I was going through a bunch of old photos on my phone this weekend, and I found a ton of pictures I couldn’t believe were me! What a difference a year makes. It’s January 2018 and it’s officially been one year since I committed to making fitness a consistent part of my life. Even though I have only lost about 3 lbs in 2017, the changes are still huge. It’s proof that not all results can be found on the scale alone, so I attribute a majority of my transformation to exercise.
Let’s recap a bit. In 2016 my new year’s resolution was to get healthy, and I spent the whole year focusing on my diet alone. (no exercise). I really wanted to make a genuine change, so I figured I would start by mastering one thing at a time. I wound up losing 25 lbs. By December 2016, I was ready to introduce exercise to my routine. Before I made the commitment to be “an active person, who like, works out all the time,” I never went to the gym and my only real form of activity was walking my dog for 10 minutes a day. I was lazy and awkward and had no idea where to start of how to use any machines in the gym or move my body. Plus, the gym was just for meatheads and people obsessed with themselves right? (wrong!)
So in December 2016, after getting a hold on my nutrition, I was ready to introduce exercise to my lifestyle transformation and enlisted a personal trainer to help me figure it out. My first workout was doing 5 minutes on a stair master and 10 lunges down a hallway – after 2 minutes on the stair master I could hardly breathe and I stopped after 3 minutes. I also could barely complete 5 lunges without crying out in agony, and I struggled to walk for about a week afterwards from being so sore. Fitness is terrible and this will never get easier OR fun, I thought. It was a nightmare, but you have to start somewhere right? I’m glad I did…
Fast forward a year and I can now do 40 minutes on the stair master nonstop, and I typically do about 60 lunges with weights during a normal training session, on top of a bunch of different workouts. I usually spend about 1-2 hours at the gym at a time, and go 4-6x a week. My endurance has increased dramatically, I can lift heavier weights, and I rarely get super sore after a training session.
So how did I go from being clueless in the gym and a couch potato to working out 4-6x/week and getting strong? It’s something I always wondered back in the day. I’d see super fit people walking around and think, “how the hell do people learn to like exercise? How do you learn what to do in the gym to get a good workout? How do you stay consistent?” I would look up workout videos on YouTube, but be too chicken to try them out at the gym. It was all foreign territory to me. I’m hoping that by sharing my story I can help other people who might feel that way or have no idea where to start with their own journey.
Here is the big secret: I made a decision, and I started doing it. That’s it. I showed up at the gym that first time, knowing very well I was clueless and just did what the trainer told me, even though I sucked and it was so hard. And then I came back a couple days later and did it again. And then I came back a couple days later, and did it AGAIN. And again. And again. And it was always hard, but I did it anyway and most importantly I didn’t give up on myself. I would plan my schedule (and meals) around the gym so I had no excuses. I started off small – I would shoot to go to the gym 2-3 days a week minimum, and over time I slowly increased that. And each hard day turned into weeks, and each of those weeks turned into months, and every month I slowly started to suck less at the gym and get a better idea of what I was doing in there.
And yes, I started out with a trainer. I happened to be dating one at the time (thanks boo), but I recommend anyone feeling clueless about fitness to get some help from a professional who knows what the heck they are doing. They will lead you through the workouts, check your form and make sure you’re not going to hurt yourself doing that thing you saw on YouTube. They will give you workouts personalized for your fitness level, push you when necessary, and help you reach your goals. It’s the best investment you can make, especially in the beginning. I learned so much from working with a trainer that I eventually knew my way around the gym enough to do it solo.
I would also take group fitness classes at the gym – usually I was the slowest person in the room, the last to finish, the one using the least amount of weight or struggling most to get through the workout. I probably looked stupid, I thought, but I didn’t even care. That’s the whole reason of showing up right? To get better. So I kept coming. And I kept trying different classes: kickboxing, spin, yoga, HIIT, and more. I made a commitment to fitness, and part of that was to get to know the limitations of my body and build that relationship with myself. So trying different things, pushing myself in different way, and exploring my body was a really important part of the process.
Before I started my fitness journey, I never thought I could get where I am now. But I realize that like with anything you want to “get good at,” you need to keep practicing and dedicate time to make it there, and be kind to yourself in the process. I am still by no means an expert, and many times I still struggle to get through a class and I’m still working on getting stronger (still can’t do a push-up!) but I love the way my body feels when I exercise. If I go a couple days without working out something feels off.
I definitely enjoy the physical benefits of working out (buying smaller pants! whoo hoo!), but the best result of exercise is the way it makes me feel inside. I sleep better than I ever have since I started working out. It doesn’t take me 3 hours and 2 cups of coffee to wake up every morning. I get up feeling refreshed, alert, and ready to take on the day. My mood has improved and I have 5x more energy.
I still feel like I’m at only the beginning of my journey. As I enter year two, I am looking forward to getting stronger, leaner, and more athletic. I have awhile to go and there’s a lot left to learn, but with my first year under my belt, I am ready to take my fitness to the next level! Overall, working out makes me feel ALIVE, and for that reason alone I have learned to love exercise. I guess am “one of those people” now after all.