Making Fitness Fun Again
For as long as I can remember, I've loved moving my body. I took dance lessons at a young age and grew up idolizing Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, and the pop stars of my teenage years. On a different end of the spectrum, I would boogie along with Richard Simmons, popping Sweatin' To The Oldies in my VCR, discovering the realm of at-home fitness. Country line dancing was another favorite of mine and as I got older, I learned how to get buns of steel from Tammilee Webb. Steve Ross and his friends introduced me to yoga one summer, a love affair that continues to this day.
This passion for fitness continued into adulthood, and after having my son, I was determined to look better than ever. I dove headfirst into the fitness market, trying out different equipment, programs, and even diet supplements. Building up my own fitness DVD library, I tried everything I could get my hands on. I bought a Contour Belt, which my boyfriend and I both loved, a Shake Weight that I used off and on, and the Air Climber, which turned out to be a real gem.
For about a year, I teamed up with a friend to visit the gym twice a week. We would hop on the elliptical, work up a sweat, and then hit the weight machines to sculpt our muscles. All of these things were fun and some worked well, but I never achieved the physique I set out to create.
About a year before my wedding day, I invested in the Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis program. I committed to everything in the program, except for the diet plan. 90 days later, my body was completely transformed. Finally, I had my dream physique. I looked amazing and felt confident in my wedding dress. These results drove me to continue with Tracy's method and I experimented with her other programs.
This experimentation led me back down the path of variety and I started branching out, once again trying out different fitness programs. I always found my way back to Tracy Anderson, though.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself making a transition from city life to the suburbs. Accustomed to walking every day, we now lived 15-20 minutes away from everything. This is certainly convenient, but not so great for the waistline. I went through a series of ups and downs with my weight as I tried out various programs and dealt with injuries. Additionally, I learned first-hand how easy it is to put on weight and how difficult it can be to lose it as you age.
My Catalyst for Change
Life offers moments of clarity when we least expect it, often from random occurrences and the least likely sources. These opportunities force us to take a good look in the mirror and make a decision—stay on the current path and never change or take action to achieve what you truly want.
A few years ago, I strained my rhomboid. It was severe and forced me to visit the doctor. I was strongly encouraged to go to physical therapy, and it was there that I was given a wake-up call. Years of internal rotating movements had done their damage and it was time to re-evaluate my fitness routine. It was at this time that I was also making monthly trips to the doctor for a reoccurring health issue, one we painstakingly tried to find the cause of, but couldn't. Every visit, I had to step on the scale and I dreaded it.
It was on the last visit that we both agreed on an idea, a treatment to try, and before I left, my doctor gave me a general reminder. She told me to make sure that I was drinking plenty of water and to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. She didn't know it, but I was already exercising every day. Most days, I was working out for an hour or two. The problem was I didn't look like it and the scale didn't show it.
That was the catalyst that forced me to take an honest look at my life. I took the time to evaluate what I was doing, why it wasn't working, and how I could fix it. I'm happy to report that the changes I implemented made a drastic difference and as of today, I've lost over 20 pounds. I'm down three pants sizes and I'm in better shape now than I was on my wedding day. Below I've outlined my process, explaining exactly how I accomplished this.
How I Lost 20 Pounds
- Taking an honest look at my goals and life
- A consistent workout program
- Tracking calories and food intake
- Holding myself accountable
Back To The Basics
Humans have a tendency to want to complicate things. This truth is made apparent in the realm of fitness. Scroll through social media or search for workouts on Pinterest and you'll find a host of daredevil antics or contortionist-type movements that promise to deliver an ideal aesthetic. No one wants to see push-ups, sit-ups, or basic squats. That's not exciting. Over-complicated compound movements and improper use of equipment may look cool, but will only lead you down the path of pain.
The first step for me was re-evaluating my goals. What exactly did I want to accomplish and why?
Setting My Goals
- Heal my injury and not have to deal with that ever again.
- Build strength.
- Look like I workout.
- Lose 20 pounds.
- Have the ability to move and play in my wiser years. I want to be able to dance with my husband when we're in our 80s and beyond, sit on the floor and play with my grandchildren someday, and be able to take care of myself as I get older.
With these goals in mind, I took a good look at what exercises I was doing. It was time to part ways with the programs that were contributing to my injuries and stop hopping from trainer to trainer. My insistence on variety wasn't doing me any favors.
The second step was getting back to the basics. I sought out Athlean X to help me recover from my injury. In addition to relearning proper form, I also learned the movements to avoid and the science behind it all. Combined with Feldenkrais, I was better in no time.
