I wish I was the kind of person that meal prepped. I wish I liked salads and healthy foods. I wish I could afford organic ingredients. I wish I had time to cook better meals. I wish there was enough time to go to the gym.
No, you’re not the only one thinking these things and struggling to take back your health for reasons like these. These wishes sound so hopeless, but telling your self any of this is NOT going to make things happen for you. Your health should be your number one priority, above anything else you do, and there is no reason you can’t.
No one is born to meal prep or cook specialty meals. Those people who do, though, actively choose to live that life. They don’t wish for things to happen, they make them happen. And if you have been struggling to get past the wishing and daydreaming, start acting.
We’ve all heard it in so many ways: actions speak louder than words. This is true even in achieving your goals. Telling yourself you can’t do it with these petty wishes and “Debbie Downer” thoughts will never will it to life. You set yourself up for failure every time you talk down about yourself, whether it is in the privacy of your mind, your car, or in a rant to a friend.
The only thing standing in the way of achieving your goals is the excuses you allow yourself to believe. At the end of the day, it is all just that. You don’t like salad is an excuse to eat bad instead. You don’t have time is an excuse to get out of 30 minutes at the gym. You can’t meal prep “right” so you stick to your old unhealthy habits.
Make the decision to follow your dreams. Do what you need to do make them a reality. Go the extra mile, put in the time even when you think you can’t, and tell your mind to “shut up” every time it tells you another excuse.
You can’t just wish for it. You have to work for it. And it never gets easier, you just get stronger!
From the moment I started my weightloss journey, my mom couldn’t have played a more vital role; she was my workout and accountability buddy. My biggest fan, cheerleader, constant therapist and the greatest role model a girl could ask for, Mama has been by my side through it all, including countless sweat sessions in the gym.
She herself had started her own journey around the same time I started mine, which was a real wake up call for myself. If mom could lose the weight, what was my excuse? She lost 90 pounds following a weightloss surgery, known as the sleeve, and major changes in her lifestyle. Getting myself to the gym every day was a daunting task, but she was there every step of the way, which was sometimes all the motivation I needed to keep myself on track.
She came to the gym with me every single time I asked. She tried new things with me and showed me new workouts or machines in the gym. Having her by my side, even if just to have someone to laugh with me when I fell off the treadmill or used a machine wrong, made it that much easier for me to go. With your workout buddy by your side, you feel like you can conquer anything, even the terrifying gym filled with fit athletes and big meatheads.
You may not even need an actual “workout” buddy more than you need an accountability buddy. Tell someone your plans, your goals, and your aspirations. Let them keep you in check, ask about your progress, and always be open and honest. The only person you’re hurting by lying is yourself.
They say it takes 21 days to create a habit and 90 days to create a lifestyle. I started hitting the gym with Mama in late September of 2016, and I went every single day the rest of that year, all with Mom’s help. When she couldn’t go with me to the gym herself, she still kept me in check. She asked me if I worked out, she gave me suggestions when I was trying to figure out a busy day’s schedule, and I can’t ignore all of the awesome videos and motivational quotes she shared with me. Even on the days I had to bare the gym alone, she was still always there in some way, holding my accountable.
Just a year before we started our health journeys, the 2 of us made it to Disney World together, and we had a hard time sharing photos of those adventures. We were both in such unhealthy places, every picture seemed to highlight our double chins, and so many photographs from this incredible trip were shared only between us.
Now several years and a pandemic later, feeling free of the weight that once held us down, we got to enjoy a trip to Hawaii together. This time, I made sure to splurge on a photographer to capture these memories. I didn’t have to sit and take breaks throughout the day because I was out of breath, I didn’t have to call it early some days because my feet were in so much pain, and we didn’t feel as guilty eating donuts for breakfast this time around either. Being able to share this journey with someone, whether it’s a friend or you own parental unit, makes it that much more enjoyable in the end.
