Worth the Weight: Fitness Is Filled with Lessons

Two things I’ve learned since the start of my health and fitness journey are:

  1. The hardest part about working out is getting to the gym, not the workouts.
  2. Maintaining healthy eating habits can be overwhelming.

Luckily, I’ve always been a person of strong willpower and I stick to my goals once I set them. Just a few months before 2017, I decided I was going pescatarian for a year straight. I remember feeling very clean, refreshed and barely bloated during that time. A lot of my friends asked me how did I manage to do it, but there were so many substitutes for meat and I was very strict about accomplishing my goal. The toughest (and probably the saddest) instance I had when I was pescatarian was not being able to eat a beef patty nor jerk chicken when I was in Jamaica.

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It is pricier to be pescatarian, as seafood (particularly shrimp) is more expensive than chicken.

I had quite a run during that lifestyle but I decided I want to get the most out of protein and stick to one of my favorites–grilled chicken. Would I do it again? Maybe, but perhaps for less than a year.

My real (and official) health and fitness journey began in early December 2018. I realized I got far too carried away with summer happy hour drinks and appetizers. This was such a major part of my lifestyle that I didn’t realize the harm it was causing my body and health. It wasn’t until I became disgusted with everything I ate and drank that I decided it was time to sign up to the gym. The biggest takeaway of all this is you can’t begin a healthy journey just because people are telling you to do so. You have to wait until you are 100% ready to start–if not, you’ll hit the gym and quit after day 3. It takes a lot of motivation to get up and want to change your life but the most important part is consistency.

People view my stories on Instagram, posts on Twitter and progress photos and think I’ve got it all figured out. The truth is: I’m not a beast, I’m just consistent. I’m hungry to learn more about fitness and developing a routine that works for me. Every day I learn new things about workouts, eating, routines and realize this is all a learning process. On my first day at the gym, I got on almost every machine and almost fainted. I didn’t know what I was doing, I became dizzy and had to call it a day.

Pacing myself, breathing properly, creating sets and reps that work for me but still challenge me and appropriate rest days were soon added to my routine. I thought the more you worked out without rest days, the faster you see results. This was my routine until my body began shutting down on me and I realized I had to listen to it and allow my muscles to do their thing. I shortened my gym schedule to 5 days a week and switch up the rest days every week; sometimes I take a weekday and a weekend off, sometimes I take Saturday and Sunday off (not my favorite).

Adding more weight to challenge myself and increase effectiveness came into conversation a few months back. While it’s always great to challenge yourself, do not do so until you’re ready. For instance, don’t do squats with an 100 pound barbell when you haven’t even mastered doing them with a 30 pound barbell. The last thing you want to do is injure yourself trying to ego lift. Your fitness journey is strictly yours so if you’re constantly worrying about what others think, you’re not doing it for the right reasons. I, myself still find anything over 80 pounds challenging but week by week, my trainer increases the amount of weight and reps.

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At first, I was apprehensive about signing up with a trainer because I felt I had all the motivation I needed and didn’t want to spend extra money. I trained myself for months and even welcomed my peers at the gym to help me out. While it’s fun to workout with others at the gym, I know they have their own goals and can’t expect them to always attend to mine. Besides, I do enjoy going to the gym on my own because I can pace myself and move on to the next workout without waiting for someone else. That changed when I returned from Europe just a few weeks ago, however. I felt a little disoriented and wanted to learn new workouts. My trainer now was always around me before I signed up for him and I could feel him wanting to recruit me, but I wasn’t ready. After a week of consideration, I sent him the text that would begin our client-trainer relationship.

So far, it’s been almost three weeks and I have not regretted my decision. He’s super chill but challenging, is diverse in his skill set (he does karate and yoga as well), his workouts are effective and how could I forget? he offers a great price for his services. I can train with him as many times in a week as I want and for as long as I want (unless he has another commitment). He does individual and group workouts which expose his creativity. His magical number is 100 when it comes to reps; which usually seems impossible when he says it. If you’re smart, you find a way to split them so it works for you; 4 sets of 25 reps each is usually my division.

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I always feel challenged after every workout with him and that’s exactly what I was looking for. If I didn’t sweat–was it really a workout?!

The best way to show appreciation to your trainer is to continue being active and healthy outside of your sessions. I make sure to workout even when it’s not with him and practice healthy eating. I’m not currently on a strict diet, but I do maintain a low-carb diet, eat lots of protein and vegetables and snack throughout the day. I don’t eat white bread or rice, soda isn’t a part of my lifestyle and I’m weary about artificial juices. I incorporate one cheat day every week (usually on Saturdays) which usually consist of loaded nachos and a margarita (or two). Once I get closer to my goals and minimize my stomach’s roll when I sit down, I think I can be a little more lenient on myself.

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Throughout this journey, I learned that I am a true Virgo and I criticize myself like no other. I check for gains in the mirror everyday (which I need to chill out on) and expect to see major changes each day. My trainer gets mad at me when I say I “look fat” in certain photos and tells me to stop hating on myself. In a way, I think I use my self-criticism as reverse psychology so I can continue to push myself to work harder.

I’m almost never satisfied, but that’s a good thing.

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