I've always struggled with my weight. I was overweight, then went vegetarian and did Blogilates everyday, and got to the perfect weight. Then, in high school, I went through a lot of battles (including depression, thyroid problems, and other things), and ended up gaining all of my weight back. During this time, I also stopped being vegetarian, and while I don't think this contributed a ton to my weight gain, I don't think it helped since my body does better without meat. Because I gained so much weight in such a short amount of time, and was so vulnerable at that time, I developed a problem with bulimia. My worst period of it lasted for about a year, but its effects remained. Even after I got helped and stopped the actions, the thoughts remained. I hated the way I looked, and if I tried to get back onto the train of working out and eating healthy again, the bulimic acts would start again. Because I couldn't continue trying to get healthy without hurting myself mentally, I continued to gain weight.
So, three years later, I began college. My university has a wonderful gym/fitness center, and its membership is included in my tuition, so I knew I had to keep that $40/semester from going to waste. By then, I had gotten to a better place with my insecurities. I had cut myself off from toxic people who were making me feel worse about myself, and was overall a happier person, so I started committing myself to going to the gym 3-4 times a week (then working out with dumbbells or bodyweight in my dorm if I felt particularly lazy on some days). Now, I've lost 30 lbs and am still working on myself. I'm in no way a fitness expert, but I know what works for me, and am here to give you tips based on my fitness journey.
1. Listen to your body. This is usually taken in a physical sense, and should be so you can prevent injuries, but I mean this in a mental sense. There's no way to get completely healthy if you are struggling with an inner battle. Focusing on weight loss or "looking better" while you are having problems with how you view your body and your comfort in your body can pull you even further into your struggles. If trying to get fit is going to make you feel worse about yourself, take a break from it and get help feeling comfortable in your body. It will keep you from harming your body more than you're helping it.
2. Start your journey now. Once your mental health is in check, start your fitness journey immediately. Now, it may be midnight when you're reading this, so no, I don't mean you need to start running around your neighborhood now, but at least start planning what you will do to become more healthy, and start it tomorrow. Commit yourself to starting at a certain time, and don't push it off. Remember, the earlier you start your journey, the earlier you'll see your results. Make a plan and commit to it.
3. Find your niche. You may not be a runner like some people are (I know I'm not). The thought of running for miles on end makes me cringe. Exercise should be fun. If you hate what you're doing, you'll never be able to truly commit to it. Personally, I like spin and/or rowing classes for my cardio. It keeps my joints from being in agonizing pain, and still helps me work up a sweat and a higher heart rate. As for strength training, I love pilates and just general (light) weight lifting. If you do something you love, it'll never feel like work. It'll become a hobby that you never want to stop. Finding your niche is trial and error, but you have to try multiple things to find what you really love.
4. Eating healthy is 80% of it. You've probably heard that abs are made in the kitchen, and this is true. You'll never be able to show off the muscles you've made in the gym if you're filling your body with junk. That being said, stay away from fad diets. They're made to make you lose weight quickly, but you'll also gain your weight back quickly. You have to find your niche with food just like you do with your exercise. Personally, I like to eat mostly fruits/vegetables, but I do allow myself to eat chicken (and occasionally, pork). I stay away from beef at all costs. Find what does best for you, and listen to your body.
5. Numbers aren't everything. If you are lifting weights and gaining muscle, you will likely also gain weight on the scale. This can discourage people because they feel like they're making progress in their journey, but the scale tells them otherwise. Don't listen to it. Scales can be good, but they can also be very unhealthy. Instead, measure your journey based on picture comparisons, measurements, and muscle mass percentage.
If you fall behind in your journey, don't sweat it! It's called a journey for a reason. You'll binge on some junk food one day. You'll skip your workout. It's okay. Just get back up and try again the next day. I promise, you will get there.
- Lauren Abigail