Realistic advice that works for real people, from real people. No more crash diets and get-ripped-quick schemes.
We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us their best tips for getting in shape. Check out what they shared — inspiring and actionable ways to get in shape and love doing it.
Push your limits.
Be willing to try any workout class at least once, and recognize that your workout preferences may change with your fitness level. –katier4bba4c003
Always be willing to push your limits. It may be scary — trust me, I know — but it is well worth it. I dreaded trying to run and do other types of workouts, but when I did I loved the results and stuck to it. Heck, it helped me lose 40 pounds so far! –natashac14
I challenged myself, in pouring rain and snow, to run eight kilometers. If I did it, it would prove to me that I can do anything I set my mind to. I did it, and now I love running every day. –alvan
Become comfortable with the feeling of being uncomfortable. You will be hungry, tired, sore, and sweaty. But true change doesn’t come unless you push yourself outside of your comfort zone. If you just accept the temporary discomfort for long-lasting results, it helps you get through. –jackayb
Join a gym or work with a trainer.
Girls, if you are too intimidated to do heavy compound exercises in the gym because you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, one option is to make an investment and enroll in CrossFit for a couple of months before returning to a cheaper gym membership. You get one-on-one training from coaches to learn the proper form and technique of weightlifting for a bigger price — but it’s totally worth it! –kyrac480bf58ad
Join a gym. Not just a chain, but a local gym with real people that have group fitness classes. DO those group fitness classes! And whatever you do, don’t stop. Start with one day a week. Then when you’re ready, try two. Then three, and so on. Don’t quit. –gnarwy
Get a trainer. Learn what to do then fire them. –Janet Guerra
Find a gym environment you feel comfortable in and set up a schedule and plan you can stick to. The personal trainers will love to help you achieve the goals that work with your body and fitness level. Trust me, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in regards to fitness. Also, it’s good to get your fitness level evaluated so you know your current limits. –brittanyr4de56b426
Eat more mindfully.
Eating clean just means avoiding processed foods. Shop from the outside perimeter of the grocery store. –reneed49e0b5534
Replace unhealthy foods around the house with healthier choices. Normally have a bowl of ice cream after dinner? Have frozen blueberries instead. They’re delicious and much better for you. And have lots of healthy things that you can snack on when you feel the urge to binge. Everyone does it sometimes, but you can reduce the damage by making your snacks things that are good for you. –hazell49da6b9e2
Food Network Magazine‘s weeknight cooking section has an awesome variety of meals with nutritional info. That was a huge help to me on my weight-loss journey. Now I’m down 80 pounds! –katier4bba4c003
Meal prepping has helped me a bunch! I plan out all my breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for the week, buy everything, cook it all, and pack it all up at the beginning of the week. Then I’m not tempted to just go for easy, not-so-healthy options, and I don’t have to worry about not having anything to eat at all! I also make sure to throw in some indulgences throughout the week, like if I’m absolutely craving some thin mints I only have one or two to satisfy the craving without ruining my week. –Melissa Nicole Kight
Don’t focus on cutting food/calories out of your daily intake, but start to focus on putting good things into your body. I try to follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the food you eat should benefit your body; “healthy” foods. Twenty percent is the amount of empty food you should have a day. Empty foods are foods that fill you up, but provide no nutritional value to your body whatsoever. –blakes4737c6dfa
Quit drinking soda, coffee with sweetener, energy drinks, etc. Make water your go-to choice of beverage when you’re out to eat and at home. After I did this for two weeks, I had more energy, slept better, my skin cleared up, and I didn’t feel sluggish in the afternoons. Trust me, this is a small trick that makes a huge difference. –peijaa
I bought a water bottle that has a dial so I can keep track of how many full bottles I drink per day. I keep it with me at all times and try to drink five bottles a day. –Elena Michele
My biggest saving grace has been to drink at least a gallon of water every day. Not only does my skin and effortless sleep schedule thank me, but doing this helps me to feel less bloated and recover from binge-eating episodes — which happen more frequently than I’d like to admit. Everyone always says to stay hydrated, but few actually do it! –Helen Bierko
Find fitness activities that you love.
