That’s how long it's been since the day that I decided that I wanted to make a change in my life and honestly, it's been one wild ride. I learned a lot through trial and error but I think now, after coming this far, I’ve got a couple tried and true things I’d like to share.
1. There is no "right" way to get fit
It doesn’t matter what anyone tells you, be it the gym bro benching 400 lbs or the yoga enthusiast holding an inverted tree pose for 30 minutes, there is no such thing as “the only way to be fit”. There is no one right way to exercise nor is there one right way to diet; it's all about finding what works for you and running with it. If that means rock climbing tickles your fancy, then go for it. Dance? YEA go get it fam. Hiking? GET GOIN. Literally the only requirement is that you need to get active on a regular basis - it doesn’t really matter how you do it.
2. It's a marathon, not a sprint
Tell me if this sounds familiar: The holidays have come and gone, New Years is upon us and it's time for a change! You get a gym membership, buy a new pair of running shoes, and slip into your finest gym attire. You go in and do your first workout and feel pretty good about yourself. You go home and have yourself a nice salad and go to sleep content. Then comes the soreness. You question yourself and all you stand for. You wonder why your core feels like a brick yet the abs are nowhere to be seen. Everything hurts and you feel like dying. Sound familiar?
If so, there's no need to be ashamed because that's how the first two weeks are supposed to feel. The main thing you need to remember is that it gets better and in the end, a month down the line - heck even longer if you follow it through - you won't regret it. Visible progress, unfortunately, doesn't come in a day or a week but you feel better almost immediately. Just like all the stereotypical gym blogs and Instagram posts say – it's a grind. A long, slow and sometimes frustrating grind.
3. Your relationship with food is a pain in the butt
This is something that I could not stress enough. Some people have it easier than others - eating right comes naturally to them and they have a nice and healthy relationship with food. Other people (like me) have to fight tooth and nail against food because the temptations of the beautiful thing that is unhealthy food. It could be a long and painful road – heck, you might even end up in a divorce or two with food if the bad habits keep up. But in the end, with some counseling and time to yourselves, things can come together. The fact of the matter is that you simply can't out work a bad diet and, no matter how well you may think you're doing, only makes the process feel longer than it may already be.
Metaphors aside, a well-balanced and regular diet can be harder to achieve than any workout but is without question something I would consider to be equally (if not more) important as regular exercise.
4. Don't be afraid to try something new
The best part about exercise is that there are so many different ways to do it. It may seem scary and it may seem like a horrible decision - but trying things you haven't done and especially trying things that you don't think you can do is the best way to push yourself forward when you hit plateaus.
I started out doing P90 –the everyday human being's P90X (that thing everyone's seen on TV with the fancy pull ups and musclebound men)– and lost my first 25 lbs. I vividly remember finishing my last day and being absolutely lost on what to do - up until that point all the workouts I'd done had been in the comfort of my living room with workout that had been pre-made for me. I had reached my first real wall. I looked up P90X through... questionably legal sources... but really, in the end, knew I needed to do something different if I wanted to keep progressing. I heard about CrossFit from a friend and thought, "What the hell why not" and experienced the most painful workout of my life yet the satisfaction of finishing it was all I needed to make me want to come back for more. It was a slow progression but by facing all those workouts that made me question if I was even physically capable of finishing them I only grew that much more.
Now, here I sit 12 months later, the fittest I've ever been, and only looking to get better in the months –and hopefully years– to come.