When did you have your fitness AHA moment? You know, the time you realized that fitness was going to be an integral part of your life. For me, I went through stages.
I spend a lot of time on this blog dishing out fitness and nutrition advice and I thought it would be helpful if I shared a little bit about where I came from and how I got to where I am today. I'm not perfect. I miss workouts and eat unhealthy foods sometimes...just like every other human on this earth. I do my best to make the best choices possible considering what's reasonably available. I mess up all the time but I also make great choices all the time. For me and my journey, it was all about learning balance.
I think it first started when I went to the doctor's office for flu symptoms, so I was already feeling like crap when the nurse asked me to step on the scale before I went in to see the doctor. I stripped off my jacket and kicked off my shoes, because you know, every quarter pound matters.
I hadn't stepped on a scale in a long time. I knew I weighed more than I would like, I knew my pants were tight, I knew I was overweight. I didn't know the number. When that number flashed back at me it was a reality check I wasn't emotionally prepared for. I came in for flu medication but sat there on the doctor's table with tears rolling down my face.
The doctor was unsympathetic, he sternly told me I could take control if I would eat better. He didn't tell me what "better" meant. He didn't even ask me what I was currently eating. He recommended that I go on an "elimination diet" but I didn't know what that meant, I thought it meant cutting out carbs. He asked if I exercised and when I told him I was a runner (on and off, mostly off at that point), he said "Well, exercise doesn't help much with weight loss anyway."
Now I was pissed and sad. How the hell did I get here? I stopped at the grocery store on my way back to work after my office visit and picked up some cottage cheese and blueberries for lunch 'cause that sounds satisfying and filling. (insert sarcasm font here.)
It was the first time that it hit me that I really needed to make some changes. I remember thinking, "Do I just have to accept that I am a fat person now?" It wasn't always this way. I was thin. It was the combination of poor nutrition, approaching my thirties and a switch from a retail management job to a sedentary desk job. It all caught up with me. Not in a day. Probably not in a year. But it slowly crept up over time and I realized I had a problem. For a moment I thought I had to accept my new reality, but I knew I could do better. I was ready to make some changes. I wasn't ready to give up. But I had some learning to do.
That was how it started but it didn't end there. It wasn't easy. I didn't magically lose all the weight and become happier. I made a lot of mistakes. I started over a lot. I lost weight and gained it back more times than I care to recount.
I followed stupid fad diets, I exercised too much. I got obsessed with the scale. I'd eat too little and run too much for as long as my willpower would allow (sometimes a year). I'd try to live on cottage cheese and skinless chicken breast. Then life would happen, I would get sick, or go on vacation or deal with a stressful event and it would all fall apart. Then I would get overwhelmed. I drank too much wine. I ate too much. I wasted a lot of time (years!) in an all-or-nothing mindset. I was either on my diet or off. I was either running or I wasn't. My weight reflected that inconsistency.
But those first 40 pounds I gained and my learning experiences around yo-yo dieting over the better part of a decade was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I had to make those mistakes in order to learn. If I had been able to maintain a low weight with my unhealthy behaviors I never would have had the motivation to make real and lasting changes that not only affected my weight but my health and wellness. If I had never have gained the weight I would have never would have gotten healthy.
I learned that I love exercise. It makes me a better person. I love nutrition. I love feeding myself well and how that makes me feel. All these experiences, all these mistakes, they led me to becoming a fitness blogger, then a personal trainer, running coach and nutrition coach so I can help other people get on the fast track to making better decisions, to cut through the BS and make lasting sustainable changes. I help people so they don't have to waste time making the same mistakes that I did.
Today, fitness and health are my passions. I couldn't image life without this blog and my training. They are my creative outlets, my saving grace.
The most important lesson that I learned in all of this is that it is not about perfection, it is about making the best choice possible of what's reasonably available to me. It's not all-or-nothing. It's a little of everything. It's learning to find the balance of what is enjoyable, healthy and sustainable for life. It's about building healthy habits. When I stopped trying to be perfect and decided I would do the best I could, everything changed.
Can you relate?
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I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in the Shredshed, online training and nutrition coaching. If you are interested in coaching, please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help.
While I am a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, I am not your personal trainer and nutrition coach. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise or diet program. This is an opinion blog. No information in this blog is intended to be taken as medical advice or prescription. Please see your doctor and/or registered dietitian for any health concerns.