How to Get in Shape

Three Parts:Exercising SmarterEating WellSample Diet and Exercise Plan

Many people want to get in shape and improve their health but have a difficult time maintaining a regimen that works for them. These simple steps will help you start a workout program that can work for you and enable you to continue. When you don't feel like making it to the gym, exercise on your own.

Part 1
Exercising Smarter

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    Get active. If you must sit at school and/or work, then move your legs and body about, but not constantly like a pendulum. Get up and go to the pencil sharpener, if possible. Or, sometimes, cough a few times, and step out for a couple minutes; get a drink of water. If you want to get in shape but you’re too busy to hit the gym, you need to at least get yourself up and active. Walk. Park on the far side of the parking area. There are lots of ways to do such things, and they don’t need to be very time consuming or costly at all.
    • Make a point of taking the stairs rather than an elevator when going home or to work (split between stairs and elevator if you need to go up very high).
    • Get a standing or treadmill desk, or use an exercise ball instead of a desk chair. Go ahead, listen to your favorite TV shows -- but don’t just sit there watching. Cook, fold laundry, empty the dishwasher or ride a stationary bike. Do a step routine/step up/step down (repeatedly) for a good while.
    • Do squats while waiting for your food to cook. Walk around on tiptoes or in a duck posture, nearly a swat.
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    Do aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercises are those that get your heart-rate up the most. They will improve your body’s ability to handle physical exertion and make you healthier. Aerobic exercises will help you lose any weight, if that is your goal but exercising like this will be absolutely required, if you want to get in shape.
    • You can bike, which is a great way to work out and get yourself outside.
    • Try jogging or speed walking, either of which is an easy exercise to take up and is free!
    • You can swim, which is a great way to work out your whole body.
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    Be consistent! If you want to get in shape, you will need to get in some activity every hour, every day. You can’t expect results when you exercise inconsistently and infrequently. Have a plan and follow it.
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    Find a partner! Studies show if you have someone else pushing you and doing the exercises with you, then it's going to be easier to stay on track.

Part 2
Eating Well

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    Create a calorie deficit. If you need to lose weight to get in shape, you will need to create a calorie deficit. This means that you will eat fewer calories than what is needed to maintain your weight, causing your body to begin burning fat. Calculate how many calories you need to maintain your diet and then plan how many calories you can eat in a day (usually 2,000 calories a day).
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    Cut sugar, salt, and unhealthy fat from your diet. Sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats will contribute to keeping you from getting in shape. Minimize the amount of these things in your diet. Avoid sugary drinks like soda, and anything which is high in saturated or trans fats (partially hardened or hardened fats, margarine). Instead, eat fruit as a dessert and foods with healthy fats like omega-3’s (found most easily in fish, olive oil and nuts).[1]
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    Eat balanced meals. You will need to eat a proper balance of protein, carbohydrates (found grains), fruits and vegetables, and dairy. Whole grains might comprise about 33% of the food you eat (if grains are not inflammatory for you), fruits and vegetables another 33% (weighted more towards vegetables), dairy 15%, very lean protein 15% or up to 50%, if you lower the carbohydrates, and the unhealthy fats, processed carbs and sugar no more than 4%.
    • There are different types of fats. Some are good for you, while others are not. You should avoid trans fats (found in many commercially baked and snack foods) and saturated fats (ground meats, sausages, wieners, fried foods and butter). However, monounsaturated fats (olive oil, avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (fish, walnuts) are good for you.
    • Good whole grains include whole wheat, whole oats, quinoa and brown rice.
    • Good fruits and vegetables include chick peas/garbanzo beans (can be used to make hummus), kale, broccoli, spinach, blueberries, lemons, and pears.
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    Eat properly portioned meals. Your meals should have reasonable portions to keep you from taking in more calories than you need. Be careful not to overfill your plate - use a smaller plate if you’re unsure. Drink lots of water and eat slowly in order to help your body feel full.
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    Focus on lean protein. Eating protein will help you to feel full and energetic. However, processed protein-heavy foods often contain lots of unhealthy fat. Eat lean proteins to reduce the amount of unhealthy fats in your diet. Use a little hard cheeses with low fat and low carbs.
    • Examples of lean protein include chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, and lentils/beans.