With your best friend by your side, you can conquer the tallest of mountains and all of your dreams. If you need to lose weight or get healthy, don’t try to do it alone. Tell your friends, tell your mom, ask for help, or at the very least tell them to check in with you! It holds you accountable, and having the support of your bestie as you go makes it all that much easier. If you’re as lucky as I am, there will be lots of laughs too. My mom is the best buddy I’ve got, and I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today, mentally and physically, without her support.
If you don’t enjoy working out, you’re doing it wrong. And yes, it IS that easy. If you’re not enjoying working out, you’re just doing it wrong!
Getting into exercising is not as hard as it seems once you find something you love. When you love what you’re doing, you’re going to enjoy it. That’s just fact, but you have to find what you love in the gym; you can’t just call it a day after forcing out an hour on the treadmill.
For me, my fitness journey really started by trying everything available in my gym, which was the best decision I ever made. They had a lot of different classes, so I was able to go and pop in to these weekly and try them out, whether it was yoga, cycling, Zumba, or HIIT (high-intensity interval training), even boxing and trainers who always had great advice when asked. I really didn’t have any experience working out since I never even went to a gym before, so it wasn’t until I started trying all these different workouts that I was able to love working out.
It really did take a while though, and it took a lot of trial and error. It was essential to be open to new experiences, even though I was definitely nervous stepping into a Zumba or CrossFit class, but in the end I ended up finding what I loved. While CrossFit was something that I really enjoyed doing, especially the competitive part of it and how everyday was something new, I also learned that my body was not able to do such intense workouts. I need to keep my heart rate down, so slower workouts are for me. I wouldn’t have learned that if I didn’t try it first, though!
Finding what I actually enjoyed doing in the gym made it my happy place, and now I am able to find the right gyms that best accommodate my routines (like having the right hours because I more often go at night or having multiple locations because I’m always on the go!) I rely on it not only to workout for my health but when I’m stressed or could use a pick-me-up.
I challenge you to try new things and dare to fall in love with the process. Get out of your comfort zone. There are so many programs available for you to try right from your home even! Beach body, for example, offers a number of online programs you can try from home, or you can always check out classes on your nearby gym’s schedule. Try to visit a friend’s gym and try their routine, or drop into a fitness fundraising event! I fell in love with barre classes after stopping in one that a charity was hosting to raise money.
I am a multi-tasker by nature. I have a hard time doing one thing at a time. If I am watching a TV show I am usually checking emails or ordering my food shopping online. I keep flossing sticks in my car so I can floss while driving and I usually catch up with my mom or friends on the phone on my way home from work so the drive doesn’t feel like a waste.
I sometimes find it hard to just set aside a half hour or hour to just do exercise. In my busy day, that time just seems to always go to other tasks that need to get done in my day. So I have found ways to add some of my exercise into my daily routines. Breaking them into smaller sets and working them around my tasks I already do make it easier to keep to a daily commitment.
When we went into quarantine for Covid, I realize my steps dropped to almost nothing while working from home, so I started a little bathroom challenge with myself. Every time I went to the bathroom, I would do a set of exercises like wall pushups, squats, or dips off the tub.
It was great and I realized sometimes I would be getting in 100 squats or pushups in a day because I spread them out all day. I started to use other time like brushing my teeth or being on a conference call to bring in my exercises. I keep small hand weights by my desk at home so if I am listening to a call I can work my arms one at a time. I will do squats while folding laundry into the basket or lunges down the hallway to bring the basket to the bedroom.
Even in the car, when I get stopped at a red light I will squeeze my cheeks until the light turns green. Same for waiting on line at a store. People can’t tell you are doing it and really tightens up the muscles. It really becomes a challenge for yourself to see where you can find room in your daily routine to do a little exercise.
I love finding new places to sneak some exercise into my day. My newest spot is when I go tanning I try to find new things I can do in the booth. Depending if it’s a lay down or stand up, I have come up with some creative things I can do in a small spots for my 12 minutes. Doing these exercises throughout the day also helps keep me focused on my eating and water intake. Get creative see how you can add exercise to your day…..
