Where Do I Begin?
"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start." Catchy Rodgers and Hammerstein song aside, whether you are brand new to exercise or just starting a new sport or fitness program, recognizing that you are at the very beginning of your exercise journey is probably once of the most important steps you can take toward achieving success and reaching your health and fitness goals. Everybody has to start somewhere, and that starting line is different for each and every individual. Most people would never even dream about getting up one morning and deciding to go run a marathon that very same day without any prior running experience or preparation, because they know that their chances of success (and escaping injury) would be very slim. However, many people jump into a new exercise program believing that they can be successful without knowing their own personal starting point. Too often, in our excitement and enthusiasm, we take on more than our body can handle, which can lead to frustration, disappointment, and even pain, all of which can cut our fitness journey short.
How can we avoid this potential pitfall? Be honest with yourself, take stock of where you are, and don't be afraid to seek help and guidance in achieving your new health and fitness objectives. If you have never exercised before, be prepared to start with small, achievable goals, such as walking for 20 minutes a day and learning how to use your own bodyweight to develop balance and stability. If you've been lifting weights regularly but now you want to train for a 5K, recognize that this is a brand new activity that your body might not know how to perform safely and efficiently, particularly if you want to make running a lifelong habit. If you're a regular participant in group cardio classes, but your doctor has told you to start resistance training for bone and joint health, learning how to safely perform the exercises is far more important at the beginning of this new journey than how heavy you are lifting, otherwise you might be setting yourself up for injuries, which is the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve. And sure, you might have played tennis ten years ago, but if you decide to take the sport up again after that ten-year hiatus, realize that your ego might want you to play the way you did before, but you will need to remind yourself that you are not starting from where you were but from where you are right now.
Just like when programming a GPS route to a destination, if we don't know where we are, then we can't possibly know exactly how to get to where we want to go. The moment we accept that the only way to reach our goals is to acknowledge where we are in this moment, then we can check our ego at the door and start learning how to make safe, healthy, measurable progress on our journey. And just like there exists on every journey, there are turns and obstacles and occasional slowdowns, and that's to be expected. But a body in motion stays in motion, and once you know what first step to take, you are on your way to staying always in motion.