If you're new to the wild world of fitness, welcome! I'm so happy that you're excited about taking a step in the healthy direction! I know it can be overwhelming when you're getting started -- creating a workout plan, calories, grams of protein, hydration, eliminating all the "bad" foods, etc. I often think that the overwhelming amount of information and do's and don't's is often a big inhibitor for people who are new to healthy living. But here's the deal. Nobody's perfect. And you don't need to go from 0 to 100 immediately to be healthy. You can start by making small changes and make some short-term, attainable goals, and build from there. Here's some ideas for small changes you can make to get started:
1. Set some attainable goals
I'm sure you've heart of the SMART goals concept before, but just as a reminder, goals should be S - specific, M - measurable, A - attainable, R - relevant, and T - time-bound. So instead of saying, I want to lose 30 pounds in a month (not realistic or healthy), maybe say something like I want to lose 30 pounds in 6 months by waking up early and sweating 4 times a week and eating healthier. That is not only more realistic, but also gives a specific "how."
2. Drink more water
I like to suggest for people to start with the positives, rather than the negatives. By that, I mean instead of saying "No soda," say "More water." Making a list of no's can make you feel deprived and can send you into a binge. On the other hand, if you have a goal of drinking 90-120oz of water each day, you're simply going to naturally drink less soda to get in that amount of water.
3. Eat more vegetables
Same goes for food. Instead of telling yourself you can never eat chips, burgers, cheese, or sweets ever again in order to reach your goals, just aim to eat more vegetables. Naturally, you'll have to avoid eating fast food because french fries don't count as vegetables. If you're eating at a place that serves you healthy (unfried, not covered in ranch) vegetables, you'll inevitably eat better. And when you start thinking about eating more vegetables at home, you'll end up cooking less pastas and grilled cheeses.
4. Track your food
You don't need to aim for specific macronutrient or caloric goals when you're starting out. The simple act of tracking your food will help you to realize how often or how infrequently you're choosing healthy options. It will give you a realistic view of what you actually eat on a daily basis. Often, we think we make good choices more often than we actually do if we don't track them.
5. Track your workouts
Same goes for working out. We often think we workout more often than we actually do if we don't write it down. I know that for me, before I started tracking my workouts, I would think that I rarely skipped a workout. But when I actually started writing it down, I realized that I was skipping almost a third of all of my planned workouts. It was surprising! Now, I track them in an Google Sheets document to hold myself accountable and track my improvement towards my goals.
6. Find a simple workout plan and stick to it
Bite off something that you can chew, but that is also challenging. Here are some great programs for beginners:
Of course, you can also hire a personal trainer to create a custom program for you that is tailored specifically towards your goals and takes into account your current fitness level and lifestyle.
7. Define milestones of success and celebrate them
Having long term goals is great, but sometimes the fact that they're far off can make you feel like you're not making any progress. Visible progress is an incredible motivator. A good short-term goal might be "Workout 3 times a week for a month" or "Drink at least 90oz of water every day for a week", that way you have something to celebrate in the near future.
Hope these are helpful! Let me know if you have any questions or other ideas for small steps when people are getting started :)