Happy life, happy body.

I have always been an athlete. Since I could practically walk, I was playing some type of sport, whether it was gymnastics, soccer, basketball, softball, you name it. So, growing up I was always in shape. Never too skinny, never overweight, just your typical “athletic” body type I guess you could say. When my life started spiraling out of control my senior year of high school, so did my fitness level. After soccer season ended, I stopped caring. The weight began to pile on, and once you make a non healthy lifestyle a habit, it sticks that way until you have the will power to change it.

By the end of senior year, I was 165, which isn’t seriously overweight, but my athletic body had gone down the tubes. All summer I barely worked out, and didn’t really care what I was putting into my body. If you’re reading this thinking that this is some sort of crazy weight loss journey, it’s really not. I didn’t have much weight to lose, but I sure wasn’t happy with my body.

I had never really needed to worry about calorie intake/outtake or portion sizes since I had always been active and my parents would always put a healthy, home-cooked meal on the table. But, as many people know, your metabolism slows down drastically as you get older, and mine just started to slow down at age 18. I knew I needed to change my lifestyle, but the question was when?

I believe that if you have an overall positive outlook on life, and you are a generally a happy person, weight will come off naturally. When you’re happy you don’t tend to “stress eat” and you more likely to kick the laziness to the side and stay active.

Since freshman year of college, I have lost over 20 lbs. I get same question all the time, “How’d you do it?” I usually just answer with the generic response, “Oh, you know exercise and watching what I eat.” But it is seriously so much more complicated than that. Some people think that you can just wake up one day and change your lifestyle and drop weight instantly. Not only is that unhealthy, you’ll pile the weight back on plus more even faster.

Now, I am no nutritionist, nor have I ever gotten professional advice on how to lose weight, but whatever I have been doing has seemed to work. It’s kind of hard for me to look back and remember in chronological order what steps I took to start losing weight, but I know that first and foremost, I didn’t keep food in my dorm room. I fell under the “ultimate snacker even if I wasn’t hungry” category and by eliminating that option it put me in the right direction. I started working out more and watching what I was eating. It was hard eliminating out all the fatty, delicious foods that the dining hall had to offer, but it just started becoming a habit for me.

To be honest, I didn’t come to college thinking I would lose a drastic amount of weight. I didn’t set any goals nor keep a food journal. I didn’t start really paying attention to anything besides snacking until people started commenting on how I had lost some weight. I’m sure it wasn’t much, but you’d be surprised what a difference 3 lbs can make. By people telling me that I was losing weight set the tone for the rest of my year.

I began working out more and working out harder. I began researching the calories in various foods, and seeing what the healthiest options to eat were. The MyFitnessPal app helped me track my calorie intake and taught me about portion control. I guess I sort of turned into a health fanatic.

Freshman year came to an end, and I had lost around 10 lbs. Coming home for summer was a little overwhelming with everyone commenting on my weight loss. I loved it, but it just made me want more. I wanted a transformation.

Some of my friends tell me that I “eat like a rabbit,” and poke fun at my obsession with a healthy lifestyle. But, after researching all of this “healthy living” stuff it’s amazing how many misconceptions people have about weight loss.  I still eat a handful of fries once or twice a week, and go out and drink twice a week, both of which are unhealthy. But, I haven’t stopped losing weight since I’ve been to school. It’s not about that one cookie you have or that one day you didn’t have time to go to the gym, it’s about a lifestyle change. I go to the gym at least 5 times a week, doing an intense hour of cardio paired with free weights, but that doesn’t work for everyone. You need to find a plan that works out for you. I was never a soda drinker, but if you are, replace it with water and I’m sure you’ll start getting results.

There is no way I could’ve done the intense workouts that I do now a year ago. It is all about finding that first step and going from there. Just how I made an unhealthy lifestyle a habit, I needed to make a healthy one a habit too. Instead of channeling my upsets into tears, I go to the gym. Fitness goes hand in hand with a positive outlook on life.

I think the hardest part about weight loss is all the weight you lose after the first 10-15 lbs. If you’re overweight, the first few pounds just seem to fall off with little tweaking in your dietary and cardiovascular regime, but after that can get tricky. I know people say “not to focus on the scale,” and that “muscle weighs more than fat,” all of which is valid, but I just check my weight once a week out of habit, even though I really shouldn’t.

Watching the first pounds come off was extremely satisfying, but after that it has been so much harder to watch my weight stay the same. For some people, this might make them give up, but you can’t. You have to keep pushing. If you want to watch the weight fall, work harder than you did yesterday, eat one less cookie than you did last week. Any little bit helps.  Being at a plateau should be a motivating factor rather than a reason to give up.

I guess I should stop relaying my non-professional advice on you people, but I can’t stress enough that before you get to that goal weight, you’re going to have to make a complete life transformation, not just in fitness, in everything. I’m a different person than I was 2 years ago, physically, emotionally, and mentally. There are two things I do to shake my bad mood and escape from this sometimes brutal reality: writing and working out. Find things that help you escape and go from there.

I promise, love your life and you’ll love your body too!!!

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