How to Create a Successful Fitness Plan

Krystal Clark

| 3 min read

Two full figured women with gymnastic bars doing exercises after their instructor in gym
Can you lose weight without exercising? Absolutely. But getting in shape is a different story. It’s nearly impossible to gain muscle, increase flexibility, or improve cardiovascular health without some form of physical activity. Exercise can be intimidating and feel like a Herculean task. For some, it’s easier to focus on dietary changes than to implement a workout plan. Luckily, there are practical ways to incorporate movement without feeling overwhelmed. For starters, you must be honest about your expectations. “People will see the latest Batman movie… and they'll see eight weeks of a workout that a celebrity did to get a six pack. That's not realistic,” explained Vince McKinnon, manager and onsite wellness coordinator at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Described as “muscle and fiction,” these types of fitness stories set unattainable standards for the average person. “Nothing’s going to happen in a day. Nothing's going to happen in a week… People need to realize, whatever their goal may be, it takes time.” On the latest episode of the A Healthier Michigan Podcast, hosted by Chuck Gaidica, McKinnon joins returning guest and registered dietitian Susan Okonkowski to discuss the essential building blocks of a great workout plan. [podcast_player] Before engaging in any exercise, it’s important to fuel your body. Drink at least 16 ounces of water and consume foods that are healthy and accessible. “I pre-cut vegetables, I pre-cut fruits, and I just put them into glass containers in the fridge,” said Okonkowski. “[If] I'm going to work out at 5:30 in the morning to go for a run, I can quickly just go in the fridge and grab some fruit. It's not complicated.” “The magic bullet I would say is eating as much natural food as you can,” added McKinnon. “Whether it's natural animal protein, natural fruit, natural vegetables, or natural grain. I think the more whole natural food you can eat, the better results you'll get, and you'll feel.” Whether you’re heading to the gym, or working out at home, start small. McKinnon recommends full body workouts, three to four times a week, lasting between 30-45 minutes. Also, opt for free weights instead of machines, as they’ll provide much better results. “If you're squatting with a free weight barbell as opposed to a Smith rack, you have to stabilize everything, and use your lower back and your abdomen.” It requires more effort, which burns more calories, and builds more muscle. Regardless of your training method, remember that you are human. Making mistakes is a natural part of the process. “You should fail. You should fall off the wagon. You should miss workouts, and you should have a cheat meal every now and then,” said McKinnon. “It's not realistic to work out seven days a week.” Just be consistent and the results will come. Looking for more fitness tips? Read these posts:
Photo Credit: shironosov
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association