Two years ago my husband and I had joined The Max Challenge of Old Bridge for a 10-week program. Normally this is not something I am comfortable doing but because my husband was willing to do this with me, I agreed to go. I suffer from anxiety in group situations, so having a partner helped with that feeling. I was not sure how comfortable I would be working out with other people watching, considering I am no spring chicken and it had been a good year since I had a regular exercise routine.
THE MAX Challenge is a 10-week body transformation program that is designed to make fast and lasting changes to your overall well-being through group fitness classes, motivation, and nutritional counseling.
It was very intimating at first because you can see that most of the people there have been attending these classes for a while and have become a close knit family of support. They knew all the warm-up exercises and routines, and it seemed so intimidating at first. However, we quickly learned that they all were there to help us along; the staff and other members just made you feel welcome.
They all helped us with our technique and showed us what needed to be done. It was like a community of people who would just take the newbies under their wing and show you the ropes. It wasn’t their job, but you can see they just wanted you to succeed. They all cheered everyone on, and there was no judgement. There were people of all ages and all fitness levels.
The coaches always provided a modification to each routine and encouraged you to do it how you needed as long as you were moving and trying. Of course we were watching all these people work out and wanted to impress them so we had pushed ourselves a little too hard. Even though everyone kept saying it’s okay to modify or do less…. let’s just say, lesson learned. I can tell you the first day when we left, we both were pretty beat up, and the next day we both were so sore that we missed the next day class to recover.
Over the next few weeks we saw our progress. It actually was quite impressive how in such a short amount of time the things you remember struggling with in the beginning of the class you could now do so easily. You felt your confidence grow and how strong you got for sure. They always end the class with a plank, and yeah, the first few weeks you would struggle to keep up. But with each passing week it became easier, and we could go longer.
By the end of our time we there we would see the “newbies” come in, and we would take them in and try to help them along. I can say it was such a wonderful environment of respect and support. It still is a bit out of my comfort zone, but I would go again.
It really taught me that you can change your body and mind in a short amount of time. Years ago I would have never tried anything like that. I had belonged to a gym for years but never once took any of the classes. I would just go in and work the machines and go home. But I can say that experience made me open up to different possibilities of exercise outside of my normal independent routine. You pushed yourself more, you fed off the room of support and having someone else there guiding you along the way, you got the most out of your work outs.
Step out of your comfort zone, give something new a chance. The results are worth it.
Let’s be real. When you’ve never stepped foot in a gym, or you just aren’t a regular [yet], it can be so intimidating! But why? The whole place is filled with mirrors because everyone is too busy looking at themselves. It’s the one place I’m sure no one is thinking about anyone else. Afterall, they are there because they want to grow! They want to get stronger. They can’t do that, and nor should you, by paying attention to every one around you.
When I joined my first gym in 2016, I was so nervous that everyone was watching me and judging my lack of coordination. It was nerve wracking to try something new because I has no idea what I was doing, and so I was sure everyone around me would know it. Forget the weights section! It was filled with muscle and men, all of which I was not.
The truth is, no one is watching you. No one is paying attention to how many or how little reps you do, they’re not focused on your form and wondering why you’re even there. I only ever had one person approach me in the gym about a workout I was doing, and it was someone who had no idea how to use the machine I was using. She asked me how!
It isn’t easy to stop caring what others think, but the gym is the last place anyone will pay attention to you. Everyone around you paid money to be there. They carved out time to be there from their day doing who knows what, and they are there to focus on themselves and their growth. It’s the only place I feel like no one will judge me. And if anyone should know what it’s like to start at the bottom and everything feels knew, it is everyone at the gym who did not come out of the womb doing sit-ups and hammer curls and got their start in a gym like you.
I always figured, if I’m doing something that wrong, they’d better tell me before I hurt myself and not judge me. If they’d rather laugh at me then help, I shouldn’t care what that person has to think anyway!
Make the gym your happy place. Find workouts you love. Try tons of new activities and classes until you do. Blast your music, hum to it if you want to! Don’t feel embarrassed when you make weird noises [or fall off the stairmaster]. Nike says it best; just do it!
