Starting My Fitness Journey

I’m just 1 person on my fitness journey. It began in 2018 when I was told I was pre-diabetic and should try to lose weight and eat better (i.e. no more eating an entire package of Oreos in one sitting). So I went from working out 0 times a week to working out a few times a week (my initial goal was 3 times a week). Now, I work out 7 times a week. Going from that kid who absolutely dreaded gym class in school (I usually got Ds in gym because I was almost always one of the last people to finish running a mile each Friday) to someone who looks forward to working out for at least 30 minutes every day definitely didn’t happen overnight.

When I started, I had absolutely no clue about fitness. Because I didn’t have the money for a gym membership and didn’t like the idea of looking like a sweaty newbie in front of a bunch of strangers, I started the PopSugar 4-week No-gym Workout Plan in January, and it took me until July to finish it (but I did finish it!). When I started out, I had no idea what a plank was. I had never heard the terms ‘burpee’ or ‘Russian twist’ or ‘reverse crunch.’ I got flustered by complex kickboxing combinations. And the only equipment I owned were two 4lb hand weights. I had gym shorts I bought years ago when I had to do physical therapy on my knees (ruined at a trampoline park) and two sports bras I got from my mom, who didn’t fit into them any more. I was a confused, half-dressed mess, so it was just as well I was working out from home rather than in front of others. 

That gave me the ability to take things at my own pace and learn without feeling too stupid (any time yoga moves came up, I still felt stupid, but that’s a topic for a later article). It took hundreds of workout videos, but I did eventually learn. I learned the proper form for a plank and that there are actually different sorts of planks (low/forearm plank, side plank, etc.) and even have an example of perfect form framed on my wall for inspiration and reference. I learned what a burpee was (and learned to absolutely hate them), what a Russian twist was (I adore these, though there are some days I can’t do them in boat pose), and learned what a reverse crunch was (and how to not to use momentum to do them). I slowly learned boxing punches by name and number and how to have good form when throwing or combining them (always keep your guard up). And I got a few more pieces of equipment as well as some tank tops. 

But I learned other things as well. I learned the importance of stretching-only days (I scheduled those for Tuesdays, the day when I was out of the house from 6am to 9pm because of my job and volunteer job). I learned what sorts of workouts are fun for me (boxing/kickboxing, Tabata) and what sort work the parts of my body I want to improve (core and ab toning). 

With routine and determination as well as healthy eating, I dropped seventy pounds and discovered muscles I didn’t know I had. Here are the essentials that helped get me there:

  • Pair of hand weights (mine were 4lb and were the only weights I had for almost 2 years)
  • Fitbit (the only expensive item on this list, I bought it on sale online during Black Friday. I track my steps and follow its reminders to get up and take at least 250 steps an hour for 12 hours a day) 
  • Exercise mat (I bought mine at Five Below for $5 and it lasted me 2 years of almost daily use)
  • Sports bra & workout shorts (I eventually got three different sets so I didn’t have to do laundry every day)
  • Sneakers (I bought these on sale somewhere for about $20)
  • Towel (I sweat a lot)
  • Glass of water (hydration is so important)
  • YouTube workout videos (mostly but not exclusively from PopSugar Fitness)

That was really all I used for years! I eventually added:

  • Foam roller (I don’t use this often, but sometimes videos call for it during a cool down. I used one at physical therapy, so I know it’s beneficial)
  • Additional hand weights (I was gifted some 2lbs, 5lbs, and 7lbs so I could step up or down a little as needed)
  • Weighted gloves (these are my favorite pieces of equipment. Though they are only 1lb each, they can add an extra level of difficulty to any workout. I feel especially powerful wearing them when doing boxing workouts)
  • Paper plates (used as sliders, as I work out on a carpeted area)

Thanks to hard work and some wise and inspiring trainers with great online videos, I not only met but exceeded my weight loss goal. I am no longer pre-diabetic. And I went from a size 18 to a size 6. I work out every day to maintain my physical and mental health… but also because I enjoy it now. That mindset has been the most significant change. 

I started at level 0 and made a habit of reaching for my fitness goals. What does the start of your fitness journey look like?

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