My Lifestyle Change

If you haven’t been to the gym before, it can be very intimidating. I used to think people judged me the moment I walked through the doors. I was afraid to even go by myself. For the longest time I used to walk by the gym and wonder if I could or should do it. What was stopping me? Fear. I was afraid of pushing myself, I was afraid of what people thought about me, I was afraid of something new. But curiosity and desire for change would soon get the best of me. I was sick of feeling stuck, of feeling hopeless. I was sick of gaining weight and being the bigger one in the group. I was sick of the emotional eating and pretending that that number on the scale didn’t exist. I was sick of the same thing that wasn’t working for me. It was time for a change.

I started talking to some of my friends who were already active and achieving their goals. I asked their advice and what they did to get to that goal. They were the one’s who gave the best encouragement and the best advice because they have been through it. They understood the struggle. By doing that, a few of us girls became an accountability group. We started going to the gym every morning at 6 am. I was not the one who chose that time, but it did not take long for it to become routine. I had something to look forward to and I had friends to keep me accountable, which is what I needed. At the time I needed a little push, some help from a friend.

When that alarm started going off, all I wanted was to turn it off and roll back under my covers. I wanted to sleep just a little bit longer. I was not a morning person. I was never one to be bright eyed and bushy tailed when getting out of bed. I knew I had people waiting though and I hate to make people wait. So even though I was grumbling inside, I put on my workout clothes and tied up my shoes. Once we got to the gym and I saw how empty it was, that grumbling stopped. It didn’t take long for it to become my favorite time to workout. It turned me into a morning person pretty quick. I noticed I was more alert for the day and I wasn’t dragging along. I also noticed that I was more productive with my day. Getting up that early suddenly wasn’t all that bad.

I always always went straight to the treadmill. It was my comfort zone. I was still afraid of trying something new, of asking for help, of looking like I didn’t know what I was doing, because I didn’t. Regardless, being on the treadmill was good for me. I needed to take things slow, gain my confidence, and push myself. In the beginning I could barely run 5 min! It was embarrassing. But I continued to persevere. I thought, if the person next to me can run 30 min at one given time without stopping, then I can too someday. I would run until I couldn’t do it anymore and walk until I had my second wind.

My confidence was beginning to grow, I was running a little longer than I started and I started going to the gym alone. People wanted to sleep in, had homework that was due, classes and life. Priorities started to change. At this point, I needed to learn to hold myself accountable. The more I went to the gym, the more this became my stress release. If I was having a hard time with homework, I went to the gym. If I was feeling overwhelmed with life and school, I went to the gym. If I was feeling like I was never going to meet my future husband, I went to the gym. This is in turn became my prayer closet.

Although I was pushing myself and gaining confidence in the gym, I started overcompensating with food. They say when you go to college, you gain the Freshman Fifteen but I think I actually gained more like 25 pounds. That was from having a buffet style cafeteria and late night studying. Those sweets got me every time. I justified myself in thinking “I worked out this morning so I deserve a reward.” The so called “reward” was holding me back. I didn’t understand about the nutrition part at all. I was not good at self control or staying disciplined in my diet.

I joined Weight Watchers shortly after graduating college when my weight was at its highest, 212 to be exact. I was pushing a size 18 when I had been maintaining a size 16. Enough was enough and I knew I had to change. I learned about portion control, about eating healthy, making smart choices and saying no to what I used to call “rewards.” My rewards started to change from a chocolate chip cookie with ice cream to having a banana with a little bit of chocolate drizzled. I learned a lot about balance. I continued to workout and push myself but I also started to balance out my meals too. That’s when I saw results.

I learned that balance was the key to results and lifestyle change. I learned to keep myself accountable and push myself. I learned that if I want to see results I had to say no to the “rewards,” and say no to overcompensating when I had a hard workout. My hard workouts were going to waste because of my overindulgence. I’m not where I need to be right now, but I’m a work in progress.

What about you? What have you done to make a lifestyle change? Are you in the same boat I was when I started out? Are you willing to sacrifice a little sleep or your favorite comfort food in order to feel better about yourself? Or are you on the other side and you finally found the thing that clicked for you?

Love,

The Leal’s

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