want to do if you want to get back in shape is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. A lot of people make this mistake. They try to lose weight and get back in shape when they’re chronically sleep-deprived.
It’s really hard for our bodies to actually release weight when we aren’t getting sufficient sleep. That’s because sleep is our regeneration and restoration time. It’s where our bodies repair all our cells and muscle fibers, increase growth hormones and burn fat.
Research shows that insufficient sleep:
- Impairs immune function & disease resistance
- Diminishes your ability to lose weight
- Promotes insulin resistance and diabetes
- Impairs optimal brain function
- Increases the time needed to recover from exercise
- Makes you more susceptible to feeling down or depressed
At minimum you should aim for around seven hours of sleep per night. This article gives some great tips on how to sleep better.
Okay, you have your mission statement, you’ve got your mindset sorted and you’re getting your zzz’s.
The next thing you need to focus on is… nutrition.
Nutrition to get back in shape
Lots of people make the mistake of thinking that they can exercise their way to get back into shape without worrying to much about the food they put into their mouths.
Of course, exercise is very important, as we’re going to talk about in a second, but nutrition is the number one lever to really lose weight and burn fat. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet!
A really simple strategy you can use to eat healthier without any complicated nutrition rules or calorie counting is by dividing your plate into three sections:
- Half of your plate is filled with any kind of veggie you love.
- A quarter of is filled with any kind of protein you love.
- The last quarter is filled with healthy carbs like sweet potato, brown rice, full grain pasta or quinoa.
This plate division strategy is a simple and sustainable way to improve without overthinking it. It helps you build healthy eating habits and keep up those habits long-term. This makes much more sense than going on a restrictive crash diet, losing 10 pounds only to gain 15 back.
You can do many different kinds of food combinations using the simple strategy mentioned above. For example:
- Chicken breast with broccoli and some brown rice
- Lean steak with a salad and sweet potato
- Salmon spinach and quinoa
The possibilities are endless. Just sticking to the 50% veggie, 25% protein and 25% healthy carb combination will help you on your way to a sustainable healthy diet.
Now you have your foundation in place, it’s time to look at what most people think is the most important step to getting back in shape…
If you’re looking to get back in shape after a long time it’s probably not a good idea to start with a really intensive exercise plan right off the bat. It’s going to take up ton of your time and it’s going, be really hard to stick and make it much more difficult to develop the habit of exercising regularly.
For this reason it’s best to start gradually. Start with around two to three workouts per week. Aim for a combination of some strength training and cardio in each workout. The moderate weight/high fatigue routines from Old School New Body are a great place to start.
Whether you’re male or female, if you want to get back in shape fast you definitely want to build some lean muscle. It’s going to help you burn more calories at rest and increase your metabolic engine.
Strength training is important, but you also want some cardio. You want to get the blood pumping and get your heart rate up get your metabolism going.
The best way to combine strength training with cardio is through HIIT style workouts. If you want to get in shape at home and you don’t want to invest in equipment you can easily design your own workouts using bodyweight exercises. Check out this 4-Minute workout for an example of how to do this.
Try to schedule three workouts per week, each lasting 20-30 minutes. Space them out throughout the week, for instance Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This kind of schedule will give you a metabolic boost throughout the week while also giving your body the time it needs to recover.
After you’ve formed the habit of three 30 minute workouts per week you can always increase the amount of exercise as your goals shift and change.
However, just that amount of exercise, combined with a decent diet, sufficient sleep and the right mindset should be enough to get noticeable results relatively quickly.
Related workout programs: