HOW FELL IN LOVE WITH FITNESS AND FOUND INNER HAPPINESS
I love working out. No, seriously, I LOVE working out. I love it such a lot that I plan out my workouts before time domestically and put them into my calendar. I suggest understanding as how to hold out with my friends. I am even writing an entire blog post about why I love it so much, so you know it’s serious. But here’s the thing, I didn’t always love it. In fact, I hated it and would cry when my parents forced me to do anything physical (true story.) Growing up, I was that kid who didn’t play any sports. Looking back, I really didn’t do anything physical. I didn’t participate in gym class unless forced. The only dance class I ever took was in first grade for a hot second. My only cardio was shopping, but even then I complained about having to walk from store to store while holding heavy bags (the horror). So, you can imagine the lifestyle I led. Unhealthy, overweight, unhappy, and even worse self-confidence. So, what changed? How did I go from hating fitness to making fitness part of my everyday routine? I made small changes, shifted my mindset, and found my inner happiness through moving my body.
HOW FELL IN LOVE WITH FITNESS AND FOUND INNER HAPPINESS
You may be reading this and thinking to yourself that this sounds easier said than done, and you’re right. My love/hate relationship with fitness was a 15+ year journey and is still something I am consciously mindful of each day. We live in a world where instant gratification is ingrained in us. We want what we want, when we want it, how we want it, and we want it all NOW. But that’s not realistic and anything worth having is going to take time. Changing your lifestyle starts with small, attainable changes which then lead to bigger changes along the way. If you go into your fitness goals expecting big, instant results, you’ll likely be disappointed as well as be more likely to give up on your goals as a result.
HOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH FITNESS AND FOUND INNER HAPPINESS
When I first started my fitness journey, it was because I was being dragged to aerobic kickboxing classes with my mom. By the time I was 16 I was in such an unhealthy space, my mom basically forced me to move my body but she did it in a way which was smart. She did it with me. So even though I dreaded going, it was fun to spend time with my mom a few nights a week. And let’s be honest, if I had to go alone, I wouldn’t have gone. My mom motivated me, encouraged me, supported me, and most importantly didn’t pressure me to perform in any particular way. She just wanted me to move and enjoy myself. This didn’t come naturally as I am completely uncoordinated, have zero rhythm, and when everyone was bobbing left, I went right. But, this was a big learning experience for me because it forced me out of my comfort zone and I had to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I always hated classes because I thought everyone was going to be staring at me and judging me but in reality, no one cared about what I was doing because they were too focused on not dying themselves. After sticking with this for a while, I began to see results. Not at first, but in time. I was losing weight, becoming physically healthier, and surprise-surprise, my mood improved, too.
Fast forward a bit to when I discovered Pilates, which was another pivotal moment in my fitness journey as it taught me how to move my body in a different way and I instantly fell in love with the practice. Then I joined a gym. Then I dabbled with yoga. Then I eventually transitioned to more intense forms of fitness such as hiking, spinning, and running. BUT, here’s what ended up happening; throughout my journey I saw results, felt good….and then stopped. Why? Because I still hated working out. I liked the way I felt afterwards and I liked the results I saw, but I still hated it and had to really push myself to move. It still felt like something I had to do vs. something I wanted to do.
I also had the mindset of “Okay, I met my goal, now I’m done” and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Reaching our goals is one thing, maintaining them is quite another. I was stuck in that yo-yo phase where my weight would go up and down, up and down. My mood would go up and down, up and down. Then I realized that the reason this kept happening was because I wasn’t making long term goals for myself. I wasn’t thinking about lifestyle changes, but instead about how I could change something specific in that moment. It wasn’t until I started focusing on how I felt vs. how I looked that my love for fitness truly started.
When I focused solely on my appearance, I realized I was never going to be happy. I needed to find happiness within and I needed to stop focusing on my outside appearance. This wasn’t an easy task and took a lot of soul-searching along the way, but once I was able to accept myself for who I was, flaws and all, amazing things started to happen. I started to be more in tune to what did make me happy and working out actually did make me happy. It was a time, just for me, to zone out and focus on one thing at a time. It was a way for me to relieve pent-up stress and frustration. It was a way for me to clear my mind. It was a time for me to listen to my favorite music. It was a time for me to build strength and endurance, both physically and mentally.
