Ask yourself why you want to create a fitness plan before you begin. Understanding your motivation, even a simple one, including “to feel better” or “to look better” will help you create your plan and help you stick with it. Document the plan in a visible place where you can’t avoid seeing it. Set yourself up for success by having workout clothes clean and set out, with a pair of sneakers and a charged MP3 player.
Create a fitness goal. The goal can be to lose a certain number of pounds, to fit into a favorite pair of jeans or a skirt, to improve overall fitness, or to be able to participate in a sporting event like running a marathon. Another type of fitness goal could be lose five to ten inches around the hips, waist or bust.
Evaluate where you are not in terms of overall fitness. Take the test at the Adult Fitness Test website (see Resources). The fitness test uses the same criteria a personal trainer would use: aerobic fitness, flexibility, strength and endurance, and your Body Mass Index (BMI). To calculate just your BMI, which is a solid indicator of your body’s fat percentage, use the calculator linked in the Resources section. Compare your actual and current fitness level to your goal.
Examine your schedule to find time for exercise. Accommodate your family’s needs and times within the schedule. Determine how much time you will realistically have to devote to fitness.
Schedule half of your time for cardiovascular exercise and half of the time for strengthening and stretching exercises. Break down cardiovascular time to include one sport or group activity per week or every other week. The cardiovascular sessions should also include time to warm up and stretch, and and to stretch and cool down after the exercise.
Be accountable to yourself. Document your fitness schedule and mark the days when goals were met. Use any method which works for you, including a paper calendar on your desk or on the wall. Use the calendar on a cell phone, PDA or computer and send yourself reminders about scheduled fitness plans. Join a free weight loss community like SparkPeople or print out a fitness goal sheet from the Young Women’s Health website. (See Resources)
Re-evaluate fitness goals when you reach them or when they seem out of reach. Consider modifying fitness goals to a more attainable goal if you have not reached any of your fitness goals in six months. It’s possible there are time constraints, physical obstacles or other things that can get in the way of your original plan. When you have reached your goal, it’s time to challenge yourself again. The challenge will be to maintain the gains you’ve made, as well as make new goals.
- Do not give up if your plan goes off track for a week or even a month. Start again and keep working towards your goals.