New Year, New Me

Not as in resolutions. I'm referring to the me last year this time in January compared to me this January. I set out a year ago to seriously lose the weight and I not only achieved my goals but I surpassed my original intended goal weight. I’m not gonna lie, it feels absolutely amazing. I know I sound like a broken record but it’s seriously my biggest achievement I’m proud of from the past year. This time last year I never thought I would ever get back to 110 lbs. I started at 130 and I was simply dreaming of 120. I ended up getting down to 105 lbs as my lowest weight! Can you imagine. I never thought I would go so far to lose 25 lbs.

So how did I do it?

People always ask me questions about my personal trainer. But the truth is he's just another member at the gym. I go to Planet Fitness because that's what's available in my area and it's cheap and close by. I also joined because I saw that they provide free personal training sessions and since I had no idea what I was doing, I really liked the idea of one on one training to show me the ropes. And I enjoyed it a lot. My gym's trainer knew his stuff, was really patient and worked with you to reach your goals on a realistic schedule. And he didn’t make you feel dumb for not knowing how to do certain things. He was patient and helped you learn the right way and the right form.

Unfortunately last year around Christmas, my gym's trainer injured himself and was going to be out of work for a month or so. I panicked. I looked like a lost puppy around the gym for the first few days he was missing. This other member who was friends with him, saw me and noticed I was always there working out with my trainer. I'm not really sure why he did it, but to this day I believe Rocco sent this angel to help me because I was hitting rock bottom with my depression about my weight. He came up to me and asked me if I was looking for someone to train with since my trainer was going to be gone for a while. At first I didn't take him up on his offer because I'll be honest, this guy was absolutely terrifying. He was HUGE. He's jacked like Arnold and he just looks mean all the time. I was afraid he was going to push me and make me work too hard. I was terrified but I stayed polite and took his number.

A few weeks go by. I slunk further into my depression because I was getting absolutely nowhere with my goals. I finally got fed up with myself, bit the bullet and texted him. We made plans for a session after the new year and I was absolutely terrified. What if I die, I thought? Well the first day wasn't as bad as I thought because we simply went over my goals and what I wanted to achieve and then he went through all the machines with me to gauge what I could and couldn't do in terms of strength and experience. We ended up training a few times a week for the first few weeks and I sent him pics of everything I ate. Then we developed our plan of attack. He gave me ideas based on what I already ate and substituted them for healthier alternatives so it wouldn't be far off from my norm. I learned to quick prep easy meals and I learned which dishes I could order from nearby restaurants at work if I was in a jam and couldn't make anything to pack in time before I left for work.I had to follow simple guidelines for my diet and trust in the process.

Some simple rules were

  1. Make sure there is a protein source every time you eat, snack or meal.

  2. Eat every 2-3 hours (set alarms!).

  3. Plan out food a day ahead.

  4. No carbs after a certain hour.

  5. When eating, make sure portions are about the size of your fist. No overeating.

I continued to send him pics of everything I ate after we developed this new diet plan. It helped to keep me accountable. I also posted everything on my IG stories daily to keep me accountable and honestly it really did help. I stuck by everything I did and ate. I wanted to use it as a tool to keep me transparent in my process and it definitely did. Of course I thought about posting and just eating something else instead, but I never did no matter how bad cravings got because honestly, what good would cheating on yourself out of your goals do? So I committed. I only cheated on days I knew I was going to be out with friends and it would be hard to stick to my diet. But most times, I did try by keeping simple snacks in my bag and planning my day around easy stops to get a quick healthy bite in. Or if I knew where we were dining, I'd look up the menu ahead of time to make sure I had some healthy choices. It wasn't easy but it was doable. The planning ahead for meals really help keep you focused though, especially for food shopping. I would only buy what I needed and no junk. I bought exactly what I was going to eat, exact portions so there was never any excess waste I was throwing out or went bad. It kept temptations out of the house and saved me money since I was only buying exactly what I was going to eat. The only problem was I had to go food shopping more often since everything prepped was pretty fresh. I was no longer eating a lot of processed foods, but whole clean foods. But lucky enough for me, my gym is right next to a supermarket so I just ran over after my workouts every other day to get food.

And during each session, I wrote down every exercise I did in a workout journal. I wrote down how many reps and how much weight I was able to do each time until it became routine enough in my head that I no longer needed the book. It definitely helped a lot in the beginning to write everything down. Some days my new trainer couldn’t make it and I would still come and put in the work and the book helped to keep me on track and do anything I forgot was part of the routine. Sometimes we’d try new things but most of the workouts are basic simple weight lifting. Old methods because my trainer is a simple pick things up and put them down kinda guy but hey, it’s worked so far.  The proof is in my results.

I ate the same foods over and over, switching some things up and adding new meals as they got approved along the way, but mostly it was the same thing over and over. Same with the workouts. We did arms one day, chest and shoulders one day, legs one day, and back one day. Abs every other day after each workout. And I usually tried to get in 30-60 minutes of cardio afterwards, time permitting. My time at the gym grew longer and I became more dedicated. But the consistency paid off in the end. At the end of April before my Paris trip, I was 110 lbs! Over the summer, I took a bit of a break. I still worked out but not as vigorously. I cut out the cardio after my gym sessions.  In the fall, I picked it back up to lose my summer weight and lose another 5 lbs on top of that to try and get down to 105 lbs. And I did! It felt so amazing. But the second time around, felt harder than the first time trying to lose the weight.

