I have received a lot of questions over the last year as to why I choose to start lifting, how long I have been lifting for, how long it took to lose the weight during my transformation, etc... Many of these questions have lead to the discussion of how to go about making the gym and eating better an established part of a daily routine. For many of us, including myself at one point, it can seem like an incredibly nerve racking experience.
**This article would be a letter to my younger self if I had the opportunity to provide the necessary advice to succeed in the gym when I first began working out.**
Where to Start
Let's be honest, being a fit individual is easier said than done. If you have never had the chance to be properly introduced to consistent diet and exercise, it is an incredibly daunting task knowing where to even start, especially with the plethora of information that is made available to us through the internet.
My advice would be...however intimidating or impossible the task of achieving your dream physique may be, just simply start. The few hours a week spent figuring out what works for you and what doesn't add up quicker than you may think. A day spent in the gym, regardless of how bad the workout may be, is still going to get you closer to your ultimate goal than a day spent at home on the couch. Find someone who you admire and aspire to be, whether it be someone you know or a personality online, find out what they're doing regularly to meet their goals, and use that information to replicate their success . There will never be a perfect time for you to start a fitness journey, so just start one now. Regardless of your current situation, find a way to go to bed knowing that you're going to wake up closer to your ultimate goal than the day before.
Drastic change takes time. Stringing together a few good days of dieting and working out on a new plan will not reconcile for the amount of time you have spent practicing bad habits. Although there is frequently an adjustment period when you start a new routine where you may find yourself hungrier, fuller, or sorer, it is more often than not temporary. You cannot expect your body to recognize such a drastic change in your daily routine so quickly. Be Consistent. Be Honest with Yourself. Be Patient.
It's pretty evident that in today's day and age most everyone shares a common trait in their daily lives...life is hectic. Once young and athletic physiques often take a back seat to the stresses and demands of everyday life once we enter the work force, decide to further our education, or begin to start a family.
Working out and eating right is just as any other skill. The efficiency in which you're able to complete a task, in this case exercising and preparing food, improves over time. Although time may be limited, gaining a basic knowledge of what you need to do in order to receive the results will ensure you are constantly making progress regardless of your schedule. The time you make available in order to achieve your goals must be realistic.
When it comes to working out, it's very likely that you may share a common window of free time, leaving you to exercise in a crowded gym. The solution is incredibly simple, either make the best of what you have available or make a conscious effort to make it to the gym at a time at which it is unlikely you will have to deal with a more tightly packed area.
When it comes to cooking, there is often the common excuse of "not having time" or "being a bad chef". If you plan on gaining more control of your physique, you first must gain control of what you eat. There is more than enough information out there for someone to put together a simple meal, or even meals for the week, with little effort. Ovens, crockpots, and microwaves are all devices that can be used while simultaneously completing other tasks. The more you invest in learning how to cook a tasty meal in a reasonable time frame, the more successful your diet is likely to be.
Don't Be Complacent
This is the most crucial advice for someone looking to make drastic change. Many of us have seen others in the gym who may have even been exercising much longer than us, yet they always seem to look exactly the same, day after day, year after year. There comes a time in which the benefits of simply going to the gym or eating slightly healthier diminish as your body adjusts to change.
Don't let your daily routine become routine. The most successful people all may have a daily routine in which they practice, but they are always looking for ways to optimize and improve it. Adding a new exercise into your workouts, spending 2 more minutes a day doing cardio, or even making a change as small as removing 25 calories from your daily diet adds up quickly. It is easy for us to become satisfied, and rationalize the fact that we are practicing healthy habits. Yet without consistently adjusting our habits according to progress, we are likely to only go so far. Complacency can be avoided as simply as taking a few minutes before bed to critique your day and how it can be slightly improved.
What Will People Think?
Around the time in which I decided to start losing the additional weight I had gained from football, I knew that I would have to start going to the gym. Up until that point I had primarily lifted in my basement, my high school weight room, and the facilities that football provided me. I decided I had no choice but to start lifting in a more public setting. Upon making that decision, the times in which I felt most comfortable to go the gym were either incredibly early in the morning, or just before the gym was closing. This would ensure that the possibility of criticism from others would be at the absolute lowest amount possible.
During this time, I was vulnerable not only with my own personal appearance, but also with the fact that I had failed at becoming a college athlete. Ironically, being a poor college student, the only workout clothes I owned were that West Virginia University Football had provided me. I didn't want to have to explain myself to anyone who decided to come up to me and ask about my experience playing college sports.
To my surprise, no one cared. I was just another face at the gym. The one thing people overthink more than any other is how people will perceive them when they are out in public. Even when writing this article right now, I couldn't tell you one thing about what who was wearing at the gym or who was the most out of shape person there. Even if someone has the nerve to judge you for trying to better yourself, it's not worth your time to even value their opinion.
I have been wearing leggings to the gym for quite some time at this point, but I can still vividly remember the first time I wore them to the gym. I was very skeptical to see what people would think of such an outfit. At the time, it wasn't all that incredibly common for guys to wear leggings/tights to workout in, especially with nothing over them. Just as I had noticed years prior with battling a weight issue and failing to become a successful football player, I soon realized that it was incredibly unlikely that I would ever see anyone from the gym in my daily life unless I wanted to be around them. Their perception of what I wore or how I looked was irrelevant to me. The only thing that really mattered was if what I wore gave me a better opportunity to have a great workout.
In my eyes, the gym should be an environment in which others inspire each other to work harder. After all, we are all after one common goal of achieving a better physique than we currently have. I could care less if a person weighs 90 pounds or 900 pounds, wears the most flamboyant outfit that they could find, or chooses to layer trash bags over their sweats. If someone is out there working hard to better themselves, they instantly have my respect. Remember, the only person you should truly worry about impressing is yourself.