My (ongoing) journey to a healthy lifestyle

Hi everyone! Today I wanted to share my path to trying to be healthier. Focusing on my health has been a top priority of mine this year and my journey has been anything but perfect. I figured I’d break down what it has been like for me so far– the good and the bad: 

Nine months ago I decided to make a lifestyle change. I knew my eating habits were poor and would rarely get any exercise. I didn’t have the intention of losing weight, but instead wanted to have some tone to my muscles and feel stronger and more energized.

I joined a gym and started off going two to three times a week, only doing cardio. It was my second time in my whole life that I had been a member of a gym and the cardio machines were honestly the only ones I knew how to operate. As I mentioned before, I wanted to be stronger but I was terrified of picking up weights. I didn’t want to be “bulky” and was scared I would somehow instantly morph into a body builder. (Just want to clarify that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a body builder. I have great respect for anyone who can train that hard and have that much dedication to being the strongest they can be.)

With a few Google searches I soon realized I wasn’t the only one with this fear and found multiple ways to use weights for lean muscle—typically low weights with higher reps. I also utilized Instagram fitness accounts where I watched dozens of videos for multiple ways to use different gym equipment. This helped A TON and I highly recommend it for anyone who is new to the whole gym scene. I still continue to find inspiration for workouts!

After a few months I settled into a routine of going five times a week and recently cut it back to four—more on that later. I’ll dedicate each day to either abs, arms, butt/legs or cardio and do them in a rotation. I’d say it took about four months to really notice any change. I now have some small, but visible arm muscles and other more defined muscles in my body. While I was somewhat scared of these changes before, I actually now love seeing my hard work pay off!

I also want to take a moment here to briefly talk about my relationship with running. I was never a runner—EVER. The most I could ever run was maybe a minute and I always blamed it on my lack of ability to control my breathing. During my cardio workouts in the beginning I would dedicate some time to the treadmill, jogging about five minutes and walking even longer, on and off. I guess my endurance was building more than I thought and one day I found myself hitting the five-minute mark and not feeling tired. I pushed myself and made it to 30 minutes! I know that may seem like nothing to some of you, but it was a big deal to me and was something I thought I would never be capable of.  I now usually try to run for about 45 minutes on my longer runs and while I may still be going at jogging pace, it feels so good.

Like I said, before all this began I was eating awful. Kraft Mac and Cheese was my go-to dinner and I was eating chocolate Every. Single. Day. I have a ginormous sweet tooth and could eat chocolate cake as a meal without thinking twice (I’ve actually done it on multiple occasions). Carbs are also my BFF.

It was tough for me to cut back and it really took awhile to get into a healthier routine. I never wanted to go “cold turkey” with all the bad foods in my life and started small by eating just one healthy meal a day. I’m also an extremely picky eater so finding healthier food I like was and still is challenging. When it came to carbs I knew from the start that going without them completely would never work out for me so I tried to refrain only when it felt necessary.

I also want to say that throughout all of this I’ve never wanted to deprive myself of anything I really want to eat. If someone brings in cupcakes at work I don’t make myself stay away from them because I’m the kind of person who will be thinking about the cupcake for the rest of the day. I allow myself to indulge and go on with my day.

Where I’m at now

There was a stretch of a few months where I was excelling at eating well, which I think was mainly due to my hard work in the gym and knowing I didn’t want to ruin my efforts. However, this all came to a halt about a month ago. I’ve found myself falling back into my habit of eating something sweet just about every day and I really don’t feel the guilt of eating an unhealthy meal like I did before. I’m now back in the “eat one healthy meal a day” stage and have slowly, but surely come to realize that I don’t need to be too upset with myself about it. Even though I thought I had overcome some of my bad habits, I now know that it’s an ongoing battle and that it’s best to roll with the punches.

I’ve also cut back my gym time to four times a week just because I simply felt like I was going to work, to the gym and to bed without much time for anything else in between. I’m happy I did and I really feel like my workouts are even better because of it. I finally knew it was time to cut back when I dreaded going to the gym and while I’m not bursting at the seams to go each time now, I don’t feel as much pressure. Just like with my eating habits, I now understand that my workouts will be ever changing as well. There will be times when I’m more motivated than others and my amount of dedication I’m able to give will never be steady. But one thing I know for certain is that I’ve never felt better or stronger in my life. There is no better feeling than finishing a workout and being able to look back at what you’ve accomplished.

Whew, I did not mean for this post to be this lengthy but there was a lot for me to say! If you’ve stuck around this long I hope I’ve maybe inspired you to give working out a try or even made you think differently about your approach to eating well.