I’d like to start with the disclaimer that I am in no way a health or fitness expert. I’m just a person who found themselves in a position where they needed to change some things. Last winter, after going through what was possibly the most stressful semester of my education thus far, I had gained over 30 pounds in less than 4 months. This was not something I could just live with. It was after trying on dresses for New Year’s Eve for three hours, and realizing that nothing fit, that I quickly decided to make some very necessary changes. These small changes looked something like this:
It takes more than exercise
The first step that I needed to take was to realize that it isn’t just working out that I needed to start doing, but also adopting a healthier lifestyle. This includes not only getting more active, but also paying more attention to what I’m putting into my body.
Find a workout that I enjoy doing
The issue that I (and most people) come across when wanting to adopt a healthier lifestyle is that they buy a gym membership and never go (mostly because the gym can be pretty damn boring). So while I did start going to the gym 3-4 times a week with a friend, I kept feeling myself lose motivation because I simply wasn’t enjoying the workout I was doing. Or at least this was until I discovered the fun and upbeat world of Zumba, spinning, and Blogilates! A key part of working out is definitely finding something that you enjoy doing, and look forward to doing 3-4 times a week.
Get more sleep
Sleeping better came hand in hand with working out, mostly because I was now feeling tired at normal times of the night and not at 3 AM. When you get at least 7 hours of sleep a night, you’re allowing your body to recover and do what it needs to do to be able to function properly the next day. If you don’t get enough rest, or even oversleep, it can start to accumulate and take a toll on your health (and yes, even weight).
Don’t tell anyone what my fitness goal is (or that I’ve even set one)
While I was in the first few weeks of my new healthier lifestyle, I asked a fitness trainer friend of mine for advice. He said not to mention it to anyone what my fitness goal is. The reasoning behind this is that the psychological satisfaction that happens from telling people about fitness goals is the same satisfaction that comes about from actually working out. Therefore, in telling people about my goals and plans, it would actually work against me and decrease my motivation.
Pay attention to what I’m putting in my body
Once you begin being more body conscious and aware, you’ll begin to realize which foods are doing more harm than good. For example, dairy, sweets, and high sodium foods were making me break out and bloat like crazy. This may not be the case for every individual, but once I realized this about myself, I slowly started to ween myself off of them. Within a couple of weeks, my skin had cleared up, and I started to feel better. I also started being more attentive to “bored eating”. In cutting back portion sizes, I was not only eating more balanced meals, but I was also able to combat overeating.
Finally, eating clean can make all the difference! The food you consume is what your body runs off of, and I’m not necessarily saying you need to count calories, but maybe get onto Pinterest and look at what some of those fitness gurus suggest for a dinner or snack. Quickly, you’ll start to see that eating habits can quickly become a routine and you’ll no longer have to consciously think about eating an avocado instead of a slice of cake.
I can not stress enough the magic that is water, and if there is anything that I encourage you to spend money on, it’s a cute AF water bottle. You will want to be refilling this baby 6-8 times a day, every day. Water is the magic key to healthy skin, flushing out bad stuff from your system, and just feeling better overall.
When I began my journey, I identified two milestones that I wanted to hit. Once I hit these, I would treat myself. One of them was my halfway mark to my weight goal, where I treated myself with a Calvin Klein bra and panty set, and the second was when I reached my end weight goal, where I would treat myself to a dress I have yet to pick out. Treating yourself also includes a cheat meal or treat every so often, or just simply a night out drinking with the girls.
As I’ve already mentioned a couple of times, this is a journey you’re on. There will be good days, and there will be bad days. On the good days when your endorphins are running wild after a great Zumba class, you’ll feel on top of the world. Yet, the next day when you’re feeling sore, just remember that it’s okay to take a rest day now and then. It’s all about balance my friend. You want to be able to look back at this journey and be proud of what you did and know that you had a good time doing it.
All in all, I started my journey in January as a strict weight loss goal, but it’s become so much more. Not only have I lost 30 pounds, but I’ve also been able to exceed limits that I never thought I’d be able to, learn how to make healthy, Pinterest worthy meals, become a part of a larger community of like-minded people, and most importantly, learn how to love myself again. Looking back at who I was before I picked up these 7 tips, it’s clear I wasn’t the happy person I am today.