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10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Fitness Journey

 

For those of you that might not know me yet, hi! My name is Emily. I am a national level bikini competitor, online personal trainer, and group fitness instructor. My fitness journey started 5+ years ago and I can tell you the beginning stages (as always!) were packed with a lot of trial and error and growing pains.

Hopefully, I can save you some time by walking you through some of the questions you might be having right now and obstacles you may be facing as a newbie on the fitness journey!

Here's the 10 things I wish I knew when I got started:

1. You don't need to eliminate foods or entire food groups to reach your goals. 

Many people think they NEED to be eliminating carbs, lowering fats, cutting out gluten, eliminating sugar, etc etc to lose weight. I started my own journey with a diet of all "clean" foods. I later discovered this difficult, and unsustainable diet change was NOT necessary to see progress.

Calories are the only thing that determines weight loss or gain. The only factor that matters to a weight loss goal is that your calories in are less than your calories out - meaning you burn (exercise and normal daily energy usage) more than you consume. 

As long as you're fulfilling that requirement, it does not matter what you're eating. This is NOT to say you should live off of chocolate bars. You should keep your diet 80% whole, nutrient dense food sources and allow 20% for "fun" foods. This will keep your nutrient levels healthy, keep your energy levels up, and ensure you have a psychologically healthy relationship with food. Ultimately, THIS matters more than anything!

2. Start with a small training goal and grow from there. Don’t go 0 to 100. 

I firmly believe that the reason many people give up along this journey is because they start with extremely high expectations for themselves and then feel upset and give up when they can't meet them. You don't need to start out going to the gym 6 days per week and immediately cut calories in half to make a change. In fact, you really shouldn't!

The fitness journey is a mental game. And in this game, slow and steady wins the race every time. Start small! Start with a commitment of 2-3 workouts per week and work your way up from there. When you have proven that you can consistently meet this commitment and feel ready to stretch yourself a little further, then add more training. 

You can make great changes to your body with just 2-3 sessions per week! The person that sticks to working out this much for months or years on end is going to see far greater results than the person that pushes for 6 days, makes it a couple weeks in a row, and then can't sustain this overwhelming commitment. 

3. Don't overcomplicate it.

New clients often come to me with questions about meal timing, supplements to take, what to eat immediately before and after the gym. 

It's not that these things can't make a difference... but in the grand scheme of things their impact is minimal compared to the basics: burn more than you're eating and be consistent about getting your workouts in! It really can be that simple. 

Don't overwhelm yourself with the details when you're starting out. Focus on the big picture. Stick to your diet. Stick to your training. That's where the results really come from.

4. The scale is not the only way to measure progress. 

Do you know that your body can look completely different at the same exact weight? I have pictures from before and throughout my fit journey in which I weigh the same as I do now and my body looks TOTALLY different. Why? 

Body composition! Muscle weighs more than fat. After dedicating yourself to a training routine, you will start to see an increase in muscle mass and decrease in fat mass.

Your body likely looks better and tighter but weighs the same! The number on the scale can be a great indicator of progress but it isn't the only indicator. 

Take pictures. Take LOTS of progress pictures! I have clients take pictures from the front, back, and side once per week so that they can see for themselves the physical differences over time in their shape! It's a great source of motivation to keep pushing. 

5. We were all new to the gym at some point.

I know this might be easier said than done, but do not feel nervous or embarrassed about being the new person at the gym. Even if you think people are watching you struggle with the machines, 95% of the time, they're not.

And if they are, a lot of times they'll come over and offer to help! We all started somewhere. They remember what it was like to be in your shoes. I certainly do!

Even now, after years of training, I'm still learning new exercises, techniques, and machines (we ALL are!) and even now I've had people come over and offer to help!

Chances are, nobody is judging you! They just want to offer the support they probably wish they had when they started. 

6. Don't freak out over small spikes in the scale. 

Regardless of how long you've been doing this, you've probably freaked out at least once over the number on the scale suddenly rising for no good reason. 