Always change it up. If you are getting bored with your exercise routine then find a new exercise that you enjoy doing and alternate. Getting sick of that same old salad for lunch? Find a new, healthy recipe that you will look forward to eating, and then when you are bored of eating that, find another! If you’re always keep changing it up to keep yourself interested then getting in shape won’t feel like a constant uphill battle and it just becomes habit. –Rebecca Betts
I am one of those people who can’t be bothered to work out unless I am enjoying the activity. Running? Haha, no. My advice is to find an activity or sport that you ACTUALLY enjoy for reasons other than fitness. I found boxing. I love it, so I am thrilled to go EVERY DAY and fitness is just a happy by-product of my fun. There are tons of classes and team sports out there. Find something you love. –Alyssa Kate Pierce
Do something that you enjoy doing. I have been wanting to try freeletics but I don’t enjoy high-intensity workouts so I compromise the intensity. I still do my burpees, squats, and sit-ups followed by 20 minutes of biking. I love biking. Don’t force yourself into doing something intense (if you are not into it), instead listen to your body and challenge yourself to do something that you love, every day. –citraischu
I refuse to eat anything that isn’t delicious (it better be worth the calories) and I refuse to do exercise I hate (no running). I walk a lot and dance some, too. –francesjoys
Do something fun and call it a workout. I go rock climbing all the time, sometimes I’ll go on a short hike, or ride a bike. The trick is to increase the actual workout you do incrementally. Maybe do a harder route, or do it faster. –jays4ed036bcf
Stick to it and make it a lifestyle.
Realize that what you see in the magazines, if it’s real, is the result of long, hard hours at the gym and absolutely no cheating on an incredibly specific diet. Not to mention weeks on weeks of training. Balance your daily food intake, eat clean (unprocessed) foods, and exercise to the point of feeling uncomfortable four to six times per week. The rest will happen on its own. Dedication and moderation. –briannel46a86785b
Stick to it. No matter what. Getting into a daily routine can drastically change your mood, attitude, and, of course, your health. –sleepl3ss
Make one small change at a time. For example, if you are a very sedentary person, suddenly going to the gym and working out seven times a week is tough to motivate yourself into doing. Start by adding an after-lunch walk to your routine, or cut out the sugar in your coffee and build from there. Smaller changes are easier to incorporate in your lifestyle and you won’t lose the motivation. –thatlittlelightbulb
From someone who’s lost a significant amount of weight: There is no magic pill, diet, exercise, tips, or tricks that will make you lose weight. YOU are the only thing in your way. It is not in any way fun, hassle-free, and definitely not easy. It’s a full-time commitment, a complete lifestyle and mind change. But after all the struggle and time, it does get easier. And the way you feel about yourself makes up for everything. No one ever promised it’d be easy — they promised it’d be worth it. –Caitlin Barlow
Don’t set your expectations too high — you’re not miraculously going to get those abs or better muscle definition in a few days or even weeks; you need to work for it. –ravenbard
Becoming healthy and fit isn’t something that happens overnight or from a gimmicky, fad six-week diet. It is a journey and a lifestyle you fall in love with when you find your “soulmate” workout and feel amazing from eating REAL food. Four years ago, I ate nothing but takeout, didn’t know a thing about nutrition, couldn’t cook, and never worked out in my life. I was miserable and obese as a result. I decided one day to start educating myself and making small changes (which snowballed) every day. Since, I’ve lost 80 pounds, and live for fitness and nutrition. I LOOK FORWARD to my workouts and CRAVE whole foods. It’s all about COMMITTING to yourself, making small changes every day, not being afraid to try new things, surrounding yourself with like-minded people, finding workouts you ENJOY that are sustainable for YOU, and THEN your new lifestyle will fall into place. There really isn’t a quick fix or easy way out. Make the decision, commit to it, and you will succeed. –ashleighj474ebc193
Consider strength training.
Short, intense bouts of weightlifting, every second day. Basically, a less intense version of the “Body for Life” workout technique. I am, however, incredibly good at putting on muscle so results may vary. MODERATION IN ALL THINGS! That is key. –Nancy Lorenz
No matter if I’m doing aerobic training or strength training, the one exercise I do almost every time I work out is the deadlift. –Samantha Fong
Women: Seriously, start lifting weights. Heavy. Fucking. Weights. No more four-pound dumbbells and machine workouts. Squats, deadlifts, bench press, and all the other fun stuff in between. It is A LOT more fun than cardio, and I promise you that you won’t get bulky. –Butterkitten
Compound movements like squats, deadlifts, cleans, and presses yield the quickest and most effective results. Lift heavy, lift often, and push yourself every time you step into the gym. Every increase in weight is a step forward. Five additional pounds is still five pounds, and an additional five pounds added every week for four weeks is 20 pounds more than week one. –brangieri
Set goals and track your progress.
