A Beginner’s Guide to a Fit Lifestyle

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.



(noun) the condition of being physically fit and healthy; the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.


When you hear the word “fitness”, what comes to mind?


There are multiple, confusing and differing opinions, messages and ideas out there.


Is fitness…



  • Jillian Michael’s yelling ‘motivational’ commands at contestants on the show “The Biggest Loser” to “keep going” or “stop being weak”?


  • Doing your ‘time’ on the treadmill or StairMaster?


  • Marathoners, CrossFit Games champions, and athletes giving it their all in their sport of choice?


  • Bronzed bodies, fake smiles, big boobs and 6-pack abs, parading around in bikinis and high-heels on a stage?


  • Being able to lift your bodyweight on a barbell overhead, run a mile in 6-minutes flat, or rock a handstand walk?


  • Simply looking good naked, living long and prospering?


  • Moving your body as often as you can in the name of health—and integrating modes of exercise and activity that make you, personally, come alive?


If you chose the latter (Moving your body as often as you can), you are on the right path for THRIVE’s Fitness Philosophy.


If you have a beating heart and the God-given ability to move your body (your limbs—arms and legs to walk, run, dance, lift, etc.)…fitness is an integral part of your health and well-being.


In other words: Fitness is not just something that you do, but it is a way of life.



Fitness is something that is not a chore or a checklist item…but something that brings health, life and vitality to your bones (and soul)


THRIVE also believes that, along with this gift of fitness, each and every person on this earth is also gifted with unique passions, skills, talents, purposes and dreams that are meant to be lived out and expressed (not kept to yourself).


And, ultimately, in order to fully tap into these passions, skills, talents, purposes and dreams, you MUST first take care of yourself (a la Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs).



Speaking in terms of fitness then, these things come to LIFE when you choose to do those things that MOVE you (literally speaking!) Those things that bring fun, escape, vitality to your physical body; Be it: yoga, pilates, martial arts, dance, sports, CrossFit, lifting weights, swimming, biking, running, walking, etc.


That being said…what moves you?


What types of fitness make you feel alive? Forget about the time? Bring a smile (and endorphins) to your body and your face?


No more chronic cardio!



No more pulling your own teeth to step your life away for 30-60 minutes on a StairMaster!
No more obsessively counting the number of calories you burned that day (and how much or how little you can eat accordingly)!


Not sure where to begin?


Well, you’ve come to the right place.


The questions mount:


What do I really actually like to do?


How do I reach my health and fitness goals—really?


What types of exercise should I be doing to…(be healthy, gain weight, lose weight, be confident in my own skin, etc.)?


Is cardio or HIIT better for me?


I really hate sweating…do I have to?


And on…and on…


Sit tight…breathe…and read on…


Here is the Beginner’s Guide to THRIVE Fitness for finding what moves you, reaching your personal goals AND increasing your health—inside and out:

  • Soul Search.

First things first, as with most things THRIVE, you’ve got to connect with your heart, your personality, your motivations around your fitness. What is it you like to do? What is it that you used to like to do—back in the day (think back to being a kid or teen in sports)? Are you competitive? More of a team sports and group kinda gal? Individual all the way? Do you feel energized by a trainer motivating you throughout the workout, or prefer to motivate yourself? Want guidance and instruction? Or just want to stick your ear buds in and go? Prefer outdoors over indoors any day? In order to begin creating your personal thrive fitness plan, do some soul searching and make a list of the types of activities, settings and experiences get you moving.


  • Know Your Why.

    More reflection here. Why is it that you exercise—personally? What is the reason behind why you move your body—(or plan to move your body, if not currently exercising)?

Some common answers include:

  • “To lose weight or lean out”
  • “To build muscle and definition”
  • “To justify eating XYZ”
  • “I fear putting on weight or getting fat and lazy”
  • “To feel more confident”
  • “It helps me manage stress and/or be more productive”
  • “Because it’s what I am supposed to do to be healthy” or “I know it’s good for me”
  • “Because I’ve always been active”
  • “It’s routine”
  • “Because I have to”
  • “Because I feel amazing when I do”

All valid answers. But what type of fitness would it take for you to shift this why to the answer to the latter:


“It makes me feel alive”?!

Far too often, people choose to move their bodies due to reasons that pose exercise and fitness as more of a chore—rather than a God-given right and gift. They are disconnected with the why of engaging in a type of fitness that actually makes them feel great—inside and out; Instead: Counting down the time until 30-minutes is up on the elliptical; Checking off their checklist of bicep curls to bench dips to bent-over rows, three times through; Going through the motions of a personal training session or group exercise class—thinking about what’s for dinner or how great sitting on the couch and watching the “New Girl” is going to be instead.
While you can certainly have plenty of reasons and motivations for working out, and NOT every session has to be ‘rainbows and butterflies’, it is THRIVE’s belief that until you are connected with a type of fitness and exercise program that personally makes you COME ALIVE…then you may continue to struggle with: finding joy in fitness, having fun with it, and/or continuing to be at war with your body.