Yes, the number can and will rise if you're overeating or you aren't sticking to your training routine. BUT that isn't the only reason it rises.

Before you freak out, know that there are so many other factors that come into play when it comes to your weight. If you think your weight is spiking for some other reason, you can see some possible causes HERE.

Know that 1-2 pounds up or down is normal and it doesn't necessarily mean you were slacking off!

7. Balance is important for injury prevention. Don't skip muscle groups.

So many of us are guilty of this. There's something on your body you really really really want to change. You want a bigger butt, nicer shoulders, better leg definition, whatever it may be.

So now almost all your workouts are dedicated to that one body part in an effort to get it changing faster. Increasing your training volume or frequency for a body part you really care about changing is totally fine and it works! 

The problems happen when you're no longer working the rest of your body consistently. It's SO important to address ALL of your muscle groups! (i.e. legs, back, chest, biceps, triceps, core, and shoulders) Your body functions like one giant chain referred to as the kinetic chain.

When you over or under work different muscles you create overactive (shortened) and underactive (lengthened) muscles that lead to injury.

And once you have one injury, you open the door for more because all of your muscles work TOGETHER to create your desired motion. 

Even if you hate working a certain area, do it. Your body will thank you for maintaining the balance.

8. That being said, stretch and foam roll. Foam roll. Foam roll. 

Foam rolling will make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your workouts and recovery post workout. When you're putting stress on a certain muscle group, the stress can cause knots to form within the muscle.

These knots shorten the muscle and limit its range of motion, meaning you can't perform exercises with proper form. This is how injuries happen! 

When you foam roll over a tight muscle, you're removing these knots so that the muscle can return to its proper length and range of motion. Make sure that when you find an area that feels tight, you apply pressure with the foam roller for AT LEAST 30 seconds. This is going to give the central nervous system enough time to "tell" your muscle to relax so you can receive the full benefits of this process. 

9. Don't just copy what someone else is doing. 

Every one of us has completely different needs training and nutrition wise. What works for one person might not work for someone else.

When it comes to diet this is especially true because your metabolism is totally different from someone else's! Your metabolism determines the rate at which you're burning calories. It's affected by your dieting history, age and your genetics for example.

Someone who has been dieting for years likely has a much slower metabolism than someone who has never been on a diet before. This means the long time dieter will likely have to drop calories significantly lower than the first time dieter to achieve the SAME results!

Just because your friend is dropping pounds like crazy on 1800 calories a day doesn't mean you will! Focus on learning what works for YOU specifically!

10. Pick a diet and exercise program you LIKE.

I know this sounds weird. It's like we think this lifestyle change has to be painful in order for it to work. Sure, it might have to be uncomfortable at times. But it doesn't have to suck. 

In fact, if you pick a strategy you actually LIKE, you're far more likely to adhere to it and THAT'S  what will create results: long term commitment to the cause. 

Remember, if you're burning more than you're consuming, you're going to lose weight regardless of HOW you choose to do it. So if you don't want to work out 5 days a week, then don't. If you hate the idea of giving up carbs, don't do keto.

If you LOVE taking group exercise classes, make that a part of your routine. You can tailor your journey to whatever you like and you'll find that the results come much much quicker because you're enjoying the process!

Want to reach your fitness goals faster and easier? With the right game plan and extra accountability?

I've been helping women just like you build muscle, lose fat, and improve their metabolism with an easy to follow flexible diet and FUN training routine. 

If you're ready to say HECK YES to changing your health, your body, and your life, APPLY HERE for 1 on 1 coaching. I will be there to coach you every step of the way so we can get you better, lasting results. 

Not convinced? Check out some of these amazing success stories from women JUST LIKE YOU. If you're sitting there telling yourself you're too old, too far off, too busy, or too tired, STOP RIGHT NOW.

You can do this no matter where you're at in life. Don't hold yourself back from the quality of life you CAN and WILL have if you take the leap. 

No more waiting for the perfect time. There will never be a perfect moment. The time to make a change is always RIGHT NOW! Let me show you what you can do. 

To Your Good Health & Success,