How to Get in Shape: The Ultimate 3-Step Beginner Guide

This step-by-step strategy guide will tell you everything you need to do to lose weight and get healthy starting today.

I know you have lots of questions, and I promise I’ll answer every single one of them (yes, even that one).

In this guide we’ll discuss:

Three easy steps. You got this.

If you’re overwhelmed at the very idea of how to get in shape, I hear ya. 

From bootcamps to “What is CrossFit” to Weight Watchers to paleo to vegan to Klingon, how are you supposed to make sense of all this information to find the right path?

The truth is that there is no ONE path that works for everybody.

You’re a unique snowflake (your parents were right), which means what works for somebody else might not work for you, and vice versa.

I’ll dig into the general do’s and don’ts of getting in shape with today’s article, but if you’re really overwhelmed to the point that you just can’t get yourself to get started, consider checking out our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.

You’ll get to work with a Nerd Fitness Coach who gets to know you better than you know yourself, and handcrafts a workout routine and nutritional plan that is tailor-made to your situation. You can learn more about our coaching program by clicking on the image right here:

Nerd Fitness Coaching Ad

Now, outside of our coaching program, we also have a TON of free resources that you can use to follow and help you get off on the right track!

You can read our overall philosophy below (which has helped hundreds of thousands of people), and help you get started today!

Step 1: WHY Do You Want to Get In Shape? (Inspiration)

This lego is searching for inspiration to get in shape.

Today, we’re going to talk about the Nerd Fitness “Triforce of Winning!”

I just came up with that title, but now that’s what I’ll call it henceforth.

If you want to succeed at getting in shape, you need three things:

  1. Inspiration: WHY you’re getting in shape
  2. Education: HOW to get in shape
  3. Support: having others help you along the way to get in shape

If you can successfully combine these three crucial pieces, then you’ll defeat Ganon and save Hyrule have a fightin’ chance at getting in the best damn shape of your life.

WHY do you want to get in shape? 

What is your reason for wanting to do so?

Do you want to get in shape to…

  1. Start dating again?
  2. Win a weight loss competition at work?
  3. Eventually play with your newborn son?
  4. Grow old with your significant other?
  5. Prove everybody wrong who said “you can’t do it?”

Have a freaking reason, friend!

Write it down, hang it up in your bedroom, tattoo it on your face, write it down on a piece of paper and staple it to your forehead, whatever.

Just keep that reason for wanting a better life at the front of your mind at all times.

In the Nerd Fitness Academy, we call this “Your Big Why.”

This reason is going to help you keep going when it’s raining or you’re tired or you had a crappy day at work and you just want to binge watch the Office and eat takeout.

In addition to having a good reason, many people get inspired by reading success stories of folks like them.

Luckily for you, we have lots of those stories on Nerd Fitness with many more to come. These are real people who love video games and books and work desk jobs (click on each to hear their full story):

LESLIE THE SINGLE MOM WHO GOT STRONG AS HELL:

Leslie found her perfect workout.

SAINT THE SOFTWARE ENGINEER (AND GAMER) WHO LOST 60 POUNDS:

STACI WHO STARTED POWERLIFTING AND FOUND CONFIDENCE:

Staci followed the paleo diet.

JEFF THE DOCTOR WHO TRAVELS 2 WEEKS EVERY MONTH – HE FINALLY GOT HEALTHY:

Maybe success stories aren’t your thing; completely understandable.

Instead, perhaps you like to get your inspiration from slightly nerdier sources like:

Or maybe you’re a video fan! Well then, videos like these might make you want to run through brick walls:

Like to read?

This article will make you want to start strength training today.

Why all this focus on inspiration and motivation? Because getting in shape will never be easy.

The first week while you’re excited is fun. It’s the rainy days and snowy days that will decide whether or not you actually get in shape.

Unless you have motivation to succeed, and can find inspiration to push through the crappy days, you will give up at the first sign of resistance.

I’m a nice guy, so I crammed all of the inspiration you’ll ever need into one place. You’re welcome.

Step 2: How to get In Shape (Education)

Let's learn how to get in shape!

