My Health Story – What’s Yours
I have been trying to live a healthier lifestyle, and it’s not something I like to talk about much, but I have been struggling with losing the unwanted pounds. With my wedding coming up I decided that I needed to make some positive and healthy changes in my life, and I wanted to share my story.
Body image problems are something most individuals struggle with. Since I work as an ATC, it’s not lack of knowledge on my part that has kept me from starting these changes earlier in my life, it was always my lack of motivation.
I, like almost everyone, used the excuse “I am just too busy to start living a healthy life style.” “Ain’t nobody got time to work out.” “Healthy foods are too expensive and too time consuming to prepare, fast food is convent and cheap.” Once I got over my own bull honkey, I was able to start seeing positive changes. I was my own worse enemy. I was able to talk myself out of going to the gym way too easily. I had to be a rock for myself, because none else can do it but yourself.
This January is when I started to find more time for the gym in my busy schedule. I have had my membership since last summer, but was never REALLY committed to going on a regular basis. I did not change my diet until the beginning of March, and that was also the first month that I actually started working out at ~ 5 times a week.
I have to give a shout out to my fiancee Tony. The poor guy has listened to me complain about body image stuff, complain about working out and how I HATED every minute of it, complain about how I just want to eat pizza for every meal, and yet he was always there motivating me, and ensuring me that I could make a positive change with a positive attitude. It is a lot easier to go to the gym when you have a gym buddy, and Tony is mine. I don’t know if I would have made these positive health changes if it wasn’t for him, and he deserves a trophy for dealing with me.
My caloric intake was something I knew I also had to change if I wanted to see results. I knew that I didn’t want all my hard work at the gym to go to waste with a horrible diet, so I decided that it was time to really be serious about dieting AND exercising.
I didn’t start any specific diet, because I knew that there was NO WAY I could give up on one specific type of food. I LOVE FOOD! Instead I started to count my calories. Sound dreadful and not very easy? Well, to be honest I would not be doing it if it wasn’t for an APP on my smart phone. I am WAY to lazy to actually look up every calorie and write it down, then do math on top of that. This APP “My Fitness Pal” is amazing. It has a database of pretty much anything you can think of, so it makes recording your calories really simple. I really like the barcode scanner on it, because then I just scan my food right in, and it saves my most frequent meals for me. It is very user friendly, and lets you record your workouts in it as well (so you can eat more if you burn more). It is really helpful to see what I am putting in my body and what I am burning off. Once you realize how hard it is to burn off that one bowl of pasta for lunch, and a couple slices of pizza, accompanied by a couple of beers for dinner, you adjust your meals, and I am not miserable because of it. I still eat what I want, I just understand that if I want to have a bigger serving, or a junk food day, then I need to hit the cardio a bit more that day.
So, what does my week look like at the gym? After I battle my way through the “gym bros” and the “tools” taking selfies while flexing at my gym, I start my workout. I like to hit different muscle groups every day, and I try to do at least 30 minutes of jogging a day (~3 miles)
Chest day. I like to mix it up and do some machines that target the chest, and free weights as well. I warm up with the cable column and do some chest press with and upward motion and a downward motion (the arms on the column are adjustable, and you can target your upper chest muscles and your lower chest muscles this way). I then usually move to the bench press using the bar bell. I then do an incline bench with dumb bells, and finish chest day off with some push ups.
Arms and Back day. Arms: I like to do some bicep and tricep machines, along with free weights. Bicep curls with dumbbells, and curls with a barbell are 2 free weight exercises I like to do. I then do a bicep curl machine. Tricep extensions can be done a couple of different ways with free weights, then I like to move to a couple machines that target tricep activation. For back I do lat pull downs and rows on the machines, then I do “lawn mower” rows with a dumbbell.
