Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Just Do It: Getting Started on Your Own Journey

I consider it a huge compliment when someone asks me for advice on starting their own journey. That means that all my work is paying off, that someone else can see it and not just me. Honestly, it's pretty awesome. Whenever I post a progress photo, it's inevitable that someone will ask me, "How do I get started?" or "Do you have any advice?" And I do.

I've lost weight twice. Not talking 5 or 10 pounds, but big-frickin-deal weight loss. The first time was in college and I lost about 40-50 pounds. I honestly don't remember exactly how much it was, but it was a lot. I would show you comparison photos, but I pretty much destroyed every "before" photo that I could find. The second is this time around. I've lost about half of that, but the change is just as significant. Why am I telling you this? To brag? No. No one should brag about having to lose weight twice. But more to say - I got this. I've done this. The first time I lost weight with Weight Watchers and followed an eating plan. I didn't work out that much and dropped weight quickly. Oh to be 20 again. This time? At 30-31? It's like an all out war on my body - diet and crazy gym rat and it's taken twice as long to lose half as much. But the main thing I did each time? I started.

We're going to have some tough love here.

Found at The Local Squirrel in Raleigh, NC
I found this water bottle at a blogger meetup hosted by The Local Squirrel in Cameron Village, located in Raleigh, NC. It was so perfect that I just had to take a photo of it. I knew I would be blogging about it because that's my advice: Bla, bla, bla. Go workout. Stop talking about it and just do it.

Getting started is the hardest thing you will have to do in your journey. It's half the battle - going to the gym, going on a walk or a run. I had to get disgusted with my body each time to do it. I hated, loathed even, how I looked and how I felt. I realized that no one could change that but me. You have to want this for you, no one else, and you need have to have a why. It's what keeps you going, that one reason you're on your journey. Because it is hard. There will be days you will hate it, hate yourself and feel like you're doing all this work to get nowhere. But you are. Every day you do something, even if it's just going on a walk with your kids, is one day closer to where you want to be.

Do. Something.

That's step one. Once you start doing something, here are some more tips to keep you going.

Set a time on your calendar to work out. Make it a meeting, something that has to happen. I look at my calendar on the weekend and go ahead and set my schedule for the week based on my meetings and appointments. I book my classes all at once. My gym charges me if I don't cancel four hours in advance. It's actually a great motivator to go to the gym because I'm cheap and don't want to pay $10. Yesterday I had a meeting run late. It was a long day and I left later than I wanted. I had 40 minutes to make it from Durham to Brier Creek in 5:30 traffic. I was tempted to call and cancel, but I also knew I really needed that yoga session. I decided to go and I made it in plenty of time. Totally worth it. It's true, the only workout you'll regret is the one you won't do (as cheesy as that sounds).

Find a workout buddy or someone to make you accountable. This one is big. Having someone go with you or to keep you accountable for working out is so important. My husband works out with his friend. I go to classes. Classes work best for me because I have friends that notice when I'm not there. The instructors know when I'm not there. When I leave class, they ask if I'm coming the next day. That accountability is priceless. My husband also asks me about my schedule and doesn't let me wimp out when I say I've had a bad day or I'm tired. If you need an accountabilibuddy, I'm your girl. I'm serious. Everyone needs one.

Do and go where you like. Find what you like to do. In the beginning, I ran with Aaron. I did it because my husband did, but I wouldn't really do it on my own. I didn't keep up with it as well. When I was looking at gyms, I chose one with classes. I know that left to my own devices, I would not do a darn thing at the gym. My gym has no free weights and no machines. Instead, I have amazing instructors that kick my butt every day while also yelling "Yes you can" and "You're so strong." Sometimes those words make me want to hurt one of them, but they inevitably keep me going. Even Aaron has made comments about the difference in my workouts and his. If you want classes, go to a studio. Find one that has classes you like. If you don't like yoga, don't join a yoga studio. If you like to lift weights, do that. If you like to workout at home, there are tons of videos online! Find out what you like and do that. You're so much more likely to keep up a routine if you like what you're doing and where you are doing it. Also, the gym is not where you go once in you're in shape. You go there to get in shape. Just go.

Let's talk about money here for a minute. I pay $119 a month for my gym. My husband pays $25 a month for his. Our gyms work for us. He gets machines and weights, I get classes. We both use our gyms multiple times a week. It works. What doesn't work is if you pay a gym membership and then don't use it. If what you like is more than what you want to pay, and instead sign up for a gym you never use, you're wasting money. It's along the same lines of price per wear for expensive, well-made clothing. While my gym membership is $119 a month, I average about 28 classes each month. That's $4.25 a class. If you pay $50 a month to go to a regular gym and only go three times a week, that's $4.17 a workout. What's it worth to you?

Treat Yo'self. It's going to be hard, some days more so than others. There is no way around it. So you might as well treat yourself some. For each of my goals, I gave myself a reward. I tried to make my rewards non-food related. When I finally dipped back into the 100's, I gave myself some pants that fit. My next goal is 25 pounds and I've decided on a shirt from my gym. It's money I normally wouldn't spend, so it's special. Start with easy goals and small rewards, like a pedicure (not the deluxe), and move to bigger goals and bigger rewards, like outfits or a day trip somewhere. You've worked hard, so treat yo'self.

Diet is 80% of losing weight. So far, I've only talked about working out. That's because most of the questions I get are about how to get started on that. What I have learned, especially this time around, is that when it comes to losing weight, it is honestly 80% diet and 20% exercise. That doesn't mean don't exercise. That's how you get muscle and definition. But it also means you can't workout like a mad woman (or man) and eat nothing but processed and high-sugar foods and expect to see results. It's a balance. It's a really hard balance and something I struggle with.

Give yourself some grace. Grace is not to be your excuse for not starting, not doing something. That's not grace, that's an excuse. Grace is forgiving yourself when you miss a workout because life happened or when you didn't make the best option when you went out to dinner. Grace is not beating yourself up for the same two pounds you've been yo-yoing for the past month (that's preaching to the choir right there). I stopped calling my weight loss a diet and started calling it a journey for a reason. It's not linear. It's not quick. It's something that you will always work at and the mark will always change. Your definition of success will change as you grow and get better. You'll never be finished, you'll just be stronger.

But first, you've got to start. Where are you starting?


  1. "the gym is not where you go once in you're in shape. You go there to get in shape. Just go." - yes yes yes to this! I know it can be so hard and so intimidating though. I struggled through this when I first did Crossfit, and then again when I started rock climbing. You feel like you need to be in shape to enjoy those activities, but you don't. (Case in point: I know a few people who have said things like, "Oh wow I want to rock climb too, but I have to get in shape first!") Nope. Just go do it. You just have to have the courage to start and the strength and confidence will follow. And YES - find something you want to do! While some people may be able to teach themselves to love an activity it's much better to pick out something you look forward to doing (and have a friend you enjoy doing the activity with!). Love all these tips <3

  2. "You'll never be finished; you'll just be stronger." Best summation ever.

  3. Excellent tips, Sarah! I so admire your perseverance and your dedication to a healthy lifestyle. It's not easy, but it's so worth it! Excited for you and the health goals you're accomplishing! Thanks for being an inspiration!

  4. I like that water bottle. Now, that's motivation!