This brings me to my first piece of advice: Purposefully schedule fewer exercise days than you’d like when you’re just getting started, even if you want to go harder. So if you initially think you should plan for a fitness class on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, start with just Mondays, and do that for an entire month. Then re-evaluate: Ask yourself how it’s feeling with your schedule. Are you looking forward to your workout days? Do you have enough time during the rest of the week to do your grocery shopping, prep your meals, keep up with your relationships, and allow your body and mind to unwind? If so, go ahead and add a second day for the next month, and then regroup again. Still feeling the itch to sign up for that third class—and chill about everything else? Then test out three classes per week for the next month to see how that works for you.
Unfollow social media accounts that make you feel like shit about your plan or progress.
Fitness social media can sometimes do more harm than good for folks dipping their toes into a workout program—you see runners getting up at 5 a.m. to log double-digit miles, CrossFitters repping out loads of pull-ups, and gym-goers deadlifting twice their bodyweights. With each swipe the comparison game bubbles up: If they can do these big, amazing things, why can’t I?!
I think that’s a huge reason new exercisers fall into the too much, too soon trap: They see highlight reels and look at them as the norm, the base that they should be hitting if they want to be a lifter, a runner, a yogi, or whatever. It’s not! Those clips are just showing what that person intentionally wants to put out there, which, in many cases for fitfluencers, is their actual, literal job.
You just can’t compare your fitness journey to what a stranger is pumping out on social media—it’s not apples to apples. And if you find yourself feeling bad about your routine (or how your body looks, the gear you use, the PRs you’ve hit, or whatever it may be) based on what you’re seeing, it’s time to unfollow.
Don’t chase soreness.
Whenever you start a fitness program or switch one up, you’ll inevitably feel sore after you exercise. That’s completely normal: There’s simply more microtrauma to your muscles when they’re put through something they’re not used to. (Don’t worry—these tears will mend, which is how you build muscle and get stronger.)