The dreaded leg day!! Legs are my most dreaded area on my body. I HATE my thighs and have always been fearful of squats every since my knee injury back in 2007. I dislocated my patella while in a squat position and have stayed away from them ever since then. I used to HATE leg day so very much, and would always find a way to be “busy” on Wednesdays. Anyways, I start with squats (making sure I maintain very good form), move to dead lifts (which target the back as well as legs), finish up with leg press and calf raises. Lunges are a sometime for me, this exercise really bothers my knees, so I typically stay away from them. Sometimes if I’m feeling ambitious, or have time I will do some hip stabilization exercises (like the abduction/adduction machines, or clam shells in the stretching room)
Shoulders and Arms: I try to get arms in twice a week because they are an area I want to see results in. For shoulders I do military press with dumbbells, then I move into flexion and abduction with dumbbells. I finish with shoulder press machine, and sometimes shoulder shrugs.
Back and Leg day. I want to see more results in these areas so I do them twice a week.
I don’t really do abs, but they are something I could easily add in 3 + times a week.
Not-So-Favorite Gym Moments:
-When starting to run again (which was rough) a personal trainer came up to me and asked if I was “ok” because I was really red and sweaty…pretty sure that is what happens when you do cardio, but maybe thats just me? Anyways it was pretty embarrassing to have someone come call you out mid run.
-One time when I was pretty fatigued at the gym, I was doing inclined bench press with dumbbells and my wrist game out, and the 30 pound weight came down on my face, I rocked a black eye for a couple days after…very embarrassing!!
Favorite Gym Moments:
I go to a pretty cheap gym, that has a lot of interesting (interesting being the nice word) people attend. There have been many times where I have had to hold back laughing out loud at some bros, and I love when I can catch some of their convos:
“If you pump your arm real fast while bicep curling you will get jacked 10X faster, use your back a little to help”
“I have had a really hard time juggling my 4 women, so the gym is where I go to de-stress”
-After PRing on bench “OH YEAH, guess who ate their Wheaties this morning!”
-Catching a couple taking a selfie of their abs in the studio mirror.
-Watching people “teach” others how to do an exercise, thats completely wrong.
Most noticeable gains:
-I started out only being able to do 2 pushups. How embarrassing? I have never had strength in my upper body, and now I am starting to feel strong. Things in my every day life have become easier too because of this. Now I can rock ~12 pushups before I need a break! I can’t wait for that number to keep going up.
-Starting to dead lift (which was only about 3 weeks ago) I used 70 pounds. Now I am up to ~ 115 lbs. I am excited for that number to keep increasing as I keep training.
Since January I am down ~ 8lbs. I am pretty happy with this because I know that I am gaining muscle also, which is what I am going for with my weight training. Muscle gains will make my weight loss seem like less, but I understand that its not all about the number on the scale, but how I am looking and more importantly, feeling about my self.
I just feel better in general. I have more energy in my every day activities. I don’t feel as “down in the dumps” as I sometimes felt. I am starting to appreciate my body instead of hating it. I feel better about how I look, and it makes me happier as a whole. I still have a lot of work a head of me to achieve my goals by my wedding, but I know that this is a lifestyle I want to maintain from now on. My biggest struggle was I would start working out for a week or two, then I would fall off the wagon and have a lazy week or two, then when I would try to start up again it would be dreadful. I think that is a problem with a lot of people. Once you stay consistent with a workout you don’t have the awful start up days. Yes, some days are rougher than others, and some days I can only run for ~ 15 minutes when I can usually do 30 without a problem, (that usually happens on leg day, I should really start running before weight training on leg day…seems like a simple fix) or can only do 3 reps of an exercise instead of 4 or 5 before I feel like dying, but the number of good days, where I feel good about my work outs, outnumber the bad.
Motivational tricks for me:
-Instagram fitness accounts
-Grocery shopping: DON”T BUY THE JUNK FOOD, if it’s not around the house you wont eat it.
-If you are planning on going out to eat, plan the rest of your days caloric intake around it.
-Find someone that will push you do be better, and will go to the gym with you. Starting is the hardest part, if you can get someone to get you through that 1st month, I promise going alone will be ok.
Thanks for reading. I hope to hear your feedback, questions, and comments below.