How Do Beginners Get Fit? (3 Ways to Start)

This photo shows a LEGO going on a walk

So you’ve decided you want to get fit?

Great!

Now what? There is SOOO much out there, it can be overwhelming.

You end up collecting information for weeks…but take zero action.

If this sounds like you, we understand. It’s frustrating! 

No worries though, you’re in the right place to kick it into gear. We’ve helped thousands of beginners get started (and reach their goals!) as part of our online coaching program

Today, I’ll share with you 3 different ways to get things going, that have been tested by nerds just like you. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Let’s jump right in.

How Do Beginners Get Fit?

As Coach Matt discusses above, there are three areas we want to focus on when trying to level up your fitness:

  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Mindset

When someone joins our coaching program, we often think about developing habits around these three pillars.

As I often share with folks when discussing our coaching program:

It’s not just a matter of handing over a bunch of workouts and shoving them out the door – we want to approach people’s goals and fitness more holistically.

What’s the first move in each category?

Well, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to fitness. 

A gif of someone saying "I am unique"

However, if you twist my arm about it, I will admit that there are a few key habits that I generally have my clients start on.

These habits can be good for a beginner to experiment with as their “first step” for getting in shape.

Let’s go over a few of them now.

“Get Fit” Strategy #1: Exercise

This photo shows five LEGO baseballs players smiling.

When people decide they want to get in shape, they often start exercising more.

It’s not a bad strategy.

What exercise should we start with?

Our recommended first step here…is actually a first step.

That’s right, a simple walk can be a great way to start exercising. 

Just put on some shoes and head out the door!

A gif of Arthur going for a walk.

Occasionally, I’ll have some clients bulk at this, claiming “That’s not enough! I need to do more!”

While it’s great they’re looking for a challenge, I encourage them not to dismiss the power of walking.

Here’s why:

When we become people that regularly make time for a walk, then we become people who regularly make time for longer workouts too.

In other words, building the habit is the hardest part. Not the exercise itself.

So we start with a walk. Maybe we aim for two or three times a week.

Don’t overthink this – whatever time you can do right now is good. Whether it’s around the block, or to the mailbox and back – just make sure you set the intention and do something.

Plus, the exercise will be good for you too.[1] 

Some members of the Rebellion – like Tim here – have gotten in great shape by focusing on regular walks. 

How did Tim get in shape? By walking, like you do on a treadmill at the gym.

Here’s our Walking for Exercise Guide for more tips to get started. 

If you already practice a regular walk, then you can explore doing a little bit more of a formal workout.

After you start walking consistently, I recommend you try our Beginner Bodyweight Workout:

An infographic of the Beginner Bodyweight Workout

This workout can be done right in your living room, without any extra gym equipment.

Also, make sure you also download the Beginner Bodyweight Workout PDF, so you can track your progress and consistency.

I’ll send it on over when you join the Nerd Fitness Rebellion in the box below:

“Get Fit” Strategy #2: Nutrition

A LEGO holding some seafood, which looks like a big portion size.

Ah, nutrition.

Any claims on proper nutrition will almost always lead to another battle in the ongoing diet wars. 

This shows a battle from the 2005 cartoon The Clone Wars.

Like the Clone Wars, but with more broccoli and fewer spaceships. 

Folks on the internet can’t stop arguing about “the best” diet. 

For some it’s Keto. Others Paleo. Or Vegan.

Don’t forget about the Mediterranean Diet

When you start googling a bit, you’ll find lots of contradicting information on how to level up your diet.

People will claim you should:

  • Break up with bread.
  • Eat less meat.
  • Stop with all the ice cream.

This gif shows a cartoon eating ice cream and losing his scope. Bummer.

Tragic. 

In our coaching program, we often DON’T start with any “eat and drink less” talk.

We actually do the opposite, with “eat and drink MORE” talk.

What do we specifically recommend you eat and drink more of?

  • Water
  • Vegetables

For our coaching clients trying to get in shape, sometimes we have them start by drinking a glass of water or eating a vegetable at one of their meals. 

When we start with adding – instead of subtracting – we accomplish a few things:

  • First, it starts creating a more positive association with nutrition.
  • Next (and related), it tends to be a big mental relief from the constant restrictive nutritional talk that we’re used to hearing.
  • Lastly, by making a focused effort to add healthy things to our meal, by default, it often replaces other less than healthy things.

This is another step that might seem “too easy” or “not enough” right now, but doing them consistently can still prove challenging.

