How To Start- First Steps on your Health and Fitness Journey

Reaching your destination is a lot easier if the first step is in the right direction

Envision how you want to look. I’m talking your dream physique. Take a sec and really, really focus on it.

Now look at yourself. What are the differences? Are there a few? That’s ok!

Think about the journey. What kind of habits will you need to form? How will the journey to your dream physique shape your schedule, your lifestyle, and you priorities? What “inner changes” will you have to make?

Thanks for playing along. Are you overwhelmed? There’s no need to be! 

In this post I want you to learn THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of getting to your dream body. I also want you to form a two simple habits that will take little more than 20 minutes a day and some attention.

There are some numbers floating around the fitness sphere claiming that improving your body and health is 70% nutrition and 30%  exercise, or 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, or you may hear phrases like “abs are made in the kitchen”, “you can’t out-train a bad diet”… what have you.

While I’m not a fan of the arbitrary numbers and most of the cutesy taglines (they add to my distaste for sensationalized fitness stories in the media and cult-like ideals in the fitness industry), I do believe that nutrition is one of the most important factors for your results.

That being said, there are some nutrition habits you can start now before embarking on any protocol. These habits will be the foundation for fat loss, permit building muscle, and influence general health.

Habit 1: Track all calorie intake

When I first realized that all weight loss takes is manipulating calorie intake (and not eating “clean” food) I immediately started tracking what I ate. I did this with gusto and precision and I have my OCD to thank for that 😀

After coaching some folks, I realized that this habit isn’t universally easy to form. Some even opposed it, despite knowing how relatively easy the habit was and the immense benefit that stems from it.

Well, sorry ’bout it. Tracking your food is the most valuable habit to form, especially in the beginning of your health and fitness journey.

Also notice that I’m not even suggesting you start manipulating calorie intake yet! Just get an idea for how much you eat!

This habit will do cool things for you other than giving you a foundation for the rest of your journey:

1 ) Make you more aware of your intake;

2 ) Force you to slow down before eating; and

3 ) Combat unconscious eating (i.e. boredom, social, stress… any eating that doesn’t stem from a true physiological drive for food)

Note that I’m not even suggesting tracking macros now! Cross that bridge when you get to it (i.e. when you either start a program or have the calorie tracking habit formed).

Tracking calories is rather easy, provided you cook most of your own meals (which will be so much more helpful in the beginning). Here are the steps:

1 ) Download a tracking app. (I use My Macros +. It may not have the most extensive food library but it has very useful features and makes macro tracking a breeze, even when you only want to track calories. I can add any food that isn’t in the library anyway.)

2 ) Get a food scale that measures in metric and imperial. Weigh all whole food (meat, potatoes, etc.) and look up the nutrition by weight either on Google or in your app. WEIGH ALL FOOD RAW.

3 ) Get measuring cups for all things that are more convenient to measure (butter, oil, pasta, etc.). Understand, however, that  weight is more accurate than volume, but it won’t be by any meaningful degree.

4 ) Simply look at the nutrition label when the food has one. Be careful when reading the amount per serving and number of servings in the package. Food manufacturers can screw you there.

It may seem like a lot of work at first, and honestly it will be for some folks. Just remember that as it becomes a habit, it will get easier. If you stick to simpler meals, it will be easier to track. Also, know that you shouldn’t have to do this forever!

As you meticulously weigh and measure your food, take note of what the amount looks like and feels like after you eat it. You can even come up with different visualization cues to help you estimate calorie and macro content in meals you didn’t make. That’s a topic for another post, though.

Despite the importance of tracking your food accurately, you want to be able to estimate calorie and macro content without jumping through hoops. After all, you don’t want to track forever, but you do want to be in shape forever!

Habit 2: Food Journal

Food journaling will force you to be mindful about what you put into your mouth. From journaling, you should learn:

What food satisfies you the most;

What leads to uncontrolled eating;

What situations trigger uncontrolled eating;

The subtle differences of the different types of hunger or satisfaction: gastric distension (full stomach), hormonal, and craving; and most importantly,

How to listen to your body to let it, not your mind or cravings, guide your food choices.

It isn’t that hard. When you are about to eat, take note of how you are feeling. Note any changes during the meal. After, just write how you felt about it. Jot down anything that seems relevant: time of day, items you ate, calorie or macro content, who you were with, was the onset of hunger prior to the meal sudden or gradual, how do you feel after, etc.

Food journaling, just like tracking calories, will shine a light on your eating habits and give you valuable insight on what to manipulate when dieting, bulking, or trying to live healthier.

Hopefully you can form these two habits to make your journey so much easier; the journey is always easier when you take the proper first steps. Tracking your calories will give you valuable data that can make you, like, 300x more ready for any program you start. Starting a food journal will help you see which food really satisfies you, what food/situations could lead to uncontrolled eating, and really makes you be in tune with your body’s needs.

Even if you wanted to take your health and fitness journey alone, these two habits (and tons of practice) may be enough to get you results. However, I recommend you learn so, so much more and get some personalized guidance. That is why I want to make you aware of two programs that will help you immensely:

My personalized coaching program, where I coach you 1on1 to your dream physique; and

ShredSmart, a pdf-style workout and nutrition protocol written by one of the best fitness minds in the industry who values your TIME and GOALS (in other words the plan is efficient and easy to follow while still getting you amazing results).

Finally, feel free to use this blog as a free resource for your journey. I post weekly and am active in the comments section. Feel free to comment any questions or concerns. Subscribe to my email list to be notified about new posts, offers, weekly summaries, and other happenings!

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