For some, the question of how to get back in shape can be terrifying. The second they think about fitting back into their favorite pair of jeans, feelings of guilt and frustration take over. Many also just don’t know how to get back in shape in the first place. Fortunately, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be a difficult or negative journey at all! Once you change your mindset and realize that getting in shape is so much more than a “diet”, your entire lifestyle will change. And once you discover how to get back in shape, staying in shape can feel like a passion rather than a chore!

Finding Motivation

Before we answer how to get back in shape, let’s go a bit deeper. In fact, in my experience as a private weight loss coach, people do better when they are able to determine WHY they want to get in shape. Once you determine what motivates you to stay on track and change your lifestyle, you’re going to be much more successful and driven. For many clients, their children are what motivate them. The motivation could be as simple as just wanting to feel more confident when taking family photos that will hold a lifetime of memories.

For other clients, their jobs and careers are what motivate them. They’re looking to have more energy as well as feel better throughout the day. Whatever your motivation is, once you put it at the forefront of your attention, you’ll much more likely learn how to get back in shape. Start by changing old habits, and you’ll already be on your way toward a healthier you!

Setting Achievable Goals

As with anything, setting a goal is essential. But not just any goal – a realistic goal. It’s important to make sure you’re setting up milestones as well as mini-goals that are reachable along the way to keep your morale up! While it may be a great goal to want to lose 20 pounds by Thanksgiving, setting this goal on November 1st wouldn’t be healthy or realistic. It would be more realistic to set a goal to lose two pounds a week to work up to a larger goal. Doing this will help keep you on track as well as keep your confidence up while you reach these goals!

When considering how to get back in shape, it’s important to realize that setting goals alone isn’t enough. It’s also essential that you make a plan that will fit into your lifestyle. I always recommend that my clients write out everything that they’re doing in order to reach their fitness goals. This means meal plans, recipes, shopping lists, as well as creating an individualized workout plan. Once you start on your fitness journey, you’ll be able to look back and see what worked for you, what didn’t work, and what you need to change moving forward. You will be amazed when you look back and see how far you have come along the way!

The Importance of Stretching

When you’re developing your own workout plan, it’s a fantastic idea to incorporate stretches, strength training, and cardio into your weekly exercises. Stretching should be done before every workout, but cardio and strength training should be interchanged. When determining how many days of different types of workout and number of reps you need to do, it’s important to keep your fitness goals in mind. For example, if your goal is to reduce the appearance of cellulite, you would want to focus on toning the back of your legs. But if your goal was to train for a marathon, you would want to focus on cardio and stretching exercises.

Stretching should be an essential part of every workout. Stretches help to prepare your muscles for the upcoming exercises they will be doing. One common misconception is that you should do the same type of stretches before and after a workout, when in fact you should be doing both dynamic and static stretches. Dynamic stretches should be done before a workout in fluid motions. These stretches are great for preparing your muscles for the movement that is to come. If you’re interested in dynamic stretches, try these out! These dynamic stretches are my personal favorites to help prepare the body for a workout, especially if you’re going for a run!

Dynamic Stretches

1. Lunge with Torso Rotation

As you know, lunges are one of the most basic (yet fundamental!) exercises for working out! A lunge works your lower body muscles, especially your glutes, and when you add in the extra movement of the rotation, you’re able to also work your torso. To do this move, start with a basic lunge and then twist your body as far right as you can. Hold this pose for two seconds and then return to your starting position. I recommend alternating between legs and doing six reps on each leg.

Lunge with Torso Rotation 1
Lunge with Torso Rotation: Step 1
Lunge with Torso Rotation 2
Lunge with Torso Rotation: Step 2
Lunge with Torso Rotation 3
Lunge with Torso Rotation: Step 3

2. Butt Kicks

This stretch is one of the most fun to do in my opinion! You’re going to quickly walk around and kick your own booty. Alternate between legs until you’ve done 10 kicks with each leg. If you’re looking to take things to a new level, try doing this while you listen to an upbeat song!

Butt Kicks 1
Butt Kicks: Step 1
Butt Kicks 2
Butt Kicks: Step 2

3. Leg Swings

For this move, you’ll need something to balance on. Whether it be a table, chair, or even a pole to hold, make sure the object you choose is sturdy! While standing with your feet about shoulder width apart, keep your right leg slightly bent as you swing it back and forth. This stretch helps to loosen the hamstrings and help your muscles to warm up before you use them. Try swinging your leg to a beat or song rather than just flailing your leg back and forth. Doing this helps you to be more in control of your movement!

Leg Swings 1
Leg Swings: Step 1
Leg Swings 2
Leg Swings: Step 2

Then after a workout, doing static stretches is best for your muscles. Static stretches focus on broadening your range of motion while also isolating different muscle groups. Aside from helping cool down your muscles, static stretching helps with flexibility. Another major selling point is that static stretches can help to prevent cramping! Here are some of the static stretches I recommend to my private weight loss clients for after their workouts.

Static Stretches

1. Side Stretches

Start this static stretch while you’re standing upright with your legs about shoulder width apart. Stick your right arm in the air and stretch it as far left over your head as you can. The goal here is to make an arc over your head with your right arm. While you extend as far left as you can, hold this for two-three seconds. Start with this one rep on the right side and alternate to the left. Do five reps on each side.

Side Stretches 1
Side Stretches: Step 1
Side Stretches 2
Side Stretches: Step 2

2. Hamstring Stretch with Resistance Band

Adding in a resistance band can elevate any stretch! While lying on your back, loop the resistance band around your right foot. Raise your right foot slowly until you feel your muscles being lightly stretched – the key here is to not overextend yourself! Hold this pose for 15 seconds and alternate to the other leg. Do three reps of this stretch.