THIS WAS SUCH A PARALLEL TO LIFE.
In life, nothing comes easy. We need to push ourselves and fight for the things we want to accomplish. We have times where we want to give up. We have times where we feel like we can’t go on. We have times where we feel like our goals are out of reach. All of the same things we feel during a workout. I began to feel so empowered during my workouts once I shifted my mindset. I mean, think about it, I went from being the girl who did NOTHING to all of a sudden being able to do all of these physical activities which always seemed so out of reach.
I REALIZED I COULD ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING I SET MY MIND TO
By not only accomplishing my fitness goals, but maintaining those goals, I realized I could achieve all of my personal, academic, and career goals too. This was the mindset shift that changed my life. Fitness no longer felt like something I had to do, but instead something I looked forward to doing. It became my solace. It became fun. It became a stress reliever instead of a stress contributor. And I learned something so powerful along the way: HOW TO BE HAPPY. These powerful mindset shifts and changes I made throughout this journey opened doors to so much more self-improvement, self-love, and self-care. I truly don’t believe I would be the person I am today if it hadn’t been for my fitness journey along the way.
IF YOU ARE SOMEONE WHO IS LOOKING TO INCORPORATE FITNESS INTO YOUR ROUTINE BUT ARE STRUGGLING WITH HOW TO DO SO, HERE ARE MY TOP 10 TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED:
- Always consult with your medical provider before starting any fitness regimen. You want to ensure you are physically healthy and able to move your body in the way you intend to.
Set a small and attainable goal for yourself. For example, if you are someone who never works out it may not be the best idea to decide to run a 5k as your first goal. Instead, maybe start with just getting on the treadmill one day a week for 10 minutes. Slowly, 10 minutes will turn into 20. Slowly one day a week will turn into two, and so forth. Setting a smaller, more attainable goal is going to increase the likelihood of that goal actually being followed through with.
- Find a fitness buddy. As much as I love the solitude of working out by myself, I also truly enjoy having my “workout accountability buddy” and this was especially helpful in the beginning of my journey when I needed more motivation.
- Tell your inner circle your fitness goals. Telling others not only makes your goal real, but also holds you accountable. It is also a great opportunity for your loved ones to support and encourage you along the way, which will help on those days where it feels like a struggle. This is also a parallel to life in that we need the love and support of our friends and family. When we receive that love and support in one area of our lives, it helps us understand the value and relevance of it in other areas of our lives as well.
- Don’t focus on weight loss, instead focus on HEALTH. Whether it be with the assistance of a medical provider or nutritionist, decide what health goals you wish to achieve. Focusing on health will allow you to create healthy lifestyle changes vs. short-term weight loss goals. This is important because it will help you shift your mindset in not only this area of your life, but in other areas too.
- Think about why you started. Are you trying to incorporate fitness into your routine because someone told you to? Because you think you have to? Or, is it because you genuinely want to? When I was working out because I felt like I “had” to, it was tortuous because it wasn’t something I wanted to do. Once I shifted my mindset from “have to” to “want to,” my motivation and drive changed too. Think bout why you want to do this and make sure it’s for YOU.
- Find a workout that works for you. There is no one size fits all when it comes to fitness and it’s important to find something you enjoy. There are workouts I absolutely love and some I can’t stand, but this took trial and error on my part. And here’s the really cool thing, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to stick with it. Try something else.
- Move your body everyday. I love working out, but I don’t do a full workout every single day. I do however move my body everyday. This can be as simple as taking the stairs vs. the elevator, dancing to your favorite song while you get ready in the morning or while you cook dinner, or stepping out during your lunch break to take a short walk.
- Schedule your workouts. I find that scheduling workouts in my calendar increases the likelihood of actually doing them. It is very easy to find an excuse to avoid a workout, trust me I know, but if you actively input it into your calendar, you are making it a priority. A commitment. This will help you stay accountable as well as ensure you are dedicating time towards working on that goal.
- Be patient. As with any goal, it is going to take time to achieve and will not happen overnight. It is very easy to become discouraged along the way, so instead of immediately weighing yourself after very workout, try checking-in with yourself around how you feel instead. Ask yourself, “How is my mood?”, “How is my anxiety?”, “How is my energy level?”, “How does my body feel?” Those are better ways to gauge overall health and happiness vs. “what does the scale say today.”