Know your why(s) for why you workout and move…then ask yourself: Is this the type of relationship with fitness I want to have?


  • Get Driven.

There’s no time like the present for setting some goals. The beauty of fitness as a ‘lifestyle’ is that ‘ultimate fitness’ is never fully satisfied—we can always be stronger, faster, more agile, more powerful; Always set a new PR (personal record); Try a NEW adventure or endeavor; Learn something new; etc. Think about your own personal fitness, and set some goals for yourself to actually have something to focus on in your sessions (rather than mindlessly watching Friends re-runs, or doing the same routine week after week, hoping for new results, or running yourself into the ground with your 6-mile run day in and day out—but really going nowhere). Some inspiration?:


  • Run a 5K/10K
  • Compete in a local fitness competition
  • Get a pull-up
  • Add 10 lbs. to your backsquat
  • Learn how to get a great workout in 45-minutes (as opposed to 90-120 minutes)
  • Gain 5 lbs.
  • Shed 5% bodyfat
  • Be able to deadlift my own bodyweight
  • Be able to lift my own suitcase into the airplane overhead bin
  • Hold a plank for 3-minutes
  • Learn how to do a handstand push-up
  • Learn how to lift weights on my own—without needing a trainer by my side
  • Find Balance.

    Fitness is a wonderful part of life—but as with most things in life, too much or too little will get you out of balance. Balance is essential to a thriving, happy and healthy relationship with fitness—and can be particularly challenging when you realize how great fitness makes you feel, or when you are driven towards a particular goal. However, results, gains and the prevention of overtraining are ultimately accomplished through a balanced training approach of easier and tougher days—the yin and the yang (as is depicted below). In addition, a ‘work-life’ balance applies to the fitness sense as well—remembering there is life outside the gym as well, and more than anything, the gym and your workouts are meant to enhance your life outside the gym in order to live your life.


  • Get Off the Hamster Wheel.

    Back away from the StairMaster. “But I need to do lots of cardio”…or, “I want to lose weight/tone up/burn fat, and I heard cardio is the way to do that.” Stop right there—it’s time to throw conventional old school wisdom…OUT THE DOOR. Unfortunately, that popular ‘wisdom’ of the 1980s’ past, telling us that we should be doing 30-60 minutes of cardio per day– has created a society of overtrained, underfit, addicted exercise-aholics. Like many, I too used to believe that vigorous aerobic exercise was the key to being healthy. 45-minutes on my StairMaster morning, noon and night, kept me ‘in shape’ (so I thought). Little did I realize, excessive cardio was anything BUT healthy. When we run like hamsters on wheels, we push our bodies to test limits they don’t necessarily want to test all the time (fight or flight mode), elevating stress levels…elevating cortisol (stress hormones)…and decreasing about every healthy function in our bodies if not careful (i.e. immunity, fat metabolism, hormone balance, ability to recover, ability to make progress and/or reach goals you set for yourself, our fun with exercise, and it promotes inflammation). So what are you to do if your old standby habit (lots of cardio) is taken out from under you? Read on…


  • Lift Weights.

    Just like every single human being on this planet can benefit from eating green vegetables and drinking water, lifting weights is one of those cornerstones for health in your fitness. You’ve probably heard the benefits preached before: build muscle, enhance tone, increase bone density, increase your metabolic function, boost your mood, reduce your risk for injuries, enhance your cardiovascular system (yes, weights can actually help with making progress in your cardio!)…need I go on? And not just any weights (i.e. pink 1-2 lbs. dumbbells). Lift heavy things (it’s an ongoing challenge that will continue throughout your lifetime. Two to three days per week, perform big complex full-body type movements (presses, pull-ups, rows, bench press, squats, deadlifts, dips, lunges) to get the biggest bang for your workout buck—and really see and feel the results.


  • HIIT It.

