How I Fell In Love With Fitness And Found Inner Happiness

I love working out. No, seriously, I LOVE working out. I love it so
much that I plan out my workouts ahead of time each week and put them
into my calendar. I suggest working out as a way to hang out with my
friends. I am even writing an entire blog post about why I love it so
much, so you know it’s serious. But here’s the thing, I didn’t always
love it. In fact, I hated it and would cry when my parents forced me to
do anything physical (true story.) Growing up, I was that kid who didn’t
play any sports. Looking back, I really didn’t do anything physical. I
didn’t participate in gym class unless forced. The only dance class I
ever took was in first grade for a hot second. My only cardio was
shopping, but even then I complained about having to walk from store to
store while holding heavy bags (the horror). So, you can imagine the
lifestyle I led. Unhealthy, overweight, unhappy, and even worse
self-confidence. So, what changed? How did I go from hating fitness to
making fitness part of my everyday routine? I made small changes,
shifted my mindset, and found my inner happiness through moving my body.

may be reading this and thinking to yourself that this sounds easier
said than done, and you’re right. My love/hate relationship with fitness
was a 15+ year journey and is still something I am consciously mindful
of each day. We live in a world where instant gratification is ingrained
in us. We want what we want, when we want it, how we want it, and we
want it all NOW. But that’s not realistic and anything worth having is
going to take time. Changing your lifestyle starts with small,
attainable changes which then lead to bigger changes along the way. If
you go into your fitness goals expecting big, instant results, you’ll
likely be disappointed as well as be more likely to give up on your
goals as a result.

When I first started my fitness journey, it
was because I was being dragged to aerobic kickboxing classes with my
mom. By the time I was 16 I was in such an unhealthy space, my mom
basically forced me to move my body but she did it in a way which was
smart. She did it with me. So even though I dreaded going, it was fun to
spend time with my mom a few nights a week. And let’s be honest, if I
had to go alone, I wouldn’t have gone. My mom motivated me, encouraged
me, supported me, and most importantly didn’t pressure me to perform in
any particular way. She just wanted me to move and enjoy myself. This
didn’t come naturally as I am completely uncoordinated, have zero
rhythm, and when everyone was bobbing left, I went right. But, this was a
big learning experience for me because it forced me out of my comfort
zone and I had to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I always
hated classes because I thought everyone was going to be staring at me
and judging me but in reality, no one cared about what I was doing
because they were too focused on not dying themselves. After sticking
with this for a while, I began to see results. Not at first, but in
time. I was losing weight, becoming physically healthier, and
surprise-surprise, my mood improved, too.

Fast forward a bit to
when I discovered pilates, which was another pivotal moment in my
fitness journey as it taught me how to move my body in a different way
and I instantly fell in love with the practice. Then I joined a gym.
Then I dabbled with yoga. Then I eventually transitioned to more intense
forms of fitness such as hiking, spinning, and running. BUT, here’s
what ended up happening; throughout my journey I saw results, felt
good….and then stopped. Why? Because I still hated working out. I liked
the way I felt afterwards and I liked the results I saw, but I still
hated it and had to really push myself to move. It still felt like
something I had to do vs. something I wanted to do.

I also had
the mindset of “Okay, I met my goal, now I’m done” and this couldn’t be
further from the truth. Reaching our goals is one thing, maintaining
them is quite another. I was stuck in that yo-yo phase where my weight
would go up and down, up and down. My mood would go up and down, up and
down. Then I realized that the reason this kept happening was because I
wasn’t making long term goals for myself. I wasn’t thinking about
lifestyle changes, but instead about how I could change something
specific in that moment. It wasn’t until I started focusing on how I
felt vs. how I looked that my love for fitness truly started.

I focused solely on my appearance, I realized I was never going to be
happy. I needed to find happiness within and I needed to stop focusing
on my outside appearance. This wasn’t an easy task and took a lot of
soul-searching along the way, but once I was able to accept myself for
who I was, flaws and all, amazing things started to happen. I started to
be more in tune to what did make me happy and working out actually did
make me happy. It was a time, just for me, to zone out and focus on one
thing at a time. It was a way for me to relieve pent-up stress and
frustration. It was a way for me to clear my mind. It was a time for me
to listen to my favorite music. It was a time for me to build strength
and endurance, both physically and mentally.
This was such a parallel to life.

life, nothing comes easy. We need to push ourselves and fight for the
things we want to accomplish. We have times where we want to give up. We
have times where we feel like we can’t go on. We have times where we
feel like our goals are out of reach. All of the same things we feel
during a workout. I began to feel so empowered during my workouts once I
shifted my mindset. I mean, think about it, I went from being the girl
who did NOTHING to all of a sudden being able to do all of these
physical activities which always seemed so out of reach.
I realized I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.

not only accomplishing my fitness goals, but maintaining those goals, I
realized I could achieve all of my personal, academic, and career goals
too. This was the mindset shift that changed my life. Fitness no longer
felt like something I had to do, but instead something I looked forward
to doing. It became my solace. It became fun. It became a stress
reliever instead of a stress contributor. And I learned something so
powerful along the way: HOW TO BE HAPPY. These powerful mindset shifts
and changes I made throughout this journey opened doors to so much more
self-improvement, self-love, and self-care. I truly don’t believe I
would be the person I am today if it hadn’t been for my fitness journey
along the way.

If you are someone who is looking to incorporate fitness into your routine but are struggling with 

how to do so, here are my top 10 tips to get you started: 

  • Always
    consult with your medical provider before starting any fitness regimen.
    You want to ensure you are physically healthy and able to move your
    body in the way you intend to.
  • Set a small and attainable
    goal for yourself. For example, if you are someone who never works out
    it may not be the best idea to decide to run a 5k as your first goal.
    Instead, maybe start with just getting on the treadmill one day a week
    for 10 minutes. Slowly, 10 minutes will turn into 20. Slowly one day a
    week will turn into two, and so forth. Setting a smaller, more
    attainable goal is going to increase the likelihood of that goal
    actually being followed through with.
  • Find a fitness
    buddy. As much as I love the solitude of working out by myself, I also
    truly enjoy having my “workout accountability buddy” and this was
    especially helpful in the beginning of my journey when I needed more
  • Tell your inner circle your fitness goals.
    Telling others not only makes your goal real, but also holds you
    accountable. It is also a great opportunity for your loved ones to
    support and encourage you along the way, which will help on those days
    where it feels like a struggle. This is also a parallel to life in that
    we need the love and support of our friends and family. When we receive
    that love and support in one area of our lives, it helps us understand
    the value and relevance of it in other areas of our lives as well. 
  • Don’t
    focus on weight loss, instead focus on HEALTH. Whether it be with the
    assistance of a medical provider or nutritionist, decide what health
    goals you wish to achieve. Focusing on health will allow you to create
    healthy lifestyle changes vs. short-term weight loss goals. This is
    important because it will help you shift your mindset in not only this
    area of your life, but in other areas too.
  • Think about why
    you started. Are you trying to incorporate fitness into your routine
    because someone told you to? Because you think you have to? Or, is it
    because you genuinely want to? When I was working out because I felt
    like I “had” to, it was tortuous because it wasn’t something I wanted to
    do. Once I shifted my mindset from “have to” to “want to,” my
    motivation and drive changed too. Think bout why you want to do this and
    make sure it’s for YOU.
  • Find a workout that works for you.
    There is no one size fits all when it comes to fitness and it’s
    important to find something you enjoy. There are workouts I absolutely
    love and some I can’t stand, but this took trial and error on my part.
    And here’s the really cool thing, if you don’t like it, you don’t have
    to stick with it. Try something else.
    Move your body everyday. I
    love working out, but I don’t do a full workout every single day. I do
    however move my body everyday. This can be as simple as taking the
    stairs vs. the elevator, dancing to your favorite song while you get
    ready in the morning or while you cook dinner, or stepping out during
    your lunch break to take a short walk. 
  • Schedule your workouts. I
    find that scheduling workouts in my calendar increases the likelihood
    of actually doing them. It is very easy to find an excuse to avoid a
    workout, trust me I know, but if you actively input it into your
    calendar, you are making it a priority. A commitment. This will help you
    stay accountable as well as ensure you are dedicating time towards
    working on that goal.
  • Be patient. As with any goal, it is going
    to take time to achieve and will not happen overnight. It is very easy
    to become discouraged along the way, so instead of immediately weighing
    yourself after very workout, try checking-in with yourself around how
    you feel instead. Ask yourself, “How is my mood?”, “How is my anxiety?”,
    “How is my energy level?”, “How does my body feel?” Those are better
    ways to gauge overall health and happiness vs. “what does the scale say

I would LOVE to know what spoke to you today and encourage you to comment below and share with me!

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