Okay, so now you should be all fired up and inspired and thinking, “Hey Steve, this Nerd Fitness stuff is cool. I’m ready to get in shape.”

Let’s get started.

HOW TO GET IN SHAPE:

A) Pick goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely). Be incredibly specific with your goals so that you can actively plan what steps are needed to achieve those goals:

  • “I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year by going to the gym 3 times per week for the next 6 months and eat one more vegetable per week than I did the week before.”

Alternatively, if you somebody that NEVER succeeds at your goals, instead put the focus on the habit and not the goal.

“I’m going to eat one vegetable every day this month.”

Or another example: “I’m going walk to Mordor by walking a mile every day for a month. If I go for a walk, I win.” Keep it simple

Whichever method you decide, it’s important to be deliberate in your actions:

  1. If you are setting goals – be SUPER SPECIFIC, write them down, and plan them out.
  2. If you are making new habits – add them to your calendar, set phone alarms or alerts, and do them EVERY DAY.
  3. Understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Optimus Prime didn’t transform in one move. This is NOT a diet, or a quick fix, but a LIFESTYLE CHANGE. Don’t expect overnight results, or abs in two weeks. Slow, steady progress.

B) Identify your Kryptonite.

I want you to think back to the last time(s) you tried to get in shape and lose weight.

  • How successful were you?
  • How long did you stick with it?
  • What made you fall off the wagon?

If you failed, congratulations! You already know what “get in shape” method doesn’t work for you.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Unless you’re insane, don’t try to get in shape the same way you did last time…it’ AIN’T gonna work!

If you counted calories, ran on a treadmill, did kickboxing, tried starving yourself, or whatever, and you’re not happy with the results, it’s time to try something new.

C) Learn to start eating better.

80% of your success when it comes to getting healthy will depend on your diet – unless you are running marathons on a daily basis, you cannot outrun your fork, and you can’t out-train a bad diet.

I honestly cannot stress the importance of this enough.

Whether you want to count calories, cut out certain foods, or attempt a new diet all together, this is the most important step you can take:

Now, most people suck at eating better because they try to make TOO many changes at once, their stomach freaks out and they run back to their comfort foods.

My advice? Pick one food change every few weeks, and stick with it.

Whether it’s eating less calories per day, drinking one less soda, eating more vegetables or cooking your own meal once a week…small changes can lead to big successes in the long run.

D) Find an activity that makes you happy, and do it all of the time.

Do you like to run? Awesome, do that (just do it right).

Do you like to lift weights? Awesome, make sure your workouts don’t suck.

Maybe you like yoga, or dodgeball, or Ultimate Frisbee, or rock climbing, or whatever!

If you tell me that “I don’t like to exercise,” then you just haven’t found the activity that makes you happy yet.

Here are 40 Ways to Exercise Without Realizing It.

We’re genetically designed to be active.

If you don’t like to move, then it’s time to try new things until you find something that you DO like.

Sign up for a new class, join your company’s running club for a day, try out something in your basement or living room, just keep trying new stuff until you find something that you like. And then do it as often as you can.

E)Want to supercharge your results?

Get Strong.

Getting strong is one of the BEST things you can do with regards to losing weight and getting in shape. Your body processes calories differently when you are strength training compared to other forms of exercise.

Essentially, your body needs to burn extra calories to rebuild all the muscles you just worked out during a strength training workout. Also, there are then fewer calories to go around to store as fat!

This leads to lower body fat percentage and tighter muscles.

WIN WIN WIN!

You can start with a basic bodyweight workout today that you can do in your own home too:

Put it all together: These are the steps you can take today:

  1. Determine your goals or habits you want to establish. Write them down and hang them up.
  2. Determine why your previous attempts didn’t work and try something different this time!
  3. Start cleaning up your diet in whatever method works best for you.
  4. Pick an activity that makes you happy, and do it. A lot.
  5. Get Strong.

Now, if you want specific direction on weight lifting, weight loss, and muscle building, sign up in the box below and I’ll send you a free workout sheet to follow and our massive Strength Training 101 guide on everything you need to know about getting started!

Step 3: Who is On Your Squad? (Support)

Your squad will be important for getting in shape.

Last but not least, you need support.