Hamstring Stretch with Resistance Band 1
Hamstring Stretch with Resistance Band: Step 1
Hamstring Stretch with Resistance Band 2
Hamstring Stretch with Resistance Band: Step 2

3. Lying Quad Stretch

This stretch can be done while you stand, but I prefer doing it lying on the ground. While you’re lying on your side, grab the top of your foot and bring your foot as close as you can to your butt without over-stretching yourself. This is similar to doing the butt kick, but slower and stretching the muscle more. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds and then do the other leg. I recommend doing two reps on each leg.

Lying Quad Stretch 1
Lying Quad Stretch: Step 1
Lying Quad Stretch 2
Lying Quad Stretch: Step 2

Get Moving with Some Cardio

Cardio is another aspect of a workout that is essential. When I create personalized workout plans for my private weight loss clients, I always make sure to plan about 30 minutes of cardio into their routines at least three times a week.

Examples of Cardio Exercises

1. Cardio on the Elliptical

Running on an elliptical is a great option for you if you’re at a gym. One thing to consider when you’re on this equipment is to make sure you aren’t slouching while you run. Yes, this means don’t look down at your iPad! Having better posture on an elliptical can help to make your workout more effective as well as prevent back pain.

Cardio on the Elliptical

2. Cardio on a Bicycle

Bicycling is also an amazing form of cardio. I recommend this form of cardio because you can get out of the gym while you do it and soak up some Vitamin D! When you’re on the bicycle, you’re working out your lower body. A bicycle can get your heart rate as high as an intense run can, and since it’s low-impact, it’s more gentle on your body.

Cardio on a Bicycle

3. Cardio Outdoors

Going for a run on a treadmill is one of the most common forms of cardio. If you’re going to run on a sunny day, I strongly recommend you take your run outside. Running outdoors can be very beneficial for your body because of the way nature inclines and declines. It also can help keep you excited to work out. Plus, who knows what you’ll see while you’re running?

Cardio on a Treadmill

Cardio is an essential aspect of a fitness plan because it helps to strengthen your heart while also increasing your endurance. Many people who are just starting out on their fitness journeys see cardio as just running. In reality, cardio can be a variety of exercises that are enjoyable, such as swimming, jumping rope, or even cycling! If you enjoy running but feel it gets a little too “boring”, try going for a run outdoors! Besides soaking up some Vitamin D, you can also enjoy the sights of the city or even a rural area depending on where you live.

Develop a Fit and Toned Body

Strength training may just seem like it’s all lifting weights, but this type of exercise can do much more than just tone your body. This type of exercise is important because it helps you to strengthen your body and help prevent injury. In planning how to get back in shape, I would first recommend starting with around 20 minutes of strength training two-three times a week. Many people are shocked to learn that strength training doesn’t have to be intricate exercises in order to be impactful. In fact, moves such as pushups, planks, and lunges can do wonders!

Examples of Strength Training Moves

1. Push Ups

Doing a pushup may seem like a “starter” move, but it can have major benefits to your body when it comes to strength training. If you can’t do a full pushup, start by doing a push up on your knees. Once you feel confident doing the pushup on your knees, move to doing a traditional push up (with your back straight and hands about shoulder width apart)!

Push Up 1
Push Up: Step 1
Push Up 2
Push Up: Step 2

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2. Glute Bridge

To do this move, lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be bent. Push down on your feet and force your glutes to push your body upward. Do this move 15 times. Make sure to do this move at a steady pace to make the most impact!

Glute Bridge 1
Glute Bridge: Step 1
Glute Bridge 2
Glute Bridge: Step 2

3. Plank

This exercise is another workout essential! A plank is done in a similar position as a push up, except that you are placing your weight on your forearms. This exercise works your abs, forearms, and shoulders. Work towards being able to plank for a minute straight, but if you can’t initially do this start at 30 seconds. In order to maintain proper posture, make sure your butt isn’t sticking out in the air!

Plank

For a simple way to incorporate strength training into your workout routine, add a resistance band! A resistance band can be added to almost any exercise move and can actually be more beneficial than weights in some scenarios.

Do What You Enjoy

If you’re wondering how to get back in shape with a personalized workout plan or even incorporating an existing one into your own life, reflection is an important part of the process. As with many things in life, it is essential for finding both motivation and inspiration. Taking the time to take a step back and see what worked for you and what didn’t is an important step to getting back in shape and enjoying what you’re doing! If you hate running, it may be a great idea to try a different form of cardio like swimming. Just because you decided to try the exercise doesn’t mean it is set in stone! When you switch out exercises that you don’t love, you’re making it that much easier for yourself to create a workout you get excited to do.

And if you’re wondering how to get back in shape with exercises that you actually enjoy, you may prefer working out with a partner. Adding a partner to your workout can help give you someone to understand what you’re going through while also holding you accountable for your own workout. You also may want to incorporate yoga into your workout in order to give you a more relaxing experience that still makes an impact on your body.

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Stephanie Mansour
Stephanie Mansour is a nationally recognized Health & Fitness Expert as seen on Today Show, Dr. Oz, CNN, FOX New York, ABC Chicago, Fox LA, WGN, Fox Chicago, CBS Chicago, NBC Chicago, PBS, Yahoo, Sirius XM, Chicago Tribune and Crain’s Business. She reaches more than 52 million viewers per month. For the past decade, Stephanie has been helping millions of people “Step It Up,” every day in their lives with weight loss tips, lifestyle hacks, and fitness secrets to up their game. Steph coaches you on how to be the rockstar of your own health that you always knew you could be. She gets real and fast results, and provides easy tips and tricks that work no matter how busy you are. She’ll help you finally rid yourself of the weight – both emotionally and physically – to get the life you want. In fact, she coached one reality TV star to lose almost 90 lbs in 3 months!