I know for a lot of people, this can be a hard topic to discuss — believe me, I used to be one of those people. I couldn't stand when others would talk about their healthy-lifestyles and their workout routines. But ever since I started my fitness journey, I look and feel like a completely different person, and I am so much happier. I did not know how truly rewarding it was until I did it myself. So, I decided to write an article about my journey, because a lot of my friends and even strangers who have watched me transform over this past year, have been asking me how I do it, and what I do.

I also wanted to add some humorous .GIFs because I want people to know that this can be fun, and it doesn't have to feel like a chore!

1.   Change your mindset and find your motivation.

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I went from "I need to do this" to "I want to do this." A lot of the time, when people decide they want to lose weight or be healthy, they have this mindset that they have to do it. You don't have to do anything but wanting to is a completely different approach. To me, this is the most important step you can take, because it's the first step in making the decision to change your life. To 100% dedicate yourself to living this lifestyle takes a lot of strength and determination. If there is anything I have found during this process, there is no such thing as doing it half-ass, as well as taking it step-by-step if you need to. I know when I first started out, it was definitely a slow and steady process. I didn't just jump right into things, I had to take everything one step at a time. I was carrying so much extra weight that it was painful to do too much, so I had to pace myself. There is absolutely no shame in approaching this process in a slow manner, because the fact that you're approaching it at all is amazing! And my motivation is myself. I don't do this for anyone else but me. I do this for my own satisfaction and happiness. You have to want it for yourself, I believe that is super important.

2. Change your eating habits

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Here's the thing, I am not going to call this section a "diet" because that just isn't what it is. When people go on a diet, it's momentary. This to me is just a part of my lifestyle now because it is long term! With food, portion control is key! Making sure you are getting all the proper nutrients that your body needs is crucial, as well as making sure you are burning more calories than you are consuming (if you are wanting to lose weight). But the thing is, I also don't completely deprive myself of certain things I enjoy — I'm not a rabbit, I don't just eat lettuce all day. I'll every now and again enjoy a couple of slices of light-cheese pizza, a not-so-loaded-up burger, some sushi and burritos but light on the cheese and sour cream. It's all about portion control, making sure you're still burning it off, not consistently eating the "good stuff" and going very light on the fattening condiments.

3. Start doing cardio.

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Now, I am pretty sure I just heard most of you go, "Oh yeah, that's going to be a no from me." Trust me, I don't blame you; however, cardio is one of the key ingredients that has really helped me. I run anywhere between two to three miles every day, or there are other kinds of cardio at the gym, such as: elliptical, Stairmaster, stationary bicycle, or the treadmill, are all other great alternatives. It gives me energy, but cardio also helps with what is called the afterburn, which if any of you are interested, is also known as post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). It refers to the amount of oxygen your body consumes above resting level after your workout but summed up is how many calories your body burns before it gets back to its pre-exercise state. Isn't that amazing?!

4. Lifting some weights, would ya?

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If there is anything that I believe has set me over the edge to really get my body to where I want it to be, it's going to the gym and lifting weights. Now, I have had a lot of help and guidance with this, which I believe is super important. You definitely want to know exactly what you need to do, how to do it, what is best for you and your body. The last thing you want to do is injure yourself, so please make sure to do research or ask for help! If you are trying to get more toned look, I am the girl for the job! You want to make sure you not only focus on a certain body part for that day, but you also want to go lighter weight and more reps. For example, when doing squats, I do 25 lbs. on each side with 4 sets of 15. You get them toned thighs! But consistency is also a huge part of this as well. If you aren't consistent with lifting and going to the gym, or with your cardio, you aren't going to necessarily get the results you're looking for. For example, I lift 5 days out of the week. If I miss a day, which can happen because life happens, I make it up by just going on a day I don't usually go. Consistency is key!

5. Using supplements.

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OK, this one I'm not super gung-ho about, but it has helped me in some aspects! The most widely consumed supplement when it comes to weight-training is protein powder. Personally, I use two different supplements. One is just your simple, all-natural, BCAA, which are just amino acids. BCCA's basically decrease muscle fatigue and alleviate muscle soreness, which can be super helpful if you are lifting weights. Then, I also use protein powder for after my gym sessions. The product I use is a dairy-based protein, but they have plant-based proteins out there if you prefer that! The protein I use has L-Carnitine in it, which helps support fat burning. If you want to use supplements, which you most certainly do not have to, I have some good recommendations! So, please feel free to reach out to me if you are curious as to what I use or some other good/natural products to use!

6. The power of a bomb playlist.

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I don't know about y'all, but my workout playlist is all over the place. It ranges from rap, hip-hop, country, classic rock and then all the way to 90's music. But I am going to be real with you guys right now… "Stronger" by Britney Spears is my jam up in the gym. It gives me so much motivation and power to push through those harder days! It doesn't matter who you are or what gets you hype, a playlist that sets you in the zone is super crucial when getting a good workout in. It helps so much!

7. Fitting it into your busy schedule.

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I know this is probably one of the bigger struggles for most people, and I don't blame you. It is not easy fitting exercise into our busy schedules. Especially if you've had a long day, the last thing you want to go do is work out. But, let me be the one to tell you; pushing through the exhaustion from your day, and finding the time to squeeze it in there, the feeling when you're done is so incredibly rewarding. For me, I get my run in early in the morning before work or school — some days are easier than others to push myself to get up that early and go running, but I feel so energized for the day afterward! Then, at night, after I have cooked a delicious and healthy dinner, I head to the gym to get my lift in. Believe me, it is exhausting but when I struggle to push myself on those extra tired days, I just continue to think about my goals and where I want to be for myself and my life, and that is what gets me through.

I am proud to say that in almost a year I have lost 55 pounds, but in the past few years, I have lost a grand total of 80 pounds. I went from a size 16, to a size 2. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine myself in a size 2 jeans, or even small/extra small shirts, but here I am. So, if you're in a position where you really want to lose weight and get in shape, but you're afraid it's going to be too hard, or you don't think you can do it — please, do not listen to those thoughts. We all have fears, it's natural, but why let fear stop you from being happy? If this is something you want, go after it. It's achievable; I am living proof of it. It isn't easy, I will tell you that — it takes a lot of self-discipline, but it is so worth it. I am an open book about my lifestyle, so if you are in this position and would like to ask me more personal questions or get advice, please feel free to reach out to me! I am always willing to help.