5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Fitness Journey
Saying I started my journey just 2 years ago seems like a bit of a stretch since I’ve been an on-again, off-again calorie-counter-and-worker-outer for most of my adult life. But let me tell you – this last go has been a CONSISTENT, 2-year long AWAKENING.
Prior to 2018, despite losing 20-30 lbs…the SAME 20-30 lbs…a few different times…and besides knowing the bare-minimum calories in vs calories out basics, I honestly didn’t have a clue how powerful fitness could be. It has become a driving force in my life, relationships, and mental health. It took time to get here, but it has been 1000% worth every bead of sweat shed, treat declined, and minute of free time sacrificed.
Clearly I’ve had some experience in the fitness and weight-loss arenas, and here are some things I wish I’d known from the beginning.
1. You must appreciate your body for all it has done in the past and as it is today.
This is probably the hardest thing for any woman to see, comprehend, and actually practice. But damn, ladies. You are so beautiful and capable and strong and you don’t have a fucking clue because you’re distracted by some cellulite or the number on your clothing tags. It’s sad that we do this to ourselves, and it’s a hell of a way to live – I know from experience.
Let’s be real – 99% of us start a fitness routine, diet, cleanse, exercise program, whatever, with the utmost hope that our bodies will change, get smaller, look good in a bathing suit, etc, AND THAT’S OK! Not going to lie, it’s why I started. It is, however, entirely possible to simultaneously want to change your body and show it appreciation. It is possible and ESSENTIAL. I’m not saying you need to LOVE everything about your body, especially in the beginning, but you better damn well appreciate it.
Please, for me – the perfect stranger on the other side of cyberspace – sit down and reeeeally think back to everything you’ve accomplished and how your body supported those accomplishments. Better yet, write them all down. I’ll wait. Go back YEARS. Think. Did you learn to ski? Birth children? Donate blood? Pull all-nighters? Recover from an accident/injury? Nurse babies? Get a degree? Get out of bed? No accomplishment is too small.
Write it all down and bathe yourself and your body in gratitude. It’s staggering how ACTUALLY incredible your body is. The human body – YOUR human body – is ASTOUNDING. And therein lies its beauty. Appreciate it for all that it does and promise it you’ll treat it how it deserves for carrying you through life. Once you commit yourself to this one practice, you can go deeper into your journey than you ever imagined.
2. Protein isn’t just for bodybuilders.
Adequate protein intake is a nutritional powerhouse and you’re likely eating the protein equivalent of a rickety old outhouse. Honestly, up that shit. It won’t make you bulky. It won’t make you grow hair on your chest. It won’t make your vagina disappear. It will keep you fuller longer. It will help your muscles repair and recover. It will support your fitness goals. I don’t care what your fitness goals are, as long as they’re healthy, adequate protein intake will be beneficial. If you are stumped by how to increase the protein in your diet, check out my go-to protein sources.
3. There is no end game.
This is a hard pill to swallow. Once you do, however, your view on fitness goes from a temporary fix to simply a given. Your weight loss/fitness journey is so much more than what you see in the mirror. Think about it: your organs…heart, brain, lungs, pancreas, liver, etc…from a biological standpoint, don’t give a rat’s ass about the vacay you need to “get skinny” for a month from now or how you look in those booty shorts. They care about making all the things you want and need your body to do, both voluntary and involuntary, a reality – using only the fuel you choose to provide.
Are you the shitty boss demanding overtime without pay? Or are you a caring boss offering encouragement and bonuses? Your body will do what it can with what you give it. It will either happily chug along, accepting your healthy support and incentives, or it will burn the F out from lack of appreciation and proper stimulation. So, instead of “working out” and “dieting” until it’s no longer “necessary”, remember your body and mind deserve lifelong care for all the shit you put it through.
You will reap the benefits of movement and nourishment in all things, INCLUDING aesthetics. So just keep going for you as a whole, not just the you in the mirror.
4. It’s like, 90% nutrition.
This one sucks. I’m still a little pissed about this one, honestly. But I accept it and deal with it, because it is what it is. You can do burpees until you die – so for like a minute – but if you eat more calories than you burn, ain’t no fat gonna go nowhere. Sorry. You can’t out-train a poor diet. I wish you could, and I’ve tried, but it’s a no-go.
So it’s time to evaluate your meals, snacks, and beverages. You’ve gotta fuel your body properly to see fat loss and muscle gain alike. If you choose to track calories or macros, there are some great, free online calculators to get BALLPARK numbers to help you reach your goals. Otherwise there are great resources out there to help you eat intuitively and make progress without tracking.
This all being said, don’t think it’s all chicken and broccoli. Sometimes yes, it definitely is chicken and broccoli, and you can make it delicious. But Rachelle, you say, I don’t wanna give up my favorite foods! DON’T! Pleeeeease don’t. This will only make you a sad sack and no one likes a sad sack. Sad sacks don’t love the journey so sad sacks don’t make lasting change. Don’t be a sad sack! Have yourself some pizza, doughnuts, french fries, ice cream – whatever! Making these things at home or finding healthier, low-calorie swaps makes a WORLD of difference. Like, 2 worlds actually. I could make you a 300 calorie pizza that would rock your world. I could whip up some low-calorie tacos that would blow your freaking mind.
But Rachelle, you say, I like to go out to eat sometimes. DO IT! Browse the menu ahead of time and even the nutrition facts, if available online. If that’s not an option and you’re looking to eat lighter, look for protein (meat, eggs, etc), find the veggies and fruits, skip or go light on butter, cheeses, sauces, and trash carbs. If you’re saying IDGAF about the stats this meal – GREAT! Order whatever the hell you want and ENJOY it without guilt. Do this in moderation, meaning from time to time (aka not a daily YOLO). Then, carry on business as usual with your next snack or meal.
One high-calorie meal doesn’t make or break your day, week, month, or journey. Moderation and consistency over TIME is what’s important. Which brings me to…
5. Physical change takes time.
Man, do I feel like a jerk dropping these bombs. Don’t expect to see noticeable change after one workout, one healthy meal, one week, or even one month! It can be so disheartening to not see anything happening after making changes, big or small, that SHOULD be getting you closer to your goal. I PROMISE you change is happening, it’s just slow. And seemingly invisible. BUT IT’S THERE.
So keep on trucking. Take progress pictures and compare them every so often – this one is HUGE.
You may not see change from one day to the next, but with consistency over time you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve actually come. Whether or not you’re where you want to be, or can even see physical progress, you can be proud of your effort every step of the way.
You know the amount of effort and work you’re putting in AND IT’S HARD, especially in the beginning. Don’t discount that for a second, regardless of what you see in the mirror. Keep pushing, keep consistent, keep patient.
I could keep going but I’ll stop at 5, since that’s in the title and all. Not to mention, these 5 things aren’t necessarily easy to process and practice. But remember, you’re stronger than you think and more capable than you know. Just START and KEEP GOING. Before you know it you’ll be looking back, wondering where the time went, and beaming with pride.
I hope you found something here you can use as you begin your fitness journey, or as you continue on your path to a healthier you. I’d love to hear what you think and and answer any questions in the comments. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!