My Top 10 Fitness Lessons Learned

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!

My Story

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.

BLAH

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Final Thoughts

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?

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67 thoughts on “My Top 10 Fitness Lessons Learned

  1. My mom was always an athlete but with her bipolar meds, she’s been at 350 for a long time. I’ve been working with her to change her lifestyle, not follow a fad, and what to do with her time when she’s bored or down and just wants to eat. Just need to acknowledge that progress is progress, no matter how small!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a lovely read, thank you for sharing. I am also on the health and fitness journey and one year and two months later I have gone from 83kgs to 70kgs. The lesson I have learnt over the past couple of months is that you have to stay committed to working out otherwise without that it will all go downhill. Some days are not easy but you have to keep picking yourself up to give it your best short and eventually you will get to your ideal weight and then maintain it from there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Congrats on your weight loss. For me, the exercise is the “easy” part. I don’t love doing it, but it’s become party of my routine so I get through it. The hardest part for me is eating well. If my eating isn’t on point, then I’m wasting all of my (torturous) workout efforts!

      I am very much looking forward to the maintenance phase 🙂 I will get there!

      Like

    1. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I struggled for awhile with letting myself be happy despite being fat. I didn’t want to go away on vacation, take pictures, or do anything outside of my new comfort zone. I have started to get over it because I’ve realized that I can’t wait until I’m slim again to be happy and live my life. This is the body I have – for now – and I will work to improve it while being happy, not allow the two to be mutually exclusive.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post. Can feel it came from the heart. Be prepared to “hate me” as I continue to mention that “horrible” word PATIENCE. If you follow the path you provided in this post, you will achieve the level of health you desire (which coincidentally improves the number on the scale as well as the dimensions of the body!). People hate PROCESSES; they like EVENTS. Events create short term changes; processes create long term results. It’s interesting that people “like” events which ONLY create short term changes, and “hate” processes that create lifelong healthier and happier patterns. Maybe it’s time to review our thoughts on this.
    Stay committed to yourself while pursuing good health and happiness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. P-a-t-i-e-n-c-e? What’s this word you speak of? I’ve never heard of it and so I certainly can’t exercise it!

      I don’t hate processes if they’re short 😀 In all seriousness, my frustration stems from the fact that I caused this issue myself. Sure, my thyroid isn’t functioning at optimal levels BUT I made a lot of poor, short-sighted choices that didn’t respect my body or long term goals.

      I know I will get there, but I never should have let myself get where I am to begin with. My friends say I’m too hard on myself and I’m not as big as I think I am, but I miss the days of being comfortable in my own skin. I don’t dread the maintenance process – in fact, I’m very much looking forward to it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you read your reply to me it sounds like you are still “beating yourself up” over your past history. As a person older than you politely requesting you honor the “respect your elders” ordinance, STOP IT!! You are working so hard to improve your life you deserve to lighten up on yourself. I’ll be more than glad to pounce on you if you lose your focus. Stressing yourself over the past as well as the process you are pursuing will only sabotage the results. RELAX and enjoy your life, your husband and your family and friends. Work hard, but go with the flow a little. You will be happier and healthier as a result. I am now stepping off my soapbox. Keep smiling!!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this post! These are wonderful tips. I especially love the “live your life” and “make small changes”…sometimes the smallest changes added up together make one big change 🙂 This was a really inspiring post, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very inspiring, thanks for sharing. One thing I have to remind myself constantly is that you have to invest your time in those things that are important to you. Getting out for a run or a walk isn’t hard, what’s hard is not doing the other 40 things demanding your time and attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s true. Finding time to do the things that really matter can be challenging because we are so bogged down doing things that we don’t want to do (and in the grand scheme of things, don’t actually matter). Sure, I need to work to pay my mortgage; however, what I need more is to be healthy so I can be alive to live in my house! I force myself to leave my desk and take a walk at lunch no matter how “busy” I am. Health comes first!

      What you said reminded me of a quote I once read that said working out for an hour a day is easy; it’s eating well and doing the right things in the remaining 23 that is tricky 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love, love, love this post!!!! Agree with everything you said. I think celebrating small victories while reminding yourself that most people in magazines are airbrushed and looking like that is usually unobtainable. Find exercises you truly enjoy and make it a routine just like anything else you do. I lost about forty pounds this year and I can really say it’s not about the weight though looking nice is a big plus. It’s about how you feel and if you hone in on that you’ll want to keep going. Sorry long comment but just really related to this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. Congrats on your weight loss, that’s fantastic! I agree that healthy is the main goal, but I’m sure not going to complain about being slimmer and feeling better about my body 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Great post! I love the inspiring words you have to share and you’re right- we have to remember to enjoy the life we work so hard to be healthy in too. So glad to be following in your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have found that even when I know what to do I have to be ready mentally to do it. When I was off on maternity leave I was over eating a lot and my lifestyle had changed drastically (I used to take the bus and walk to a lot of places). I was now a lot less active and had a car. It took me 6 months to be truly ready to cut out a lot of the stuff I was eating. By then, though, I was already a little disillusioned and it was winter and so I wasn’t going to the gym as often anymore. Now I’m pregnant again and trying to revamp my eating habits again but it’s still a struggle because my husband will buy large bags of junk food and ice cream for the family and it’s hard to ignore that for more than a few days.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I really enjoyed this. As some one who is in a similar boat of “thin and can eat anything” one of my biggest fears is what happens when I lose that ability to I’m a little too aware of what I do and how often I work out haha
    Great read. Keep it up. (the working out for you and the writing) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not a nice feeling when you have to work for what you used to get for free! However, just because I could eat whatever I wanted and stay thin, I’m sure that I was far from healthy on the inside. Now I’m focused on health AND how I look whereas before I only cared about my bikini body.

      Thank you for your comment and for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is JUST what I needed to read today! Thank you! I need to get my ass in gear and try to honor my body by doing things that are healthy for it — instead of just honoring it by eating the most delicious food I can create/find. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear about your next fitness journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I really enjoyed this post. I recently lost 20lbs myself and although changing my lifestyle and losing the weight was difficult, the real challenge seems to be maintaining this now that I am at target. I recently took up running which seems to help and have entered a 10km race for charity so that, like you said, I have become accountable for continuing my running habit (wrote a post about it here on Lists For Life: https://listsforlifeblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/6-tips-for-creating-and-maintaining-a-running-habit/ ). I agree you really do have to do what is right for you and sometimes there will be people who will not be supportive of a new lifestyle, I have found that usually these people are the ones who are unhappy with their lives but feel that they do not have the ability to change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Congrats on reaching your goal weight! It’s not an easy process. I’ve been looking forward to maintenance because I feel it MUST be easier than losing. I should start looking up some strategies now.

      I also think it’s great that you’re doing a run for charity! That’s a great way to combine your fitness goals with helping others. I can’t run, but I could definitely do a charity walk!

      Thank you for reading 🙂

      Like

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