After my birthday, I eased up and decided to maintain again for the holiday season to give myself a break for working so hard so quick. I gained the 5 lbs I lost back, hahaha. And here I am, ramping it up again to try and get back to 105 lbs before my half marathon in 7 weeks. I have faith I can do it as long as I buckle down and stick to the diet. The diet is the hardest part. Despite all of 2018, my body still yearns for the huge portions my old body used to eat. I’m still hungry even after I eat because I am just ridiculous. And I eat pretty often. But I try to drink more water to help fight the hunger monster.

I also cut out cardio after my birthday due to my knee pain that I had developed in early October during my training for the half marathon. I tried to lay off it for a month but in November when I tried to run again, it had worsened. I went to a Sports Physical Therapist to get it checked out and learned I needed to work on activating my hip muscles to relieve the pressure on my knee. I went to 10 sessions so far and got back to running last week finally to start training for the race. I don’t really know if the PT helped at all honestly, but I can say that my running has gotten better in terms of no pain arising in my knee during my run. I’m taking it slow and training a few miles at a time and working on a slower pace as well as utilizing the run-walk method when I feel a little winded. I read that I might have injured myself by training too hard at the rate I was going last fall. I ramped it up too fast too quick and was running more often than I should’ve when I should’ve allowed more rest days in between runs. Hopefully I can get it right this time to build my endurance better so the pain doesn’t develop again and I can successfully complete the half marathon. I’ll be so embarrassed if I can’t.

Oh yeah, since starting the PT sessions, my schedules haven’t aligned anymore with my trainer so I haven’t seen him in almost two months after nearly a year of working out together. I miss him but I don’t miss having to wake up every morning to be at the gym at 8am. Regardless of how many mornings I had to wake up early - and was still late anyway - I am still not a morning person. That will unfortunately never become habit, I’m afraid. I do go to bed earlier than I used to but I’ll still marinate a little longer in bed when given the option. Some things will never change.

BUT! I do have some things to say regarding my trainer. I’m comfortable working out on my own now because of him. I feel more confident in knowing what I’m doing and no longer worried about how I look or if anyone’s watching since my results will always speak for themselves. You can look around and see the people who have results and the people who don’t, no matter how often you see them in the gym. Again, it speaks for itself.

I’ll be honest, because he was just another member at the gym, he never charged me anything for helping me all year. He simply wanted to help someone meet their goals and I was his project for the year. I’m really grateful for his help because it’s really hard to find people like that.

So when it comes to personal trainers, I do recommend them. I didn’t pay for mine but I know they can get expensive and it’s hard to find a good one that actually wants to help you achieve your goals and GET YOU THERE as opposed to someone who just wants a paycheck and will show you some exercises and just go home after. Mine was available to me all day everyday to answer my diet and nutrition questions and keep me on track. He helped keep me accountable. Even though I didn’t pay for his services, if I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I definitely would. I had already started with a new gym membership  that I was determined to put to use, so paying for a personal training would unfortunately be another big expense, but in the long run, it’s an investment that I would say was definitely worth it. I was scared that my trainer would push me too hard but I learned two things regarding this when I finally dove headfirst into this and gave it a chance; I learned that I needed that push - I needed someone to push me harder than I would push myself. Working out by myself I wouldn’t have tried certain things or lifted heavier than he had me lift. I would’ve stopped at a lighter weight, given up at smaller reps. But he kept pushing me and rooting me on to do one more every time and would add on more weights to see if I could improve my personal best each time. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t, but I always tried again. Each week we progressed more and more until “I tried” became “I did it!” The second thing I learned was that regardless of how hard I thought he was going to push me, he actually never pushed me harder than I could physically go. He was able to gauge what those limits were and safely scale back if it looked to be too much. And if I wanted to end sooner out of sheer laziness, he wouldn’t let me either. He could tell if there was still more to beat up and kept me working to my potential. I hated it in the moment but looking back, this is what made him such an effective trainer for me. Even now, working out on my own, I still have those habits and force myself to keep going and complete the whole session.

The results will always speak for themselves if you put in the work, the dedication, patience and consistency.

As I look through old photos of myself last year throughout the months it’s funny because I remember being so proud as the pounds started shedding. I’m actually embarasssed of some of the photos now because I was still chubby in some photos where I was feeling myself but it just goes to show the progress. It shows the transformation as I shed the fat and turned it into muscle. My 110 lbs in May looks different from my 110 today too. I was 110 lbs in May before leaving for Paris but my stomach was nowhere as toned as it is now. I know I’m still focused on the scale because I have issues, but I do see the difference in the mirror as well. Small changes are small but it’s still progress no matter how small and can still make a difference when comparing photos, especially over time.

I’m also glad this time around I didn’t “give up” after reaching my goals but kept going. I kept saying to myself, “I didn’t come this far to only come this far.” And I kept consistently loving how I looked and progressed so I said to myself, if this is how I look in 6 months, can I imagine how I’ll look in another 6 months? So I used that as motivation to keep going. And it really helped. A year later here I am. Despite trying to lose 5 lbs again before the race, I’m not mad at how I look right now. Actually, I’m really happy about it. And I can’t wait for this summer to get here and look even better as I keep working on my body some more. There’s always room for improvement. I got into the mentality that you get one body and you have your whole life to work on it, perfect it, sculpt it to whatever you want. It’s your job to keep it looking good, running good, in tip top shape. Or to let it sit and waste away. Your choice. Besides, YOURSELF is the best thing you can invest in. Why would you bet against yourself?

A song came on while at the gym today that I thought was rather funny. I said goodbye to my old beginning of 2018 body because I swear, we are totally never ever ever, getting back together. Thank U, next, bitches.