My Experiences with Getting in Shape

I am by no means an exercise or health expert. I haven’t even been on keto for six months, but I’m reaping the benefits daily. Just a couple days ago, I was able to fasten my belt at a tighter setting. I’m overall much healthier and much happier than I was one year ago.

Here are some things I’ve learned from my new healthy lifestyle. I don’t go into specifics of dieting, weight training or the like, so it should be general enough that it can be applied universally. But, as with any advice, take it with a grain of salt: you know yourself better than anyone. So if my advice sounds like crap, it won’t hurt my feelings if you ignore it.

1. Be Boring

Make a routine and stick to it. To help make it stick, attach the new habit to an existing habit or to a certain condition. For example, I work out 4x a week. I do this by going every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to the gym in some form. Tuesdays and Thursdays are days I go to the bouldering gym while Mondays and Saturdays are a bit more flexible where I can either do calisthenics, weights, or running. It’s become so ingrained in my life now that I typically wear casual clothes to work MTTh because I know I’ll be working out afterwards. And then Wednesday and Friday are rest days where I can wear something cute like a skirt or dress. You can read up more on my routine on this post.

“What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.”

If you’re interested in learning how you can ensure success when building a new fitness or health habit, check out this piece by James Clear called “The 3 R’s of Habit Change: How to Start New Habits That Actually Stick.” It goes over the process of what forms a change in behavior. You already have a multitude of habits that you perform daily that you do instinctively. Going to the gym more often or eating healthier can become second nature when you understand what it takes to build a habit.

2. Focus on You

This is a lot easier said than done. I have had many instances when at the bouldering gym where I see someone a third my age do routes three times harder than me without breaking a sweat. It’s taken a long time for me to change my gut reaction from “Oh god, I’m terrible at bouldering. This child is already much better than me.” to “This kid has probably practiced their whole life. I can get better too if I work hard enough at it.” As mentioned in this great post by Nerd Fitness about who you should compare yourself against:

Don’t worry what other people are doing, or how much weight they’ve lost, or how perfect their life may seem. There’s only one person you can truly compare yourself to:  yesterday’s version of you.

There are far too many variables for you to fairly compare yourself to anyone else on their fitness journey. Age, height, genetics, starting weight, access to clean and healthy food, access to a gym/trainer, amount of free time: all of these factor into how that person looks the way they do. If this were a scientific experiment, you would never compare two random people at the gym because there wouldn’t be enough control between the two. The best and only person you can compare yourself to and compete with is yourself.

3. Listen to Your Body

Now, don’t take this to mean you can lay in bed and say “My body says that it needs a dozen donuts” and then go buy a box from the nearest donut shop. This is more in regards to avoiding injury. There’s a difference between pushing yourself just a little bit more each time and pushing yourself so hard that you hurt yourself. It’s a very fine line and if you’re just starting out, finding that balance can be difficult.

There’s a difference between pushing yourself just a little bit more each time and pushing yourself so hard that you hurt yourself.

Training is an ongoing process and not something you can accomplish overnight. It takes gradually adding more weight or running longer distances until you can comfortably lift or run more. Couch to 5k is a great example of gradual training. You slowly add more minutes where you’re running at a jog (not full sprint) each week until by the end of the program, you’re running for 30 minutes without a break.

Learn to be mindful of how your body feels and know when to back off and when to go for it. There’s nothing wrong with playing it a little safe at first so that you can live to lift, run, or climb another day.

4. Take Progress Pictures

If you’re just starting, take that “Before” picture; you’ll be happy you did. It’s gonna feel gross and you’re not going to want to do it, but it’ll help you so much in the long-run. This goes hand-in-hand with Tip #2 because you can’t compare yourself to your past self if you don’t have any evidence of what you used to look like!

Progress is not measured solely by the number on the scale.

This is especially helpful when losing weight because there will be times when the number on the scale won’t budge or will even go up. There are many factors that can contribute to this such as water retention or inflammation from exercising. At this point, you may feel that all of this hard work has been for naught and you’ll be tempted to quit. It’s times like these where looking at your Before picture is important. Progress is not measured solely by the number on the scale. There’s your body fat percentage, muscle mass, measurements, and mood! How you feel about yourself is just as important a victory as any scale victory.

5. Get the Proper Gear

I put off buying exercise clothes for years. I didn’t even own a sports bra until after college. I was making do with the free t-shirts I had accumulated over the years, my old worn out sneakers, and flowy dance pants that worked better as pajamas then rock climbing pants. Of course, working out with old clothes is better than not working out at all, but I just didn’t want to admit there was a bit of a mental block to me buying exercise gear. I used the excuse of cost constantly but the real reason I didn’t want to was because I was still self-conscious of my body. I had gotten so used to wearing loose clothing that the thought of getting anything skintight was scary.

I used the excuse of cost constantly but the real reason I didn’t want to was because I was still self-conscious of my body.

I finally accepted and acknowledged that getting the right gear for me would be expensive but worth it. Buying running shoes, climbing gear (shoes, chalk, and chalk bag), and workout pants took a toll on my bank account but it’s already paying for itself. I no longer have to rent shoes from the bouldering gym and my climbing has improved dramatically now that my pants are actually skintight and don’t get caught on the holds. I’ve also since gotten used to how the new clothes feel and actually feel confident in how I look in them.

Having the right gear can help you exercise better. Exercising better will make you feel better. Feeling better can help you stay on track with your regiment more. And staying on track will yield positive results for you in the long-run!

What have you learned about yourself during your fitness journey? Let me know in the comments!



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