Tracking food, exercise, and weight with the LoseIt app was the BEST thing I ever did. It helped me to realize I was eating close to twice the amount of calories I needed. And getting to add my exercises in made me motivated to work out so I could record them. Plus, nothing felt quite as good as watching the chart with my weight go down, down, down. I find I actually enjoy eating healthily and working out. It’s about lifestyle changes, not crash diets. –nicolee407d98e0a
I got an app — Argus — that tracks my steps. It’s free and I get a little rush from hitting my goal daily. I also set up a system to reward myself for every X pounds lost. The rewards are stupid things like markers or socks, but there are also some big items, like a new tattoo once I hit my goal weight. –francesjoys
Be vocal about your goals — it makes you accountable. If you want to run a half marathon, tell people. They’ll inevitably ask about it and who wants to admit that they gave up? And the support you’ll receive will help push you towards success. –susanrebeccah
Set a concrete goal of something you want to accomplish, not just the vague idea of “getting fit.” Towards the end of college, I wanted to get in shape, so I picked a hiking trail to do with a friend after graduation. Whenever I would struggle with workouts, it was really helpful to think how the work I was doing would help me on the trail. –audreyw4191fb5f5
Good headphones for the gym make a difference for me. –Mashaya Sulser
When you start working out, the music playlist can make all the difference. Sometimes, I’ll be plugging away on the elliptical, watching Scandal on my iPhone, and I feel like the minutes are going by so slow. If I flip on the music instead and some amazing, upbeat, kickass song comes on (or even something terrible that has a great beat), I just feel PUMPED. I have a few different workout playlists for different moods and I’ll tell you, they work great. –Kim Casey
I’m a lazy girl that’s trying to get into fitness. What’s really gotten me into working out are the simple things like getting new, colorful workout gear to get in the mood. It’s like wearing a sexy bra under your clothes at work, but BETTER. –Daksha CÃ³rdova
Remember to celebrate every little victory! Did you do five more minutes of running than the day before? Awesome! You took the stairs instead of the elevator? Great! Picked the healthier option even though you really wanted the bad-for-you one? Amazing! Celebrating all those little things really helps to stay motivated and so you aren’t always beating yourself up when you don’t see the immediate results that you wanted. –katceekay
Treat yo’self to some new workout clothes. If you are anything like me, you’ll want to wear them STAT. –allisonelloyd
Fit exercise in.
If you’re watching TV, do some core work during commercials (sit-ups, planks, Russian twists, etc). It keeps you active on your breaks and off days, and will also keep you from feeling *too* lazy! Small, simple steps along with your workout routine make a big difference! Give it 100%. –Daksha CÃ³rdova
Walk everywhere. If you have to drive or take public transit, park far away or get off at the stop before/after your desired one so you can incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Educate yourself, and just try to find a rhythm that works best for you. It is important to understand that what someone else is doing might not work for you, and fad diets aren’t going to work or be healthy to upkeep in the long run. –jbradz
I bought a workout mat and started doing a new YouTube exercise video every day at home. Some are short, doing a different one every day keeps it interesting, and I don’t have to go all the way to a gym. –Elena Michele
Exercise any time you have available. Even if it’s five minutes — set your treadmill (or whatever) and by the time it goes by, you’ll be in the zone, and won’t want to stop. –alex ari
Walk 30 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be many miles eventually; you’ll work in a faster pace. Maybe plan a goal, like work your way to a mile and then two, whatever you want it to be. Walking will get you there! –Mannybr22
Stay positive and love yourself.
Love yourself as you are right now — lasting change cannot happen unless you take your blinders off and make peace with where you are right now. You are lovable and deserve love and deserve self-love no matter what. –Amy Abrams
The most important thing in fitness is keeping it positive — don’t start working out because you hate your body, because you’ll never be happy. If you start from “I like my body, but I feel better when I take care of myself,” you’ll feel better about every improvement you see and you won’t be as down on yourself when it takes more than one workout. –Valerie Hemminger
Understand that how you look is secondary to how you feel. Where fat develops on your body is purely genetic, and if it doesn’t develop in a way that shows off your six-pack, you’ll only be able to get one through dangerous, unhealthy means. –Jason Gillis
Never compare! Everyone is at different levels. Find what you love to do — that will make it 10 billion times more enjoyable and easier to stay on track! –amandamarie85
Do it for you. Don’t get in shape only to impress somebody, whether it be that you’re envious of your BFF’s killer legs or a jerkface ex that ruined your self-esteem. Fitness should be an opportunity to appreciate and admire your own beauty without needing reassurance from those who’ve made you feel inferior. Sure, they can be your motivation to inflict insane jealousy, but looking and feeling good should be your own prerogative! Confidence is at the root of all fitness, and that comes from within. –gabriellev450b7c435
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