It is wild to think it has been over 4 years ago since I woke up one morning and decided enough is enough. Fast forward to now. I am the healthiest and in the best shape of my life. I feel better than ever before and it is all thanks to pushing my self to limits I didn’t even know I could possibly push my self to. The shy 280 pound 20 year old girl would be so damn proud of my 24 weight lifting, running, and strong self! But let me tell you a secret… I used to hate working out and dreaded going to the gym!
Growing up, I always looked at working out to loose weight. I was never taught that working out is so much more. Being active is not only about loosing weight! It’s about the health of your physical and mental health!
When I decided to start focusing on my health, I didn’t do any exercise besides walking 2-3 extra miles a day and of course, lift kids through out the day. At the time, I still didn’t like doing any strength training, HIIT, or any major exercise. As I began to loose more weight following a high healthy fat, low carb diet, I began to add more to my daily exercise. I got small 10 pound weights for at home. I would do sprints up bleachers with my son. I even did a few home work out videos from time to time. When I hit my -100 pound loss mark, I knew I wanted to start building muscle and tone up. I had lost my butt almost completely, I had loose skin from having kids and being overweight, and I wanted to be in better shape.
Yet it still took me an entire year to join a gym!
Fitness is not one size fits all in terms of interest. Some may prefer cardio over strength training where as some people, like myself, love both. When I first started strength training, I hated how weak I felt. But that pushed me to keep on going! I was always told to not do to much weight or even tension. WRONG! Weight lifting and light to moderate tension is great for your body. It helps you burn more calories, tone up fast, promotes heart health, and so many other benefits. Cardio is also great! I love hitting the stair stepper or using the treadmill at an incline. It gets your heart pumping faster and you ready for a great workout.
When I first stepped back into the gym in 2020, I was so lost on where to start. I began just watching others on certain machines. I even watched some YouTube videos on how to get the most out of my work outs and the proper forms though this is something I am still working on even now. After 3 months of pushing myself even when I didn’t want to go to the gym, I saw a huge change in my body. I was stronger, had more energy, and just felt great! It took seeing results before I truly began to love the gym. But then it became so much more! I learned to use my time to work out to get my frustrations, anxiety, built up stress, and life struggles out of my system. Bad day? The gym is always there for me! I turned my coping mechanisms from my traumatic past to getting a good sweat sesh in. For me, working out is so much more than just getting smaller. It is my mental health and self-care time. It is when I focus on myself and nothing else.
Tips to feeling motivated and falling in love with the gym:
•Find a good pre-workout or booster. I personally love beetroot powder. It works better than any pre-workout I have tried and keeps me motivated the entire time I’m workout out.
•Fine your passion, but don’t forget to try new forms of exercise. Most of us will have a favorite form of exercise no matter if it is strength training, HIIT, TRX, palates, or even Zumba. Do what you love, but also change it up so you don’t find yourself bored. Each day I do some of the same work outs while also changing it up depending on the week.
•Find your jam! No matter if you prefer to listen to music, read, watch a show, or even work on your phone, find something that helps you keep pushing. Personally I start out working on my phone or reading while doing some warm up cardio and finish with some music and strength training and other exercises.
•Get up and go even when you don’t feel like it. Yes, I am talking about pushing yourself even when you don’t want to! There have been countless times I wanted to stay home and sit around. But instead, I got up and went. You won’t always be motivated and that’s okay! Keep going and keep pushing yourself.
•Find an environment that works for you. this is SO important when it comes to finding love for fitness. If you are working out at home and can’t seem to get in a good rhythm or keep neglecting your work out, sign up for a gym. There are so many affordable gyms out there. Your health should be a priority, make it one!
•Take progress pictures! Someone told me this when I first began and I thought to myself how weird it was. Now that I am where I am today, I am so glad I did! I can look at old photos and see such a difference! My body was weak and overworked. Now it is thriving and happy. TAKE ALLLL OF THE PHOTOS. Not for others, but for yourself!
I have always been a morning work out kinda gal so I wake up each morning at 3:30-4:00am to hit the gym before coming home and starting my day. It always helps me be more productive. I think the thing that helped me the most with finding love for fitness was finding a system that worked for me. Then once I saw the results, I was hooked. Working out and finding love for fitness opened so many doors for me. I am stronger, leaner, and happier than ever before. My work outs always help clear my mind and are the perfect space to help my mental health.
I also recommend once you reach a healthy weight, break up with the scale. The scale is great, but you also shouldn’t let it define you. For the first couple of years, I constantly watched the scale to make sure it was dropping. We often look at the scale and worry if it fluctuates. In truth, a scale does not take in your bone density or muscle mass. After I had skin removal surgery and got back into the gym, I decided to no longer look at the scale. I am a size 4, in the 160’s, work out regularly with strength training, cardio, and outdoor exercise, and am gaining more and more muscle now that I am doing more. I know the scale does not define my worth or how healthy I am. I define that by how I treat my body!
Looking to get more into fitness and need a friend? Reach out! I am always looking for new work out buddies to help keep myself motivated.