HOW FITNESS CHANGED MY LIFE
My Fitness Journey…
I have always been a really active person. I’ve played sports all my life – I played soccer when I was little, did ballet for a couple years, then I got into volleyball in the 7th grade. I played volleyball from 7th grade all the way up until I graduated high school. I’ve always been tall and skinny and I used to be able to eat whatever the hell I wanted – didn’t every teenager!? haha!
I stopped playing volleyball when I started college. I took a couple years off of doing anything exercise related really. I was going to school full time and working evening shifts at a restaurant. The last thing I felt like doing was working out. But back then I had NO idea how fitness would have changed my life. I thought of it as homework – like it’s something I know I should do to keep myself healthy but I never found running or walking on the treadmill fun or exciting. It’s much easier to put things off that you don’t enjoy.
In 2013-2014, I joined an online community that included cardio and some weight training. I won’t name names because I’m not here to bash anything or say that program didn’t work – it just didn’t work for ME. 2012-2013 was around the time I started taking some of my nutrition classes in college and really, when I fell in LOVE with nutrition and the science behind the foods we eat. I started tracking my food around this time, but with no intent behind how much I was eating – I was just focused on eating “healthy”. “Healthy” to me back then meant avoiding things like pizza, making my own food to eat before going to a family get together, deciding not to order what everyone else at the restaurant was ordering because usually what my friends and family were eating were “bad” foods. My average caloric intake was probably 1,500-1,600 calories – I have no idea what my macro splits were like either. Anyway – I stopped and started this fitness program probably 3 or 4 times, each time starting out like “Ok, I’m ready, I’m motivated. I have nothing else coming up that’s going to get in my way. The weather is not too hot and it’s not winter yet so I can definitely do all this prescribed cardio. Bla Bla Bla.” Looking back, I know the main reason why I stopped doing those programs – is because I was STARVING my body. I was completely underfeeding and overtraining. I mean, this program had me running 2-3 miles a day PLUS doing 30-45 minutes of using some light dumbbells for weight training. I was exhausted. I was miserable. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I wasn’t seeing ANY changes despite the hard work I was putting in every day. I didn’t know what to do. I’d never been so self conscious in my life. Not because I was overweight but because I was trying SO hard trying to build some muscle on my lean body and nothing was working. I kept thinking – I am working way too hard and eating hardly anything and I’m STILL not happy with how my body looks. Well now I know the biggest reason why…
It wasn’t until 2015 that my REAL fitness journey started, when I was introduced to weight lifting and adapting an IIFYM/flexible diet. I’m not talking 2 lb pink dumbbell kinda weight training with fitness DVD’s (been there, done that too). But what I am talking about is lifting heavy, not spending hours doing cardio and learning how to properly fuel my body for my badass lifting sessions, with no restrictions and no deprivation – just simply eating enough food that MY body needs, and finally finding actual balance in my life.
I get asked a LOT how to eat healthy, asking me to tell them exactly what to eat to shed some weight, or asking what the best kind of diet is out there (carb cycling, paleo, keto-eyeroll, whole 30) and the answer is simple. It’s whatever type of diet works for you. But when I say that – I don’t mean just right now, I mean will this continue to work for you 5, 10, 20 years down the road? Does it force you to eliminate or cut out specific food groups to get specific results? Does it enable you to incorporate cheat days? Do you feel bad about yourself if you fall off the wagon for a couple days? The best kind of diet is one that will not only work now, but for the rest of your life. For me, that is following a flexible diet. I get that this isn’t everyones cup of tea. Like anything, it does require some work and planning, but its also been the only “diet” that I can literally eat what I want, not feel deprived, be able to go and actually enjoy myself at get-togethers when they’re serving pizza, and not feel like I’m ruining every ounce of progress if I fuck up on my macros one day. If I were to ask myself the same question – can you see yourself doing this 5, 10, 20 years from now – the answer is yes. 1,000x yes. The fact I can incorporate foods I love, eat a bunch of delicious carbs and still be able to reach my fitness goals is, in my opinion, the way to truly make living a balanced, healthy lifestyle an actual lifestyle!
IIFYM/flexible dieting has of course brought me awesome gains in the last 4 years, which has truly been a struggle. I’ve always been a hard gainer and my body is very slow to respond to change, that includes building lean body mass. But besides those physical changes it brought, I found so much confidence and self love through weight lifting. It’s the one thing I routinely make time for in my day because it’s my ME time. I get to throw my headphones on, focus on my workout & use my lifts as a way to decompress, relieve some stress and know I’m doing my body good in the process. It’s taught me that our bodies can do incredible and amazing things when we really push ourselves and there’s nothing we can’t do, if we really work hard for it. I believe that weight lifting has not only helped me find my confidence again, but it has truly changed my life.
Right: 2015 | Left: June 2018