    While chronic cardio does not do a body good, HIIT (high intensity interval training) and sprint-style workouts are magical for improving your fitness capacity. In essence, HIIT-style workouts are workouts with a purpose: short, fast and all out. Think: 20-seconds of work, 10-seconds of rest x 8 rounds; or As Many Rounds/Reps as Possible in 12-minutes of a particular circuit; or 10 x 100-meter sprints, with a recovery walk back to the start between sets. HIIT has become quite popular in mainstream fitness circles with the introduction of P90X and Insanity, and surge in CrossFit affiliates around the globe. The benefits of HIIT include: improved blood sugar regulation; a healthier heart; boosts in human growth hormone (the ‘fitness’ hormone that helps us get better); boosts in fat loss and metabolic function; no equipment is needed (bodyweight squats, pushups, pullups, etc. are great!); the preservation of muscle (not running off your muscle); it’s a great challenge (i.e. no plateaus here); and it’s efficient! (HIIT is quick so it makes working out possible for everyone and can be done practically anywhere).As with anything though, tooooo much of a good thing, is not always a good thing—so no need to kill yourself day in and day out with HIIT training to the max (this can lead to burnout). The amount of HIIT training will completely depend on your goals, your lifestyle and your current health state—being mindful not to send your cortisol (i.e. the stress hormone) into a tailspin, sprinting and HIIT style workouts may fit within a routine, anywhere from 2-5 days per week.


  • Play.

    No fitness routine is complete without days of higher intensity, followed by days of lower intensity. Just like we work 5-6 days per week, and look forward to the weekends as a time to recuperate and recharge; and just like we take vacations and holidays—so it is with our bodies and fitness. The body recovers, repairs and improves when we are at rest—rather than grinding away. While working out can be a blast—it’s important to be mindful of what your body is saying to you—especially if you’re the type to listen more to your driven mindset telling you that ‘more is better.’ At least 1-2 days per week, if not 3, rest; move; play. You can still be active on these days—just no need to be flat on your back when all is said and done. If we look to our ancestors, primal fitness, of the days of old, we can learn A LOT about how the human body was wired to thrive and move. Most of their days were filled with lots of slower-paced movement (walking, playing), coupled with lifting heavy things (they don’t call it the ‘Stone Age’ for no reason) and sprinting/upping the intensity (hello wild charging Buffalo!). Seek to incorporate daily activity into your daily routine—without formalizing it as ‘exercise’—park in the open spots near the back of the parking lot, take the stairs, do the yardwork or housework yourself, ride your bike to the market, go on a hike on a pretty day, make family post-dinner walks a ritual, play football in the front yard with your kids, join a sports league team, try a dance class, attend yoga regularly, and beyond!—the world is your oyster. In other words: HAVE FUN WITH MOVEMENT.


  • Walking Warrior.


    On this note above, walking, hands down, is the best movement any human being can do for his or her body. Walk as often as you can, for as long as you can.  If you have been doing chronic cardio or feeling like you have to push your limits every day, trade it in for walking.  When we compare the way we move to the way our genes expect us to move (the way our ancestors once moved), the biggest thing missing, this day in age, is lots of low intensity movement.  Whether you only have time for a 15-minute walk on your break at work, or ample time for a 10-mile hike on a Saturday morning…just do it!  Most anyone can make time for a short walk everyday.  Be most anyone.


  • Strrrrreeeetccchhhh & Warm-up.

    Mobility, mobility, mobility. We KNOW stretching is good for us…but for some reason, it’s still tough to do. Take 5-minutes per day (at the minimum) to strrrreeettttcccchhhh your muscles—be it first thing in the morning when you wake up; rolling out on a foam roller or lacrosse ball while watching TV; performing sun salutations before going to bed at night; and of course, stretching before and after your workout. In fact, did you know regular stretching is JUST AS important as exercise? It helps improve flexibility; Assists in correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position; Reduces muscle soreness; Decreases your risk for injury. In addition to stretching, a good warm-up is vital—no matter what workout you are doing. Do a warmup before a workout that simulates the movements you’ll be doing in order to warm up and prepare your body. Stretch after the workout when your muscles are already warm.


  • A Basic Template.

    So now that you have an idea of the different modes and types of fitness to incorporate into your THRIVE fitness routine, what does a typical week look like in terms of a baseline, basic template for making fitness a regular part of your healthy lifestyle? Take a peek:


THRIVE Fitness Basics

Monday – Strength/Lift Heavy Things

Tuesday – HIIT/Sprint

Wednesday –Strength/Lift Heavy Things

Thursday – Move Slowly, Play or Rest (Yoga, long walk, ‘active recovery
day’, etc.)

Friday –HIIT/Sprint

Saturday – Strength/Lift Heavy Things + HIIT/Sprint

Sunday – Move Slowly, Play or Rest



  • Mix it Up.

    THRIVE workouts are ANYTHING BUT boring or stale. Mix up the types of workouts you are doing, the routines, the rep schemes, even the gym setting once in awhile. Variety is the spice of life and THRIVE fitness is NOT bland. Have fun with it (boxing, Zumba, hip-hop, martial arts, sports, weight lifting, CrossFit, bootcamps, group classes, 1:1 training, walking, running/jogging, tennis, golf, skiing, snowboarding, rock-climbing, watersports, etc.)