Put yourself [your body and your health] first. Life is too short to not give it your best shot. The only one you’re cheating is yourself if you don’t.
When you are doing hard things like a push-up or plank, what signs indicate to you when you’re ‘done’? Are you listening to your mind or your body when you stop? Things are always going to feel hard, and when they do, your mind will want to give up as quickly as it can! Your mind gives up before your body, which is why you should try to challenge yourself to do one more rep, even when you think you can’t.
I am constantly reminded of this when I plank. I generally plank for 1 minute (having built up to that overtime), but I’ve learned to listen to what my body can do. Any time I plank, it’s still hard, and I want to quit. I start getting that idea, the thought that I’ve done enough, that my arms are on fire, my abs in pain. That I can’t do it anymore. That is my mind telling me to quit, but more often than not I’m able to get in more than a few spare seconds when I push myself.
Exercise is always uncomfortable and hard and a challenge for anyone, so of course your mind wants you to stop! It’s in those few extra seconds in your plank, or after that one more rep even though your mind is telling you to quit, that you will find what your body is capable of.
Next time you are doing hard things, make sure you push yourself! Just one more rep when you think you can’t, another few seconds on that plank when you think you might drop. What’s the worst that could happen?
During the month of June, we are supporting the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Survivor Month by pushing ourselves to do 50 squats a day. Push yourself to do another rep! I do 51-52 a day because I always want to achieve more than I set out to. Always add one more rep!
It has been one hell of a year, as most of us were sent to learn and work from home just a year ago, some of you even taking on a new teaching gig subsequently too. For many, it has been the most anxious of times, myself included. Suffice to say, it is time we all get some more light in our lives, and spring is finally here for exactly that!
The transition to work from home and the restrictions for social distancing only sugarcoat the major changes that have unfolded in our lives. We are seeing less friends and family; we are getting out less, perhaps missing days at the gym. Our lives have become more sedentary with more reasons to stay in than go out now, and after months of cold weather, it’s time we start taking advantage of the sunshine.
Being in the sun can really brighten your mood, and there are scientific reasons for it; the sunshine provides us with vitamin D, and exposure to those UVB rays helps the skin produce beta-endorphins, which are known to reduce pain. The sunshine can boost your immune system, promote relaxation and an overall sensation of well-being.
Spending time in the sun can improve your mood, and after a year of this pandemic, I think we could all use a walk outside with some fresh air and sunshine.
Challenge yourself to get outside on our new sunny days! Whether you’re just enjoying your morning coffee in your yard or going for a walk around the block with your furry friend, you’re sure to feel the difference in your mood after you get some more sunshine in your life.
Last May, my mom and I joined our town’s virtual scavenger hunt challenge, which was the inspiration for April’s Challenge in our Fit for a Queen Facebook Empowerment group. For the first time in 2 months after the pandemic had sent us all home, we had an excuse to get outside. We started going on brief 20- or 30-minute walks on our lunch breaks together to find the scavenger hunt item, and we were so thankful for that motivation to get out every day.
That’s not to say we made it every day! There were plenty where we only got down our street and back due to rain or busy schedules, but at least we got out there, and we were able to enjoy the sun! By the time the challenge had ended, it was June, and we couldn’t handle the heat anymore! It’s spring now, and before it starts getting too hot, it is so important to get out and enjoy the sun before it starts to become torture with the summer humidity.
Still be mindful of the dangers of the sun; use protection and lather on that sunscreen when it’s needed, but don’t let that stop you from getting out there! Sunshine in the early morning has the lowest risk of sunburn, so try to start your day with a brisk walk outside. This is a great way to change the mood of your day – start with that free boost of happiness from the sun and a walk that gets your muscles moving, prepared for anything the day will throw at you!
I feel more accomplished and fulfilled on the days I start with a walk, so challenge yourself to give it a try! You may feel tired and groggy, but it will wake you up and start your day on the right foot.
How often are you getting out in the sun every week?