Part 3
Sample Diet and Exercise Plan

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    Eat breakfast. Balance protein, dairy and carbs in the morning for a natural energy boost. Alternate between these three example breakfast options:
    • One cup of vanilla yogurt, 2 cups of melon, and ¾ cup cooked oatmeal.
    • One cup of low-fat cottage cheese, one banana, and one whole-wheat bagel.
    • Two ounces of Canadian bacon, ½ cup of blueberries, and 2 pieces of whole-wheat toast.
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    Eat lunch. Lunch is a great time to fit in protein (for an energy boost) and produce to keep you from feeling weighed down while you finish your day. Try alternating between these three example lunch options:
    • Arugula salad with salmon, onions, and tomatoes. Use Italian dressing.
    • Pita stuffed with chicken, tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, and feta.
    • Rye bread sandwich with spinach, mozzarella, garlic, and tomatoes.
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    Eat dinner. Eat a small dinner and try to eat it further in advance of going to sleep (your body won’t be able to burn enough of the calories if you eat right before sleeping). Examples of healthy dinners include:
    • Lemon pan-seared chicken, steamed broccoli, and garlic mashed potatoes.
    • Quinoa with bacon pieces and steamed kale.
    • Grilled salmon and spinach salad with vinaigrette dressing.
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    Eat snacks. Eat one snack in between breakfast and lunch as well as between lunch and dinner. This will keep you from getting faint or hungry and will also help you not to overeat when it’s time for meals. Examples of healthy snacks include:
    • Carrot and celery sticks.
    • 1/4 cup hummus and 3 pieces of broccoli.
    • 1 granola bar.
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    Drink water. Drink a sixteen ounce glass of water with every meal and at least once more during the day.
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    Get active. Take the stairs, stand when you work at your computer, and go for a walk around your building while you eat lunch.
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    Exercise. Make it your goal to exercise with variety, for at least a total of one hour a day. This does not need to be all at once. When exercising, make sure you are getting your heart rate up for at least ten minutes at a time. Here are some example exercises (try to do all three every day):
    • Do 2 minutes of planks, 4 minutes of jumping jacks, and 4 minutes of squats with thighs parallel to the floor (not deep squats), as soon as you get up.
    • If you have time before getting ready for work, go for a half hour jog.
    • Use a stationary or mobile bike for half an hour when you get home.


  • Every single minute of vigorous exercise you do will make a difference! You may not see it yet, but it will start to show!
  • Limit screen time (TV, computer, smartphone) to be more active during off times.
  • If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you. When you feel like giving up, keep going/push yourself. You will like the results when you are persistent.
  • If you don't have (or want!) other people to exercise with, try getting an iPod and listening to podcasts or audio books while you exercise. This makes the exercise time feel less like 'lost time' and more like 'productive time', since you're now learning or being entertained while you work out.
  • If you're going for a long run, don't go too fast at the beginning. Save some energy for the last couple of blocks/laps.
  • While working out, don't forget to hydrate your body. Don't go too long without taking a drink of water, but don't drink too much!
  • Set a goal: "Getting in shape" does not always mean losing weight, unless that is your personal goal. A proper goal for you may be overall fitness and stamina, staying power, and to achieve that, you will exercise and keep your nutrition very lean and low in carbs, sugars and fats.
  • When exercising, don't forget to stretch before and/or after.
  • Set goals with partners. For example: lose an inch off your waist, fit into a size smaller pant or dress, etc. If the goal is met, celebrate by going to dinner as a group (no kids!), a day at the spa, or plan a shopping trip together. This gives you something to look forward to.
  • Don't try to work out every day of the week. You should have work in at least 2-3 rest days total. Give your body time to rest! Your resting time is essential.
  • Understand what fat is. When you eat something, it's made up of many different things (protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, etc.). Food gets measured in calories. The calories are units of energy, that get stored as fat in your body for emergencies. Depending on your genetics the fat will get stored in certain areas (most likely thighs and butt or stomach and chest, arms, etc. Some people put fat on all over, equally.).
  • Start a fitness blog - Posting updates and charting your own journey can be a great motivation tool. Sharing your story and gaining followers can be a great aid to keeping your goals on track.
  • Find other like-minded people from school, work or your community. Having a support group is a form of "peer pressure." You'll be more inclined to stick with the program when you have others relying on you to show up and improve. Decide where and when you will meet to work out (could be a gym, a park, someone's house, etc.).
  • If there is a church gym or recreation center around your area then go to it often so you can lose weight and encourage each other to be healthy.
  • Before meals, drink a cup of water as it will make you feel better after eating and not sleepy and full.
  • Celebrate with a salad or fresh strawberries with plain yogurt sweetened with a stevia blend. Be proud of yourself and the what you have accomplished, after all you worked hard for it!
  • If you workout with a friend, you might want to do something like outlawing your work shoes. By doing this little step, you will compel yourself to use workout shoes, to be more serious--or you/or your friend will be shoeless!
  • Keep a a notebook so you can keep track of your calories that you burned, you weight, and your workout.


  • Never sleep immediately after having your meals.
  • Always warm-up before doing any exercise.
  • With any workout regimen, start slowly and build up to more reps and more strenuous work outs as you can. Starting off with too harsh a workout plan can lead to sore muscles, discouragement and burn-out.

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Categories: Motivation to Exercise | Nutrition and Lifestyle Eating