Just Start: 10 Keys to Better Fitness

Sitting on a beach in Mexico I hit my personal rock bottom. Life had overwhelmed me, and I had

Just Start: 10 Keys to Better Fitness

Lost sight of my happiness and health in the process. At 206 pounds I was a successful business woman, mom, and wife but I was a miserable human being. No energy, no drive, no love of self, just the shell of who I wanted to be. I had let society tell me what I should want instead of having the strength to listen to my inner voice and focus on my individual happiness. At that moment I realized that for life to improve I had to make the changes necessary and that all started with my health and fitness. I went home and found the resolve to take my fitness into my hands. Even through the tragic death of my late husband, I stuck with fitness and found it to be a life ­saving tool that many should be used to as they face difficult days. In time, I left that corporate job and traded it to become a fitness trainer. Now, as I coach people all over the world I’ve noticed a recurring theme with many of the questions I get asked by my new clients and followers alike. We tend to make fitness so complicated, and my hope is this article will break it down and simplify things for you so you actually can begin to use it as a tool towards your best life.

What is The Best Way to Drop Fat?

I get asked all the time about “weight­-loss” and the best way to go about it. The first thing I like

to do is help the client understand that weight­ loss should not be their primary focus but rather “fat ­loss” should. Your current weight is nothing more than your relative relationship to gravity and has little to no influence on your overall health. Instead, I’d rather see people focus on eliminating extra “fat” from their body. As you add fitness to your life, you will see the composition of your body changing from fat to muscle, even though the scale may not move much, so it’s important to switch your focus from “weight” to “fat” for greater overall success. Once you have the correct mindset, you start to work on successful methods. As a trainer, I

believe high­ intensity interval training (HIIT) done with a solid mix cardio and weight­ training is

The most successful way to eliminate fat and change your body. However, this form of exercise won’t be successful for you if you don’t like or you dread it. Therefore, the best way to drop fat and change your body is with whatever exercise you are going to enjoy and will keep you consistent for the long term.

Exercise Going

Where Do I Start?

You have to just start, even with a mere ten­ minute walk. You won’t ever get started if you

don’t put the shoes on and make the first move. It’s as simple as lacing up your tennis shoes

and walking out your front door. It’s much easier to keep going than it is to start, so today, promise yourself a short walk, outside in nature if possible, and build on that. I tell clients to plan that daily walk and add one minute a day until they are ready to add more. Make a mental note of how you feel before and after each walking workout, and when you realize how much better you feel AFTER it will become easier to keep going. Start small and build. Baby steps can take you big places in life.

Do I Need Rest Days?


Rest days are key to success for so many reasons, for starters, exercise stresses your central nervous system, and if you don’t give your body time to recover, you will be doing more harm than good. Similarly, clients who don’t rest their bodies find themselves burnt out and over trained. Overtraining can interfere with quality sleep patterns, and sleep is critical to your health and fitness. Your muscles also need quality time to recover from the stress of being torn down. When you rest them, they repair stronger than before, and that is when lean muscle mass develops. More is not more in the world of fitness. Instead, focus on good solid movement, active recovery days (walking, hiking, swimming) and a deep appreciation for life.

Rest Days

What is The Best Way To Measure Success?

Look at your current life and how you live it. When you start to notice your smile improving,

your energy levels rising, the engagement you take into life expanding and your confidence coming back, then you will know you are succeeding with your fitness. It’s not about your size, the scale or even how you look, (although those are a fun added benefits). It’s about the value of your life in each moment. That’s the truest measure of success.

Read Next – Try These 7 Fitness Motivations To Develop A Fitness Habit

Does It Ever Get Easier?

Yes, and no.

