11 Things Nobody Tells You About When You Start Your Health and Fitness Journey

June 2016-July 2017

April 2016-November 2016

On August 2nd, 2016 I decided to start a sugar detox with my friend and I had no idea how much my life would change and how much I would gain from the experience. A year and a half later I am 40 pounds lighter and have lost almost 10% of my body fat. While I was never very overweight I was always on the high end of the “healthy” weight range. I was never athletic, never played sports, and had never run a mile in my life. I have learned so much about health, nutrition and fitness but also a lot about myself. In the last year and a half, I’ve learned that a health and fitness journey is a never-ending process; your body, your needs, your outlook on life and what is important to you changes. I had a lot of expectations when I started this process but these are a list of things that nobody told me was going to happen.

1. It's Really Freaking Hard

Of course starting a new lifestyle is hard. Everybody knows that because if it was easy everyone would be fit and healthy. What I didn’t know was exactly how difficult it was going to be. Starting this journey not only challenges your body it also challenges your mind in ways you could never imagine. I expected to feel exhausted and sore when I started working out but that phase lasted WAY longer than I anticipated. It took about 5 months before I started feeling more energized after a workout and not feel like I was never going to be able to walk again. I promise that the pain eases, your energy increases, and you start to see results.  Not just physical results, but mental results. Of course, you still have those days where your workout exhausts you and you get really sore but those become less frequent as your body and mind gets stronger.

2. Losing Weight and Becoming Healthy Comes With a Whole New Set of Insecurities 

My whole life I had never been “thin” or “toned”. I always thought if I could just lose some weight I would feel so much better about myself and I would be way more confident. WRONG. I never anticipated that I would be at the weight I currently am. I thought that after I hit my goal weight I would feel so good and be so confident in who I am. Wrong again. Losing weight came with a whole new set of insecurities to deal with. When I first hit my goal weight I was wearing clothes I thought I would never be able to wear and constantly questioning and thinking to myself “Does this look okay? Can I pull this off? I shouldn’t be wearing this”. I thought losing the weight would solve all my self-image issues and it didn’t. I had to solve those from the inside. The way I looked on the outside had nothing to do with it. Of course, I still have those moments of self-doubt but those are now few and far in between and, in those moments, I remind myself that my body, the clothes I wear, or my weight will NEVER define me and I will never let it define me because that is such a small fraction of the person I am. I’ve put my self-confidence and self-worth in the person I am, my values, the life I live, the way I work, and the way I love not in the way I look. The size 4 jeans are just a bonus. :) 

3. Your Body Can Feel Completely Different From One Day to The Next

One of the biggest surprises on this journey is how different your body can feel from one day to the next. One day you can feel like your body is unstoppable and you completely crush your workout where other days it feels like it’s impossible to even run one mile and that’s totally normal. I used to think I was taking steps back if I had a harder time working a muscle group or couldn’t run as many miles as I did two days before but I’ve learned that there are so many different factors that contribute to both your cardio and muscle endurance: food, sleep, your cycle, your water intake, the weather, literally everything and it’s nothing to worry about.

4. Non-Scale Victories Are The Best

I used to think the scale was everything. It was all about the number on the scale. That number defined me. I never knew that non-scale victories were a thing and didn’t realize how amazing they are. Putting on a pair of pants that you haven’t worn in 2 months and they are big is one of the best feelings. Putting a box in storage, taking it out a year later, and remembering it being WAY heavier- one of the best feelings. Feeling your endurance level increase in basic everyday activities like climbing six flights of stairs- one of the best feelings. Seeing definition in your muscles - one of the best feelings. Feeling beautiful in your own skin- one of the best feelings. The scale used to be everything to me and now it only tells me the numerical value of my gravitational pull. Non-scale victories are a thing and they are amazing.

5. Nobody Cares As Much As You Do

This is so important…NOBODY cares as much as you do. I’ve literally had someone tell me “nobody cares” and they’re right. Nobody will ever care like I do, but that is what makes it my journey and not theirs. Of course I know my family and friends are proud of me and they care but not like I do. I’m so proud of the way I’m living my life and the journey I am on and when you become passionate about something you want to share your experiences. The dilemma is that nobody cares as much as you do and unfortunately health and fitness usually comes across as being “preached” and some people don’t like that.

