I used to think I was one of those people who could just never get into shape, no matter how hard I tried.
Although I come from some pretty good genes, I always figured I was the outlier in the family—the one who could never be in good shape, regardless of how healthy I ate or how often I exercised. And though I was never seriously overweight, there have certainly been times in my life where I was a little… chunky.
I remember that time (mostly during college) clearly…
I remember how difficult it was hard to buy clothes, because nothing fit quite right—and when I did, I’d try to buy things that would cover up my body, rather than show it off. I remember the feeling of having a muffintop, how it felt jiggly when I walked and spilled over the top of my jeans, and how I embarrassed and ashamed it made me feel. I remember feeling slow and gross and lethargic and sorry for myself. I remember how self-conscious and unconfident I felt, and how that lack of confidence translated to other areas of my life as well.
And mostly, I remember looking at fit, athletic people with envy and disgust. They were just lucky, I remember thinking. They had some crazy gene or insane built-in motivation that made exercise fun for them, made eating healthy easy, and I would never have that.
So I resigned myself to feeling gross and unfit for the rest of my life.
But then… something changed.
I got so fed up with how I looked, I started to try to make changes.
It was small things at first. I’d walk more, which is something I’ve always loved to do. I’d walk to the grocery store, I’d wander all around downtown Portland (where I lived at the time), I’d walk to my job as a waitress and back. I got out my old bike that I’d had since I was 12 (I’m not even exaggerating… it was pretty embarrassing), and started biking around. I started running three miles or so a few days a week. I did crunches.
The exercise made me feel better, so I started wanting to eat healthier too. I’d choose a salad instead of pasta, broccoli on my thin crust pizza instead of extra cheese. The small changes added up.
I started noticing a change in my body, and started feeling better during the day. I had more energy. More enthusiasm. More interest in trying new activities. And soon enough, I started to feel more confident about myself in general, which very quickly translated to other areas of my life like my relationships and my career.
But when I started lifting weights for the first time, then doing HIIT—that’s when everything really changed. After years of playing sports, then struggling through depression and weight gain, I felt I’d finally found my element. I naturally found myself craving healthy foods, because that’s what made me feel good. I felt strong, and healthy, and more attractive. My confidence soared.
And it never was just about how I looked—though I was happy to finally not feel completely humiliated in a bathing suit, I also loved being able to keep up with my dad on hikes, beat the guys in a CrossFit class, and try a new sport without getting tired right away or feeling completely embarrassed at my lack of strength and coordination.
It took me years of figuring out my own path to fitness and health, but now I know I’ve built a habit for life. Because there’s no way in hell I’ll ever let myself go back to feeling like I did back then.
You, too, can get in shape
I wanted to share my story with you because I know that there are so many people out there who have just given up on being in shape altogether. They blame it on their genes, or their lack of athletic ability, or even their lack of motivation. They truly believe that there’s nothing they can do to get fitter than they currently are.
But I’ve been there. And I know that no matter what your situation, whether you’re 15 or 51, 40 pounds overweight, skinny fat, an ex-high school sports star who has put on some extra weight, or even a person who has never intentionally worked out in your life—you can get in shape.
You just have to believe in yourself.
It’s all about your mindset
If you believe you can never be fit, you won’t be. If you think it’s impossible to eat healthy, even one meal a day, it will be impossible. If you think you can never do a burpee, you never will.
You have to think you can.
And what’s more, you have to try.
But don’t push yourself too hard at first. Start with baby steps—eat a healthy breakfast instead of sugary cereal, take a walk during your lunch break instead of sitting, try doing HIIT twice a week.
Take baby steps. If you don’t, and you push too hard at the beginning, you’ll burn out quickly—and inevitably give up sooner or later.
But you can’t give up. Because you’re building a lifestyle here. A lifestyle that’s going to get you feeling confident about your body, full of energy, and feeling healthy and active into old age. And a lifestyle beats a diet and inconsistent exercise schedule any day.
Find something you actually like to do
I’m not out to torture you here—the key to creating a healthy lifestyle that sticks is to find something you actually enjoy doing. If you hate running like I do, try HIIT—you might actually like it (especially how short it is). If you dislike being in a gym all the time, get out and play a sport instead.
The key is to start incorporating as many active fun things as you can into your daily life, and you’ll slowly, but inevitably, find yourself in better shape than you ever thought you could be in.
You can do it
If I could hold your hand the entire journey, help pull you off the couch and into your workout shoes, help you grocery shop so you always had healthy foods on hand—I would.
But I can’t. It’s all up to you.
You can get in the best shape of your life.
But you have to start out small. You have to learn not hate every second of it it. And most of all, you have to believe.
I believe in you. Do you?