Lunden Souza: Just start small, work your way up

May 25, 2013 

I have received a lot of emails lately from people who are ready to start working out and eating healthier, but they are just not sure where to start.

Sometimes the idea of so many different ways and fads to get into better shape can be so overwhelming that it inhibits the initial start. The key is to start with something — anything — master it, make it habit and then move on to something else.

If you are a very sedentary person, try brisk walks five or six nights a week, drink more water and cut down (and eventually cut out) soda and other high-calorie, high-sugar juices or energy drinks.

Most people lack the motivation to just get up and move, so why not just start with walking?

A lot of people don't realize how many calories they are drinking in all of these coffee drinks, sodas, energy drinks and even fruit juice, so start paying attention to just what you are drinking and how much.

Another place to start is by eliminating fast-food — food through a window.

Then you can try one of my favorite total-body workouts that takes only 10 to 15 minutes. I do this workout on days that I feel like I do not have enough time to do a full workout.

This quick workout is 30 seconds of jumping jacks, 30 seconds of lunges, 30 seconds of pushups, 30 seconds of squats, 30 seconds in plank position and then 30 seconds rest. You can do this three to five times, depending on how much time you have, and get a great sweat session.

This is a great place to progress to after you have started becoming more active, cleaning up your diet a little bit and being ready to take the next step.

You can do this workout at home, at the gym, at the park with your friends or kids, or even at the field while you wait for your kids to finish practice. This is also a good time to you start making it a habit to never skip breakfast and eat smaller portions more frequently, fueling your metabolism.

There are a lot of different ways to lose weight and become more fit, healthy and active.

You need to choose small, attainable goals so you are not striving for something that takes too long to achieve. Set up monthly or even weekly goals and make them things you can do forever.

Counting every single calorie you eat or working out every single day, for example, is not something that is going to be a habit forever, so why stress about it now?

Push yourself, but don't overdo it to the point where it makes you quickly lose interest. A good place to start is by setting and tracking your progress toward those achievable goals.

I use a giant dry-erase board to write down small goals each week. I do this that with things I want to master even after I have gotten into the shape I want to be in. This week my goal was to hold all post-workout stretches longer and don't skip stretches just because you want to finish up faster.

There is always room for improvement, and there are always more goals to be met. The satisfaction of achieving small goals is healthy for our minds as well as our bodies.

If you can write something down, see it, visualize it and then master it, you've made awesome progress. And that's what it's all about.

Lunden Souza, a Merced native, is a personal trainer, health and wellness coach, and writer in Southern California. She can be reached at

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