3 Things I Want You to Know if You’re New to Working Out

a woman, who might be new to working out, doing a crunch

Summer’s coming, and, as is usually the case, a lot of people are doing frantic internet searches trying to figure out how they can lose weight and get in shape as quickly as possible. Folks who haven’t exercised in a long time, or perhaps have never exercised and are brand new to working out, are considering taking up running or doing a 30-day fitness program that is marketed with impressive before and after pictures.

Does this sound like you? Before you spend your hard-earned money on some program you see online or the one that your friend swears by, I want to talk to you about some things I recommend not doing when you start exercising or return to working out after a long break.

When I started taking my health and fitness seriously after a long hiatus a few years ago, I made a lot of mistakes, and I want to try and save you from making those same mistakes if possible. Here are three things I want you to know if you’re new to working out*.

1. Extreme Results Require Extreme Measures

I’ve heard Laura Ligos, AKA The Sassy Dietitian, talking about this recently and it’s really resonated with me.

There are lots of extreme things you can do to lose weight quickly. If you take extreme action to lose weight and see results, though, you’re also going to have to continue with those extreme actions if you want to continue seeing those results.

You can do a juice cleanse and lose a lot of weight. What’s going to happen, though, when you stop the juice cleanse (and, let’s face it, no matter how good your intentions are, eventually, you’re going to stop)? How are you going to make sure you’re not going to regain the weight you lost?

In almost all cases, I’m not a proponent of fad diets, extreme workout routines, or other intense measures to lose weight. I understand that, sometimes, extremes are needed.

Most of time, though, I think people can see better results — results that will actually last — if they slow down and practice patience, rather than trying to rush and see how much weight they can lose in the shortest possible amount of time.

2. There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Maybe your friend lost a ton of weight following a ketogenic diet. Maybe your cousin has seen great results from going to pilates classes three times per week.

There’s nothing wrong with trying these things out to see if they work for you. Remember, though, that just because something works for someone else, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work for you.

We’re all different. We have different lifestyles. We have different metabolisms. We have different food and exercise preferences. Something might be a game-changer for one person and a total no-go for someone else. It’s okay if you try something and find that you just don’t like it or that it just doesn’t work well for you.

Give it a couple of weeks to really see whether or not it’s a good fit (there’s always an adjustment period when you adopt any particular way of eating or exercising), but if, after that point, it’s still not doing it for you, consider it a learning experience and move on to something else.

3. Numbers Aren’t Everything

It’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers. The number on the scale, the specific macronutrient numbers you’re trying to hit, the number on the plates you’re loading onto your barbell, the number of reps you can do of a particular exercise.

I don’t have any problem with monitoring the numbers. I track macros, I pay attention to the amount of weight I’m lifting and the number of reps I can do.

It’s important to note, though, that there’s more to living a healthy lifestyle than the numbers. They’re only one piece of the puzzle. There are lots of other things that matter, too. There’s your mood, your energy levels, your sleep quality, etc.

Numbers are helpful, for sure, but they’re not the end-all-be-all. As I mentioned in this post, there’s more to think about than just the scale.

Don’t get so caught up on the numbers that you neglect other important forms of biofeedback. They can tell you just as much as, if not more than, the numbers can.

Keep This in Mind if You’re New to Working Out

There’s way more that I could say about what I want people who are new to working out to know. In the interest of not making this post a million words long, though, I’m going to cut it off here.

These are three things I’ve had to learn the hard way. If possible, I want to save you from having to go through them yourself. Start slow, avoid cookie cutter plans, and remember that numbers (numbers of the scale, the number of calories you eat, the size of your jeans, etc.) are not the be-all-end-all.

If you’re not new to working out, what is something you wish you’d known when you were? Comment down below and let me know!

*For what it’s worth, these tips might be beneficial to some more seasoned exercisers, too!

4 thoughts on “3 Things I Want You to Know if You’re New to Working Out

  1. David Earley says:

    When I first began learning to exercise, my biggest mistake was doing the exercises I enjoyed the most and not the others. A lot of younger people probably do this and it’s a bad habit which can lead to functional problems. There’s a balance to exercise, just like there’s a balance (or should be) to nutrition and other areas in life.

    Exercise may not be all about the numbers like you said, but those who track are often more successful than those who do not. I’ve been guilty of not tracking over the years, and it’s difficult to determine how things are going and what you need to do next without tracking.

    Exercise and nutrition are very related. How many people jump right into marathons? Probably none, but most people jump right into a diet with severe restrictions. My brother did this recently with keto – never dieted before, but went all-in. Not the world’s greatest strategy, but this is what many people do. I normally advise starting small. Cut out soda, or fast food, or something you CAN do. Make that a habit, and move on from that success. It’s not so different from an exercise program.

    Good stuff, Natalie!

    1. Natalie Thongrit, CPT says:

      I’m totally with you, especially when it comes to doing exercises I enjoy and skipping others. I still fall into this trap sometimes, but I’ve been making an effort, especially since I’ve been exercising at home and seeking a little more variety, to do more of the exercises I hate (cough, cough, Bulgarian split squats).

      You’re so right with your marathon analogy, too. So many people want to dive straight into restrictive diets and, more often than not, it doesn’t work out that well, at least long-term. Small changes usually provide better results, but it takes longer to see those results, so I get why people go for the all-or-nothing approach instead. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. David Earley says:

        I love split squats!

        Surprisingly, step-ups with dumbbells are one of my least favorite exercises. My heart rate goes way up, it’s more difficult to breathe and my forearms get tired first. It’s more like cardio than a leg exercise. However, I figured out the trailing leg is always aiding the leg which is supposed to be doing the work. If I attempt to raise the trailing leg (without pushing off the floor) and THEN extend the opposite leg, the lower body gets much more out of step-ups. I’m sure other people have realized this, but I don’t ever hear anyone mentioning it.

        Have you ever tried Turkish Get-ups at the end of a workout? Anyone can do a get-up first. I hate them at the end of an hour long workout. I’d rather do sprints. That stuff is brutal!

        1. Natalie Thongrit, CPT says:

          I sometimes include Turkish Get-ups at the end of my workouts, and I always regret it — I still might pick them over sprints, though, lol. You’re so right about the step-ups, too. I haven’t done those in a while; maybe I should start adding them to my home workouts more often!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *