I thought I would take the time to share some information about my personal fitness journey of late.
I have posted a few posts in the past about my journey and wanted to update, share and encourage anyone out there who is just starting out, or ready to give up! Well my first piece of advice would be: Do not give up!!
This was last Summer with Trainer Winston, I had just done a run and one of his killer weight routines...since then Winston is no longer at my Gym, but we have a fabulous new Instructor who motivates and pushes! Cut to today and I am still enjoying all the workouts and more.
A little about me and fitness. I have always loved exercise since I was very young in school, but was more of a swimmer and tennis player than someone who played netball or ran. I can recall from early years (I am talking early teens!) dieting, not because I had to, but only as everyone else was in my class. So my body image from an early age was not a good one, as all I did back then was compare myself to the tiniest, skinniest people around me. Back in the 80's when we were all teens and younger, in Jamaica, it was all about how "skinny" you could be, and how good one looked in a swimsuit on the weekend. What pressure. Sometimes I look back and ask myself where on earth did that all come from?
Cut to my college years in Bermuda, and that was a time I gained the standard "freshman 15" and maybe even a few more in the years I was attending hotel management school. That was due to bad eating habits, not being able to cook healthy, and just eating out of stress and nerves really. By my mid twenties, having met and married Chris by then, I started to learn more about healthy eating habits and exercising again because I loved it. I must say, what helped was having a hubby who was also into healthy eating and exercise. It also was a huge advantage having a hubby who was also my exercise partner. We would find new trails to power walk and run through every weekend, and then go home and do a weights routine. That is when the weight I gained in college and after melted off and never came back...bar a five pound gain now and then over the years.
My thirties...that was a continued path of exercise and healthy eating, sometimes even taking it to another level and losing too much weight at times. One thing I should point out is that I am short (5 ft 2 inches) and so when I mention gaining 15 pounds or more in college, on me that was alot. This was also the time in my life that I became a strict Vegetarian, it lasted about six years.
And now let's talk about the 40's. It's been an on and off again love affair with fitness until two years ago when I decided one day that this is the time in my life that I want to not only look my best, but feel my best! If not now, when? And I made a commitment to myself that I would no longer be about my motto "skinny fat." Many people have been asking about that term, and for those of you who do not know, that terms pretty much sums up a look of "skinny" without any muscle tone, or look of fitness. It is a look that extreme dieting or sometimes even underweight people can have. For me, skinny fat meant - no more skinny but still feeling flabby, no more "not feeling confident in a bikini."
And so two years ago I joined the most fabulous gym here in Ocho Rios, and happened upon one of the most life changing experiences of my entire fitness journey to date. Cut to today - April 2015, and I can say that I am still very much in the process, loving it more and more, understanding the balance, and as a result of this - have gained alot more muscle, and on top of that, am loving lifting weights and will continue upon that path. Overall, I have realised that for me, it is all about creating the balance which is the mix of exercise that keeps me fit and trim today. It has nothing to do with dieting, only cleaner eating and a healthy fitness outlook.
Here are some of my own tips I have learnt along the way, and that have helped me 100% and will continue to to share with you whether you are just starting, or thinking of it, or in the process:
- Do not compare your beginning with someone's else's end or journey!! That is the very worse thing you could ever do to yourself. When joining a gym, you have to realise that there are going to be people around you who have been exercising for years and years. Make them be your motivation for determination and success. Watch their schedules and realise that it is because they are going to the gym and working out regularly, why they look the way they do.
- Keep a log of your fitness journey either on an App or book. If you are in this to lose weight first, then you can apply your goal here. Write down your daily intake of food, and give yourself weekly goals. For fitness goals, I have a fitbook which I just love to fill in after each workout. The fitbook is very affordable and sold from their website (linked above.) While I love an App, I love to write down just as much. Another App I use alot for workout goals from day to day is Runtastic, which I just love and think is one of the best fitness apps out there.
- Music is my world. I cannot exercise without music. I honestly do not know how anyone can! Now obviously this is the case for most people, but I have found in my journey some peeps who just do not need music to exercise. For me, music makes me more motivated to keep going, and to reach higher. For personal runs and weight training, I use RockMyRun which is a brand new App on the market. I am obsessed with the fact that the playlists are abundant, and of all genres. I am impressed that you can actually choose to have your playlist go with the beat of your workout! Try it now - you can download it for iphone and android.
- Fitness Pals. I cannot say enough about this point. By fitness pals, I mean having friends who are on the same journey and can help motivate you and vice versa. I created a whatsapp group for the peeps in my gym who attend the same classes and have the same goals. It has really helped me along the way, especially those days that you think you just may not make it, and someone says on the chat, "get the heck out and let's do a Zumba class!" or "why don't we go for an early Saturday morning run?" - this has to be the one area that has helped me so much in my journey. (Thank you my dedicated gym peeps: Tricia, Sabrina, Andy, Lucy, Ricky and Sienna for being there, and motivating!)
- Make friends with the personal trainer at the Gym. And by friends, I mean, get to know them by talking about your fitness goals. Make no bones about it, they will look out for you and make sure you are doing what you have to do! I have a wonderful Instructor now at the Gym who even coaches me one on one when I am doing a weights routine. He will also ensure when he is doing his classes that I am pushing myself where I need to be. What a motivation! Last Summer I went to a gym in Florida throughout the summer months when I was there and all the pertinent Fitness Trainers got to know me, my goals and what I was looking for. I really like that personal touch. (I must send a shout out to Dwayne to thank him for helping me stay motivated since I got back to the Gym after having chik v! Last week he had us doing 600 abs, we are working up to 1,000, wish me luck!)
- Clean eating really, really helps. This point. Oh boy. I can tell you that you can be someone who works out six times in the gym, mixing cardio, running, step, yoga, Pilates, anything and everything...but you may wonder why you are not seeing the results of the hard work you are putting in. On a very general level, (as I am not a Personal Trainer, but just from experience...) I can safely say it could be due to your eating habits. Check the sugar, check the amount of carbs you are consuming from week to week, check your macros, and make sure you have a balance of protein, healthy fat and a clean repertoire of food each day. And I can also safely say that alcohol can cause those last pounds to stay on and not leave...watch that intake on the weekend!
- Lifting weights has done wonders for my body: For awhile there, all I heard was "are you crazy, how can you be lifting, or even want to lift weights as a woman?" the responses I still get are amazing as I wonder why so many people say something that is simply not true. I never expected to see the results I am seeing so quickly. I am not training to be in a bikini or body fitness competition, I simply incorporate weight training into my weekly routine. Lifting will not make you big. I am talking to women here. Lifting weights helps to tone, build muscle and makes you leaner than anything. If you are not trying out for a major body building contest and therefore do not need to be lifting over 100 pounds, you can rest assured that you are not going to get big!! Keep in mind too, that lifting weights can burn calories when you are at rest, the more muscle you build, the better!
- If you are getting bored with your workouts, change the routine! Yes, I used to hear this alot but in the last two years boy has it done wonders when I decide to change and mix up the routine from week to week. Sometimes I will do more cardio than weights. My perfect workout per week is five to six with one full rest day...however most weeks it ends up being five workout days. I would love to try to commit to six, but in all honesty it does not end up happening most weeks. That is okay with me. Some weeks I try for three cardio blasts and two runs/weight, or the opposite. By cardio blasts, it could be circuit training, boot camp, zumba, sprint hill running...or step. On a rest day, it is still great to try to do something low impact like Pilates or even a power walk.
- At home exercise really has helped in times when I could not or cannot get to the Gym. When I was sick with the mosquito borne virus, chik v for two and half months last year, (!!) I did no exercise as it was simply way too painful to move any joint in my body. I came down with it in mid November and got back to the gym the last week of January. However from the beginning of January to the end, I decided to try to build myself back by doing low impact at home workouts. A good friend told me all about Fitness Blender. If you have not heard about this website, check it out it really is the best! There are hundreds of workouts from low to HIIT to yoga and mat Pilates. I also love this site for when I simply could not get to the Gym and needed a quick, go to workout.
- Become part of an online Fitness Group. This really helps me too. It is a way for me to check out what others are doing, help motivate them...and share any tips. There are many fitness groups online and on Facebook. It is also a way for me to find out about new fitness Apps, protein powders, nutrition bars, the best running shoes out there, etc!! Another component to this is to follow fitness gurus and peeps on Instagram...the best thing about this is when they post workout routines or videos. You can save the videos through Instasave on your phone and use them later.
- Cute gear helps. Ha, this one is motivating for me...I love a nice workout outfit and happened upon Fabletics last year. A fellow blogger wrote a post about it and I was very impressed with her gear. You literally become a member and with points earned each month, you can purchase custom chosen outfits depending on what you like. Each month you are given suggestions that may fit your profile.
A Fabletics running outfit, one of my faves.
On this note I also love having a nice gym bag, but I wanted a bag that did not look like the standard "gym bag." I searched and found this lovely bag from Vera Bradley. It is really fab as it fits the mat on the outside, and has partitions inside to fit your bottle and so much more. This is the exact one I have (it is also carry on compliant and can easily be used for an overnight bag.) You can grab one here:
- Do not beat yourself up!! Yes, this is my last point. If you have noticed, this post is not about my weight now as I do not want to instill comparisons. It is about my journey from being "Skinny fat" to "healthy slim" - or fit. My journey continues and will continue. I try to have realistic goals from week to week but I also try to push myself when it comes to doing more and more (run another mile, jump a little higher in class, do those extra 100 abs....get up and run a few miles on a Saturday morning) it is always going to be more challenges for me, as that is how I stay motivated. However I am not someone to say "what works in my kitchen is going to work for you." You have to find your comfort zone (or not!), you have to analyze your eating habits and make it all work. I feel to stay motivated is the biggest challenge in any fitness journey, but it gets easier. The more you go, the more you do, the more positive results that you see, is the MORE YOU WILL WANT TO DO. Just keep at it, and DON'T GIVE UP!