  • Put the Fit Bit Down.

    Calories (and steps) don’t count if you don’t count them, and when it comes to exercise, a little band around your wrist only means so much in terms of fitness, joy and peace with movement. No need to invest in that little calorie-counting, heart-monitor to bring you the joy and peace you are looking for (and deserve) with your fitness. THRIVE fitness finds counting (calories burned, calories left to burn, steps taken, etc.) distracting to your bigger goals and motives behind fitness. Save your dollars.


  • Fuel Up.

    An often over-looked component to anyone’s fitness enhancement: Nutrition. Nutrition is 80% of your results in the gym—and no matter what your specific goals are, 8 times out of 10, food is going to be the vehicle that gets you there. If you are going to workout, you are going to have to eat appropriately to support your efforts (whether this means cutting out the sweets and processed foods; or actually eating enough energy to fuel, recover and boost your training). Some people choose to workout so they ‘can eat whatever they want’…however, they are completely missing the boat. On the other end of the spectrum, others workout to ‘justify’ whatever food they did consume (from egg whites and fat free yogurt, to that slice of pizza they ‘gave into’ the night before, etc.). Food is the POWER for your workouts, and the more quality fuel (gas) you put in the tank, the better the outcomes.


  • Health. Performance. Then…Aesthetics.

    THRIVE’s fitness philosophy focuses more on the JOY individuals find in movement, and the rewards that fitness can bring to your health, self-confidence and discovery of what you are truly capable of (performance)—more so than any focus on aesthetics. Beauty is fleeting; and while ‘lean muscle’, ‘abs’, ‘toned arms’ and a ‘perky butt’ can all be part of an exercise program—THRIVE views any aesthetic gains a simple addition to the main cornerstones of THRIVE fitness: Joy. Health. Performance.


  • #Fitspiration.

    What inspires you? Find it. Connect with it. Fill your mind with it. Currently, there is a rather disordered minded movement towards: fitspiration—pictures of ‘strong is the new skinny’ models parading in their bikinis, trying to inspire you that your goal NO LONGER needs to be ‘model skinny’. However, these pics and ads send mixed messages. Twiggy may NO LONGER be the ‘in’ ideal…but a girl with 6-pack abs, big boobs, sculpted shoulders and a slim figure is. Instead of looking to model images for inspiration—really dig deep, and reflect upon your own inspirations (Is it your mom—a selfless woman warrior who is strong, no matter what, and taught you all you know? Your kids—who make you desire to be a better person every day? Your motivation to perform your job to the best of your abilities—and do so in good health? Your drive to improve your blood sugar to prevent Diabetes? Your best friend fighting cancer, who reminds you, you can do anything you put your mind to too?, Etc.)


  • Brushing your teeth.

    One last, unconventional note to THRIVE’s fitness guide. Fitness is like brushing your teeth—or should be. Routine. Something for your general health that, when you don’t do it, it feels off. And I am not talking formal fitness inside the gym every day…but daily movement. Make fitness a regular part of your daily routine—and chances are, when you miss it, you will notice that same morning-breath stench you do when you fail to brush your teeth.




Weekly Workouts Sept. 9, 2015-Sept 15, 2015



Tabata (20 seconds work; 10 seconds rest x 8 rounds)

*Complete each full tabata before moving to next movement




Hollow Body Hold (V-up Hold)

Kettlebell Swings



5 Rounds for Time:

Row 500-meters (or run .25 miles)

15 Pull-ups

15 Thrusters

-Rest 2-minutes between rounds

AMRAP 12-Minutes

20 V-ups/Sit-ups

5/5 Dumbbell Snatches

10/10 Walking lunges

Filthy Fifty

 50 Box jump, 24/20 inch box

50 Jumping pull-ups

50 Kettlebell swings, 35/25#

Walking Lunge, 50 steps

50 Knees to elbows

50 Push press, 45/35#

50 Back extensions

50 Wall ball shots, 20/14#ball

50 Burpees

50 Double unders


Calorie Row


Burpees Over the Rower

 3 rounds for time:

15 Squat Jumps (add weight for extra challenge)

12 Dumbbell Hang Power Cleans

9 Pushups



1 Mile Run (all out)

 10-Minute AMRAP
5 Shoulder-to-Overhead

10 Deadlifts

15 Box Jumps/Step-Ups




3 Rounds:

15/15 Russian Twists

20 Back-Extensions

25 Sit-ups

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