Yes, I understand it’s kind of fun to be an army of one: the lone ranger trying to succeed against insurmountable odds….but it’s not necessary.

Once you decide to get in shape, want to know the best way to guarantee success? 

Make it public.

Tell all of your friends, start a blog, and/or inform your co-workers and ask them to keep you accountable!

Unless you like being called a quitter, you’ll probably think twice about skipping out on your workouts.

Maybe your word isn’t your bond, and you need a different kind of motivation and support to succeed. 

Try money.

My buddy Saint said he would pay his friends $500 if he didn’t get in absolutely incredible shape for his wedding six months down the road. Saint didn’t have $500 to lose, so he decided instead to just get in great shape…and it worked.

Build your own Jedi Council – find people who are stronger than you and work out with them, or faster than you and run with them, or more educated than you and ask them questions.

These are people that you can turn to when you need advice or help. If you don’t know anybody in real life, keep reading…

Find a workout buddy (or hire a coach)!

There are going to be days when you want to sleep in and skip your workout. There will be afternoons following a crappy day of work where all you want to do is play Halo.

Find somebody who’s at a similar level of fitness as you, and work out with them! He/she will push you on days when you’re dragging, and vice versa.

You can inspire and support each other, feed off of each other’s success, and offer up tough love when the complaining gets too much (and yes, there will be complaining).

Now, let’s say you’re the ONE person in your group of friends that wants to get in shape. Or you’re the only person in your office who doesn’t stuff his face every day. Maybe you don’t have anybody to turn to for support or advice…

We’ve got you covered. 

The Nerd Fitness community: a persistently amazing, always inspiring, never judgmental group of people who want nothing more than to help you succeed. I have never been more excited to be part of a community.

Real Talk: How Quickly can I get in Shape? How Fast Can I lose Weight?

Luke is ready to start getting in shape!

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Pick a goal that you hope to accomplish in the next 30 days and then start working towards it.

Keep it simple but specific, and get started today.

But I know your next question: “How fast can I get in shape, Steve?” We have a full article right here answering that question, but I’ll give you the short honest answer here.

You can expect to lose around 1-2 pounds per week safely if you start reducing your calorie intake (80% of equation) and moving more (20% of the equation).

I know there are absurd diets like the Military Diet that say “Lose 10 pounds in 7 days!” But don’t believe it.

Temporary changes create temporary results. And our goal is for you to be slightly healthier today than you were yesterday.

And then healthier and happier next year compared to this year. And so on.

It means you should be thinking in terms of Years and Days, not weeks and months:

Instead of asking “how quickly can I lose weight?” instead ask “what do I need to do to build the right habits NOW so they become automatic LATER?”

Here’s how to build healthy habits that stick.

Do a few push-ups, go for a walk, or eat a vegetable. Join the Rebellion – start fixing your nutrition with small changes today.

If you just finished reading these 2,500 words and you’re still overwhelmed, you’re not alone! 

This stuff overwhelms the best of us. If you are looking for a bit more hands-on instruction, or you really want the peace of mind knowing that you’re doing the correct program, I got ya!

We have two options that have both helped thousands upon thousands of people like you get started:

#1) Most involved: Our 1-on-1 coaching program where a NF coach will get to learn your situation, your lifestyle, and your experience, and then build a workout program and nutritional strategy that fits into your busy life.

We get to know you better than you know yourself, and we’ve got the results to prove it! Consider checking out our coaching program if you’re looking for that next level of expert guidance and accountability.

#2) Go-At-Your-Own-Pace, Do It Yourself: the Nerd Fitness Academy. This is our online course with 50,000 students.

Tons of bodyweight workout plans (no gym required), a 10-level nutritional system, HD video demonstrations of each exercise, boss battles, a full questing system, more than a dozen more workouts, and a full guide on how to eat properly, check out!

Big things come from small beginnings, so pick the tiniest change or action you can take to get started, and then repeat that every day.

As you start to build the habit, you can increase the ‘difficulty’ and try something a bit more challenging, but it all starts with habit building.

Educate yourself, find your inspiration, and create your support group. 

Welcome to the Rebellion.

Any questions?

-Steve

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