Fitness journeys are all the rage in social media right now with people telling their stories of how they lost 60 pounds, found themselves through yoga, or how this new fad diet changed their life. I definitely fit into this category of life changing discovery through fitness, but in a much different way than a lot of my peers at the time.
Starting from the beginning, I cheered for the four years while attending high school and that was my source of activity that kept me in shape. I was a late bloomer when it came to puberty (I didn’t hit puberty until the middle of my freshman year!) so I came into high school relatively slim and a lack of a woman’s figure. Once I started my senior year I found that I was putting on weight much faster than I could keep up with maintaining. Once cheerleading season was over, it left me with almost no physical activity at all. By the end of my high school career, I was close to 150 pounds and didn’t really feel confident in my own body.
(Left: my freshman year of high school , right: beginning of freshman year of college)
I would never consider myself ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ by any means. I was just simply not satisfied with my health or my physical ability. I never had a gym membership or the knowledge to know what I had to do to reach the goal I wanted to achieve. The summer before my first year of college I can remember getting out my journal and writing down how I was uncomfortable with how I let myself go. I wasn’t eating healthy options, I wasn’t exercising enough, and I had put on a lot of weight in the span of three years. I wanted a change. So I wrote in my journal that I was going to become the ‘best me’. I started jogging around my neighborhood for about thirty minutes a day and then practicing ab routines for a cool down. I found my brother’s old dumbbell weights in the attic and would do bicep curls and squats. This is all I knew how to do and I resulted to Pinterest ‘at home routines’ and thought that was enough. I changed my diet to eating ‘healthier,’ but I didn’t understand what portion control was.
About a month into freshman year, I met Jared. We exchanged numbers and during the ‘getting to know you’ phase, I sent a text saying, “brb, gotta go workout.” He was very intrigued because he was attracted to athletic girls who took care of themselves and wanted to know more about my normal workout routine. I explained what I did, and after that he probably concluded that I had no idea what I was talking about. This is when he mentioned lifting weights and how I should think about getting into it. My first initial thought was, “no way! I’m not going to become manly just for some guy to like me!” But I told him I’d give it some research. He suggested some YouTube videos of lifters who he would occasionally watch and I gave them a shot. Flash forward to a few weeks and my best friend and I started planning days to go to the gym together to test the waters. I even found myself doing research for class projects on why lifting weights as women is so important! I became addicted. Jared and I started lifting and going to the gym together and it eventually became one of our favorite things to do as a couple. I always thought that women who lifted weights ended up with manlier figures. This was very naive of me and with some research and understanding, I came to the realization that muscle mass means strong, not bulky. A little definition never hurt anyone’s self esteem! If anything, seeing more muscle definition has increased my self esteem over the years tremendously.
At this point I then understood what it meant between sets and reps, separate days for each muscle group, how to work each muscle differently, and how often I needed to train to make a difference. After lifting for a year, I went on my very first cut. Jared helped me through it all and encouraged me to keep going when I felt like giving up. He truly helped make a difference in my life. I started my first cut (weight loss) in January of 2016 alongside Jared. I lost a total of 24 pounds through the span of about a year and I never felt better about myself. I became stronger, more confident, and aware of the decisions I was making. I found that I was no longer craving fast food or junk food such as chips or high calorie drinks. I was choosing to go to the gym than to sit on the couch and watch TV all day. I even feel that lifting changed my outlook on education and doing well in school than the usual thoughts I had about just getting by. It taught me hard work pays off, and if I wanted to get to the gym and lift, I knew I had to get my homework and studying completed before doing so.
The cut took a lot of dedication and I found it to be very difficult a lot of the times. I had to plan my meals out daily instead of just reaching for the closes thing in the pantry. I would weigh out each food options to make sure I was eating the correct amount per serving and made it to the gym daily. My consistency is what got me to this point in my fitness journey that I am so incredibly grateful for and remain proud of myself everyday. This was results with little to no cardio included and it was only 20% going to the gym and 80% diet. It is so important to understand that it takes time and patience. Results don’t just happen over night. Once I changed my mindset to making it routine in order to feel good each day and forget about waiting on the results, the faster the process felt. One day I just woke up, looked in the mirror, and was amazed with what I saw. It also can’t only be about wanting to look good in a bikini in the summer; you have to want to make a change in your life for your physical and even your mental health. You’ll find that you have more energy, you sleep better, you feel stronger, and you’ll find that it’s easier to make better habits for yourself such as going to the gym consistently and choosing to eat foods that nurture your body. All of these things are what encourages me to keep pushing myself in and outside of the gym.
Lifting weights is not for everyone, and I’m definitely not saying that’s the only way to reach your goal. It’s about choosing something you’re passionate about (it could be running, yoga, gymnastics, cross fit, literally anything you want) and dedicating time out of your day to practice that. And learning that food is to help your body, not to make you feel bad about yourself for eating. I continue daily to improve my fitness and health due to this realization I had a few years ago and I hope after reading this it will encourage you to start on your own path towards greatness. I’ve never felt more confident in myself like I have the past three years since lifting has come into my life. I look in the mirror and love the way my body looks. I continue to make goals for myself because I know I can reach them with some hard work, knowledge, and dedication.
This blog post was meant to share my fitness journey of where I started to where I am today. For those who may be interested, I will be sure to break down exactly how I reached my goals and tips on how to maintain your muscle and weight in a separate blog post.