In time, I hope you start to see fitness a reward for being healthy enough to exercise. I see so many people who look at their fitness as something they HAVE to do each day rather than something they GET to do. If you change your mindset in regards to fitness it not only gets easier, it becomes something you consistently crave. I look at my workout as MY time to take care of me. For an hour I’m not a mom, a business owner, writer, or trainer. For one hour each day, I escape into the music and embrace the flow of positive endorphins. In that respect, my workout may be difficult, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

What are The Biggest Mistakes People Make Working Out?

As a coach, bad form is one of the greatest mistakes I see people making at the gym. There is a focus on heavy weight and speed over proper form and time under tension. If you can’t perform a move correctly under load, you should drop all weight and concentrate on the form of your movement first. Once you make sure you can keep your head neutral, your back straight, knees soft and don’t need to “jerk” the weight, you may be ready to increase the load.

Biggest Mistakes People Make Working Out

How Important Is Nutrition?

I will never forget after my first marathon how shocking it was that my body was still not where

I wanted it to be with all the exercise I was doing. Then I took a long hard look at my food and realized that I was not eating for the success I wanted. I dialed down my diet, and twelve weeks later I was impressed at just how much my body had changed with LESS exercise but more attention to my food. Food is critical to not only your fitness success but also your health, but we act like it’s an afterthought. Food should be the biggest part of the equation when looking to change your body. I have seen clients drop over 100 pounds with very limited exercise. Ideally, you will want to focus on both your strength and your nutrition, but diet alone can make a world of difference. Remember, eating well is a reward and if you start to incorporate a whole lifestyle, your food cravings will change as your taste buds wake up to the beauty of real food.

What is The Best Movement For The Mood?

As a woman who has lived through terrible grief and used fitness as a tool for healthy coping, exercise for mood enhancement has been a big area of interest for me. I’m the first to tell my clients that any movement will have a positive impact on your brain, and your mood but not all movement is created equal. Cardiovascular exercise seems to have a particularly powerful effect on the brain and mood. Intensive cardio, like what you experience through sprinting or HIIT training (high ­intensity interval training) seems to be the most efficient for mood enhancement. You will see a greater flood of endorphins, BDNF, and other mood altering proteins and neurotransmitters.

I Have No Time To Train So What Do I Do?

Take a look at your day and see if you are honest with yourself about your time allocation. How much time do you waste surfing social media, watching TV or complaining about your lack of time? Fitness does not have to take an hour of your day. You don’t have to drive to the gym and invest hours of your day. Once you realize you probably do have ten minutes for a walk or

twenty minutes for a quick HIIT workout, strive to fit it in. If you still struggle with time,

remember you can fit in stairs at the office, or you can do chair squats during a conference call. Simple small movements can lead you to bigger positive long ­term changes.

Stay Motivated

How Do You Stay Motivated?

I get asked this question the most so I know it’s important to nearly everyone! Getting

motivated and staying motivated can be challenging and take consistent effort and time. My best advice is to ask yourself “why” do you want to live fit? Dig deep and discover the life­ changing benefits of being healthy. Can you do more of the things you want to do? Will you be a happier person? Will you LIVE MORE LIFE? For me, fitness is not about the size of my jeans or how I look in a bikini; those things are only so motivating. Instead, I focus on the LIFE that I get from my fitness, and that motivates me to keep going on the hard days. It’s not about how you look; it’s about how you LIVE.

You May Also Want To ReadHow Corey Bustos Lost His Weight One Day At A Time?


As a fitness coach, I can preach the benefit of fitness all day long. I can answer your questions

and give you tips to try and convince you, but as a woman who carried the weight of unhappiness for far too long, I can assure you that it was always harder to be unhappy with my life than it ever was just to do the work and become fit.

My life has always been worth it. Now it’s time to realize your life is worth it too.

Just start.

Image Credits
Featured Image: Shutterstock
In-Post Images: Shutterstock

Facebook Twitter linkedin

Michelle Steinke-Baumgard, CPT, CSNS

Michelle Steinke-Baumgard is the Co-Founder of My1FitLife, One Fit Widow, and the Live the List Nonprofit. Michelle >.

View All