On the flipside, you also become a reminder to the people around you of what they feel like they should be doing and they may take their frustrations about themselves out on you and you have to accept that. I can’t tell you how many times people try to justify what they are eating around me or justify their lack of physical exercise. I used to take it personally but now I just tell them “Do you care what I eat? No. I don’t care what you eat either. You don’t have to justify anything to me” and move on.

6. It's All About Balance

I was convinced that healthy and fit people never had anything “unhealthy” or “bad” for them and what kind of lifestyle is that? One I definitely don’t want to be a part of. Now I know that is not the case. I’ve learned that my health and fitness journey is all about balance. I started to decide what is worth the calories and what isn’t. I made ice cream a treat instead of having it two to three times a week. I learned how to make healthier versions of the foods I like. I learned that it’s okay to not deprive yourself. Depriving yourself is a great way to make sure your health and fitness journey fails. I used to feel guilty anytime I cheated while I was on a “diet” so I would plan designated cheat meals where I would over-indulge and that cheat meal would turn into a cheat day which would turn into a cheat week and so on and so forth. I’ve learned that succeeding in a healthy lifestyle is all about balance and moderation. I had heard people say it many times before but I never believed it until I lived it.

7. You Will Do Things You Never Said You Would Do

On my very first day with Pam, my trainer, she started talking to me about cardio and I looked her straight in the eye and said “I hate running. I will never run. Don’t try to make me run.” I ran my first 5K two months later. Then I ran my first 10K (and placed first in my age division). I celebrated my 23rd birthday with a 10K race in Disneyland at 5:30am. Now I’m currently training to run my first half marathon in March. It’s safe to say I was wrong, I definitely would run and the crazy part is…I actually enjoy it. There are so many things I said I would never do either because I didn’t like it or I didn’t think my body would ever physically be able to do it and I continue to prove myself wrong time and time again.

Pam and I after finishing my first 5K in November of 2016.

After I finished the 10K in Disneyland on my birthday in September of 2017!

8. What Works for Your Body Is Constantly Changing 

One of the biggest things I wish I knew before starting this journey is that your body and what is right for your body is constantly changing. I used to feel so defeated when what worked perfectly for my body one week or month didn’t the next. My diet has changed significantly since I started my journey. The amount of carbs, fat, and protein that my body needs changes every day, week, and month. Your body is incredibly smart and it will tell you what it needs. We have just become accustomed to ignoring it and ignoring our bodies natural cues. I’ve learned that what my body needs changes day to day and the same goes for working out. Sometimes your body can handle an intense workout and other times it needs a good yoga and stretching session. What works and is right for your body is a moving target that I know I’ll never be able to hit.

9. The Laundry is a Struggle

There is literally so much laundry to do all the time. I never thought about this before but you basically double your dirty clothes each week. If I work out five days a week that’s 5 extra bras, 5 extra pairs of pants or shorts, 5 extra pairs of underwear, 5 extra pairs of socks, and 5 extra shirts….every single week. The laundry situation is no joke.

10. You Will Never Be Able to Please Everyone

People are going to talk. They always have, always will and you will never be able to please everyone. I have heard some of the most ridiculous comments when it comes to my weight loss. I’ve heard how unhealthy I am, how I’m too skinny, and how I’m taking my health to0 seriously and it’s all from the people who told me I was too fat. All that matters is that I feel energized, happy and healthy and what everyone else thinks doesn’t matter. It’s my life, my health, and my journey, not anyone else’s. Other people really don’t have a say in how you live your life and you really don’t have a say when it comes to how other people live their life. At the end of the day you have to deal with the consequences (good or bad) of how you live your life, so other people don’t get a say and stop worrying about pleasing them.

11. It's All So Worth It!

I knew it would be worth it. I knew it would be rewarding. I knew I would feel so accomplished. But nothing prepared me for the way my life changed and how all the lifestyle changes would be SO worth it. It’s honestly something I can’t put into words and describe and I don’t think anyone else understands unless they go through it too. So just know, it’s going to be worth it, in more ways than you could ever imagine.

-Emily Garcia