“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
When you picture your current physical self walking into a fitness facility how does it make you feel? Standing at the door, in your oversized and likely unflattering outfit of choice what do you see? Before you is a room filled with unfamiliar torture devices, gorgeous super model-like people with perfect bodies, club music pumping, machines whirring, weights clanging, Hercules grunting, TVs flashing and then you, looking like the Michelin man, unable to move, your heart racing, your mind darting and sweat pooling under your arm pits. Now, in this moment, you have a choice: run back out the door, race home, and never go back or take a deep breath, push your anxiety aside and step forward into the mix and navigate your way through your first workout.
This scenario is a replay of the first day I walked into the YMCA. Actual super models and Greek mythological characters may not have been present. I think about what life would’ve been like had I chosen to go home in that moment and I am forever thankful I didn’t. Instead I swallowed my fear and put myself through the most poorly structured but physically exhausting workout I could manage with my limited knowledge and experience. It was a horrid display, all 330lbs of me sliding from machine to machine where every movement was a heroic effort. I wandered aimlessly through the maze, even once dropping the full weight of a bench press bar across the top of my groin. You haven’t lived until you’re lying there on an incline bench with about 100lbs of dead weight sitting just above your baby maker and hoping nobody in the gym can see you but desperately needing someone to help you move the bar. That day could barely have been more disheartening but it was a start and as much as I felt like an utter failure and total loser on the way home I pushed all doubt aside and reminded myself I had done it, I’d gone to the gym and not died so I vowed to go back. And I did. And I do. And you have to, too.
Quit being the greatest obstacle in your own life. Fear is powerful yet not something people necessarily consider as blocking them from losing weight. Failure, judgment, uncertainty, lack of knowledge, and an inability to see the future are all elements of fear. They’re common and they’re legitimate. To succeed at weight loss you have to acknowledge the fear, put it aside and get started. This is not earth shattering news. It sounds easy but can actually be pretty daunting, the whole get started part. That’s why I’m here. I’m going to give you a first day “how-to.”
So many people have the desire to change, to lose weight and start living their best life but many people, myself included, have absolutely no idea how to start, what to do on Day 1. Because I’m bossy and have all the answers I’m going to tell you, thereby removing all excuses.
What can that first day look like for you and what should you do? First, wear comfortable but not too schlubby clothing. You don’t have to wear spandex but a decently put together outfit will do wonders for your psyche. Second, walk in knowing you’re there to work on yourself and nobody there cares what you look like or why you’re there. If you think they do just log in to Instagram and take a peak at the infinite number of gym selfies. You are the least of anyone’s concern. Third, act like you know what you’re doing. As they say, fake it til you make it. And if you can’t fake it, text me, I’ll help you out. Fourth, breathe, at all times, no matter what.
Now you’re in the gym, what do you do? My advice is to begin with a cardio workout followed by a light introduction to weight training. It’s your first day and this journey is a marathon in the greatest sense of the word so it’s not necessary to blow it out on the first day, especially if the last time you saw physical activity was some time around grade school Red Rover. Here’s my guide to start gaining on your life.
Gym Day 1
Pick a cardio machine, preferably one out of the main visible areas of your gym. In my opinion it’s okay to hide on your first day with the goal of one day putting yourself on full display. If you’re really big, like I was, avoid the bike. This gives you three other options: the treadmill, elliptical, or stairmaster. Since it’s day one go with the treadmill; it’s familiar, it’s safe, and it’s forward movement which is obviously meant to be symbolic. Not all treadmills are the same but they’re similar enough to follow this routine after hitting Quick Start. Don’t worry about selecting a program, do this one instead:
Pace Duration Incline
2.8 4 minutes 0
3.8 3 minutes 0
3.8 3 minutes 1.5%
4 3 minutes 3%
3 5 minutes 6%
4 4 minutes 2%
3.8 5 minutes 0
2.8 3 minutes 0
Total Cardio = 30 minutes
Congratulations, you’ve just completed your first cardio workout and you should have definitely broken a sweat and should feel either fairly invigorated or tired as hell or a combination of both. Good.
Come back soon for the second half!