Seven Steps to Safe Success

I’m not here to assert you need to do *anything* differently the moment that date changes on the clock. But.

What I am here for is to make sure that, if you do choose to take on new physical challenges, you are doing it safely and setting yourself up for success rather than avoidable frustration – or worse – injury.

Why? Because I’ve been there. I’ve essentially abused all of these steps in the past and suffered the consequences, so I’m here to hopefully prevent at least 1 person from going through the same things!

I’ve also included a couple of slides at the end that I’ve posted previously because the information is super relevant.

Happy New Year!


  1. Choose the correct plan
    • Our plan can set us up for success or failure. The primary issue I see people run into is the number of “beginner” plans that aren’t for true beginners.
    • We should never ever pick up a pair of weights if it’s our first workout in awhile. When a workout is called “beginner” and involves load, please know: it is not a beginner workout. What that usually means is that it’s the “easiest” level of that plan.
    • If you haven’t worked out in 6+ months, your plan should not start you with more than 3 days/week of activity, and it should be limited to stability, mobility, and cardiorespiratory work, progressing from there.
    • If you haven’t worked out in 3+ months, your plan should start you with stability and mobility, with bodyweight moves as the only resistance
  2. Proper Footwear
    • Proper footwear is an overlooked part of physical activity and can have a drastic impact on form and safety.
    • Feet should be flat for functional movement and strength training to reduce likelihood of promoting improper form. Converse work great here.
      • Think about a pair of sneakers with a padded heel, and how that forces the body’s weight toward the front of the foot rather than distributing evenly; the heavier we lift, the more important this is.
    • Always choose a shoe with plenty of support for high impact work and/or if you have any bone or joint issues (arthritis, osteoporosis, etc.)
    • Go barefoot! Unless you’re in public (obviously) or on a piece of equipment like a treadmill, barefoot can be best – and it’s free!
  3. Pain versus soreness
    • A lot of us want to push through pain when we are motivated to get active. But “no pain, no gain” is BS.
    • When we have soreness, it is good to keep moving. When we have pain, we need to STOP. But it can be hard to differentiate if we’re starting to feel muscles we didn’t even know existed before, right?!
    • Pay attention to how your body feels when it’s immobile. If pain is radiating even when those muscles aren’t working, it’s likely more than muscle soreness and you should not push through another workout. This is also usually a sign that the body needs a bit more. preparation to progress to doing what caused the pain.
    • If the soreness happens mostly when that muscle is engaged, it’s likely typical soreness and you can treat as normal recovery process.
    • Most importantly, listen to your own medical professionals above all else.
  4. Proper Nutrition
    • This should go without saying, but if we want our bodies to work harder, we need to provide them more – and the right kind of – fuel. Our bodies are just high functioning machines, and we should treat them that way!
    • Carbs and fat produce energy; protein does not. The amount of complex carbs we eat should increase as activity levels do.
    • Carbs feed muscles; protein repairs muscles – both are necessary for muscle gain and fat loss (aka “toning”).
    • The quality of calories matters. We can eat 2,000 calories of foods that offer no additional nutritional value or we can eat that same number of calories that include the vitamins and minerals our bodies need. I promise, you will feel the difference.
      • 45-65% carbs, 10-35% protein, 20-35% fat
  5. Proper Hydration
    • Hydration is fairly obvious, but I want to touch on another thing: be careful not to over-hydrate, too.
    • Our bodies need the proper balance of electrolytes, which fluctuates based on how much we are drinking, eating, and sweating.
    • Rather than focusing on a certain number of ounces or liters per day, focus on the color of your urine.
      • Urine should be light yellow
      • Clear urine means over-hydration and may cause potential electrolyte imbalance if a consistent issue
      • Yellow to darker yellow or cloudy means not enough hydration
      • Hydrate with water, not sports drinks. If you suspect you may be low on electrolytes, snag a banana or avocado.
  6. Proper Recovery
    • Our bodies need recovery as much as they need activity.
    • Aside from proper hydration and nutrition, sleep is a huge part of recovery. If we aren’t getting enough sleep, our bodies cannot repair the damage we’ve done.
      • Yes, exercise is essentially “good damage” we’re doing to our bodies to come out stronger afterward.
    • Stretching, foam rolling, and mobility work are also an integral part of recovery. If your plan does not include these areas, it is not comprehensive – or safe – enough, and I highly recommend looking to add these components from elsewhere.
    • The reality is that ignoring these other components of fitness will likely catch up to us in the form of injury or progress plateaus.
  7. Absolutely NO Comparisons
    • Under no circumstances are we to compare our journey, our body, our progress, our plan, our wins and loses – with ANYONE.
    • When we stop comparing and focus on our own personal progress and how we feel, we are so much more likely to stick with our plans. How many times have you felt great about your progress until you see someone else’s?! NO MORE!
    • Abandon progress pictures. Yep, I said it. They are a marketing tool that doesn’t tell anyone’s whole story. There is nothing wrong with wanting to see physical results, but if that’s the primary motivation, it can lead to dangerous behaviors just to SEE instead of feel results


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