I love movement. For me, exercise is more than just a means to an end: it helps me wake up in the morning; it's how I clear my head; it's my go-to for stress-relief. In short, exercise keeps me sane. Over the years, I developed a fondness for certain trainers and programs. Eliminating beloved methods wasn't easy, but narrowing my focus helped me heal and ultimately reach my goals.
After eliminating every fitness program from my routine, my saving grace was the Hamelin D'Abell Method. Not only was I able to achieve something I never thought possible, but I was able to do it in a way that built strength in my body instead of causing me injury.
What did my exercise routine look like? Much like it looks today.
- Every morning I do a combination of Feldenkrais and yoga on my own to warm up, wake up, and prevent injuries. This usually takes 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how tired or sore I am.
- I do at least one Hamelin workout six days a week, but most often I try to fit in two or three. This includes an Inch Loss class, a cardio class, and a focused class like Absmatics.
- I do a Buti Yoga class at least three times a week.
- Every Sunday, and sometimes during the week, I allow myself to indulge in dance workouts. I love Hip Hop Fit with Mike Peele, Shine Dance Fitness, The Studio by Jamie Kinkeade, and Kyra Pro—all available on YouTube.
- Additionally once or twice per week, I add in a walking workout from Rich Bhullar's Get Fit With Rick channel.
Consistency with a program is key to achieving results. I get that from my personal yoga practice, Hamelin, and Buti Yoga. Adding in the extra classes gives me the variety I love without compromising my goals.
When you are looking for a fitness program, choose something you can stick with for the long haul. Choose something that aligns with your goals and will challenge you. Remember, fitness is a lifestyle and a lifelong journey. In addition to a program, include physical activities and hobbies you enjoy in everyday life.
Everyday Physical Activities
- Take a walk each evening with your family or a friend
- Visit a nearby park each week
- Bike riding
- Take dance lessons
- Volunteer for highway, beach, or park clean-ups
- Take time each week to play outside with your kids
Our bodies were made to move. Finding fun ways to stay active keeps you young, supports your fitness goals, and adds to your quality of life.
This is arguably the most important part of any fitness plan. We have all heard the advice ad nauseam and deep down, we all know it's true. It's also the hardest part. I've never been good at following a prescribed diet.
I have a major sweet tooth and I love all the typical fatty, fried American foods. Before I got married, I was able to adhere to a stricter diet for a short time, but eventually found my way back to eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. For a brief time, I tried tracking my food intake, but after a month or two, conveniently forgot about it.
When I sat down to take an honest look at my life, this was the area I knew needed the most attention. For the last few years, I had been eating with the mindset of everything in moderation. I worked out every day, I didn't need to worry about it.
Then I came across a video from Michelle McDaniel. She was explaining her tips to lose body fat and her most important point was to count calories. This is vital to make sure you are eating enough, not eating too much, and eating the right things. This resonated with me, and after watching, I decided that it was time for me to grow up. If I was serious about wanting to change my body, I needed to commit to doing this.
Michelle recommended physically writing your food intake down, but I decided an app would work best for me. I downloaded MyFitnessPal and got started the next day. No surprise, I learned that I had been eating too much and started decreasing my daily caloric intake according to my goal.
I stayed committed to recording my daily food intake. I didn't adhere to a strict diet, but I did start making healthier choices. Learning portion sizes and calorie amounts was eye-opening. I didn't cut any food groups out but started choosing lower calorie-dense foods. I still ate sweets and salty snacks but paid attention to how much I was consuming. When you realize 13 Funyuns are a portion size at 140 calories, you start weighing out your options. Do you want the Funyuns that won't really fill you up or is there a better choice? In situations like these, I would often choose something else. This was the change I needed and the one that had the most impact on my results.
When looking for the right nutrition program, choose something you can follow for the rest of your life. Any diet will work if you follow it, but if you fall off the plan and revert back to old habits after reaching your goal, you'll just gain all that weight back. Find something that will not only help you achieve your goals but something that will support your healthy lifestyle moving forward.
Tools and Accountability
To help me track my progress, I purchased a scale. I chose one that not only measured my weight, but also gave me data on my BMI, body fat percentage, hydration level, and muscle mass. It cost me about $20 from Wal-Mart and two years later, it's still going strong.
I have two body measuring tapes, one from a fitness program and the other from a personal trainer certification program I took years ago. Once a month I take my measurements to help me track my progress. This helps me determine if what I'm doing is actually working. I measure each arm, each thigh, hips, stomach, and waist.
