This post was heavily requested by my Instagram followers, actually! I have been updating my fitness journey on my story, and after posting a before and after picture and announcing that I lost 15+ pounds in just under two months, many heads seemed to turn my way.
It is true. I weighed 192-193 pounds in late February, and just a few days ago, I stood on a scale that read 176. I was honestly shocked, leaping, and squealing with excitment, texting all my friends.
It was never about the weight for me. I want to make that clear. Of course, standing at nearly 200 pounds as a 5"9 woman wasn't particularly confident-boosting, but the real reason I began exercising again extended much deeper.
It all began when I was in high school, weighing at 145. As someone who is relatively tall for a girl, this was tiny! Of course, I didn't realize it at the time--no one ever does. I worked out for two hours a day, because I was a swimmer and water polo player for my high school, and occasionally I'd go on runs after school to release the day prior.
When I graduated high school, I stopped working out, my only daily movement being yoga, and walking around the cafe I worked at over the summer. I no longer had to work out every day, therefore I no longer did! With this mindset, working out seemed like a chore. I wasn't gaining any weight, either (maybe five pounds total) so I didn't think I even needed to move to stay slim.
Let me tell you: Freshmen 15 is real and worse than they tell you unless you're prepared for it. Throughout my freshmen year, I gained about 40 pounds, finishing the year weighing 185 and unable to fit into any of my clothes.
While walking around campus was surely a hassle, I suppose I didn't burn enough calories equivalent to the number of carbs and sugars I ate at the dining halls. Whoops!
But this was okay because I assured myself I'd work it off that summer. Yet, even while exercising three times a week for an hour, ate healthy and clean for a good month or so, I lost zero weight. Not one pound.
I'd hate to say that I gave up, but in reality, I did. I wasn't seeing results, so I turned to self-care and loving my skin for what it was. I told myself, "I love myself exactly the way I am, so I don't need to work out!"
I would go back and forth, exercising long and hard and eating clean, then slumping back into the self-love mantra when things got hard, or when I wasn't seeing results.
The hardest part, honestly, was when no one else could see it but me and the scale. I gain weight equally over my body, so one pound is distributed to my arms, legs, and stomach. It wasn't really until I gained 40 pounds when I could really see it.
Literally nothing was working. I tried 30 days of yoga, running for miles and miles, lifting weights, walking to class rather than taking the bus, and I still stayed at 190. Throughout all of this back and forth, I had gained 5 more pounds and was gaining about half a pound a week.
There were many nights when I laid on my floor, so frustrated and exhausted. I kept wanting to pull out my safety net and return to self-love and self-care, but the truth was, it was never about the numbers. It was about the way I felt. I always felt slow, heavy, full, and tired. I wanted to feel light, energized, and confident.
When quarantine happened, I knew I had to try again. I wanted to become a slimmer version of myself and finally release the weight. I wanted to feel free and feel good dressing up with friends. I wanted to look in the mirror and feel good about my dips and curves.
So, I did it. I went after it, and this time I not only changed my routine but my mindset and overall outlook on fitness.
I began with Kundalini Yoga, which is a type of energy yoga. I did it every day for about 7 days, and although I remember losing one pound and being so proud of myself, I needed more.
I knew that if I truly wanted to lose weight, I needed to get up and move, not just sit down on the floor and breathe harsh and fast (no offense Kundalini Yoga).
I began with Popsugar's 25-minute Hip Hop Dance workout. I'm not going to lie, it really had me beat. I didn't remember sweating so much in years.
While it was difficult, and I was drenched with sweat, feeling light-headed by the end of it, I found myself crawling back for more. As bizarre as it may sound, sweating, moving my body, feeling my heartbeat race at the bottom of my throat... it was such a good feeling. I was jumping and soaring like I hadn't before, realizing I had so much inner strength was stored away all this time.
The next day, and the next day, and even the next day, I showed up on the mat, lacing up my shoes and preparing myself for my daily detox of pent-up energy. That's when I began to find new videos, like Tabata, weight-training, ab routines, and leg strengtheners. I implemented a weekly routine with all of my favorite videos so I'd look forward to my daily exercise, and I'd do it every day.
That's the best tip I could give anyone who wants to lose weight: Do it every day and make it fun!
I used to think that exercising just three times a week would be enough, but it's really not. In fact, when I gave myself any days off, I'd end up sinking into the "Eh... not today" mindset. And when you make exercise not only a daily habit but a fun hobby that you thoroughly enjoy, you're more inclined to workout!
Of course, it's important not to overdo it as well. The other day my body felt tired, so rather than doing cardio, I did a short yoga video. I still gave my body movement, but I gave it the type of movement it needed--stretching and easiness. Remember: make it fun!
But, even with that in mind... I oddly crave working out. I can no longer go a day without exercise--my body wants it that much! When I don't get up and move before 6 pm, I start to buzz with energy and desire to get up and jump around.
What I've learned after two months straight of working out
I once thought that working out was only for people who wanted to lose weight, but now I see that exercise is for everyone at any skill level and age. Our bodies were meant to move, to lift, to be active. We have biceps and hamstrings for a reason, right?