And doing these things consistently is what’s going to build long-lasting changes.

If you want additional help with these two actions, I have a couple of resources for you:

But if you’re looking for a “Just tell me what to do!” – then have a glass of water or a vegetable at one of your meals. 

If you’re doing that already – add one of them to another meal. Rinse and repeat.

What’s that? You already drink water and have a vegetable with every meal?

Well, you can work on having your meals look a bit like this:

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing a lot of the heavy lifting for weight loss.

For more here, check out A Nerd’s Guide to Healthy Eating.

“Get Fit” Strategy #3: Mindset

A LEGO playing the violin.

When people discuss getting fit, it almost always revolves around “diet and exercise.”

A big component that’s overlooked is one’s mindset. 

All the workout and nutritional information in the world won’t help if you’re stressed out and not able to focus on creating habits.

That’s why we also work on stress management with our coaching clients

We can start leveling up our mindset by taking one of these steps:

#1) Improving Sleep

A good night’s sleep can make everything easier. Conversely, poor sleep consistently can make everything harder.

Maybe Cartmen here is jetlagged.

My clients often have success improving their sleep habits by: 

  • Avoiding screen time within a half-hour of bed.
  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time – even on the weekends.

#2) Journaling. 

Grab anything you can write with (even your phone or computer), and write down some reflections from the day. 

A gif of Kermit typing away

You can focus your journal on

  • Any wins you had.
  • Things you’re grateful for.
  • Things that frustrated you. 

Your journal is a safe spot for you to get things out of your head and process them, which can quickly reduce stress. 

Personally, capturing my thoughts at the end of the night helps me put the day behind me. Our minds are for creating ideas, not storing them (h/t David Allen).

#3) Meditation

Simply close your eyes and focus on taking a few slow, deep breaths.

A gif of Leonardo meditating.

It sounds almost too easy, but even this quick pause will help you relax and refresh.

It’s not about “emptying your mind”, but instead letting any thought that comes into your head leave just as easily. 

I’ve seen even a brief 5-minute session help some of my clients’ destress after a hectic day. 

You can read a bit more in A Nerd’s Guide to Meditation.

Whichever of these three that you decide for stress management, look to do it consistently several times a week. Just only pick ONE right now.

We’ll work on the others down the road. 

The Key to Getting In Shape: Consistency

A picture of a Tree walking up to a flower.

If you want to take the first step to level up your life, think about habits around the following:

  • Exercise – Take a walk a few times a week. Don’t worry about the distance, just worry about the intention and habit.
  • Nutrition – Add a glass of water or vegetable to one meal. If that feels good, do it again with another meal. 
  • Mindset – Pick ONE stress management habit. This could be some brief meditation, journaling, or improving your sleep habits. 

That’s it. Simple habits to have you move more, get proper nutrients, and destress a bit.

There’s nothing here that’s going to sound revolutionary.

That’s the point.

The action itself isn’t challenging. The challenge is doing the action consistently. 

So yes, the actions we proposed today might appear easy for you to do.

If that’s the case, then do them. Once you have these habits locked in, we can work on leveling them up to more complex tasks.

Start now, then course-correct later. 

Wayne is stoked that he made his small change for weight loss.

If you want a roadmap for building one habit on top of each other, I got a few options for you.

I’ll share them with you now, because I’m nice like that.

Here are three ways to build healthy habits alongside Nerd Fitness. 

#1) Our Online Coaching Program: a coaching program for busy people to help them make better food choices, stay accountable, and get healthier, permanently.

You can schedule a free call with our team so we can get to know you and see if our coaching program is right for you. Just click on the image below for more details:

#2) If you want an exact roadmap on how to get in shape, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

You never have to question the next step. Your next new habit will always be one adventure away.

Try your free trial right here:

#3) Join the Rebellion! We need good people like you in our community, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

Sign up in the box below to enlist and get our Rebel Starter Kit, which includes all of our “work out at home” guides, an explanation on the 15 Mistakes That Newbies Make, and much more!

Alright, I want to hear from you now:

Have you taken your first step to getting fit?

If so, what helped the most?

If not, what feels like it’s holding you back?

Let me know in the comments!

-Jim

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Photos from Four Bricks Tall: Into the forest; In 2015, the first woman coach was hired by a Major League Baseball team; Fresh lobster rolls; Violinist Boy; A grape hyacinth

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21 thoughts on “How Do Beginners Get Fit? (3 Ways to Start)

  1. These are excellent points. Love your eat more fruit and veg tip! full me up!

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