Accountability is important. Having a friend or family member to help you is awesome, especially if that person is also on a similar journey. As for me, I take full responsibility and hold myself accountable. This prevents excuses and gives me total control of my results. I've found this is the best way to achieve a goal.
How Do I Hold Myself Accountable?
- I keep track of my weight and measurements.
- I write down what workouts I complete.
- I utilize MyFitnessPal to keep track of my daily caloric intake.
- I follow a daily routine and make my workouts a priority.
Fitness Tips, Motivation, and Habits
To achieve any goal in life, you have to be organized and disciplined. You also have to understand that sometimes unexpected things happen and no one is perfect.
- Write your goals down. Once you have your goal in mind, along with your reason why you want to achieve it, write it down. Put it on a piece of paper on your refrigerator, write it out on a post-it note you stick on your mirror, or keep it on a notes widget on the home screen of your phone. Find a place where you'll be able to see it every day.
- Get organized. Pick out a fitness program that aligns with your goals and schedule your workouts into your day. Decide how you will record your calorie intake or select a nutrition program that will work best for you. Be sure that whatever program you choose also works for the rest of your family. If you have to make multiple meals every day to accommodate everyone, you'll quickly get tired and burnt out.
- Gather your tools. You'll want a way to track your progress. This not only makes sure that you are on the right path, but it also helps keep you motivated. A scale and measuring tape is really all you need. I recommend getting a scale that measures more than just your weight, as that number will fluctuate based on a variety of factors. You don't need anything fancy or outlandish.
- Create habits that support your goal. Have a daily routine that incorporates your workouts, making them a priority. Decide how often you'll track your progress: a weekly or biweekly weigh-in and monthly measurements are great to make sure you are on the right track. Keep in mind that your weight will fluctuate depending on what you've consumed, what exercises you've done, and a host of other factors. I like to weigh myself first thing in the morning or just before I go to bed. You could pick one and do it every day, taking the average as your data point. Experiment with what works best for you and your schedule. On the first of every month, I take my measurements. I keep them in a note on my phone to keep track of my progress. If nothing has changed or I've gained, I make adjustments as necessary.
- Don't get in your own way. Life happens and you might miss a workout. Maybe you forget to track your meal, overindulged, or don't feel well. Don't beat yourself up and don't quit. Simply get back on track on the next day. Don't allow yourself to make excuses.
- Don't rely on motivation. Make your goal a priority and the action steps non-negotiable.
- Be flexible and kind with yourself. A five or ten-minute exercise session is better than no exercise at all.
- Get your family involved. Make healthy meals together, teaching your kids how to cook. Get out and be active as a family. Enjoy nice weather by getting outside and playing, exploring a park, or going for a simple walk around the neighborhood.
- Don't take yourself too seriously. Remember to have fun.
The Future and Final Thoughts
Weight loss takes time and patience. Some days you'll feel amazing, on track and on top of the world. Other days, you may be plagued with frustration and doubt. The scale may not budge or may go up, your measurements may not reflect what you want, but don't give up. Take it all in stride and stay the course. Make changes when necessary.
Remind yourself of the reason behind your goal and if applicable, remember how far you've come. Take notice of the changes that can't be quantified. Are you stronger? Can you do more than you could when you first started? Those are things worth being proud of and are definitely something for which to be grateful. Take it one day at a time. Each workout you complete and every healthy choice you make is one step closer to reaching your goal.
- Lost 25 pounds
- Dropped 3 pant sizes and a shirt size
- Lost 18.5 inches overall
I started in July 2019. The first fifteen pounds came off pretty quickly and easily, taking a total of six months. The last ten pounds took me another year and a half, where I would go up and down the same five pounds with no end in sight. It was frustrating, but I never gave up. I experimented with changes and if something wasn't working, I tried something different.
While I'm certainly proud of how far I've come, I still have another five pounds to go to reach my ultimate goal. I don't have a specific weight in mind, rather a weight window of five pounds. This is an idea I learned from Tracy Hensel. In addition, I've set my sights on dropping one more pants size. I'm looking forward to achieving these goals.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Alyssa
Alyssa (author) from Ohio on May 14, 2021:
Hahahahaha... you always make me smile Bill! I'm sure you'll find ways to stay active! Have a wonderful weekend!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 14, 2021:
I'm fifteen pounds overweight and was just diagnosed with degenerative hip arthritis. I'm now trying to find ways to exercise that don't include me doubling up in pain. :) I'll figure it out, or not. Maybe I'll be pudgy the rest of my life.
Have a great weekend!