Reader’s Request: Getting Started

Hey everyone! Happy Indian Food Wednesday! Who’s celebrating tonight?? *Raises Baigan Bhartha-covered fork in the air* I am! 😀

First things first…. the winner of the amazing yoga giveaway from

According to the pilot random number generator (I yelled out “pick a number between 1 and 455), the winner of a YEAR of free yoga podcasts is:



Congrats! Please send me an email (fitnessista at gmail dot com) so we can get you hooked up!

All my other yoga-loving bloggies, don’t you fret, you still get 30% off all podcasts at until the end of the month. Just enter “Fitnessista” as the coupon code.

It’s Reader’s Request Time:

During one of my last posts, I got an awesome reminder that while many of you are already Fitnessistas and have got gym and nutrition stuff down pat there are still quite a few bloggies who are just getting into it. Also, I know that many of you are on injury hiatus (like me) or returning from a surgery or injury recovery.

Fitball Stretch  (Source)

Either way, it can sometimes be daunting to get started (or start back up).

Here are my favorite steps:

1. Start small, but think big. Make small changes where you can and set mini-goals that are reasonable to attain and easy to measure. For example: this week I’m going to aim for whole-grain instead of white flour and walk every day after work. Each week, add in a new goal. Keep your *big* goal in mind while you set these goals and use it as motivation.

More examples of mini-goals:

-Opt for grilled, baked, steamed or poached in lieu of fried

-Try greek yogurt or mustard instead of mayo

-Sip seltzer or fruit-infused water (water with cucumber slices, mint and lemon is delicious) to get in your 8 glasses each day.. skip the soda and sugary juices

-Try a new fruit or vegetable each week

-Aim to eat all fresh food for a week (no pre-packaged snacks… and eggs, milk, fish/meat, other necessities don’t count. I’m talking about the poptart and crackers type stuff)

-Add in jogging or running intervals into your walking routine (walk 1 minute, jog/run 30 seconds)

-Aim for 3 weight training sessions a week in addition to 2 miles of cardio (any method of choice) almost every day. When this gets easy, up the intensity of cardio and weights (add hills, speed, or intervals to cardio and higher weights to your weight routine).

Don’t feel pressured to jump in and go balls to the wall with fitness or eating changes. If you do it slowly, you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed and burn out. For example, every time I hear someone say “I’m going all raw tomorrow”, it makes me cover my face with sadness. Your body needs time to adapt to new things and it’s better to start with re-vamping one meal (then one meal and one snack, then two meals, and so on), or one aspect of your fitness routine than trying to do a bunch of crazy things at once.

2. Create a vision board. Make a visual representation of what you want to achieve (this can be in all aspects of your life) and keep it in a spot where you can see it on a daily basis. You can see mine here– they work!!!

3. Have a plan. Whether it’s a daily plan, weekly plan, or hourly plan (that’s how I roll!), know ahead what you’re going to do and if you can make any preparations in advance (like chopping veggies for a healthy dinner or setting out your gym gear the night before), do it. For a sample eating plan, check out my Summer Shape Up plan and for a great newbie strength training program, here’s the Intro to Iron Pumping plan.

4. Be patient with yourself. There’s no way you’re going to run 10 miles if you’re never ran, or break your 5k PR your first run back in the game (unless you’re a super running ninja). Understand that it’s going to take a little time to get where you want to be (or get back to where you were). If you’re coming back from injury or surgery, remember that the body is an amazing and intelligent machine. It will remember what it’s supposed to do. And newbies, it will adapt and eventually do the things you want it to do.

5. Focus on a balance of eating well, cardio and weights but don’t forget to cut yourself some slack. There are nights for all of us when we need to eat chocolate fondue or lay by the pool reading trashy gossip mags instead of working out. Listen to your body and give it what it wants. Before you know it (if this is a new thing for ya), it will be craving exercise and healthy eats for the most part.

6. Try new things and stick with what you love. Don’t force yourself to run if you really hate and dread it, you won’t do it on a regular basis. Find out what it is that makes you excited to stick with your plan- whether it’s buying a new healthy cookbook (my everyday cookbooks are Eat, Drink and Be Vegan and the Canyon Ranch cookbook) or taking a new fitness class.

7. Reward yourself. Find non-food sources to reward yourself and provide motivation to keep doing yo thang. Book a massage, get a pedicure, a new shirt or pair of shoes, yoga mat, what have you. It doesn’t even have to cost dinero— set aside time to gab with a friend over a glass of vino or plan a picnic with your man (or puppies).

So there you have it 😀 Anything I’m missing?? What’s the single piece of advice you’d give to a healthy living newbie or someone bouncing back from an injury??

Knowing that you WANT IT is the most important thing. It can also be the hardest part. Once you’re mentally committed to achieving fitness, weight loss and/or healthy eating goals, you will make it happen.

You know I’m cheering for you 😀



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  1. Rachel on March 24, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    I really like this post!! You said it well that everything in moderation and I try to live a lifestyle staying away from processed foods. You have motivated me to lift more weights, I love cardio but dislike weights.

