25 Simple Tips to Start Exercising When You’re Overweight

Straight from people who got it done.

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Try printables from Pinterest

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"After I had surgery, I lost 45 pounds by doing workouts at home from Pinterest. I pin the ones that look interesting, print out the charts of what I need to do each week and print sheets to track my progress. All the new workouts on there make it easy to switch it up with different routines. Once I started to see progress it became second nature and now I just do it." —Jessica Marinaccio

Sign up for a race

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"I've maintained a 60-pound weight loss by challenging myself with new goals. Getting an event on the calendar a few months out provides a tangible goal to work toward; having something I registered (and paid!) for keeps me motivated. Register for a fun event—the Color Run or a 5k community walk/run are great, low-pressure ways to try it. I started training by following the Couch-to-5k plan and it was a great way to ease in and not overdo it!" —Mindy Nienhouse, holistic health coach 

Add up all the money you're saving

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"Gyms and healthy food can be expensive. But I knew if I didn't make some changes, I would be paying a lot more for prescription drugs for chronic conditions caused from obesity. In addition we stopped eating out and started meal planning and cooking at home which saved us calories and cash." —Christy Baume

Believe this: No one is watching you

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"When I first started exercising I was so embarrassed to be red-faced and struggling through workouts I was sure were easy for everyone else. Once I realized that not working out wasn't going to get me any results, I sucked it up and made myself do it. And the truth is that nobody else is even looking at you!" —Theodora Blanchfield

Start with weights, not cardio

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"A common myth is that overweight people shouldn’t weight train because they need to burn lots of calories during cardio and weight training doesn't burn enough calories. But extended bouts of cardio make you lose muscle. So you might lose some fat, but in the long term, your metabolism is compromised because you’ve lost muscle too. For long term weight loss, weight training is a must. Weight training has other benefits besides retention of muscle. It also helps keep you motivated as you see strength gains quickly and strengthening the muscles can result in less joint pain and less difficulty in moving around. The beauty of weight training is that it can be easily modified to every person's needs, and adjusted as the trainee becomes stronger and more familiar with technique."  —Jules Harris, personal trainer

Exercise out of self-love, not self-loathing

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"I lost a significant amount of weight and went from being sedentary and hating exercise to being a gym rat. I learned that the most important thing is to find motivation to exercise that is based on self-love and self-care, not self-loathing. If you don't feel like you can love yourself then try loving someone else first. I became severely depressed while pregnant and decided to try exercise instead of antidepressants. It was the first time I tried to exercise for any other reason than out of self-loathing. It was an act of love—for my unborn child—and that made a huge difference." —Bethany Kirk

Think: Just do it

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"It's simple but it's true. Not matter what you tell yourself it is never going to get any easier to start exercising than it is right now. So just do it." —Theodora Blanchfield

Focus on the health benefits, not the number on the scale

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"I was diagnosed with lupus eight years ago. The beginning of my illness was quite debilitating and led to three years of prednisone therapy. As a result I gained over 60 pounds. I weighed 215 on a 5'4" frame. I had all the side effects: moon face, hump back, facial hair, hair loss. It was difficult but I want other women with chronic illnesses to know we can still exercise with moderation and modifications. I'm now a very fit and healthy 154 pounds and have become a bit of a gym rat, but the most important thing to me is my symptoms have become very rare and I take minimal medication. I really credit my healthy eating and regular exercise with getting me to this point." —Michelle Lemke

Try a class geared for overweight people

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"Group fitness is a great way to get fit and make friends but if you're nervous about jumping in to Zumba or bootcamp, many places offer beginner classes. For instance, I teach Fitness 101 and Fitness Plus for the YMCA for people who aren't ready to join regular classes. I've lost 100 pounds and am still going strong." —Kenlie Tiggeman

Don't cut calories too drastically

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"If you cut calories and add exercise simultaneously you'll be miserable and more likely to quit both. Keep your body well-fueled while you begin to incorporate exercise and once it's a habit, then consider gentle diet changes." —Bethany Kirk

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