Get Happy, Get Healthy

When I saw today was National Health & Fitness Day, it took me back in time. Like many people, I wasn’t a big fitness fan. It’s rough making a commitment to the gym. Who wants to sweat , intentionally get out of breath and feel sore the next day? Not me. But those years of being able to eat a bag of Doritos for breakfast with a chocolate shake without consequence were long gone. These days just looking at a cheesecake added weight to my waist and thighs. I’d never been a big salad person, I like meat and carbohydrates! Don’t get me started on cheese, delicious dips and fried food either. Getting older sucks.

I refused to buy bigger clothes, so instead I bought a gym membership and was excited to start. The first day I walked on the treadmill for twenty minutes and rewarded myself with a burger and fries for lunch. I’d earned it, right? After two weeks of doing that, nothing had changed. I’d actually gained a pound and I was still sluggish and tired. When I joined the gym, they offered me 3 free personal training sessions but I ignored them. After zero success doing it on my own, I decided to give the training a try. The day I trained with Daniel was one I’ll never forget. He had me doing jumping jacks between arm bars, squats and lunges between sprints on the exercise bike…the brutality went on for an hour and it was torture. The following three days I could barely move. I decided the gym wasn’t for me and threw in the towel.

About a month later, I was at a bridal shower where I met my now good friend Meagan. Somehow the topic of working out came up and I divulged my story about Daniel the boot camp master. Meagan admitted that my experience was a sour one, but told me working out didn’t have to be hell. Within twenty minutes, she convinced me to work out with her. That following Sunday we met up and she showed me a few things. Meagan, who used to be a Pilates instructor, explained a few simple stretches and put me on the elliptical for 20 minutes. My heart rate went up, but I didn’t feel like dying. After that, she showed me some low resistance arm exercises and a few machines that worked my legs and abs, all with minimal or no weight added. We were done in under an hour and to my surprise, I actually felt pretty good. The next morning, I woke up feeling great. I slept solid the whole night through, which is rare for me. Meagan also sent me some links to healthy cooking sites. Who knew heavy cream and pesto had so many calories? *shakes fist*

It’s been 18 months since my first workout with Meagan. It was a little difficult getting into a routine and making time for the gym. But she told me it takes 21 days to form a habit and after that it would become second nature. Once again, she was right. This also applied to healthy eating. I still splurge every now and then on pizza or a delicious bacon burger, but I don’t feel guilty. Most likely because I cook almost every night and have incorporated well balanced meals into my diet. Small changes in portions and ingredients make a huge change. I may not look like Jillian Michaels, but I can wear a swimsuit in public now and feel confident. I couldn’t have said that two years ago! I also have more energy, my skin is clear, and I’m not hiding behind baggy clothes. It’s truly an awesome feeling!

If you’re looking to make some healthy lifestyle changes, don’t do what I did and go overboard on your first attempt. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Set realistic goals and push through it. If you’re looking for a little motivation, you should look into No More Aerobics by Paula Williams. She’s been a personal fitness coach for over 30 years and offers great advice about getting in shape and getting your life on track.

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