Let us outline the first initial steps that you need to take to improve your health and fitness. Like any business plan needed prior to starting any project or organisation, you need to start your journey to get a fit body with setting up clear direction that will match with your fitness goal. This will serve you as a guidance towards your goal, and will help you to focus on things you need to do in order to reach it. Vague and ambitiously unrealistic expectations will only demotivate you and eventually force you to give up on your journey. Your progress will hugely depend on 3 essential aspects: Training, Nutrition and Recovery. We have used this aspects to put together 6 steps which you need to consider when starting to work on “Project: Yourself”.

1. Set your fitness goal using SMART system:
Specific: your goal needs to be specific. (For example: to lose fat)
Measurable: your goal needs to be measurable, there should be a method of measuring to what extent you have achieved it (For example: to lose 5kg of fat)
Achievable: your goal needs to be achievable (For example: to lose 5kg at a rate of 0.5kg per week)
Relevant: your goal needs to be relevant to your beliefs and end goal, something that you want to achieve (For example: to stay fit and healthy)
Time-bound: your goal needs to have a deadline, it may be a good idea to have small checks along the way to measure if you are going in the right direction, and perhaps some time to adjust things accordingly (For example: to lose 5kg in 12 weeks, and having checks at 4 and 8 weeks period)

2. Track your nutrition:
Depending on your fitness goal, you need to decide whether you want to put yourself in calorie deficit or calorie surplus. Obviously, calorie deficit will help you to lose fat and calorie surplus to gain muscle mass. The best way to do this is to establish your BMR (basic metabolic rate) and TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) which will include your daily activities. The food we eat plays a vital role in determining the body composition, therefore high importance needs to be given to what type of nutrition you intake and the quantities. The easy way to stay on track to reach your goal is by tracking your food intake using MyFitness Pal app, ensuring you are sticking to your TDEE and macros (protein, carbohydrate, fat). This application makes tracking process simple.

Remember to consume nutrient-dense foods (lean meats, grains, vegetables, fruits, etc.) that will encompass 80% of your daily food intake. Be flexible with food, don’t’ consume same food every day. Other 20% of your food is allocated for foods that you enjoy as long as you stay within your TDEE limit, this will help your diet to be sustainable. It is no use to completely refrain from foods you like, as at some point you will fall for your cravings, therefore try to find a balance in food and portions. Your macros will not be perfect (like nothing in this world), but you can be flexible with certain limitations that will help you to stay consistent.

The best way to ensure you meet your macros and TDEE is to prepare meals yourself. It is time consuming, but it would be worth it as tracking your nutrition intake will be far more accurate and simple as you will know what ingredients and how much is being eaten. Be prepare to buy yourself food containers and a small food weighing scale.

3. Train smart
Training hard is important but training smart is crucial, as it is not just about going hard all the time and every time. Depending on your fitness goal you need to decide how much emphasis is given to strength training and how much to cardio. Clearly, you will have to exercise both of them, but the only difference is how much of each one, how intensive and how often (please refer to our previous articles for a detailed information on fat loss and muscle mass building training plans). As for cardio it’s great idea to have a combination of both steady low intensity and high intensity interval training (HIIT). There should be a fine combination of low-repetition heavy weight and high-repetition low weight lifting. Keep a record of your workouts to have a track of your progress.

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4. Stay hydrated
Human body consist 80% of water, therefore staying hydrated is very important for healthy functioning of entire body. Ensure you intake adequate amounts of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration. This in turn will help your digestion process as well as partly suppress your appetite.

5. Get rest
It may seem least important then nutrition and training, however recovery plays a big role in reaching your fitness goal. It is essential to get adequate rest in the night and between training sessions. It is advised to have 7-8 hours sleep a day, this will help you to recuperate.

6. Consistency is the key
Don’t look for short-term solutions, quick fix, or a pre-summer diet plans. Strive to be consistent and develop healthy habits which will lead you to a life-lasting results and healthy lifestyle. Stay consistent and results will come.

Set yourself SMART fitness goals, which will be your foundation to build a nutrition and training plan. Take measurements of your body, body fat and photographs, as this will be needed later for comparison to see how much progress has been made. Track your training progress and nutrition intake. Ensure you get enough rest to allow your body to recover from one day to another. The whole process isn’t just about getting fit, but improving your lifestyle and overall wellbeing. And most importantly stay consistent and enjoy the process.

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