If you can work out at all, then be grateful for that. Some people cannot go out on a run or lift weights due to health issues. But, if you have a functioning, strong body, don't take that for granted.
I believe that when you get up off the couch, slip on your shoes, and do something simple and fun like dancing for just 20 minutes a day, every day, not only will you begin to see results, but you'll end up loving exercise.
Exercising is an activity just like any other, so you need to tend to it regularly in order to keep that desire and spark. Look at working out as something fun, a way to get your blood flowing and detox the gunk in your body. Find workouts that make you happy, that get you up and moving, and do it every day, or as often as you can.
I know now what I was doing wrong this entire time--I would work out intensely one to three times a week and splurge on laziness in-between. I was also over-doing it, with strenuous cardio and weight-lifting (which I don't like, at all), so I never looked forward to working out. I associated working out with pain.
I've now learned that exercise is a beautiful hobby to attend to and a great way to boost creative flow, overall energy, and release submerged emotions and toxins in the body.
Of course, rest and treating your body with softness when it needs it is important too. Working out every day has been working for me, however, so has occasional days of rest. If you're every wary to begin exercising every day, try Matt D'Avella's 2-day rule, which really helped me get started.
Below is my current workout routine. Of course, you don't need to follow it exactly, and I'm not suggesting you do, but this is simply what's been working for me! Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to working out, so if you do want to get into exercise but are unsure how, then take my routine and turn it into something that you'll look forward to!
Ideally, I try to give myself two days of yoga and abs, two days of Tabata, two days of leg workouts, and one day of arms!
My weekly fitness routine
Monday - Tabata Workout/Full Body Focus
If you don't know what Tabata is, it's when you work out hard for about 20 seconds, and then give yourself a 10-second break and repeat about 4 times. The trick is to shock your heart rate so all throughout the day ahead you're still burning calories!
It's difficult, but it's fun. Remember to only do it a couple of times a week, as you could potentially overdo it!
The video I do every Monday is Popsugar's 4x4 20-Minute workout. It's an intense but great way to start the week.
Tuesday - Leg & Glute Workout
My absolute favorite leg workout is Popsugar's 30 Minute Selena Gomez Workout for Flat Abs and Toned Legs. Please, just do it.
Wednesday - Yoga + Ab Workout
I like to give myself a "break" after those two intense workouts by doing any yoga sequence by Yoga with Adriene, either weight-loss specific or not. I then follow, or sometimes begin, with Sarah Therese's TONE ABS Home Workout.
This combination is seriously so good, and thanks to Sarah's video, I'm slowly seeing abs!
Thursday - Leg & Glute Workout
Because it's just so good, I return to Popsugar's 30 Minute Selena Gomez Workout for Flat Abs and Toned Legs.
Friday - Tabata Workout/Full Body Focus
Usually, on Fridays, I like to do Popsugar's 30-Minute Tabata Session to Burn Some Serious Calories. The instructor is so fun and makes it actually enjoyable!
Or, I will do Popsugar's 30-Minute No-Equipment Full-Body Toning Workout if I'm not in a Tabata mood.
If you simply search "Popsugar Tabata" or "Popsugar Full Body" so much comes up! As you can tell, I really like Popsugar.
Saturday - Dance Workout/Cardio
My favorite way to get cardio, especially when I don't have access to a pool or a treadmill, is dance workouts! My favorite is Popsugar's 25 Minute Hip Hop Tabata workout. It's so fun and yet, it works so much!
It's also a fun workout for the weekend.
Sunday - Yoga + Ab Workout
Sunday's are usually really busy for me, packed full of chores and homework, so I like to ease my workout by doing a yoga sequence and Sarah Therese's Ab workout, same as Wednesday. I'm still working hard, but I'm not jumping around. I also need the "rest" for Monday's Tabata!
Final thoughts/How I did it...?
After my workouts, I make sure to eat plenty of protein, either in the form of meat, nuts, or a protein shake. I also stretch for about 10 minutes and drink more than enough water. I make time for exercise whenever possible. Admittedly, I haven't moved today and it's 7:00 pm. But, I am still going to work out today--I do it every day, no matter what.
Honestly, besides being consistent, having a schedule, and eating well, I'm not sure how I did it. But I believe it all started when I started looking at fitness differently when I looked at it as a hobby rather than something to do to lose weight. I'd get myself excited to workout, and therefore I showed up on the mat, eager to start.
With this new era of self-love and body-positivity, it's easy to look at weight-loss or pushing yourself as evil, bad, and painful. But working out is so beautiful, and is probably the best form of self-care one can ever do. Regardless of whether I end up with a six-pack or stay exactly where I am, I have a new love for moving my body, and that's all that matters.
Just keep going. Keep pushing yourself. Release the excess, the clutter, the negative thoughts, and the pointless doubts, and immerse yourself into a workout you love. You will see results--I promise. And the more you workout, the less you'll crave junk! It's a win-win.
I can't believe I'm even saying it, but I seriously enjoy exercise.
If y'all would like me to continue updating you on my fitness journey, let me know and maybe these updates/routines can be a two-month thing?
I do hope my journey has inspired you! If you are on your own fitness journey, tell me about it below! I'd love to talk with you about it!
Have a lovely, active rest of your Sunday, and I'll see you on Wednesday!