  2. Molly on March 24, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I think one of the most important things is educating yourself. This one can be a little hard since there is so much bad advice out there for eating, but read books! Learn more about nutrition and what foods are the most nutrient dense. As you learn more about nutrition, it will get easier to (usually) make the right choice. One of my favorite websites for nutrition information is There is so much information. I also love Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

    Thanks for your blog Gina! Love it.

  3. Laura J. on March 24, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Great post! I’m going to print it out and stick it in my food/exercise journal, so I have those tips there as a constant reminder 🙂

  4. Rachel on March 24, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Another thing I just thought about, I feel so much better when I eat well. I have problems with constipation and often find that when I eat bad I cant poop for a few days!! TMI (I know), but if I focus on eating well for my body, not just calorie wise it happens much easier. Eating the right foods makes you feel lighter, not weighted down.

  5. kate on March 24, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    The most important tip for me was to eat when I was actually hungry instead of just eating when I felt like it or thought I should – it makes a huge difference!
    I love rewarding myself, too!

  6. Ian on March 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    For the record, I treat myself to a cookbook or a bag of some grain or something I cant get in stores in the city. Or I book a trip to whole foods to just poke around when I feel the need. It definitely keeps me in an excited, healthy vein that allows me to run most days of the week. It’s amazing how our bodies adapt, since I used to run a specific distance. Then when i came to college, the shortest distance path I knew for certain was a 5-miler. I took to the trail and found that after a month, that became my base and anything less was just not enough for me. It felt too short! Good luck to all the startup runners, because if you love running, you know it!

  7. Sara on March 24, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you for posting this – it was so helpful! The most important thing I try to remember is to eat things in moderation. Sometimes it’s so hard for me, but I try my best. I recently found your blog and have found it to be so helpful!

  8. Hilary on March 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I think the “be patient” is so important when transitioning to a healthier lifestyle or recovering. If you push too hard or cut out too much in the beginning, you will give up. Drastic changes rarely work, so take it slow increasing exercise a little each day or week and changing eating habits slowly. Results won’t come quickly either, so be patient.

  9. Erica on March 24, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Thank you for this post! I have been trying so hard to get back into the swing of things and everytime something goes slightly wrong or I eat the wrong thing I find myself giving up for the day and doing far more damage. Reading this reminded me that I don’t have to do it all at once and I don’t have to be perfect every second! Every little bit helps!!
    Thank you 🙂

  10. Allison @ Food For Healing on March 24, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    My only advise is to not kill yourself with exercise, the more you do doesn’t mean the more you will lose.

    Also, don’t beat yourself up if you eat too much one day or eat a dessert or binge, it happens to everybody all the time. Just dust yourself off, and start over right then and there, and you’ll be okay!

  11. Kate on March 24, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Thanks so much for writing this post! I’m currently in hospital recovering from surgery and the idea of getting started with exercise again when I get home is so daunting, especially since I’m currently only doing laps around the ward! This was exactly what I needed to read.

  12. Susan @ Journey for Health on March 25, 2010 at 2:40 am


    Thanks so much for this post. I totally needed it right now. I’ve been incorporating changes into my lifestyle since February and it’s kinda hard. I’m kind of an “all or nothing” kind of girl (I am trying to be easier on myself). I used to try to go ALL organic. It was impossible where I live and super expensive. So, I’m trying what little bit I can. And for the most part I’ve tried to incorporate more veggies daily (I used to go DAYS without eating a single veggie).

    Now I look at food as fuel for my daily activities. I try to enjoy it, because that’ll make it stick, but if I think about what my body needs, I tend to make healthier choices.

    Your blog was the first healthy/fitness blog I started to read and it totally inspired me. Now I want to look into getting a second Master’s degree in Kinesiology (I’m about to get my BA in English now). But I am overweight and trying to get healthy. This post makes me feel better that the changes I’ve made are counting. I have been so busy this week that working out wasn’t an option, and though I did a lot of walking around campus, I still beat myself up about it. This post reminds me that I did my best and did pretty darn good.

    Thanks 🙂

    • Fitnessista on March 25, 2010 at 8:33 am

      hey susan,
      that is music to my ears 🙂 i’m so proud of you for all you’ve accomplished and as a former all-or-nothing girl myself, i know what it’s like to put crazy pressure on yourself. way to turn it around and stick with your plan… little changes really do all up.
      keep up the amazing work

  13. ECJoyful on March 25, 2010 at 8:28 am


    Thank you for this post. I have been looking for some guidance on how to ease back into a healthy lifestyle after an almost 10 year hiatus. Thanks.

  14. lucie on March 25, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Hey Gina! I know comments are closed but I still wanna share my top 3 favorite yoga pose:
    tree pose
    warrior I & II
    Crow pose

  15. Amber on March 26, 2010 at 2:51 am

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    This is exactly what i needed right now. I just relaunched my blog and am in the process of relaunching my fitness and eating healthy routines.
    I am starting small and going to grow big but not with my weight I mean with my goals!

  16. Jannette Fiebich on April 2, 2010 at 11:27 am

    That is teriffic and so nicely written. Typically I do not ever make a comment on blogs, Then again I felt like I should congratulate you on this one. Great blog

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