Losing weight is hard, even with all the information out there that gives you step by step advice on how to lose weight. Starting a fitness journey was never something I thought I’d need to do. We’re told to love our bodies no matter what we look like. But how are we supposed to do this when society favors the physically fit and pretty people of the world?
I’m hesitant to say I’ve been on a weight loss journey. I don’t like using that term because it wasn’t the weight loss that kept me going. At least it wasn’t the only thing. Therefore, I like to say I’ve been on a health or fitness journey.
Since 2018 I’ve tried on and off to get in better shape. Nothing ever stuck until January 2021. The famed “I’m going to lose weight this year” resolution so many set for themselves, finally stuck for me. I’ve managed to lose 40 lbs since and am so proud of how far I’ve come.
I did a lot of research. And by a lot of research, I mean google searches on weight loss tips, what to eat to gain muscle, and lots and lots of YouTube. I used to watch videos by different fitness influencers where they talk about the things they wish they knew before losing weight, in hopes of getting some insight on tips that would help me on my journey. Most of these videos are extremely similar and voice the same tips:
- It’s okay to skip the gym
- It’s okay to indulge every once in a while
- Learn to count calories
- Don’t beat yourself up
- Do exercises you enjoy, etc
After being on a fitness journey for over a year now, these are not “tips” to know before starting a fitness journey. They’re things you’ll learn on the way. No one is going to start a journey with the mindset of “it’s okay to eat sweets and drink soda”. In fact, you’ll be thinking the opposite! You’ll want to avoid those guilty treats as much as possible because you know they will hinder your progress.
I’m still learning new things about myself when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, and different ways of doing so. But I’ve also learned a lot this far and want to share my thoughts with you.
You Can’t Rely on Other People to Hold You Accountable
When I first started on my journey in 2021, there were several occasions where I would try and rope my boyfriend into my exercise and healthy eating shenanigans. My thought process was that I wouldn’t be doing this alone and would have someone to hold me accountable. Luckily my boyfriend likes being active, however, he was not about to start eating a bunch of veggies and healthy meals.
You also can’t assume everyone will have your new healthy journey in mind when going to family/ friend functions. There will still be cake and pies and yes, they will ask you several times if you want some.
Bottom line, you’re the only one in control of how your journey progresses.
You Really do have to Change Your Mindset
If you do any kind of research on how to start a fitness journey, you will most likely come across several sources saying you have to change your mindset. This is very true and was the gamechanger that kickstarted and kept me moving on my journey. You can’t go into it with a prime focus of getting skinny, looking like your favorite celebrity, or thinking people will like you more. You will try but you won’t try hard enough, and you won’t get very far for very long.
Unsure of how to change your mindset? This article lays out a solid foundation on how to get started.
Losing Weight Won’t Fix Mental Health Problems
Research shows that exercise can improve mood and is a great method for reducing anxiety and depression. Read this article to learn more about how exercise is great for your mind and body.
However, exercising with only your goal weight in mind will do very little for your mental health after you’ve reached your goal. On a fitness journey, you should also be sure to reap the mental health benefits of moving your body. Trust me, if you don’t love yourself before weight loss, there is a chance you won’t love yourself after weight loss. This is why it’s incredibly important to have the right mindset while on your journey.
You won’t always be in a positive headspace and that’s okay. Just understand and remember you’re on this journey for you.
Don’t Fall for Restrictive or Fad Diets
Keto, paleo, vegan diets, and intermittent fasting are all restrictive in their own ways. They cut out huge food groups, or like intermittent fasting, require you to fast for a certain number of hours during the day. Many fitness influencers rave about being gluten or dairy free and it’s easy to fall prey to one of these diets.
Experimenting with different foods is a given when on a fitness journey. Just do your research, determine your goals, and find foods that will help you reach your goals.
My personal go-to grocery items for meals are:
- Impossible ground (makes great meatballs!)
- Sweet potato
- Salad mix
- Plain Greek yogurt
Counting Calories is Overrated
Some fitness gurus swear by counting calories. I get it, it tells you on average how many calories you consume, which is important to know. However, I do not and have not counted calories since I started and still managed to make substantial progress. Every once in a while, I would write down what I ate in a day. But I think a good rule of thumb is to eat when you’re hungry. Just make sure you’re getting in plenty of fruits and veggies and not eating too many processed foods.
Limiting added sugar and salt will help tremendously when starting a fitness journey.
Goals will Change
When I first started my journey, I was focused on getting to the gym and doing cardio practically every day. I was trying to lose weight after all. As I slowly started making progress and seeing what my body was capable of, my goal shifted from treadmill cardio to wanting to test my endurance outside (because running on the treadmill and running on pavement are not the same). From there it changed consistently every few weeks.
Change is good. We encourage change when it comes to fitness because exposing yourself to change means exposing yourself to possible new limits. Staying stagnant won’t get you to your goal. Having an open mind, patience, and being willing to try new things and make yourself uncomfortable, will.
No One’s Advice will Work for You
Each of us are so different, and there are tons of articles, blogs, and YouTube videos that will tell you how to lose weight or get fit. More than likely it’s the same information repeated across different platforms. There’s nothing wrong with the information that’s out there. Some are helpful and good resources to help get you started. I just mean you will learn what specifically works for you as you get going in your journey. It reigns true that what works for one person, may not work for you.
You will discover recipes, workouts, and methods that will be amazing for you that didn’t pop up while doing your research. Remember, this journey is for you and about you!
With all of that being said, you can lose weight, gain the gains, and become a healthier version of yourself. But there is no long-lasting short cut. There’s no one answer for anything. You’re in complete control of your fitness journey and how it progresses. Remember to focus on the mental benefits of exercise and healthy eating as well, because having a healthy mind is a vital part in overall health!
Where are you on your journey? Have you started yet?
Until next time,