Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to get to know many of you and I’ve been amazed at all of the support that I’ve found through blogging. In an effort to get more personal, I have decided to share more details about my fitness journey and some of the lessons that I’ve learned along the way. Some of you know bits and pieces of my story from past posts, but this is a deeper look into my life. I did promise a peak into my journal and now I’m finally delivering!
When I was younger, I was slim and did nothing to deserve it. I had terrible eating habits but managed to look really good anyway. As I got older, I started to put on weight. I become a gym rat but didn’t do much to change my diet. I was able to sustain looking pretty good for awhile. When my dad got sick, I spent a lot of late nights at the hospital, which meant skipping the gym and eating food that was convenient (read: processed and unhealthy).
My father has since passed and I am now at the heaviest weight that I have ever been. I have not only struggled with the loss of my #1 superhero, but also with adjusting to my new body. In addition, I’ve been under a lot of stress from my job and extended family. My weight has yo-yoed and so has my motivation, determination, and overall resolve to change. However, I now have a plan in place, giving up is not an option, and I am committed to becoming fit and most importantly, healthy. No more excuses!
My journey, which has been fraught with complications, successes, and failures, is not just about being slim anymore. I don’t want to go back to being the petite teenager who I used to be. That girl ate McNuggets like they were going out of style. Rather, I want to have a lifestyle that is active, healthy, and inspiring. I happen to like being alive and I’d like to keep at it for a long time. That means I need to make some serious, sustainable changes that eventually become ingrained.
Even though I am not a fitness guru, I am a real person who is right there with you on this bumpy road towards more exercise, better health, and increased longevity.
My Top Ten Fitness Lessons Learned
Find what drives you. I’ve often been asked, “what is the best exercise to do? When is the best time to do it?” My answer is always the same: the best exercise is the one that you will do at the time that you can do it. To set myself up for the most success, I alternate different workouts I actually enjoy so that I’m more likely to do them. I’m also always trying new things and challenging myself. That way, I avoid boredom and the dreaded plateau.
Be realistic. Maybe you will never look like a supermodel and that’s okay. As Theodore Roosevelt reminds us, comparison is the thief of joy. Focus on what your personal best is, continue to push yourself, and remember that you don’t have to look like a
photoshopped model to be beautiful or healthy. We don’t all have the luxury of making physical fitness a part of our day jobs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look and feel great anyway!
Track your progress. When you have a big goal, it can be easy to get frustrated with how slow you seem to be progressing. If you didn’t gain 50 pounds overnight, you won’t lose it overnight either. What I find helpful is to take pictures of myself each month so that I can see the differences in my body. How my clothes fit is also an excellent indicator of progress that doesn’t have me obsessing over numbers on the scale (though I’m guilty of it at times). Seeing results always keeps me motivated!
Plan and prepare. If I don’t prepare in advance, I am setting myself up for failure and doing what is convenient (read: not eating healthy and skipping workouts). I completed a 30 Day Fitness Challenge, I am currently working through T25 Focus, and I have another fitness challenge planned that I can’t wait to share with you! Fitness challenges keep me engaged, motivated, and give me something to “cross off” each day (I love lists). Food wise, I plan out my meals and prepare everything I can in advance. That way, I can’t make any “I’m tired” excuses later in the week. Even the best intentions can be foiled by poor planning.
Let go of guilt. If ever there was a useless emotion, it is guilt. You’re a human being, so it goes without saying that you aren’t perfect and that you are going to make mistakes. What matters is how you deal with those mistakes, not the fact that you made them. Some days a donut may be more important to you than your fitness goals. That’s okay. A bad day doesn’t have to mean a bad week. Think of each day (or even each meal) as a fresh start and a new opportunity to surprise yourself with what you’re capable of. You will be amazed by your own tenacity, I’m sure of it.
Stay accountable. No one is an island and if you are silent about your fitness goals, you are not leveraging the support network that is available to you. Tell your family and friends about your journey so that they can help you stay accountable; write a blog and garner support from the amazing community that I promise you will find; or find a fitness buddy to help you stay motivated. Note: B, my beautiful boxer puppy, is an excellent partner in crime who is always up for some physical activity. If you can’t find a human to take part, recruit your dog!
Make small changes. Set small and achievable goals that allow you to celebrate your progress along the way. Losing 50 pounds might be your long-term goal, but what about all the steps you need to take in order to reach that “big” goal? Do you want to walk more each day, eliminate processed food from your diet, or stop drinking carbonated beverages? Each time you reach a milestone, celebrate your progress rather than getting discouraged that you still haven’t reached your overall goal (it takes time, so be patient)! Remember, it’s a lifelong journey.
Live your life. Sometimes, you need to indulge. Go out for dinner, have a few drinks, and treat yourself in moderation. If you’re living a life that feels restricted and limited, you will quickly grow resentful and give up (at least, I always do). That doesn’t mean that you can’t be smart in your choices: you can have a side salad over fries with your meal, choose a heart healthy glass of wine over a calorie filled martini, or opt for dark chocolate over milk. The point is, you still need to enjoy your life or else none of your effort it is worth it.
Avoid fads. If you’ve heard of a random and crazy miracle diet, I’ve probably tried it. Likely, it lasted a week (or less) and was completely unsustainable for the long-term. Possibly, it even made me sick. There are no shortcuts or magic pills out there. If it was easy, everyone would be healthy and fit. To be successful, you need to make real changes because, trust me, yo-yo diets are a very unhealthy rollercoaster that will only cause you frustration, angst, and setbacks.
Prioritize your health. Working out is at the top of my list every single day. It isn’t something that can be skipped or put on the back burner. Without our health, we have nothing. I consider exercising to be my most important meeting of the day and it’s with myself. It is not worth it to cop out because you’re only cheating yourself.
I still have a long way to go to reach my goals and sometimes that gets frustrating. I always try to keep my lessons learned in mind and remember that happiness is the journey, not the destination. I may not be at my ideal weight and I may not be entirely comfortable with my body, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy my life, spend quality time with my family, and focus on the improvements that I’m making (and the lessons that I’m learning) every day.
What are some of your fitness lessons learned?